Ticketing mistakes can ruin an entire trip, besides adding to the stress levels of travellers. Medha Karnik’s case is a good example. Travelling from Tiruchirapalli to Mumbai via Chennai with her small baby, she found on reaching Chennai that the railways had issued her a ticket to travel by a train that did not run on Wednesdays at all!
Eventually, when she sought compensation for the hardship and harassment undergone by her, the railways argued that she ought to have verified the railway time table.
Having failed to do that, she was equally guilty, the railways contended. Dismissing such an argument, the Tamil Nadu State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission held that it was a clear case of ‘patent error and palpable negligence’ on the part of the railway staff and the railway administration was vicariously responsible.
It directed the railways to pay a compensation of R7,500. (S.Pushpavanam Vs General Manager, Southern Railway, OP NO 7 of 1991).
This was way back in 1993 and almost a decade later, SN Seth had to wage a legal battle over a similar problem encountered by him.
The apex consumer court here held the airline as well as its authorised travel agent who had issued the erroneous ticket, accountable and directed them to pay a compensation of R10,000 to the passenger, besides refunding the cost of the ticket. (Indian Airlines Vs SN Seth, FA NO 495 of 1997) Why can’t service providers gracefully acknowledge mistakes and take responsibility for the consequences?
Riddhi Shah: On June 14, I booked over telephone, my tickets from Delhi to Bangalore for June 19, Bangalore to Mumbai for June 23, and Mumbai to Delhi for June 29. I was travelling on official work and repeatedly clarified the dates to the person at the call centre. However, to my utter shock, when I reached the Bangalore airport on June 23, I was told that my ticket was for June 26.
In order to change the date of travel, I had to pay Rs 3,952. I was told by the airline duty manager that the call centre will have the voice recording of all bookings made on phone and if the call centre has made the mistake, they have the authority to refund the expenses that I incurred as a result.
On June 30, the call centre checked the recording and confirmed that the error was on their part. Yet, they are not refunding the amount. Do I have a right to be compensated?
Answer: You certainly have. From what you have related, I find that the airline is not taking any responsibility for the mistake in ticketing made by the call centre. Instead, you are being directed to contact the call centre for a refund of Rs 3,952 spent by you. This is not fair.
The airline might have outsourced its call centre service, but as far as you are concerned, you are dealing with the airline. After all, it is the airline which has given you this number. And the airline has to refund the amount to you. In fact they also need to recompense you for the harassment undergone by you as a result of the error. The airline may recover the amount from the call centre service provider, but that has nothing to do with you.
Please ask the call centre to give you a transcript of the recorded audio conversation between you and the call centre employee on the day you booked the ticket.
Send this along with copies of your tickets and the receipts to the airline and ask them for a refund. You can also send a copy of your complaint to the Directorate General of Civil Aviation.