Chase's missed opportunity to do the right thing

I mentioned in Friday’s post that the airport transfer I ordered through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal to pick us up at the Sofia airport never arrived, and that we ended up taking the (cheap, convenient) subway instead. I wrote, “I have a request in with Ultimate Rewards to refund the points, so hopefully this mistake will end up being free, but overall it was a silly experience and waste of time.”

Oddly, that’s not how it worked out.

Chase wanted the transfer company’s permission to refund me

On my first call with Chase, on Thursday, October 10, I was placed on hold several times as the representative tried to contact the transfer company, but wasn’t ultimately able to. She told me they would contact the company and be in touch by phone or e-mail once they’d resolved the issue.

I received the first e-mail followup on Saturday, from the e-mail address “,” which is obviously the e-mail address for the person at Expedia that handles Ultimate Rewards reservations:

“Thank you for contacting Chase Travel about Refund Request for your Budapest Express - Transfers on travel in dates Sep 08,2019 and travel out dates Sep 28,2019 .

“We have made multiple attempts but are still in the process of making contact with [Budapest Express - Transfers] for your Refund Request. Please expect an email update from us within 24 hour.

“Thank you for choosing Chase Travel.

”Arnold Fajardo
”Travel Consultant Supervisor
”Chase Travel”

Ignoring Arnold’s grammar, this is a very strange e-mail for multiple reasons: the dates of my trip were not September 8-September 28, they were September 27-October 9. The name of the transfer company is given as “Budapest Express - Transfers,” when the pickup was at the Sofia airport in Bulgaria, and the company in my original reservation was “P-Airbus,” which is obviously a nonsense, but it’s a different nonsense than “Budapest Express - Transfers.”

The transfer company didn’t give it

The next e-mail, from the same Expedia e-mail address, tried to break the news to me gently:

“Thank you for contacting Chase Travel about your cancellation request for your reservation at Budapest Express - Transfers.

“We have advocated your case with Budapest Express - Transfers and due to their policy in relation to your reason for cancelling your reservation, they have unfortunately denied your request.

“We apologize that their response was not more favorable.

“We apologize for the delay in answering your e–mail. We are currently experiencing an extremely high volume of e–mail requests preventing us from responding within our normal standards.

“Thank you for choosing Chase Travel.

”Alvin Elona
”Travel Consultant Supervisor
”Chase Travel”

Again, obviously I did not cancel my reservation for any reason. They simply never showed up.

I’m not mad about the points, I’m confused about the missed opportunity

Obviously, in the grand scheme of things, 2,000 Ultimate Rewards points aren’t that big a deal to me, and they certainly aren’t that big a deal to Chase. But in its own way, that makes the situation more, not less, confusing. I understand Chase doesn’t have any way to exercise control over the service providers Expedia uses. But when you’re putting your customers, with whom you have a direct relationship, completely in the hands of your partners, the obvious way to resolve partner disputes is to err on the side of caution. Instead, Chase decided to very mildly annoy me in order to save $25 because they’re not willing to stand up to their partner.

Like I say, I’m not mad, I’m just confused.

I would have been better protected using a credit card

The final piece of this microdrama is that if I had simply booked an airport transfer with a credit card, and they didn’t show up, my credit card company would have cheerfully reversed the charge within minutes. By putting customers through this absurd three-step dance, where Chase contacts Expedia, Expedia contacts their in-country partner, and then it’s up to the partner whether or not to grant a refund, Chase may save 25 bucks here and there, but also sends a loud and clear message not to trust them with third-party reservations.

It’s not going to bankrupt them, and it’s not going to bankrupt me, but that doesn’t make it a good business decision.