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Southwest's Half-Priced Ticket Sale Backfires Badly

On Friday, Southwest launched a special promotion to celebrate the accumulation of more than 3 million Facebook fans. Select half-priced tickets were offered in a flash promotion termed "luv2like." But when customers scrambled to book, Southwest's booking system broke down and multitudes of flyers were overcharged—big time.

According to the Associated Press, various customers' credit cards and bank accounts were billed numerous times for single bookings. Because of a computer glitch, some travelers were charged as many as 20 or more times for one purchase. Southwest has not disclosed the number of people affected.

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Naturally, Southwest's Facebook friends weren't exactly feeling the love after the glitch depleted some of their bank accounts on Friday. A bombardment of angry comments peppered the Southwest Facebook page after the mishap, posted by some fittingly frustrated flyers.

Yesterday, a Southwest customer posted this complaint: "Horrible situation! Charged 12 times for one attempt at making a reservation ... Finally after waiting 45 minutes on the line, racking up minutes on my cell phone (when the wait was only supposed to be 18 to 35 minutes) someone from SWA picked up. Was told there was a 'glitch.' Credit card locked down in the meantime! Couldn't use!"

Southwest, which became aware of the problem at 5:00 p.m. on Friday, has hastened to correct the overbilling problem and issue refunds. A representative from the airline gave us this statement, which is also posted on Southwest's Facebook page:

Here is an overview of our current efforts:

  • All erroneous bookings have been identified and refunds are currently being processed for all Customers impacted with duplicate bookings.
  • We have heard Customer concerns regarding cancellation of their original reservation and have instructed our Employees to restore the itinerary, honoring the original fare.
  • For those Customers who used debit cards and have received overdraft fees as a result of the additional charges, we will process a reimbursement for all overdraft fees that were caused by duplicate charges from Southwest for a single purchase. If you incurred overdraft fees, please fax documentation of those fees via a letter from your bank or a copy of your account showing the fees to 877-506-0154.

Will Southwest's recent booking problem affect your willingness to fly with the airline in the future? Share your thoughts in the comments.

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