Delta Bag Fee “Rebate” Outrage


The only thing worse than having to pay a bag fee is paying it and then having your bag lost.   In that case, I think it is pretty clear that the airline should refund your money.   Delta doesn’t think so, and has redefined the term “rebate”.

Introducing The Delayed Bag Fee “Rebate”

I found this page on Delta’s website titled Delayed Bag Fee Rebate.   The title sounds great, and I started imagining that this was a fantastic new policy.   Delta, I reasoned, had saw fit to automatically refund your baggage fees in the event that your luggage was delayed.   Unfortunately, that scenario exists only in my dreams.

In reality, Delta is saying that if your baggage is delayed by more than 12 hours from the time you report it then you must fill out this form. Only then, might you expect to receive a Delta credit, not an actual refund.

What Delta Is Saying

When you pay for checked bags, you are merely paying for us to accept the bags, not to actually deliver them on your flight.   That service is optional and is not really what you are paying for.    If/when your bag is lost or delayed, we keep your money, but we may give you a coupon if the delay is long enough and you fill out this form, and we are somehow more competent at delivering this phony “rebate” then we were at delivering your bag.   Of course, forget it if you: paid more than 2 bags, paid to check a bag over 50 lbs, or even if you paid their outrageous fees to check “specialty items”.

What Is A Rebate

A rebate, is two things.    First, it is a euphemism for a opt in scam.   Companies offer rebates knowing that a huge percentage of people will not bother to fill out the paperwork.   Among those who do, fewer still will follow up when said paperwork is eventually lost.   Among those who do follow up, most will just go away when informed their paperwork is lost.    Ultimately, the small, persistent fraction who eventually receives their rebate, expects actual money, not a lousy coupon.    Therefore, Delta’s use of the term “rebate” is only partially correct in that it refers to the existence of a scam, not the promise of an actual rebate of money spent.

What’s Wrong With This Coupon Offer?

The person who is paying for a checked bag that is eligible for this phony rebate is someone who has no status in their SkyPesos program and does not have their Gold SkyPesos Amex.   These are people who don’t often fly Delta.   Delta knows this and is offering a coupon to market future flights to them.   Unlike cash, the coupon will undoubtedly have an expiration date.

What’s worse is the impossible conditions specified.   Imagine you arrive at your destination late at night.    After staring at a carousel for an hour, it stops turning and you finally know what you have suspected for the last 45 minutes, your bag didn’t make it.    You then proceed to the baggage desk, assuming they haven’t shut down for the night, and file a claim.     Only then does the 12 hour clock start ticking.    You proceed to your hotel in the dead of night,  delayed over an hour by having to wait for the last bag and to file a claim.   If you are lucky enough to have your bag when you return to your hotel the next day, Delta could merely claim that it was delivered within 12 hours of the claim and, as far as Delta’s web site will admit, you are entitled to zip.

What Delta Should Have Done

They could have, at the very least automated the system so that you received an apology and your coupon code when your bag is not delivered within 12 hours.    Better yet, they could do so the moment you file a lost bag report, and not insult their customers with this bizarre new 12 hour rule.   Frankly, they should automatically refund your baggage fee if you bag doesn’t arrive on your flight.

What You Should Do If Delta Or Any Other Carrier Fails To Deliver The Service You Paid For

Delta’s new policy is an insult.   If you pay for your luggage, and your bag is lost or not delivered in a timely manner, you should demand a cash refund of your baggage fees.   You should never accept a coupon.   If the airline refuses, inform them that your next step will be contacting your credit card to file a chargeback.     If they try to tell you that this is their policy or something, ask them to prove to you that you accepted these conditions in writing.   Personally, I can’t find anything on their web site that says bag fees are not refundable even if your bag is lost or delayed.  If such a policy exists, Delta certainly hasn’t been informing their customers of this.

Ultimately, this seems like a great example of why a chargeback exists.  If you pay for a service, and you don’t receive it, you are entitled to your money back, not an application, full of restrictions, that promises a coupon.

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One Response to “Delta Bag Fee “Rebate” Outrage”

  1. Tina Says:

    I wish I’d read this sooner! My husband, my daughter, and I checked three bags (one under each of our names) for a total of $75 in late December. They were delayed and not returned to us for almost two days. I filled out the online rebate request form, thinking it would be simpler than writing a complaint letter and hoping for the best. We were only issued a $50 credit, because that’s the cap, regardless of the fact that we were three ticketed passengers. And it expires in a year. And it looks like we can only use it for travel, not for future bag check fees.

    We only fly a couple times a year, so it looks like we we’re stuck with Delta next time if we want to use the credit.

    Think I can still do a chargeback to my card if we haven’t used the voucher?

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