A Delta flyer who lost their job decided to use some e-credits their former employer bought while still employing the person in question.
And now it’s come back to bite both parties.
So who was in the right? And what would you have done?
(I know we have some attorneys who read the blog. I’d love to hear their perspectives on this!)
FlyerTalk member rpkussman posted this to the Delta Air Lines/SkyMiles forum.
I had a few Delta flights booked by my former employer in March of 2020. (employer paid, nothing out of pocket for me)
I was laid off because of Covid and the flights were canceled.
I realized a few months ago that the canceled flights showed up as unused e-credits.
I recently booked a flight and used some of the credits.
Lo and behold, I get an email today from the CFO of my former employer asking me to reimburse the firm for using the e-credits.
My understanding is that the credits are non-transferable to anyone else. As a result, they cannot be used by anyone else….ever?
So my questions are:
1- How did they know I used the credits?! haha
2- Is it unreasonable for me to push back and try to use them as I desire? If I don’t use them, they will expire at the end of 2022. I can understand that they originally paid for the flights and an argument can be made that they are rightfully owned by my ex-employer, but if they can’t be transferred and I have no intention of returning to work for them, why would they NOT want me to use them?
3- I presume my delta # is still sync’d with their systems, so would it be possible to get a new skymiles number so as to avoid future “tracking” of my personal flying itineraries??
The whole situation seems like kind of a cluster you-know-what. So let’s break it down a bit.
Losing a Job Stinks
Many of us — myself included — lost jobs because of COVID-19. I certainly sympathize with Ry.
The Old Company “Owned” The Tickets
I think we can reasonably conclude that Ry’s former employer purchased the tickets for business travel. Or, at least, travel they’d approve. (Just in case it was some sort of employee bonus or something like that).
So while the credits are linked to his SkyMiles number and don’t expire until 2022, I don’t think that gives Ry carte blanche to use them for personal purposes.
Ry wrote, “but if they can’t be transferred and I have no intention of returning to work for them, why would they NOT want me to use them?”
Maybe the company wants to rehire Ry if their situation improves. (I have a similar experience — more on that in a minute.) But Ry apparently has “no intention of returning to work for them.” So if I were the former employer, I’d be plenty upset about footing the bill for someone’s presumed vacation I didn’t approve.
(I also wonder if there are tax implications here when it comes to write-offs. Accountants in the group, can you shed any light on this?)
Maybe Ry is upset at the old company. Perhaps not. We don’t have the entire story of Ry’s relationship with them. Maybe it was all roses. Perhaps it was thorny. We don’t know. I can see someone wanting to use credits out of spite or revenge. Or even just compensation they felt due.
I don’t know that’s the situation here, though. I’m leaning toward Ry thinking something along the lines of, Hey, I’m the only one who can use the tickets, so why let them go to waste? Perhaps no ill-will or harm was intended. And some naivety came into play.
Unused credits are tempting to use, sure. But unless Ry received written permission from the company to use the credits after being laid off, I don’t think it was wise.
I hope the credits are affordable for Ry’s budget — in case the company continues to insist on reimbursement. And using that firm as a reference is probably in jeopardy, too.
But the Employer: C’mon, Man!
I think the employer could’ve proactively taken steps to make sure this didn’t happen.
Ry said the “flights were canceled.”
I had several flights canceled last year because of COVID. Know what I did? Called up Delta. They refunded my purchase. Done.
So if it’s true the flights were indeed canceled, I don’t why the company didn’t try to get its money back.
On its website, Delta says:
Request a refund if:
- You experienced a downgrade of service, or
- Your flight was significantly delayed or canceled by Delta and:
- You have an eCredit from that flight, or
- You are requesting a refund for purchased seat product, Priority Boarding, or Mileage Booster
It’s entirely possible they tried to get refunds and the tickets were still being processed. Or Delta, for some reason, wouldn’t play ball. We don’t have the entire story. But going off what Ry told us, this seems like an avoidable situation.
Or maybe the company uses a corporate travel agency. My experience dealing with corporate travel agencies (companies whose job is booking travel for employees or contractors) has never been all that great. The ones I’ve dealt with excel at charging fees. But working on behalf of their client’s best interests? Meh.
I Have a Similar Situation
I was booked to work in Las Vegas during spring 2020. My client arranged my flights a few months ahead of time — before coronavirus was even a concern.
Like almost everything else last year, the event was postponed. So the client canceled my trip reservation.
But when I recently checked my loyalty program account with the airline in question, there was an e-credit for about $205 and associated with that trip’s PNR. The credit expires in September 2022.
I alerted my client — just so they know (or remember) the funds are there in case they want to pursue a refund, have me hold on to the credit for the next trip (if work trips resume), etc.
Never, though, would I consider using the credit for personal use. Unless, of course, my client says, “Enjoy, God bless, have a good time, send us a postcard.”
But I’m not holding my breath.
However the client decides to use the credit is up to them. If it expires without ever being spent, that’s completely their money and decision.
Using e-credits purchased by clients or employers should be utilized only for travel on their behalf — even if the business relationship is terminated. We don’t decide how to spend our employer’s or client’s money (unless we own the company, of course). Doing so without their permission is only asking for trouble. If they want vouchers to expire, that’s on them.
What Do You Think?
Was this an innocent mistake? A good learning experience for everyone involved? Were there bad intentions at play here?
Please share your thoughts in the below Comments section.
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