I pulled my Eagle Creek 22″ 4-wheeled suitcase off the luggage carousel at the Cyprus airport, set it upright, and spun it around to make sure everything was OK. I’d used that suitcase constantly over the past two plus years and it had held up incredibly well, so I didn’t expect to find anything unusual. This time, however, I noticed a crack in the top, left-hand corner. I leaned over to inspect it more closely. Sure enough, a serious spider-web crack marred the polycarbonate frame.
I rolled it over to the Aegean counter to report the damage. The agent offered me two options. “I could give you a replacement right now, but they’re not very good bags,” he said. Alternatively, I could fill out a form and start the process to get a refund for the case. Since I travel full-time, having a good quality suitcase is crucial for me, so I chose the latter option. Three days later, I received the first in what would be a long string of emails from Aegean over the next six weeks:
Dear Ms. Weibel,
Thank you for contacting us. We checked your claim and we would like to provide you with the following information. More specifically, you may proceed on repairing your bag and forward us the receipt of payment in order to cover the respective amount. If your bag is considered irreparable, you are kindly requested to forward us some photos as well as the receipt of purchase. In case it is not available , kindly inform us for its model and dimensions. Ms. Weibel, we are looking forward to your reply at your earliest convenience and settling your claim.
I replied that I was a full-time traveler with no home base. While Eagle Creek luggage has a lifetime warranty, I would need to ship it back to the U.S. and wait up to two months for repairs to be completed. This would obviously be impossible, as I needed it to travel; I also felt I shouldn’t have to incur expensive shipping costs from Europe. In any case, I really felt that the case was beyond repair. I included a link to the product page for my suitcase on the Eagle Creek website, which showed the price for a replacement to be $339, and asked how they would like to proceed. They replied:
We would like to inform you that in this case we may offer you the amount of €100, contributing on the replacement of your bag. In order to proceed with the deposit, the following bank account details are required: bank name, iban, swift, holder’s name, and address. (In case of deduction is due to the bank’s policy). As soon as we receive your reply we will be able to proceed accordingly.
Since I’d used the suitcase for more than two years, the €100 offer didn’t seem out of line. The terms, on the other hand, didn’t sit well with me. I replied:
Sadly, this is not an option for me. I have checked with my bank and they will charge me $60 for receiving a wire transfer. That means that I will receive less than $50 USD for a case that will cost me $339 to replace. Is there any possibility that you can provide the funds in the form of a check that can be mailed to me? Is Paypal perhaps an option for you? Even a voucher for 100 Euros for a future flight would be acceptable, as I will be back in Greece next spring. Please do consider one of those three options.
I later learned that I had been given incorrect information by my bank; an incoming wire transfer would cost me only $15 USD, and Aegean eventually offered to cover the cost of the wire transfer as well, upping the total to €113. Still, I just wasn’t comfortable with their requirements. Identity theft happens in epic proportions these days, and I didn’t want to transmit the information they requested over an insecure wifi network. Even with a secure connection via a VPN, I had no idea what would happen to my sensitive details after they sent money to my bank. Would the information be destroyed or would it remain in a database somewhere? What about the email that contained the information – who would have access to that? Unfortunately, Aegean Air would not budge. Not only did their next email ignore my request, it was more than a little perplexing:
Further to your email, we would like inform you that we may only transfer money to a euro account. As such, please forward us the bank details of an account that accepts transfers in euro in order for us to proceed with your compensation.
I assumed that they had not received my latest email, so forwarded it with an additional note asking for clarification. Their reply was curt:
As mentioned to our previous correspondence, the deposit can only be executed via bank transfer. Based on that, we are not in the position to proceed with any of the options suggested to your email. As such, please revert to us with your bank details so we can accomplish your claim the soonest possible.
By this time, I was getting frustrated. It had been three weeks since I had filled out the damage report, and I’d flown twice more with a suitcase patched together with duct tape. With each flight, the damage grew worse and I knew it wasn’t going to last much longer. I replied that if we couldn’t find a way to work this out, I would have no choice but to detail the situation via social media. Their reply?
Further to your reply, we are sorry for the feelings and the inconvenience that might have been caused. Nevertheless, as you are already aware, on accounting basis we cannot proceed to an alternative means of compensating for the relevant damage. Ms. Weibel, please revert to us with the bank account details of yours or any of your relatives, if you wish, so as to proceed with the deposit of €100.
I replied that this was absolutely unacceptable, and forwarded photos of what my bag looked like following an additional flights. The damage was now so bad that the case would not withstand any future flights.
Unfortunately, I was in Nepal by that time, where it was impossible to find a quality replacement. It took me three days in Kathmandu to find a replacement. It was a poor quality piece that probably will not hold up well, but at least it would allow me to continue traveling. I emailed Aegean Airways once again, explaining that I had purchased a new 22′ rolling suitcase:
I have managed to purchase a new suitcase in Kathmandu. As you can imagine, it is nowhere near the quality I am used to, but it would have been impossible to continue traveling with my original bag, as it is disintegrating from the damaged caused by your airline. I am going to ask, respectfully, one more time, for you to reimburse me in a manner other than wiring to my bank account, for all the reasons previously communicated. Surely you could post a credit to my Master Card?
We received your reply and we would like to inform you that you may forward us the receipt of purchase for the new bag so as to proceed with your compensation. At this point it is also worth to mention that as you are already aware, we may only transfer money to an account that accepts Euro transfers while technically, it is not possible to proceed to an alternative means of compensating. Nevertheless, if you feel more safe, we may also call you in order to provide us with the requested bank information. Ms. Weibel, we are waiting for your reply so as to settle your claim.
I wasn’t worried about the currency issue. My bank is an international bank, so they would accept a wire transfer in Euros and convert to U.S. dollars. At this point, it was six weeks since I had filed the damage report and I was disgusted with Aegean and tired of dealing with them. I emailed them the name of my bank and the exact name shown on the account, but asked them to phone me so I could give them my account number, routing number, and swift number verbally. They did so promptly, but then told me they also needed the name of an Intermediary Bank and a Swift Code for the Intermediary Bank. Frustrated, I emailed my bank for that information. They replied:
Thank you for contacting us through the Secured Message Center. I am sorry for any difficulty however we do not have intermediary bank details. A bank that may handle a wire between the sending and receiving bank would be determined by the sending bank.
A clear case of each entity pointing the finger at the other. But after a couple of hours researching intermediary banks and international wire transfers online, I have no doubt the information provided by my bank was correct. One last email to Aegean did nothing to rectify the situation. They continue to insist they need an intermediary bank, which does not exist in the case of my bank.
At that point, I gave up, which is exactly what I suspect Aegean Airlines hoped would happen all along. In my view, they don’t care about their customers at all. I will NEVER fly them again and hope everyone reading this thinks long and hard before they do, too.
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