Disputing charges due to Covid-19…Trouble with new booking in times of Covid-19…

Cape buffalo grazing on the Crocodile River as seen from the fence in Marloth Park

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Today’s photos are from May 16, 2015. Please click here for more details.

As mentioned in prior posts, on March 20, 2020, when we arrived at Mumbai’s Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport at 3:00 am, after waiting in line for over an hour to check our bags and check-in, we were refused an opportunity to board the scheduled flight.

South Africa, our destination, was in the process of closing its borders and began refusing all incoming international flights due to Covid-19. Had we left a few days earlier, we could have been allowed to fly and could have made our way to Marloth Park when the country-wide lockdown didn’t begin until March 27th. Here’s the link with the story about South Africa’s lockdown.

The chicks were born in early February and will fledge in the next month or so. It’s been amazing to watch their fluff fall away as their feathers suitable for flying grow in.

We could kick ourselves for not leaving a few days earlier when we’d already ended our tour of India due to the risks of large crowds at various sightseeing venues. But, who knew? We had no idea how the worldwide lockdown would escalate at that point.

We’d booked the flight with Kenya Air at a ticket price for each of us at INR 32627, US $430 for a total of INR 65254, US $860. We considered this a reasonable fare for the one-way flight that would require almost 16 hours of travel time including layovers for the three legs of the flight.
An un-banded Albatross out for a walk. Its impossible to determine the albatross’ gender without a DNA test. There are no obvious markings or physical definitions. Since both parents equally share in sitting on the nest and the care and feeding of the chick, perhaps nature has made them visibly indistinguishable. 

Once we returned to our hotel, after being turned away, the shock left us reeling for a few days. We figured with all the cancellations it made sense to wait a few days before applying for a refund.

As it turned out, we didn’t apply for a refund until several days later once we were situated in this current hotel knowing full well, it would be a time-consuming process.

We began the process by contacting Kenya Airways directly for the credit. This resulted in no less than 12 hours on hold over a period of several days. Finally, we reached a human who instructed us to apply online at their site. Immediately, we applied. 

All of the chicks now have both fluffy and new feathers, as shown in this napping chick.

Several weeks later, we received an email stating that they would not process a refund. We were required to seek a refund from Expedia.com where we’d originally booked the flight.

The lengthy process at Expedia commenced; hours on hold; chat modules with no results until finally, Expedia sent us a message stating we’d have to get our refund from Kenya Airways. How’s that for shuffling us back and forth.

Our only option, at that point, was to contact the credit card we’d used to dispute the charges. There was no “live” chat module or option to send an email for a dispute… only a phone call would be accepting.

This banded albatross appeared to be a parent when she or he was hovering near a chick.

Again, I spent hours online, only to discover they were closed during the daytime hours during which we could call with the huge time difference. Usually, the number on the back of the card is a 24-hour phone number. But, again, due to Covid-19, they too, were operating with a limited staff.

There hadn’t been a single evening that I felt like spending an hour on the phone working this out. Once, in the past, about a year ago, we disputed a charge with Ethiopia Airlines to get a refund when they, not us, canceled a flight. The credit card company took care of it for us but it still required considerable time on hold.

This morning, much to my delight, I was only on hold for 10-minutes and, they had staff working at night, their time. A pleasant woman came on the line who was more than happy to assist after I explained the circumstances.

This chick has been a favorite of ours with her/his nest fairly close to the road and her/him often checking out the scenery.

The end result? In a few days, we’ll see the full refund on that specific card while they continue to work on it over the next 90-days, during which they may contact us to forward the supporting email messages if they run into any problems. In a few clicks, I’ll send the relevant messages without thinking twice.

With this resolution, we’ll have finally received all the refunds for any future travel plans impacted by Covid-19. Subsequently, we have some credits on credit cards, as opposed to debits, which we can use to pay for this past 28-nights in this hotel, plus our meals, when we’re required to pay on May 20th.

Here are two chicks approximately six feet apart although they look closer in this photo. Here again, they are tucked away napping during the wind and rain.  The parents lay one egg and thus these two are not related or, perhaps, they are.

Hotels are often paid after the stay, although some may require full payment in advance during the booking process. That hasn’t been the case here at this Courtyard Mumbai International Airport. They let us pay-as-we-go every 28 days.

When there was a problem with the Hotels.com site, a phone rep was able to get our reservation booked for the first part of our hotel reservation extension from May 20 to June 1, 2020, but not the second portion due to issues on their site.

There is a promotion for double points that we’re trying to take advantage of for the second part of our stay from June 1 to June 17, 2020, which is only applicable for bookings made after June 1, 2020, resulting in our preference to break up the two bookings for a combined 28-night stay into two segments.

By the time we left the area, the sun was shining and we spotted this typical lawn mowing scenario…Cattle Egret hovering near the mower hoping for morsels the process may unsettle.  This always makes us laugh. For this story, please click here.

Now, the second part of our booking won’t process. Their tech department will contact us with a resolution in the next few days and hopefully, we’ll be able to get these other dates with the extra points booked.

There go another 90 minutes of my life while in lockdown spent on the phone in a state of utter frustration during these times of Covid-19. Everything is different now.

That’s it for today, folks. Stay safe.

Photo from one year ago today, May 16, 2019:

John, the fish guy with Tom. John will stop by once a week.  The prior night I had fresh-caught haddock without a single bone topped with the freshest crabmeat. For more from this date, please click here.

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