Amid the pandemic, the number of consumers requesting airline refunds has reached new heights. In fact, the Department of Transportation has received “an unprecedented volume of complaints from passengers” regarding airline refunds during this time, CNBC reported.
And on CNBC’s new web series “Got a Money Dispute? Ask Kevin,” host Kevin O’Leary says arguments over travel refunds are “one of the most common” disputes he sees nowadays.
“With the pandemic leading the cancellations left and right, folks are fighting over money like never before,” O’Leary said during the fifth episode of his web series, which premieres Wednesday at 2 p.m. ET on YouTube.
“Consumers want their hard earned cash back.”
During the most recent episode, O’Leary received a plea for help from David, who said he booked a $10,000 family vacation package through JetBlue, and because of the pandemic, now wants a refund.
“Mr. Wonderful, please help me,” David wrote to O’Leary. “Our family wants to cancel our trip to Aruba originally booked from August 29 through September 5.”
David told O’Leary that JetBlue had offered him a credit good for two years, but “I need the cash,” David said. “I need the money now, not a voucher.”
JetBlue cited company policy, David said, and refused to give a cash refund.
“Now, credit isn’t [cash],” O’Leary agreed. “I understand that. That’s some serious money. I totally get it.”
But before O’Leary could even begin to help, the family had an update.
After writing the letter asking for O’Leary’s advice, “my daughter Danielle heard me complaining so much,” David told O’Leary.
“We were at dinner and [David] was ranting, which is fine,” Danielle told O’Leary.
“We went on the JetBlue website, looked at their leadership team. I saw their president and COO [Joanna Geraghty]. I decided to see if I could send her a tweet. So, from my Twitter, I sent her a very polite tweet asking if I could have  minutes of her time. I’d love to just to talk to her and see if there was anything we could do.”
O’Leary read her tweet aloud: “I am hoping to get some help with travel we have booked and Covid, we are saddened with the response from your team from loyal customers! Would love 10 mins of your time!”
O’Leary was impressed. “Wow, I like that,” he said.
Danielle told O’Leary a JetBlue customer relations representative then called her dad.
“The [JetBlue customer relations] woman was very nice,” David said to O’Leary on the episode.
“She said that’s [JetBlue’s] policy [to not refund] but this is a one-time thing that they will do and they will reimburse us online, and she did. She sent us back our money, and I was pleasantly surprised.”
O’Leary was surprised of the outcome – which came without his help this time.
“Danielle, it sounds like you’re a master of social media,” O’Leary said. “You tweet once. It totally works. You’re batting a thousand.”
“Usually, I’m the one giving the advice. But in this case, I ended up learning a lesson.”
O’Leary was impressed that Danielle “didn’t waste any time” after contacting him for help. “You did the right thing,” he said.
The “Shark Tank” investor said he learned two things from David and Danielle.
“One, big corporations cover themselves with contracts but that doesn’t mean they stick to them. Sometimes, you have to take your own initiative. Use the power of social media to do that,” O’Leary said. “No. 2 is, you’ve got to be polite about it because you’re dealing with a big company that could go either way. They can tell you to pound sand, or they can help you.”
“[JetBlue] saw you reach out, and you were polite, Danielle. That was amazing for you to think that through. And bingo! You don’t have to listen to your dad whining anymore at dinner. This is a fantastic outcome.”
Not only is this a lesson for consumers, O’Leary said, but a lesson for a “big corporation”: “Take care of your customers and they’ll be loyal.”
All in all, David and Danielle “taught all of us a lesson on what it takes to get it done,” O’Leary said. “Love it!”
JetBlue did not immediately respond to CNBC Make It’s request for comment.