Family's bank account drained twice after Southwest Airlines glitch - KMOV.com

Family's bank account drained twice after Southwest Airlines glitch

TARRANT COUNTY, Texas - Buddy Knight pointed at a stack of confirmation and cancellation e-mails he printed out.

"Each one of these are $502.50 each," Knight said. "It was a $2,000 charge not expected at our house."

The Knight family just wanted to fly to San Diego to see son Christopher graduate from Marine Corps boot camp. It was to be their first time flying on Southwest, but it's turned into a first-class pain.

The Knights and thousands of other people were trying to take advantage of a half-price ticket sale Friday night. But Southwest said the overwhelming response led to website performance issues.

Customers, including the Knights, were charged for duplicate bookings.

"We wanted three tickets, and we got 15," Buddy Knight said.

Within minutes of the debit card charges draining the Knight's bank account well into the red, his bank called. A representative asked whether the 15 ticket purchases were fraudulent. Knight said yes.

The bank credited his account Friday night.

"We had money Saturday, Sunday, and we had money pretty much all day Monday, but this morning, my wife goes to Walmart and she can't get margarine, because her card won't work," Knight said. "Meanwhile, I'm at a gas station. Card won't work."

He went to the bank.

"And they say, 'Well, you bought 15 airline tickets,' [I said] 'You mean they're back?'" Knight recalled.

Just before midnight, the charges originally deemed fraudulent actually went through. Knight's bank explained that process had to be completed for Southwest to make a proper reimbursement.

But Knight said no one warned him it was coming.

Southwest spokesperson Ashley Dillon said the company sincerely apologizes to Knight and all customers impacted by the glitch. She stressed that the airline has issued refunds to all the financial institutions involved.

"These refunds are currently being processed, but timing will vary, depending on the individual bank," she said.

Southwest is also offering reimbursement for overdraft fees caused by the duplicate charges.

Knight said his personal banker has credited the family's account, so he has access to cash until the entire refund is received. He's unsure when that will be.

"It's not rocket science," he said. "If they can take the money out that quick, why can't they put it back in?"

He's received a $150 voucher from Southwest Airlines, and he said he appreciates the apology, but he's worried about people who don't have personal relationships with bankers. He said he's sure there are people across the country who have no access to cash right now.

"If it takes two more days to clear this up, that's Wednesday, maybe Thursday, from a Friday mistake," he said. "And people haven't had their money? That voucher can't buy gas or food."

E-mail twoodard@wfaa.com

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