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Air Canada customer says she was wrongly billed for flight in U.S. dollars

TORONTO — A Toronto frequent flyer who books regularly with Air Canada says she got an unwelcome surprise when she returned from a trip to Greece this spring. Her credit card bill was almost $1,000 higher than expected.

“They said it was my error, I made the mistake, I went into the wrong website,” said Maureen Gordon, a retired banker and loyal Air Canada customer who flies with the carrier at least six times a year.

This winter she booked a return trip to Athens, Greece where she was joining a Canadian tour group. She booked the flight, she says, on AirCanada.com as is her custom. The total price of the airfare came to more than $3,000.

But when she checked her Visa bill when she returned home, she says she discovered that she’d been billed for the flight in U.S. dollars. Taking into account the currency difference, she says the flight cost was closer to $4,000.

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“This doesn’t make sense to me, honestly,” Gordon told Global News after her pleas to Air Canada for a price adjustment were denied.

Air Canada says Gordon booked the flight on its U.S. website, not the Canadian one.

“The site notifies customers three times during the course of the booking process that the fare is quoted in U.S. dollars,” said Peter Fitzpatrick, spokesman for Air Canada. The airline declined a request by Global News for an on-camera interview. It almost never grants televised interviews to discuss customer complaints.

“The customer did not pay more than she would have booking on the Canadian site,” Fitzpatrick said in an emailed statement,  arguing the fare paid by Gordon was equivalent to the Canadian dollar fare after conversion.

That wasn’t Gordon’s experience, however. She said she believed the price of $3,000 was a Canadian fare because she logged into the site the same way as always. If she was redirected to another site, she says there was no indication she was on a different Air Canada website.

Carmi Levy, an independent technology analyst, said Air Canada failed in this case, not Gordon. He told Global News the company should “eat the fare difference” and make amends.

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“A Canadian customer connecting to the website of a Canadian device on a Canadian network should not have to validate and re-validate that she is, in fact, a Canadian consumer who expects to pay in Canadian dollars,” Levy said. “Air Canada has been caught with its technological pants down.”

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