Monday, April 21, 2008

I Lost Money because of Cebu Pacific

Cebu Pacific has caused me a lot of stress in the past month and if you've been following me on Twitter you'd know a bit of the story. To make a long story short -

I booked 4 members of my family for a trip to Jakarta. Because of the new policies of DSWD and the long time it takes to get documents from NSO I was not able to obtain a travel clearance for my son despite all the efforts I put in it. In short, I had to cancel his ticket.

Unfortunately the time I had to cancel the ticket was the time that Cebu Pacific decided to upgrade (a.k.a. mess up) their system and my calls and emails were left unanswered. I was also advised that it would take more than half a day if I went to their office as it was jampacked like a rock concert. I cannot stand crowds and hey I'm a very busy person, I cannot take half a day out just to cancel a ticket. Besides what are customer hotlines and emails for if you cannot call and seek assistance through these channels?

I only managed to get through the Cebu Pacific hotline on the day my family was set to leave and I was told by the customer service agent that they were only going to refund PhP3,400 of the PhP8,271 ticket since I only called on the day they were set to leave, plus one way was a promo ticket and they don't refund those. The agent also said that she handled a number of calls with the same problem that week and that they did not give any consideration despite the fact that there system was all fouled-up.

Okay, so I tried to be good natured about the incident since I knew that the customer service agent was just following orders. I also do not want to get all riled up over a ticket. I eventually sent a complaint letter to Cebu Pacific and have waited and waited and waited for them to reply. I guess since they already have MY MONEY, they don't really care.

I have now sought the assistance of the Bureau of Trade Regulation and Consumer Protection and have sent them a letter (see below). I am still hoping that I would get at least PhP6,700 back from Cebu Pacific. I am sure that other consumers have been made to suffer the same plight. And all because of their system's inefficiency.

I have been using Cebu Pacific and I'm very disappointed with them. I did not make a fuss when the Cebu Pacific plane I was riding lurched back down to the ground while it was taking off. That incident caused me a lot of stress that time and I lost about 10 pounds within two weeks after getting stuck in Iloilo. I also missed attending a number of important meetings for that day, but I just shut up then because I had a lot on my plate. Now this, this is really preposterous. I'm probably going to face the same thing with Philippine Airlines since they also do not answer back to emails.

Here's my letter to BTRCP -

Dear Atty. Dimagiba,

I found your email address through the DTI website under the ConsumerNet Directory. I tried looking for a grievance procedure on how to file a complaint, but found none online. I thought of writing directly to you instead.

I would like to seek redress regarding Cebu Pacific Air. I booked 4 members of my family (my parents, aunt and son) on a flight to Jakarta a full month before they were scheduled to go as I was aware I had to get clearance from DSWD for my son's travel with his grandparents. As I am an unmarried single parent I was unable to secure the "never married" certificate from NSO (because it takes at least 15 days to get one) in time for my son's travel supposedly on April 7, 2008.

I began to call the Cebu Pacific hotlines on March 31. The ticket said to call at least a day before to cancel flights. Much to my consternation the Cebu Pacific hotlines were either busy or re-directed to their fax. On April 1 a friend of mine asked assistance from me to book a flight, but we both found out that the online system was down and even travel agencies were not accepting booking for Cebu Pacific. We called around and found out that the Cebu Pacific offices were jampacked and one had to wait at least half a day to be served. I still kept on calling Cebu Pacific to cancel my son's ticket. I kept the faith that the Cebu Pacific hotline would ease up and I'd manage to cancel the flight over the phone as I have done twice in the past. My week was also fully booked and I cannot personally go to their offices.

Cebu Pacific apparently implemented a new system that week and that caused all the furor for all its clients (consumers and travel agencies).

I was hesitant to send an email to Cebu Pacific (they have it at the bottom of their e-ticket) since I felt nobody was going to answer it, but I was desperate already by April 4 and sent an email request to cancel my son's booking. I still continued to call them and have several times waited 30 minutes on the phone listening to their customer service menu, to no avail. I also re-sent my email several times but these went unanswered.

It was only on April 7 that the lines cleared up and someone answered. It was then that the customer service agent said that I could only refund one way of the ticket that was booked since I only called on the day they were set to leave and that it was a promo ticket (that little bit was not in the policies included in the e-ticket). I told the agent that I had exercised all efforts to contact Cebu Pacific for one whole week but their system was down, she just read to me some policies they had about ticket cancellations. She also mentioned that she handled a lot of calls already and that they did not make any considerations to it.

I am seeking redress from your office because I feel that I have been robbed of my money. I should've gotten back about PhP6,771 from the PhP8,271 (penalty of PhP1,500 only). I suffered the loss of money because of the inefficiency of Cebu Pacific's system and not because I was amiss in canceling the ticket on time. I am sure that there are a lot of other ticket holders who suffered the same fate as me.

I have written Cebu Pacific several times, but all of my letters have gone unanswered. I hope your office can help me retrieve the money I lost because of their inefficiency.

Aileen Apolo
This was my complaint letter to Cebu Pacific -

From: Aileen Apolo <>
Date: Mon, Apr 7, 2008 at 8:19 PM

To whom it may concern:

I would like to file this complaint regarding the refund for 1 reservation for booking number MH1SD with reference number ITD01919375CEB for flight 5J759 on April 7, Monday and flight 5J760 on April 26 which has now been changed to J33C2P.

The ticket originally cost around PhP8,000 per person and upon request for refund I am going to be refunded only PhP3,400 according to Jona, the agent I spoke to last April 7, 2008 (morning).

I refunded because as of March 28 we could not obtain the proper DSWD clearance for Jose Miguel Apolo who is a minor who's supposed to travel with his grandparents to Jakarta.

I began calling your customer service hotlines on March 31 to no avail. I always got a busy tone all throughout the week. I had your ticket offices checked, but on April 1 we were informed that your system had an upgrade and the offices were swarming with people. Since I have been a frequent user of your service and have successfully managed to change bookings in the past over the phone, I persevered in calling the customer service hotline. I did not want to course my request through email because I thought I would not get any answer.

On April 5 I realized that I was never going to get through your customer service hotline, so I finally sent an email for my request. I also sent a follow-up email. They were never acknowledged. I also still tried calling again and again your customer service hotline throughout the weekend, even during evenings, to no avail.

NOW I HAVE TO SUFFER THE LOSE OF approximately PhP5,500 because of the INADEQUACY OF YOUR SYSTEM. I was also told when I finally managed to get through your lines that the fare from Manila to Jakarta was forfeited because it was a promo fare. THAT IS NOT SHOWN ANYWHERE IN THE E-TICKET BELOW (unless there's a fineprint I missed).

Pray tell me, WHY SHOULD I SUFFER FOR YOUR INEFFICIENCIES? I would like to demand for the refund of the ticket payment for Jose Miguel Apolo less the PhP1,500 penalty as stated in the conditions below. My refund should be approximately PhP6,500 and not just PhP3,400.

According to the agent there are others who have suffered the same fate as me. Kindly reply within 24 hours. Thanks.

Aileen Apolo


  1. Hi Aileen,
    Grrrrrrrr airlines. They are the same world over.
    Sort of reminds me of a certain South Park episode where Mr Garrison invents a new mode of transport. Anyway won't go into that here.
    I hope you get your money back.
    It is true they may not care because they already have your money, however the future loss of any business from you will be far worse for them.
    Have to say I have had no problems with PAL Sydney-Manila-Iloilo, however I have not had to make any changes to tickets that I could compare to what you have gone through.
    Let us know how you go.

    Best wishes

  2. Hi Aileen,

    Sorry to hear your story. I cant promise anything, but maybe a virtual hug will at least help.

    I know some folks at CebuPacific, specifically from their IT group, since we are one of their IT equipment vendor. I will forward this blog of yours to them. Let's see if they can help you.

  3. I am lost here. Why do you need travel clearance for your son? Is this because you're a single parent or something?

    I empathize with how you feel about the whole thing. I'd do the same if I were in your shoes.

    I will feature your story as soon as my customer service ( blog is up (right now it's migrating).

    I'll be checking back on your story. I hope you'll find justice here. Best of luck! :)

  4. It's really a pity on your side, I totally agree, you lost money. I've travelled by air so much, since then when the fair from the place where I lived is just Php11.00 which is now Php2,800. International flights as well, and it is always the advise of the airline agents or travel agents like Thomas Cook, that I should never refund tickets, NEVER.

    If ever I will do refund, I had to accept the disadvantage of getting lesser amount of the purchased value, about, plus/minus 40% only, most especially if it has been covered by a certain promo fare like family or groups, season fare, etc.

    Like for example, when my family travelled on four, we enjoyed some discounts, but if any one of us failed to take the flight, and if in any case, I refund the ticket for that one member of my family who was not able to take the flight, they will revert back to the computation to the non-promo fare, and maybe there will be no refund at at all. IATA have their own rules which is more advantageous to their side, yet I'm not an expert to it.

    What I always did is revert back the ticket to an open dated mode or reconfirm it to another available date as what travel agencies always advised me.

    If ever, you do not have time to transact personally with the airline (since emails and telephone calls are not reliable), the next time around, better transact and arrange your tickets through respectable and popular travel agents who will provide you all the necessary info in case of unexpected happenings, even though it will cost you more. They will provide you options and alternatives to minimize losses on tickets purchsed.

    If I were you, at such amount, and at this point, and still you can have the refund, you can think it over. Time is money and to keep insisting more, I'm afraid all the energy and your own time indulged in it might disappointingly end up futile and unsuccessful.

    Let it be a part of our life and learning, as we often heard, "Charged it to experienced." It's up to you, I just tell you my options, if I were in your shoes...

  5. sad to hear that, :(

  6. the airline industry's service is going downhill..:(

  7. Yikes. What a dilemma. Cebu Pac with its poor service but affordable rates, or pricy PAL which is always late? Hahai. The Philippine Airline industry is really...well, you know what I mean. And to think that PAL was the first airline in Asia. When will we ever get airline services comparable to that of SQ (Singapore Airlines)?

  8. bad trip!!!!!!!!!!!!! .... i wonder if this only happens in the third world .....

  9. hello! tip: if you can get the email adds of the CEO's, VPs, Managers, and Supervisors, it's good to cc them in the email. doing so, you can easily get a response :)

  10. rmacapobre said...
    bad trip!!!!!!!!!!!!! .... i wonder if this only happens in the third world .....

    I watched CNN the other day and American Airlines, Delta and everything else's number in terms of delayed flight and lost baggages is to the roof. Costumer satisfaction is low. So not only for third world countries

    We need new ways of transportation technology. Teleportation maybe?

  11. Thanks for more information on the failures and ineptness of Cebu Pacific. Currently, I'm also having my share of troubles booking for a seat in their airline (trying to call their Call Center in Manila is already a hassle and seems a dead end already). It's been also two days since I tried calling their Call Center hotline which seems to be either nobody's picking up their phone or every agent (daw) is busy at work and cannot attend the phone at the moment. And I'm just calling up to reserve a seat using my travel voucher they issued last December for being one of those bumped out of the seat for their "overbooking issue".

    Really, just great service (?) from an inept airline from our home country. No wonder many of my OFW friends curse this airline and try to switch to PAL, Tiger Airways, JetStar, or even the expensive SQ and yet very excellent service and seats.

  12. Hi Aileen! CebuWiseConsumer has linked to this post! You are not alone in this Cebu Pacific thing ;-) See your post linked at Cebu Pacific: Do you Care?

  13. Hello,

    I like to share my experience with you in buying tickets from a Cebu Pacific ticket office. And how I beat the "rock concert like crowd" in the ticket office.


  14. Hi Aileen! Were you able to get your refund na? Yung sakin kasi, wala pa! Last January pa yung request ko ha at till now, wala pa rin!

    Every time I call their Customer Service Dept, lagi sinasabi sakin na nasa Accounting Dept na daw. I even asked for the phone # and email address of Acctg dept but no one is answering. I emailed them twice asking for an update but still, nothing happens.

    And to date, the email address of Accounting Dept is NOT working already! Grrrrr!!!

  15. Hi aileen,

    Were you able to get your refund? Same thing happened to me. I cancelled 2 round trip tickets last April, and for the last 4 months everytime I inquire to their customer service, their answer is my account is still on que in the accounting department, they said that I personally inquire to the department and they gave me a number. Unfortunately no one is ansering everytime I call. Sad thing is the credit card that I used is charging interests for the tickets for four months now, hay.

  16. @san ginez nope I have not been fully refunded yet. April din ako nag-cancel.

  17. Guyz...what I heard is, its better kung mag ask ka ng favor sa travel agency whose affiliated with cebpac, mas madali ang pag refund...

    Mine is more worst!!!!!, I booked 14 passengers, its a confirm booking and the payments are confirm also and what more is they email me all the confirmation tickets...and then when they are in the airport, when they are in the check in counter, they told them that their tickets are not paid...then I call the bank they say they already bill me...eventhough I call cebpac they just ignore me they said its a bank to bank transaction...and the worst thing is my passengers never managed to use the tickets....luckily I have a friend here, he knows somebody from the top, so he's willing to help me to pursue this matter. He is going to email the CEO of cebpac..I hope I can get what I want...

  18. Guyz...hope you can get what you want...

  19. Wow! di lang pala ako...

    I had so many tickets from Manila - Jakarta back and forth and let me tell you i had the same case, and lost more than a lot of money on that...Imagine i have to pay 11k just to rebook?????

    I had my flight cancelled and at the same time, wla pang nagcredit back sa account ko...I chose PAL instead and gave me 7,5k for the one way trip!!!

    It was a waste of time and money to use cebupac! don't use them anymore! ever!

  20. Hi to all.

    I want to share my experience with the worst airline in the country- CEBU PACIFIC.

    Bought ticket via promo fare. Confirmed and paid. Upon arrival at the check-in counter, the arrogant attendant tols us that we were late as they close 45 minutes prior to ETD. BULLSHIT! Ticket paid already and I cannot understand why they refused to check us in. I was with my family and it was very disappointing.

    Neither any of the staff were there to accommodate us. Rebooking will cost us to pay the regurlar fare. GO FARES is a SCAM.

    My Php 5,000 just flew without any fight! Do not ride CEBU PACIFIC. It will just make your day depressing, that you will ask God why bad things happen to good and righteous people.

  21. Hi to all.

    I want to share my experience with the worst airline in the country- CEBU PACIFIC.

    Bought ticket via promo fare. Confirmed and paid. Upon arrival at the check-in counter, the arrogant attendant tols us that we were late as they close 45 minutes prior to ETD. BULLSHIT! Ticket paid already and I cannot understand why they refused to check us in. I was with my family and it was very disappointing.

    Neither any of the staff were there to accommodate us. Rebooking will cost us to pay the regurlar fare. GO FARES is a SCAM.

    My Php 5,000 just flew without any fight! Do not ride CEBU PACIFIC. It will just make your day depressing, that you will ask God why bad things happen to good and righteous people.

  22. March 7, 2009

    To The Manager
    Cebu Pacific Air

    Got the confirmation Number _______ on February 6, confirmed flight for 4 roundtrip ticket to Hongkong and paid thru visa card amounting to almost 39k+, and when I checked your online booking now, same flight, same date only arrives to the amount of P22,117K for 4pax.

    My wife from Canada just called your hotline just to be informed by Ms. Gretchen Francisco that when we made the payment, it’s a regular fare and suddenly the P22K+ for 4 pax is based on your sudden promo. You know the impact already, somewhat we felt cheated. We’ll be traveling with Go Lite, and my fellow passengers who paid less will get more privileges, considering I paid almost twice of the amount. Please try to visualize if you’re in similar situation, then you’ll probably know what I mean.

    Please don’t lecture us about your policy, it’s too “generic” and it’s subject to change for your convenience. It’s your slogan and the same policy that we made to decide for an early booking…book earlier to pay less…ayokong masira ang bakasyon ko together with my 3 kids, pero it seems it will be ruined by these circumstances. Yeah, your still cheaper but traveling for almost 20 years now, this is the only time I felt bad. If I have to pay more and feel good, then it will be much better. If I could take the full refund and paid more to PAL and or other airlines, I’m willing to but you’re not. Ibinagsak nyo ang presyo nyo ng parang sa palengke, pano naman po yung nagbayad ng tama, advance payment pa kami since February, twice the price of the same commodity/service at ma-avail on the same date, at mas privilege pa ang nagbayad ng mas mura…anong marketing strategy yan? Come to think of it.

    When I checked online before the booking, ang promo nyo will start on June. If refund will take for 45 days or 3 months, and who knows…if and too many ifs, how could you at least try to pacify our discontentment? Just try.

    God Bless.


    Gorge Claricia
    Doha Qatar

  23. hi aileen:

    we've sent that letter to cebupac, 3 emails unfortunately no reply, so we called overseas cebupac hotline, only to be informed, refund for only 3k each, what d'...and we still have a month before departure. we tried to be cool and dignified kahit niloloko kami,he he he but what amazes us baka madami pang suprizes and adventures 'tong cebupac while on board. it's my wife who insisted to take Pal instead, pero mapilit ako at para makatipid and since our kids are all in dau mabalacat, so we took clark hongkong clark and booked cebupac online=P39.6k, then after, it reduces to P22k.
    So we're being cheated, informing us to book early & that no promo for the month of April, anyway, still cheap but the point, you wont feel's just a disappointment...they just robbed me of extra 17k, and fooled us to receive only 12k from the 39K if to cancel, basta...just to remind everybody, beware of cebupac!
    Just to remind u guyz, the cebupac staff has nothing to do with it, it's the upper management, the chain of command and responsibility come from the higher level, their employees are trained to be that way, customer service is relatively poor when buying cheap commodity, including cheap airlines like cebupac. The point is to ignore not to assist you, that's the main objective... to get rid off complaints and not to resolve it.

    Gorge Claricia
    Doha Qatar

  24. i also had a very unfortunate experience in cebupac. this morning was my flight going to singapore, since my passport is less than six months of validity, they did not allow me to leave for sing.

    now, they told me to pay 50,000 pesos if i still want to leave manila. sinong makapal na mukha ang magtatanong sa tao ng agad-agad....very casual ang pagtanong....ang kapal ng mukha.

    i decided to refund my ticket but they told me that i can only get half of it. because my manila-sing ticket is non-refundable, while my sing-manila can be but with penalty.

    i spent 8,700 for my ticket. 2,500 will be the penalty fee. they will only give me 2,000 pesos only?? grabe...wala man lang consideration.

    now, my point is why would they issue me a ticket if they're aware of the 6 month passport policy? i wasn't the only person who was affected by this rule.

    sana before they let their customers book a flight in their online booking website, they could've reminded people first with uppercase letters in a red color that "ALL CUSTOMERS WHO WILL BOOK A FLIGHT MUST CHECK THEIR PASSPORT'S VALIDITY - IT MUST BE MORE THAN 6 MONTHS PRIOR TO ITS EXPIRATION" wish ko lang merong ganyang note on its webpage so that people will not get shocked once they're in the airport tapos di naman pala makakaalis.

    CEBU PACIFIC SUCKS!!!! mag PAL nalang.... or kahit ano pang airline!

    *this can be a passport issue but the airline must also be responsible to remind the customers about this new rule. HINDI LAHAT NG TAO AWARE SA DFA's NEW POLICY...kaya nga sila AIRLINE...kase the main purpose of their company is to GIVE GOOD SERVICE, CONVINIENCE, SAFETY and SECURITY... kaso ang iniisip lang nila manguha ng pera sa mga tao! they even told me that if i want to send a complain to their sales admin and web administrator, i must create a letter to them so they will give an action for it.
    mga siraulo pala mga tao dun eh.

    sumabog sana lahat ng airplanes nila!!!

  25. Cebu pacific ruined my travels. Stil waiting for a refund. I think we should take them to court if we can gather all the complaints.
    i will surely join the facebook group.


  26. Hi! I know it's almost a year after your
    'misfortune' on CebuPac. What happened eventually? Were you able to get any refund? Did the other agencies you wrote to helped?

    (I'm right now having the same difficulty that you went through. I'm searching for similar sites hoping that I can have any help on this matter...)

  27. @ beadeeox: so what happened to your horror story? the same thing happened to me and i'm thinking of legal actions.

  28. Hello everyone. I understand the plight of those who feel were duped by Cebu Pacific. I own a travel agency and I am one of their authorized wholesalers. Luckily for our clients, we explain every single fare rule, fee and penalty before we issue their tickets. If they are not amenable with what has been presented, we offer other airlines instead so problems like these won't arise. As consumers, it is also our responsibility to ASK and SCAN. ASK everything that comes into your mind and think of your 'what ifs.' Project everything that might happen. There's no harm in asking anyway. SCAN. Browse their website. It was always my practice to research first before buying or investing. Cebu Pac's new website is more user-friendly. Information there is readily available. But if still in doubt, ASK again before handing over your hard-earned cash. My two cent's worth... =)

  29. Anonymous7:37 PM

    the same thing happened to me. maybe this article can help. its about passport extension. for people who's passport is less than 6 months validity

  30. Edward L4:52 PM

    Be careful! your flight can be easily cancelled by anyone. as long as they know the flight number and credit card number, that easy, we have a flight this coming thrusday to caticlan for three persons, someone cancelled our fight and we are having a hard time fighting for that flight which was scheduled last last December of 2010. And now, Cus care offered us to book another flight.. for what? for a higher price? and i dont think there is still available flights by then. screw you cebu pacific... screw you!!!

  31. I have this site that will help us reach top cebu pacific air. They're not answering my call and neither do they answer my emails. They lost my luggage and this is the only way I know that might reach their top management.


  32. Anonymous2:08 AM

    same with me,my flyt in thialand is also in charity i cancelled my ticket face to face to the agent who asist me that time 2 weeks b4 my flyt in the end nothing..hayup silang lhat>>