I bought a flight ticket (Lagos-Nairobi-Nairobi-Lagos) from the Abeokuta office of Dvine Travels and Tours Bureau limited on December 12, 2006. I got to Nairobi in the morning of December 30, 2006. I had a three month visa and the ticket was to be effective for the duration of the visa. However, my stay had to be extended and I asked for a visa extension which was granted for another three months. I then approached the authorities of Kenya Airways for a refund of the unused part of the ticket but I was asked to ask for a refund from the agent who sold the ticket to me. All my efforts to get in touch with Dvine in Abeokuta from Nairobi were abortive. I had to pawn some of my personal belongings including some rare books to raise the $512, with which I bought a fresh one way ticket to Lagos at the expiration of my extended visa in June, 2007.
Immediately I returned to Abeokuta, I got in touch with one Nelson Marshal via email and he sent me an e-mail advising me to send the ticket to their Ibadan office through Abeokuta office. I promptly complied. That was in July 2007. Nelson advised that I should give Dvine till the end of August 2007 because according to him ‘refunds always takes btwn 4wks and 6wks.’ On Wednesday, 28 November, 2007, I sent Nelson Marshal the following email message: ‘I am still waiting for the refund.’ A message to which Nelson replied: ‘We are sorry for the delay but that is the problem we always have when it comes to refunds and we don’t have any power over it. We hope that it will be out by this week or next week latest. Thanks for your understanding. Please your contact details so that I can contact you when it is out.’ I sent Nelson my contact details as requested the following day. The situation remained thus until Wednesday, January 2 when I sent Nelson another mail asking him to avail me the email address of the person in charge of refunds at Kenya Airways. He promptly responded. I then resent the initial email that contained all the particulars of the ticket. This is Mr Diran Oloyede, the man in charge of refunds at Kenya Airways, Lagos office’s, response: ‘I have investigated your issue and the result is that the class of ticket you bought is non refundable if partly used. What you should have done is upgrade the ticket to accommodate your new return date. I apologise on behalf of the agency that issued the ticket, they should have gotten back to you before now. Please for future purposes, always ask your agent or airline the conditions attached to a particular class of ticket
before purchase. Have a nice day.’
This response from Diran Oloyede was a daze and I quickly wrote a reply: ‘Does it imply that Nelson did not report my case to you until I presented it? For your information I have been dialoguing with him on the refund since June, 2007.The tone of your letter does not match an investigation. I will contact Nairobi because it was the chief there who asked me to collect my refund in Lagos. Good morning.’ The response I got from Diran: ‘Nelson reported your issue to our office. You can contact Nairobi too and you may also want to come to our office in Lagos at Churchgate Building 1st floor Afribank Street.’
I did not ask from Nairobi because it was Nairobi who asked me to demand for a refund from the agent who sold the ticket to me neither have I visited Churchgate Building because I do not think there is any reason for such visit. What I did was send another mail to Diran Oloyede: ‘I need some enlightenment here. At Nairobi I was told the agent I purchased the ticket from should refund. When I arrived here, I was told to send the ticket to Ibadan which I did. Not once since last year June did Nelson give any indication that you will give the kind of response you gave. What interest does Nelson protect? Who does he work for? And you are you an intermediary between customers and KQ? I bought the ticket from Dvine and I think it Dvine who should refund. Don’t you think so? I am confused.’
Diran’s response: ‘Agencies do not refund money (where applicable) but process same on behalf of passengers with the airlines. Agencies forward refund requests to airlines for processing and approval or otherwise depending on the rules of that particular ticket bought. Every ticket has rules guarding its sale, that is why I advised that you should always ask your agent or even airline official (if ticket is purchased at airline office) about rules of the class of ticket you wish to buy before buying it.’
Fellow reader, have you experienced anything similar to this riddle? How did you wriggle out of it? How come a transporter refuses to refund an unused fare? The most painful aspect is that the money involved is about $400; too much for a poor teacher like me to lose. What do you advise?