European ultra-low-cost air tickets search engine Kiwi.com claims to have been the victim of a social media “scam”.
Earlier this week the firm, formerly called Skypicker, saw a very high volume of bookings originating from Indonesia had been made in the middle of the night.
According to the firm an issue with credit card payments handled by the payment processing company Wirecard meant purchases made in Indonesian Rupiahs at Kiwi.com were initially shown on the customers’ bank statements at 1% of the actual booking value.
However the full amount being had actually charged, only with a delay.
“Our commitment to give the best service and prices to our customers remains our first priority,” said Kiwi.com.
“The correct price was shown all along on our website to all affected customers, and they agreed to it upon confirming their bookings. The only discrepancy was with the initial amount held from the credit card.
“The information about this discrepancy was quickly spread by websites, word-of-mouth and social media in Indonesia, resulting in hundreds of people trying to take advantage of it under the false impression that they would not be charged in full.
“Later, this resulted in a long queue of cancellation requests when people realised that they would be paying the correct price after all.
“Kiwi.com does not appreciate attempts to abuse technical errors for financial gain, but as a sign of goodwill, we contacted airlines to try to cancel as many of these bookings as possible; in a few cases we succeeded, but in many others the bookings were already processed, confirmed and non-refundable.
“We would like to remind our customers that the prices shown on our booking confirmation page are binding, and that a difference between them and the sum initially held from the credit card should not be taken as an indication of a discount.
“Additionally, one should never trust online information regarding discounts or promotions if this information is not coming directly from Kiwi.com.”
Kiwi.com said so far the incident has taken up 1,000 Kiwi.com man hours and has received “co-ordinated” negative reviews on social media and on TrustPilot.
Wirecard said: “Wirecard has received knowledge that on June 8 in a small number of transactions the confirmation text provided for booked flights in Indonesian rupee was deviating from the real flight price.
“This was due to a display problem in the authorisation systems of some local banks.
“This was only a display problem and at all times the correct price was booked and withdrawn from bank accounts. The display problem was resolved quickly.
“At all times the correct flight price was booked and withdrawn from the bank account and even though there was a display error, the withdrawal process still functioned flawlessly and the correct amount was always withdrawn from the respective accounts as well as listed on the billing statement.
“The problem was repaired within several hours without further complications.
“At no time were there problems with the service and or amount withdrawn from accounts.”