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Stranded in Frankfurt with no refund in sight

THE FIXER HAS SAVED YOU

$1,424,194

Updated: December 19, 2012 12:55PM



Dear Fixer: I have debated contacting you over this situation. I made a stupid mistake, but was still left high and dry.

In August, I took a flight on US Airways from Chicago to Charlotte, N.C., where I was to continue to Dublin, Ireland, to see my teen-age son play football.

In Charlotte, I volunteered to give up my seat and take a different flight from Charlotte to Frankfurt, Germany and then connect to Dublin on a Lufthansa flight. For this, I received a $900 voucher. They gave me two tickets for the new flights.

I was put on the flight to Frankfurt and promised that my ticket from Frankfurt to Dublin was confirmed. But when I got to Frankfurt, Lufthansa said I was standby only and they had no seats for three days.

Lufthansa told me US Airways never should have issued a ticket, as all flights were oversold. I was essentially stranded.

I had to get to Dublin. So I purchased tickets on a different airline.

Afterward, I contacted US Airways to describe what happened and how they essentially dropped me off in Frankfurt. I was seeking the cost of the trip from Frankfurt to Dublin as compensation.

I was told they were sorry and that the agent should not have put me on the Lufthansa flight. However, they would do nothing other than a $25 coupon off my next purchase. I wrote back that this was unacceptable and they never replied.

I am left wondering: How was I supposed to get out of Frankfurt? US Airways took me for a ride. Can you help?

Joe Delaney, Palatine

Dear Joe: The Fixer could write a book about all the travel nightmares people get into because of their own making, but your situation was different. The only reason you accepted their deal and gave up your seat was because they guaranteed you a spot on that Lufthansa flight. If they had said, “Joe, you might be able to fly out of Frankfurt on standby,” you never would have agreed.

Perhaps that point was lost on the customer service rep you initially dealt with. We had a little better luck. After we brought your story to the attention of US Airways, they looked into it again. This time, they agreed that this shouldn’t have happened. They apologized – multiple times, you said – and are now refunding you the $1,499 you spent to get to Dublin.

Some justice for Elizabeth’s family

In August, we told you about an awful romance scam that ensnared a local family and drove one woman to suicide.

Well, this week, the scammer and his brother were sentenced to 14 years in prison and ordered to pay $711,000 in restitution for another awful scam having to do with home repair fraud.

Federal Judge Ruben Castillo described John J. Sullivan, 50, and Dan J. Sullivan, 46, as “financial vampires preying on old people.”

As we wrote in August, John Sullivan was the guy who scammed Elizabeth Kelleher of Northbrook after meeting her at a support group. Using an alias, he told Liz he was a wealthy construction company owner and a Harvard Law grad.

Liz thought she was in love. Over time, he convinced Elizabeth and her mom to hand over their life savings – he claimed he would pay back their loans – a total of more than $640,000.

Then he took off for Arizona.

The scam ruined Liz and her mom, who eventually had to sell their home. They became depressed and drifted apart.

Through a civil lawsuit, the family was able to recover their money, thanks to some solid legal and police work. But the family will never get Liz back: She took her own life last February at age 48, leaving behind three sons.

As for the home repair scams, the Sullivan brothers were prolific. They targeted as many as 67 victims, many of them elderly people on the South and West sides, swindling them out of nearly $750,000 in home equity by pressuring them to refinance their homes to pay for costly repairs that were never completed.

Let’s hope those 14 years feel really slow.

Getting the runaround over a consumer problem? Tell it to The Fixer at suntimes.com/fixer , where you’ll find a simple form to fill out. You’ll also find a list of consumer contacts and tips. Because of the large volume of submissions, The Fixer can’t personally reply to every problem. Letters are edited for length and clarity.



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