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Computer Glitch Turns “luv2like” Promotion Into “luv2bill”

Southwest Airline customers’ credit and debit cards charged up to 25 times

2 min read
Computer Glitch Turns “luv2like” Promotion Into “luv2bill”

To celebrate hitting 3 million Facebook fans, Southwest Airlines offered via a special e-mail promotion a 50 percent discount on certain air routes for customers who booked their flights last Friday before midnight. The “luv2like” promotion, however, quickly turned into a public-relations fiasco as a computer-related “technology glitch” caused many customers to be billed multiple times for their tickets or to be ticketed (and charged) repeatedly, reported the Associated Press.  In at least one instance,  a customer was charged 20 times for her $69 ticket, the AP said. KTLA television reported that another customer claimed that he was ticketed and charged for 25 reservations. Other customers complained that they were charged multiple times but never received a booking confirmation.

According to the AP, Southwest first became aware of the problem late Friday afternoon when the airline’s web site slowed due to the high response the promotion. The airline noticed that  customers were having to repeatedly refresh their web pages in order to take advantage of the sale. The airline also likely noticed the rise in their Facebook and Twitter traffic complaining of the overcharges as their customers' debit cards were being drained or credit card limits were being exceeded. It was surely aware as well of increasingly long customer service wait times experienced by those trying to rectify their billing problems.

Southwest has stated on its web site that it has now “identified all customers impacted and proactively initiated refunds back to their financial institutions for any erroneous bookings. These refunds are currently being processed, but timing will vary depending on the individual bank.” Some customers have been told it may take 8 to 10 days for their refunds to show up, the AP states, which has not made them real happy, especially if their credit or debit cards were maxed out. I also wonder how many customers are going to have to deal with the response by their credit card company's fraud detectors.

The airline also says that it will honor the original booking at the original advertised fare if the customer still wants it. In addition, Southwest states that for those customers “who used debit cards and have received overdraft fees as a result of the additional charges, we will process a reimbursement for all overdraft fees that were caused by duplicate charges from Southwest for a single purchase.” Again, that may take awhile.

Southwest said it was “extremely sorry for the inconvenience.”

Hey Southwest, up to offering another promotion to show how sorry you are?

The Conversation (0)

Economics Drives Ray-Gun Resurgence

Laser weapons, cheaper by the shot, should work well against drones and cruise missiles

4 min read
In an artist’s rendering, a truck is shown with five sets of wheels—two sets for the cab, the rest for the trailer—and a box on the top of the trailer, from which a red ray is projected on an angle, upward, ending in the silhouette of an airplane, which is being destroyed

Lockheed Martin's laser packs up to 300 kilowatts—enough to fry a drone or a plane.

Lockheed Martin

The technical challenge of missile defense has been compared with that of hitting a bullet with a bullet. Then there is the still tougher economic challenge of using an expensive interceptor to kill a cheaper target—like hitting a lead bullet with a golden one.

Maybe trouble and money could be saved by shooting down such targets with a laser. Once the system was designed, built, and paid for, the cost per shot would be low. Such considerations led planners at the Pentagon to seek a solution from Lockheed Martin, which has just delivered a 300-kilowatt laser to the U.S. Army. The new weapon combines the output of a large bundle of fiber lasers of varying frequencies to form a single beam of white light. This laser has been undergoing tests in the lab, and it should see its first field trials sometime in 2023. General Atomics, a military contractor in San Diego, is also developing a laser of this power for the Army based on what’s known as the distributed-gain design, which has a single aperture.

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