published Monday, August 6th, 2012

Southwest pays refunds after computer glitch

 In this Feb. 9, 2012 file photo, a Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 waits to take off at Chicago's Midway Airport as another lands. Southwest Airlines' attempt to thank its online friends with a half-price ticket sale has backfired with customers inadvertently being billed multiple times, not feeling the "luv." Airline spokeswoman Ashley Dillon on Saturday, Aug. 4, 2012 blamed a "technology glitch" for the duplicate billings to debit and credit cards. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast, File)
In this Feb. 9, 2012 file photo, a Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 waits to take off at Chicago's Midway Airport as another lands. Southwest Airlines' attempt to thank its online friends with a half-price ticket sale has backfired with customers inadvertently being billed multiple times, not feeling the "luv." Airline spokeswoman Ashley Dillon on Saturday, Aug. 4, 2012 blamed a "technology glitch" for the duplicate billings to debit and credit cards. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast, File)
Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

DALLAS (AP) — Southwest Airlines said Sunday it has begun filing refunds to customers who were accidentally billed multiple times for a single flight, after a half-price online ticket promotion backfired.

The special sale designed to celebrate Southwest's reaching the three million mark in Facebook fans was supposed to give customers who booked flights on Friday a 50 percent discount on certain fares.

Instead, hundreds of frustrated would-be fliers wound up posting stories on Facebook about how their credit and debit cards were being repeatedly charged, in some cases 20 or more times for a single flight. They also tweeted and blogged about the related financial hassles, which ranged from drained checking accounts and bounced checks to overdrawn credit limits and canceled bank cards.

The company said Sunday it has identified all customers impacted by the problem and has begun filing refunds to the affected bank accounts.

"These refunds are currently being processed, but timing will vary depending on the individual bank," Southwest said in a statement to its website. "If a refund has not yet posted to your account, we recommend contacting your bank."

The company, which described its response as an "all hands on deck approach," said it will also pay customers for any overdraft fees caused by the additional charges.

Southwest Airlines is based in Dallas, Texas and offers flights to more than 70 U.S. cities

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