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Security Control means I am deprived of my money for up to 2 weeks

Booked flight with Bravofly. They sought and received an authorisation on my Visa debit card which was approved. Almost immediately sent me an email saying my purchase was cancelled "because a problem occurred during security controls in our system". One week later, my bank account is still down the authorisation amount and the bank tells me this may last another week.
To say this authorisation is not a charge is disingenuous as I do not have the money available to me. If it took Bravofly just a minute to determine they could not fill my booking 'for security reasons' why not do this check FIRST before they process an authorisation request.
Believe me, I do not have the confidence to ever use these people again - and cannot send an enquiry email as the only contact method is a charged phone line.

I just (2 weeks later) received a standard response from Bravofly stating (inter alia):
>>a credit card limit block means that no charge is made to your credit card and gives rise to no interest or clearing days. The amount the customer should pay on booking is simply 'frozen' and not withdrawn from the customer's available funds.
Should the booking not be confirmed, no charges will be made by either Bravofly or the airline. We remind you that he amount 'frozen' will be released immediately.
However, the time actually necessary to return the available credit depends on the specific rules of each Bank. As such, the funds may not actually be available immediately.<<<

I have responded as follows and am furious...
Well, while the information here may be strictly speaking correct, you have very cleverly avoided the effects.
Your authorisation had the effect of reducing my available balance on my Visa debit card by $200.
That reduction is *still* in place after 14 days as my bank advised the hold is in place for that long before auto-reversing.
You failed to even make an attempt to process my booking despite seeking the authorisation.
You could have charged cents or even $1 against the authorisation to close and release it.
Your standard response which suggests you have caused no harm or problems either indicates a stunning ignorance of the facts pertaining to your industry or a callous and calculated attempt to abdicate any responsibility.

If you believe that I would ever consider again using an organisation so blind to the needs of its customers, then you are as misguided concerning customer loyalty as you are concerning customer service. I trust in this context you will consider the loyalty maxim that good service is referred to 5 people, but bad service is reported to twenty.

Why not do your internal security check FIRST and only if successful, proceed to seeking an authorisation on the customer's card. And please please do not tell me it's your system that dictates the order. If it is, then change your system!

10 October 2012

Reply from

Dear Simon,

Due to the payment method we use our system blocks the amount of the ticket when you make your booking request.

This system, called "temporary credit limit", allows the amount the customer should pay upon booking to be simply 'frozen' and not withdrawn from the customer's available funds.

It affects the availability of your card, however it means that technically no charge is made to your credit card until your booking is confirmed, therefore it doesn’t have any effect on your interest or clearing period. In your situation we sent the request to the bank immediately in order to recredit the account.

You can find more information about this temporary credit limit on our website:

Regarding the security controls, our website is set up and maintained in way that ensures secure transactions for both the customer and our company, thus guaranteeing the data that enters our system. For this reason we have developed a system that automatically notifies us whether the transactions are secure or not. There are different phases to these checks throughout the booking process both prior to and after the authorization, hence helping to guarantee safe transactions, where everyone can purchase without worrying. In your case it may have been that our system had detected the possibility of an unsecure transaction, therefore it was blocked immediately.

Unfortunately it can take several days to return the available credit and we are in the hands of the card provider or bank as to how many days the process could take and we recommend you check with your bank as it can vary.

Our Customer Assistance Team will send you a proof of transaction document by email in order for you to pass on to your bank in case you are still experiencing problems with the amount being cleared.

Thank you for your valuable comments and feedback.

Kind regards, Sofia

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Simon Verdon
Paris, United States