Despite widespread charges of manipulation, a black passenger did receive a charge from American Airlines on her bank statement labeled an “African American” service fee.
Capital One Assumes Responsibly For “African American” Service Fee On American Airlines
When Live and Let’s Fly reported this on Monday, American Airlines insisted the card was properly submitted to Mastercard and it had no role in the odd charge on Kyetra Bryan’s bank statement.
Mastercard also promised an investigation.
Now the mystery has been solved, per View from the Wing. Capital One, Bryan’s bank, has stepped forward and issued a public statement on the matter:
We are aware that a customer has come forward expressing concern with how a recent transaction was recorded on their banking statement. We immediately began investigating the issue and have attempted to make contact with the customer to apologize for any confusion and provide insight into the situation.
Our investigation has shown that this technical issue is the result of a miscoding of a merchant’s name. It is entirely unrelated to any specific customer information.
At Capital One, we created a proprietary system that offers our customers greater details on all of their transactions. We do this in part by using technology that relies on an external database of business information.
We are actively investigating precisely where the technology misinterpreted the merchant data and we are correcting the issue.
In short, Capital Ones tries to clarify what are often confusing lines on statements by using software to use spell out common abbreviations. So the “AA” service charge appeared as “African American” instead of “American Airlines.”
What a difference a word makes…
New Statements From American Airlines + Mastercard
American Airlines added:
The customer alerted American to the offensively labeled baggage fee on her bank statement in mid-December. We were incredibly disturbed by what we saw and immediately launched an investigation to understand what occurred. After consulting with Mastercard, we were able to verify that the issue did not originate with American.
Mastercard also weighed in again:
We are in the process of conducting a thorough investigation, however it is our understanding that American Airlines is not responsible for this error. American Airlines submitted the transaction correctly for a checked baggage purchase — including the proper merchant name. Our bank issuing and payment processing partners are working to understand how the error occurred so this does not happen again.
I must admit as comment after comment began to pile up in my initial coverage of this matter, I began to suspect Ms. Bryan just made this up. I’m so glad she did not and I commend Capital One for stepping up and taking responsibility for what must have been a very hurtful coding error.