Cebu Pacific Finally Issues A Refund After 15 Months... oh, and Exit Clearance Procedures

peter's picture

Fifteen months ago my wife and I were headed to Thailand.  I'd been in the country for about six months.  

We had bought cheaper tickets and had to spend four days waiting for the day of our flight.  Then finally when we go there, the Cebu Pacific agents insisted that we buy my wife a return ticket back to the Philippines.  Well, we tried to argue about it, but have you ever tried to argue with any agent at the airports here?  So we paid over a hundred dollars for a return ticket (refundable without problems, of course, just call and cancel and request a refund, they said).  

Then when we got to the Immigration desk, I was informed that I was lacking an Exit Clearance.  What is that, I had no idea.  She said five hundred pesos please, and don't worry about it this time.  "Five hundred?" I asked?  "Is this legal?  Do you have any statement of regulations just so I'll understand the official policy?"  

"No, she said, NOW YOU GO TALK TO THE HEAD IMMIGRATION OFFICER IN THAT OFFICE."

So we went into that office, and he said that because I'd insulted the woman at the window by refusing to pay the fee, that she'd refused me, and that I would have to apply for the official Exit Clearance at the Provincial Office the next day.  I'd never refused the woman, and I explained that I just wanted to see the official regulations.  "Well, tomorrow, I'll show you the official regulations, at the Provincial Office.  Now get your bags back from the ticket agent, and get out of here."

No amount of talk changed that man's mind.  He refused to even acknowledge that he had any power, saying it was the woman who had refused our departure.

So the next day we went to this man's office, and he said, "After six months, you're required to get an exit clearance.  You had failed to do so, and even after she offered to help you, you insulted her and refused."

I said, "If you don't mind, you agreed to show me the official regulations."

So he handed me a book, Philippines Immigration Law, and I studied it for fifteen minutes.  It was a thick book.  It turns out that officially anytime after fifteen days of being in the Philippines, an exit clearance is required.  So in fact, by not insisting on it until six months, and even then making "exceptions" they are in a sense very generous, relative to the letter of the law.

So we had to waste several more days in that disgusting city until the next available flight, and buy extra tickets.  I was about at the end of my patience even before arriving at the airport, having had my patience exhausted by the endless marriage paperwork inanities, petty barangay grievances, etc.

Many months back, I posted some emails for Cebu Pacific's refunds department. Didn't do us any good ourselves.  Neither did sitting on the line paying such and such a price per minute to wait for Cebu Pacific's agents.  And of course their agents in Thailand weren't authorized, etc.  

Ultimately, we did get someone on the phone, who assured us that our payment refund was in process.  Six months later, nothing - and when we finally got back to the Philippines, my wife went and (after refusing to talk to her the first time because she only had her receipt and postal id, but no passport) she showed the passport the next time, and they said there was no record of a refund being requested. We should call the number.  I told my wife to raise her voice and although my wife isn't capable of raising her voice, they got the picture that I would do it for her, and the manager came over and officially accepted the request for the payment refund.

Another four months later we did get our refund - less of course, the cancellation fee.

I guess, it could have been worse... 

Ahhh, the joys of Cebu

Ahhh, the joys of Cebu Pacific Airlines.

Personally I wouldn't fly with them again if I can help it. On the two occasions I've used them one flight was cancelled at the last minute and on the other one they lost my luggage (but found it 5 hours later).

I think PAL is a better option and they're often cheaper than the so-called Low-Cost airline.

 

 

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.