Here's the full text of United's response to members of Congress, dated July 17 and signed by senior vice president of worldwide sales and distribution Jeff Foland ...
We have received your letter regarding our merchant of record policy and thank you for the opportunity to respond on behalf of Glenn Tilton and United Airlines. We understand that you are concerned about the potential impact for consumers and the impacted travel agents with whom we transact business. ??In response to your request, we will individually notify and assist the impacted agents that request more time to adjust to this change, providing up to sixty additional days to transition. This will help to ensure a smooth transition for the very limited number of impacted travel agents. ??In an effort to further clarify our action and respond to your concerns, we would like to address some specific items regarding this issue. ??First, this action was very limited in scope, confined to a small number of agencies and in no way was intended to be a broad move in the marketplace as has been interpreted by outside organizations.
Second, this action is not unprecedented. United has commercial arrangements with thousands of agencies worldwide to distribute our services, and has many current and long-standing relationships under which the travel agent acts as the merchant of record. The ability to tailor our relationships and programs with these agencies is paramount to our ability to efficiently and effectively bring our service to market. United understands the value that travel agencies provide to our success and will continue to tailor commercial programs and invest accordingly in those relationships.
Finally, this action neither violates nor undermines the Fair Credit Billing Act. There will be no difference in how credit card disputes will be handled from a customer’s perspective. Customers who charge their tickets with travel agents will have the same rights they have always had, including the right to dispute charges to their card issuer for non-performed services. This is the case when the impacted travel agents use United’s merchant account; it will continue to be the case when the impacted agents use their own merchant accounts. ??Again thank you for the opportunity to respond.