Monday, October 18, 2021

American Airlines, Capital One & Mastercard Respond to Black Woman’s ‘Racially Insensitive’ Bank Charge

Kyetra Bryant
Kyetra Bryant. (Photo: Facebook)

*A Black woman’s claim of receiving an “African American, African service charge” on her bank statement following a flight on American Airlines, has prompted a response from the airline, as well as the credit cards involved in the transaction.

Kyetra Bryant told Fox 46 that she and her boyfriend bought tickets at an American Airlines self-serve kiosk and checked in luggage for a Thanksgiving Day flight out of Charlotte Douglas Airport. She said that on her bank statement, she found “African American, Africa Service Charge” posted on her bank statement, but not on her boyfriend’s statement after comparing their charges. Bryant said her attempts to get answers from the airline and credit cards involved were unsuccessful.

As previously reported, American Airlines said it was “disturbed” by Bryant’s allegations and immediately launched an investigation.

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The airline followed up on Tuesday (Feb. 2) with a second statement:

“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.”

Background
The baggage fee was purchased at a self-service kiosk in Charlotte with a Capital One debit card. All bank statement transaction descriptions are managed through the issuing bank, in this case Capital One. Mastercard has confirmed that American correctly submitted the transaction information during the payment process.

Capital One and its payment processing partners are conducting their own investigation to determine the root cause and correct the issue. Our Customer Relations team has reached out to Ms. Bryant to update her on the findings of our investigation, and apologize for what she has experienced.

Capital One also said in a statement that they “immediately” launched an investigation:

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.”

And for the record, Mastercard released a statement saying that after its own investigation, “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.”

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