Web site bungles couple's inauguration trip

January 14, 2009 7:24:15 PM PST
A San Francisco couple got their hands on a pair of the hottest tickets in the country. They are going to the Obama inauguration next week.

But, an unusual mix-up almost cost them the opportunity.

Computers are not supposed to make mistakes. But, when they do it can cause a lot of human aggravation.

Ben Winig of San Francisco has been following now President-elect Barack Obama with a passion since his speech at the Democratic National Convention in 2004. He even took a leave of absence from a law firm to volunteer for Mr. Obama in 2008.

"My official title was Deputy Director of Jewish Outreach," he told ABC7.

He and his wife Mala were among those on election night in San Francisco cheering Obama's big victory. They knew then that they had to be in Washington for the inauguration.

"It's huge. I've spent a lot of my own personal time. I certainly feel like part of this movement," says Winig.

They did not waste any time booking a flight online to D.C.

Mala printed out her receipt and received a confirmation from Delta Airline in an e-mail.

"When I opened the e-mail I noticed that the dates were wrong. So, it was kind of shocking and surprising," she recalled.

The receipt Mala printed out had the couple returning from D.C. next Wednesday, but her confirmation had them returning on Thursday, something the couple cannot do because of work commitments.

She called Delta, trying to fix the mix-up.

"They had no interest in seeing the documents, because in their mind the computer would have never made a mistake," said Mala.

"All I've been asking them was to honor the ticket that I had purchased," explained Winig.

Delta told them if they wanted a Wednesday return, they would have to cancel their reservations and rebook a new flight.

The total cost for the two of them to rebook the roundtrip would have been $500 to $600.

They decided to contact 7 on Your Side instead.

Delta offered to retrace, keystroke-by-keystroke, Mala's activities on Delta's website.

"We clearly have the proof. It has not been obviously altered. I think they had a computer glitch on their side," said Mala.

And that is what Delta found out.

In a statement, the company told 7 on Your Side, "There was a computer glitch with the software that runs the system. The event is rare, but as we witnessed, can still happen. We are glad the customers flagged the problem."

Ben and Mala have received their original reservations.

They will be going to the inauguration after all.