I have heard lots of stories about rejection based on unfair reviews, etc. But this is a new one for me, and I wanted to seek the Academia SE's advice...
We recently submitted a paper (let's call it A). Paper A got reviewed (Major Comments) and we revised the manuscript and resubmitted (let's call it A.R1). Recently we got the review of the revision and it was "rejected". I can live with the rejection, but here is where things get messy and complicated... The attached review and rejection were based on a completely different paper with a completely different title and a completely different set of authors (let's call it paper B). So basically the rejection was based on the rejection of paper B that a reviewer had rejected.
Now comes the even weirder part, the review attached to A.R1 states that paper B is rejected. But Paper B was actually published in the same journal around the same time frame! So, it seems like B got an acceptance based on A.R1's reviews.
I am really mind-boggled by this incident. I did reach out politely to seek more information, but the associate editor was not any help and denied everything. How to proceed?
Field: Civil, Energy, Petroleum
EDIT - July 08, 2023: Emailed the editor and the principal editors twice in the past 4 months without a response. Was finally able to get the Elsevier chat to contact the "Journal Manager". side note: Its weird how Springer has an ethics complaints Email, but ElSevier does not.