So, I’m figuring since I’m the last person on the planet without a blog (my wife has FIVE, believe it or not), I figured the time has come. And like all typical boring blogs, I’ll have to write about someone else’s blog, specifically Maddox’s rant on Orbitz.
OK, so he got screwed by Orbitz, but claims the $94 they got from him will be the most expensive mistake they ever made. Thing is, he was really out $144 but they gave him a $50 voucher for a future trip to make it up to him.
Ah, hello? That $50 is worth squat unless he turns around and books another trip with them again. If he does, he’s a bigger idiot than I thought.
First mistake, booking a trip from an online travel agent. They all suck. OK, I can forgive someone from making the mistake once, but that’s it. If he cashes in that voucher, he better not go whining to everyone about it later when they screw him over again.
My “screwed over” stories are about Expedia and Travelocity. Yes, that’s twice, but I have an excuse — the wife.
Expedia: The wife and I had a ticket from Philadelphia to Erie, PA, connecting at Pittsburgh on US Airways for September 14, 2001 with a return trip on September 16, 2001. Booked the trip through Expedia. Each round-trip ticket cost $350 and since I paid for both of them, I’d have two charges of $350 each on my American Express Card.
Well, three days before we were to leave, all hell broke loose. The airlines promised that anyone that had a ticket for a flight for the next several weeks could either reschedule or get a full refund. Well, I didn’t want to reschedule because this was for a specific weekend event and while the rest of the world was in a panic, I was ready to jump on a plane Friday. Problem was, they weren’t flying. By the time Friday came around, some flights were operating, but most still weren’t and hence our flight was canceled.
OK, so I waited a few days and then called US Air about getting my refund. They told me to call Expedia. I called Expedia, they said I’d get a refund within 2-3 weeks.
OK, 4 weeks later, no credit appears on my charge card, so I call again. This time I’m told it takes about two billing cycles to issue credits. You gotta be kidding me. If I told my cable company that it’d take me two billing cycles to pay my bills, I’d be cut off after one.
So, 2-3 months go by and still no credit, so I call Expedia again. This time the idiot told me a refund would take 4-6 months. Unbelievable. Of course, they string you along like this to make it harder to make a credit card dispute.
Amazingly, about a week later, I get one of the tickets refunded. One, not two. I call Expedia again, they claim they already processed a refund. I’m like, “FOR ONE TICKET, I BOUGHT TWO. So they claim they’ll look into it, but it’ll probably take 2-3 months to get a refund processed.
So at this point, I’m like. Hell with it. I called American Express, dispute the charge, tell them the entire sordid story. I clearly lay it out, “Hey look, I bought two tickets, I’m disputing only one of them. I got a refund for the other ticket. I have no idea which one on my bill was refunded so please don’t flag the ticket I got a refund on as a disputed item.
Sure enough, a month later Amex sends me a polite message that I already received a refund for the ticket and my dispute was denied. When I called them, they said I should send in both tickets. Of course, it was an e-ticket so I had squat-all to send them. But, American Express tells me that Expedia claimed they issued paper tickets to me so hence I’d need to return them.
So I call Expedia back. Now this is now well over six months later. After over 30 minutes on hold, I gave up and hung up and tried to make myself feel better by saying that all the people who lost a helluva lot on 9/11, if all I lost was $350 I should consider myself lucky. Still, I vowed I’d never ever ever deal with a third party travel agent again.
Listen people, don’t let them screw you over. BUY DIRECT.
Travelocity: But, of course, husbands don’t know any better so a year later my wife booked tickets through Travelocity to the Mariott in Brooklyn for a few days, of which Travelocity was ever so helpful to charge the hotel stay to her credit card in advance.
I’m like, “Why didn’t you just use those slags to price out places, then just call the property directly?” But hey, what do I know anyway?
So we spend a few days there, and on the last morning the hotel slips our list of charges under the door. Of course, the entire stay was billed. Travelocity just screwed us.
So at the front desk I try to explain to the counter clerk that we booked the room through Travelocity, and the room should be prepaid. “Nope.” “Arrrgh, please get me a manager.”
I explain the Travelocity bit and show him the confirmation (which admittedly I could have just done it up anyway I liked on a PC and printed it out). So, kudos to the hotel manager, he was polite, understanding, and said he would try to call Travelocity for me to straighten it out.
Well, turns out hotels get stuck in the same customer-service queue hell as the rest of us poor suckers. He was on hold for over a half-an-hour. Now admittedly he was on speaker phone back there listening to the music-on-hold but he was trying. After half-an-hour I was like, “Look, thanks for trying. It’s not your fault Travelocity are morons. We’ll charge the room and dispute the Travelocity charge later.”
The manager was cool. He tried, he didn’t try to accuse me of scamming him. He should be in charge of Travelocity.
Now, since it was my wife’s credit card, I asked her to make sure she disputed the travelocity charge, not the hotel charge. Now whether she ever did that or not, I have no idea. For me to ask would be for me to show a lack of trust and faith in her, so I just dropped it.
So, after all that, the lesson to learn here is, NEVER EVER EVER BUY FROM AN ONLINE TRAVEL AGENCY If you have a dispute, you have a third party to hassle with. They add no value. Just leach their website to price out flights and rooms and then find what you want and go to that company’s website directly and buy what you need. You’ll also find it’s usually cheaper that way since they don’t have to pay a commission to these “value subtracted resellers.”