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Friends, this is an addendum to “I go into a Towering Rage: Airplane Travel today.” I have read that Small Claims Court in Virginia has a top of $5000, and Expedia has cheated Izzy and I out of $1800, but she feels and I cannot disagree (not being a lawyer) that it may be when we clicked “accept conditions,” we accepted this ruthless fleecing. You will remember that two weeks ago I discovered that suddenly I had a 10 hours layover in Iceland going to London and when I tried to change that it took me 5 hours on the phone, only to discover the charges and penalities would made a 2 hour cut in time more money than the ticket cost. Then one week ago I noticed for the first time coming back from London Izzy and I had an 1 day and 3 hour layover. What I left out in my talk with Expedia is my suspicion they changed the tickets at the last moment. But I have no proof.

Around 4:00 today I received a phone call from Expedia. I had four times filed a complaint on their site, outlining what happened to me (see my previous blog linked in above). A young man came on the line, saying he wanted to respond to my complaint (or words to this effect). What happened was this: he said that he could not refund my money as he had first to call Icelandic as their policy needed to be “clarified” (which was what I was told on Tuesday when I was led to spend 5 hours and on Saturday 3 on the phone). He claimed that Icelandic had a policy of not refunding or changing this ticket. I again said (as I did the second time on Saturday) that I had phoned Icelandic on Tuesday and their representative denied that Icelandic had any such policy. They said they had not sold these tickets and had no control over them. They said the tickets were issued by Expedia and it was Expedia setting these rules.

He appeared not to hear me and repeated his mantra of having to call them to “get permission” to refund the money. I replied that if he persisted in this lie, I could do nothing about it, but if he wanted to go off the phone and pretend to call them or do whatever he did, that was fine (as what he does is invisible to me); but if he called back refund the money or make it go for another flight I would be grateful. I got him to acknowledge he had heard what I said and taken it in. There was a pause.

He then repeated he had to call Icelandic, except now he came up with a new rule which it seems I had to obey. He could not follow my suggestion that I get off the phone; and if he wanted to call me back, he could. This was not doable. I had to be on the phone while he phoned Icelandic and wait until he finished. I told him this is absurd. Who made such a rule? He did not say, but repeated it was a rule he had to obey. This what I was told and listened to on Tuesday: I must wait; and again told on Saturday, and after 40 minutes refused to wait any longer. I said a man I had hired to renovate my house today had received a wrong door from Home Depot; he phoned Home Depot and without him staying on the line (his time is valuable), Home Depot called the place where they acquired doors, made the substitute and then called him back. I refused to play this game. He repeated the mantra. I then hung up after I repeated what I had said before (I cannot tell what he is doing during the long periods of waiting and Icelandic had denied his assertions) and that if he called again to tell me he was refunding the money I would be grateful.

About half an hour later this email came into my box from travel@customercare.expedia.com. I read it twenty minutes after that as I had gone to the supermarket around 4:30 pm (shortly after I got off the phone) in the interval:

Dear Ellen,

Thank you for contacting Expedia about your flight reservation. Please accept our apologies for any inconvenience that may have occurred and would like to assure you that every reservation is important to us.

We appreciate you take the time to let us know your comments, your feedback is very valuable for us to prevent similar situations in the future.

As per our conversation, we have called Icelandair and they unfortunately informed us that all your tickets are non refundable. If you cancel your tickets unfortunately there would be no refund back to your credit card and there is no credit that this airline can provide for future travel use. It means that if you cancel, the value of these tickets will be forfeited.

We tried to call you to inform about this and to also know if you wanted to continue with the cancellation. However, we were not able to reach you. If you still need to cancel this reservation following these rules and restrictions that Icelandair advised, please call us directly at 1-866-310-5768 local, toll-free or 1 404-728-8787. This is an international collect call number, but Expedia will accept the charges for calls to this number and provide the case number M-14539157.

Respectfully,

Michael,
Customer Service Team
Expedia.com

It’s possible he called very quickly after I left and then sent the above email.

I replied as follows:

Dear Sir,

I will not phone you again. I have spent 8 hours on the phone plus today another useless half hour. In your letter you ignore what I told you. On the first five hours on the phone I phoned Icelandic and they told me they did not say the these tickets were non-refundable nor not changeable. They said the tickets were issued by Expedia and it was Expedia setting these rules. I told you if you persisted in this lie, I could do nothing about it, but if you wanted to go off the phone and pretend to call them or do whatever you did, that was fine (as what you do is invisible to me); but if you called back refund the money or make it go for another flight I would be grateful. You then came up with a new rule. I had to be on the phone while you phoned Icelandic. This is an absurd rule. You told me it was a rule you must obey. I said my contractor today had received a wrong door; he phoned Home Depot and without him staying on the line (his time is valuable), Home Depot called the place where they acquired doors, made the substitute and then called him back. I refused to play this game. I hung up after I repeated if you called again to tell me you were refunding the money I would be grateful.

Now I get the same lies, the same game with an invite to phone again.

I will do all I can to tell everyone I can reach about how you have treated me.

As my readers will imagine, I had been upset when I got off the phone, but had remained calm this time. This letter reiterated the deceit. There is nowhere on the site that enables a customer to cancel a flight by using the website; if I go to the website, I reach a place which gives me the same phone number. As seen in the letter, I would be drawn into these phone conversations again. I realize now the purpose of making me wait is to exasperate me and to claim that I disobeyed some rule (that I must be waiting on the line while the Expedia representative is said to be contacting and talking to Icelandic in this case) and thereby am ineligible for a refund. I also realize I should never buy from one of these companies because they reserve the right to change flights and times at any time. It is improbable Izzy and I did not see the 1 day and 3 hour layover until last week, but if Expedia changed it, it’s one of the conditions that they reserve the right to do that.

I am keeping my stated intent at the close of my email reply. I am trying to tell as many people as I can by writing this blog, placing a URL on Face-book and twitter to expose these people. One of my tickets (just for myself, single) is from 8/23 and again on 8/31 (round-trip) so there is plenty of time to cancel; the other for two of us, 10/13 and again on 10/18 (round-trip.

My hope is I will discourage others from buying at Expedia and any other on-line airplane ticket buying service. At least others who read my two blogs will have been warned of what can happen. Never buy a ticket from one of these online services if you value your money, your time, your state of health, your very trip.

Ellen

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