I generally prefer to use face to face travel agents than online travel agents, partly because I find the service is better. However, sometimes I end up using online travel agents. In the past year I have twice used Expedia and twice had abysmal experiences. I share them here simply so you can watchout for Expedia’s poor service.
Case One: Refunding Ticket Fees
Last Summer I booked a Philippine Airlines ticket which I ended up not using. As many of you know, if you cancel a ticket, even if the ticket is non-refundable, the taxes and sometimes the ancillary charges are refundable.
On this occasion I decided to contact Philippine Airlines first as it would be easier to deal with them. I wrote to their office in TST but did not hear back, disappointingly. I wrote again and they said that the matter needed to be handled by the travel agent. I called Expedia, and they said that I needed to deal with the airline. I explained multiple times that I had already heard from the airline that I needed to deal with the travel agent, and the Expedia phone agent said he would look into it and contact me again. I asked when and he said within twenty four hours. I asked if he promised and he said yes. I never heard back, and that was months ago.
Case Two: Incompetent Agents
After that first experience, I would not have used Expedia again were it not for the fact that I wanted to travel somewhere at short notice and Expedia was offering a competitively priced ticket on its website which I could not see anywhere else. I booked and paid with a credit card online, and shortly afterwards received an e-mail with the subject title “Expedia travel confirmation” which started, “Thanks! Your reservation is booked and confirmed. There is no need to call us to reconfirm this reservation.” That, I thought, was that. Indeed, in the body text the e-mail stated, “This email can be used as an E-ticket”.
However, later that day – a Saturday – Expedia contacted me about my “cancelled reservation”. In short – and this took four phone calls with Expedia, three with my credit card company, all at my expense, and most gallingly three hours of a Saturday evening, Expedia had tried to process the credit card cost twice, with it being accepted once and declined once. They cancelled on the basis of the declined charge although there was an available charge open to them. However, the agents did not seem to know at all what to do. Even when I explained to them the situation as it had been explained to me by the credit card company, they disputed that they could do what the credit card company had said they should do. Finally, on my fourth call, the agent claimed to understand, and said that he would be able to issue a ticket (until this point, all I had was a booking, not a ticket). Later that evening I got an e-mail from Expedia which looked like a normal e-ticket e-mail. It came from Travel Document (firstname.lastname@example.org) and was in the normal e-ticket format. I didn’t examine it closely or would have noticed that it had a booking reference instead of ticket number. Anyway, I thought all was finally resolved.
Late on Monday morning, the day of travel, Expedia contacted me to tell me, “We regret to inform you that we are unable to issue the e-ticket on your reservation due to credit card decline again.” This, recall, was the ticket which they said they had issued on Saturday night, and using a credit card for which they still had a valid authorisation for the ticket cost.
Rather than wasting any more time with Expedia at this point, I called the airline to ask if they could help. They told me that I had “many bookings” (in fact, six) on the flight, but no confirmed ticket and thus could not fly. The number of bookings makes me wonder if the Expedia agents were simply starting from scratch each time rather than remedying the initial mistake – made by them – as I had clearly requested. I was livid not only that I could not fly, but the final agent to whom I had spoken on the Saturday evening had basically flat out lied to me.
Experiences may vary, but I won’t touch Expedia again with a bargepole, and that would be my recommendation to anyone who asked me.
The website has a .hk domain and the e-mails use a local sounding name, but all of the call centre agents were in India and did not inspire confidence. The whole exercise was a colossal waste of time and energy, as well as ending up disrupting my travel plans.