CAVEAT EMPTOR (BUYER BEWARE) – BUT DON’T USE EXPEDIA FOR TRAVEL ANYWAY
Caveat Emptor is a latin phrase meaning Buyer Beware but I add to this "simply don't use Expedia for your travel arrangements" and I'll explain why.
I had the pleasure of assisting my 75 yr old parents in October last year book some travel to Italy so they could join in with my wife's birthday celebrations. We were using the Expedia website to make the booking and were selecting Business class so my parents were a little more comfortable as dad has been not well recently. We booked the trip and ended up finding out that Expedia has changed the class of fare from what we selected during the flight search process as "Business" to be a mixed fare of "Business /Economy". Now, did we read every word of the itinerary?, no!. We were more worried about times of departure and landing, layover times and destinations. We EXPECTED, as one would, that if you search exclusively for business class fares that is exactly what your search will return. Well not with Expedia!!
We have now spent upwards of 10 hours on the phone trying to get Expedia remedy the problem, even to the point of saying that we are prepared to pay MORE MONEY (the difference between the QATAR flight and the next fare of Lufthansa being $1,800) to get the last 5hr leg upgraded but they have done nothing to assist. Their phone call center REFUSED to escalate the matter to their complaints area on three occasions during the same phone call and after promising that they would call back in 7-10 business days, they simply did not and ignored the problem. It was only my ranting on Twitter and Facebook that caused them to take some action.
And then I started reading complaints posted on Twitter and Facebook, there are thousands of them. What is this company doing. Why are they providing such ridiculously terrible service. Have they lost the plot? Do they not understand the environment of today in that social media and how it can ruin businesses?
To Expedia. I know you are not an Australian company and that your operations are in India with an Australian website front but let me educate you on the Australian definition of service:
"SERVICE - "the action of helping or doing work for someone". I found it in Wikipedia if your interested.
So we investigated cancelling the flights and re-booking some more. Mind you the original flights were worth $10,800. So Expedia advised there would be an $842 cancellation charge. I suspect that this is their commission for selling the flights in the first place and that QATAR will simply cancel the flights without penalty. QATAR, be careful who you get into bed with as it can ruin your reputation.
Anyway, I thought I would post word for word Expedia's latest email to me and my response for all to read and review. I genuinely hope that others don't fall into this trap in the future as its appalling to think that they are prepared to do this to pensioners at the very least.
From: [email protected] [mailto:[email protected]] Sent: Thursday, 4 February 2016 4:40 PM
To: [email protected]
Subject: Requested Email: AY:Flight Complaint - Itin: 15904369781 - Case ID : [REQ:S-115733746]
Dear Mr. Denehy,
Thank you for contacting Expedia.com.au and giving us an opportunity to address your concerns.
This email is in regards to your complaint about the discrepancy in class of service for the airline reservation booked with us.
Please accept our sincere apologies for the inconvenience caused to you.
Post receiving your complaint,we wanted to investigate this case on our online investigation tool (Tea leaf) to retrieve the original booking session. Unfortunately, the same is not possible as it is more than 3 months from the original booking date and is out of range to retrieve any sessions associated.
It is to be confirmed that, our website relies on manual input of details and selection of flights by a guest. As per my past experience with such cases, Once the guests searches flights for a specific class, he/she is displayed the flights options available and once the guest reviews the information he/she finally gets the booking confirmed with payments.
In this case, the booking was reserved on 24th Oct and if there was a discrepancy in class for the flights booked, you should have contacted us with a few days of getting the itinerary confirmation which was never done.
Hence, it is cannot be a case of website error.I wish my response could have been more favorable for you however, we are unable to bear any charges associated with the booking cancellation
We appreciate your business and hope to continue to assist you with your future travel needs. If we can be of any further assistance, please do not hesitate to contact us.
Tier 3 APAC
So in light of the fact your website during the information gathering process asks for the class of cabin that we want to fly in WHY would you return a search that has a mixed cabin when the only option that can be selected is Business, not Business & Economy? In saying this when I select an Economy fare you certainly do not offer me a mixed fare of Economy & Business? Why is that? SIMPLY CAUSE YOU ARE AFTER GETTING THE CHEAPEST FARE OUT TO THE CONSUMER AND MISLEADING THEM ABOUT THE SALE UNTIL IS IT TOO LATE.
The reason we never contacted you inside this mystical 3 months window is we never expected to be ripped off. We expected to actually get what we searched for and not be deceived into thinking that we have to read on as you have the RIGHT to change the outcome of what we searched for. You say there is no fault in your website but the fact still remain we searched for a business class fare and was returned a mixed fare. Regardless of whether we read the itinerary or not your website should return the results of what it is asked. Interestingly, when I do an equivalent search in QATAR’s website to book a fare they DO NOT offer a mixed fare option where your website does.
I can honestly say that I DON’T believe you when you say you “appreciate my business”. On the basis that your original person who took my call on the 20/12/2015 after 90mins on hold with some discussion refused to escalate the matter on three separate occasions. You keep providing the same argument but what you fail to understand is that the average consumer is not speaking out and if they feel like they have been misled I say generally they have been. This matter has been handed to the Australia Competition & Consumer Commission and it was interesting to see that they actually have an entire staff member dedicated to handling the complaints coming in about your firm. If that doesn’t speak volumes about what the consumers think of your firm then you aren’t very smart business people at all.
So here is how it will play out:
1. I will cancel the fare and I will pay any cancellation costs that you have now made may parents bare
2. We will book another fare but WILL NOT be booking via your firm
3. We WILL continue to ware our network of travelling friends and family and business associates NOT to book via Expedia as you simply don’t care and are prepared to allow the consumer to be misled even after you have been told that what you are doing is misleading.
I know I will never make an effect on your company but I can assure you one thing. I have already changed peoples minds on whether they should be using Expedia for their travel and I will continue to do this for a very long time.
Matthew J. Denehy