OK, so normally I try to keep the number of personal, non-tech, blog postings to a minimum on this site, since most of my readers are here for the technical content. Well, this time I am going to make an exception. For those of you that follow me on Twitter you may have already heard bits-and-pieces of my travel fiasco from last night -> this morning. Well for the benefit of others, I thought I would share some details on my two major Expedia failures this year.
Before I start though, I will clarify by saying I have booked over 20 different itinerary's in 2009 alone, all with Expedia that worked without a hitch. Typically I find cheaper rates, a good website, and a quick process. However, 2 of these reservations went horribly wrong, and that is where the cost savings just don't make up for it.
Fiasco Number One - Canceled Flight
The first Fiasco that I encountered was around mid-July 2009 for a reservation in November. The airline that was booked decided to cancel 1 of 4 flights in a reservation and did NOT offer any alternative bookings or routes. Effectively we would have been left in Salt Lake City UT and had to find our own way home. I called Expedia to get the trip modified and re-booked and was given a total run around.
All in all I spent 4.5 hours on the phone with them working to get the flights canceled and in the end managed to get it all done and didn't lose any money on the situation. So, yes it was a hassle, but it was something outside of their control, and in the end, they made it good for me. So I didn't let that stop me from making other travel arrangements through them.
Fiasco Number Two - Hotel with No Parking
The second fiasco was what I encountered last night. After having a great time last year driving out to California to meet my cruise ship, my friend and I decided that we should do that again this year going to Miami. So, I went to Expedia looking for a hotel in Miami that had parking available. I quickly found a hotel with Valet parking available for $15/day, and the price was right. I promptly booked and confirmed the reservation. This was 3-4 days ago.
Yesterday, on the second day of our 27 hour drive we arrived in Miami at about 1:30 AM on 1/2, we had guaranteed late arrival at the hotel, and quickly located the hotel. However, upon arrival, the hotel didn't have parking that was visible. We found a place on the street to stop, called the hotel and they said they didn't have any parking options, and to "find a place on the street". Well, that wasn't something that I was going to do. So it was time to call Expedia, as the hotel was mis-represented on their site.
I get on the phone with them, and they repeatedly apologized for the situation, typically once every 30 seconds to 1 minute, which got quite annoying, but the end result was, "no hotel manager is available, good luck, call back tomorrow.". After 40 minutes, 3 representatives and 1 supervisor, I was hung up on. We decided before calling back to see if we could find a hotel with an available room, we found one, but it was $399/night plus $38 for parking. With my initial reservation being $160/night this was not something I wanted to do.
So, it was back on the phone to Expedia and directly to a supervisor this time. Same song and dance, until finally, after 1.5 hours with her she said, "well I can at least help you find a place to stay tonight, would that help you?" Why, yes, that is EXACTLY what I needed at a minimum was a bed and a parking space. In a matter of minutes she found us a hotel, similar in price to my other hotel, the only kicker is that I have to pay for it. Regardless, by this time it was 4:40AM, I had been up for almost 24 hours and it was time for sleep. She said to call back tomorrow (1/2/2010) and they could get me a refund for the hotel.
After getting a good nights sleep, I called them back and spent 45 minutes on the phone, where they state that the hotel manager isn't there, and that I have to call back yet again, between 7AM and 4PM on Monday. Well Monday I'll be floating in the ocean not really an option. So I escalate to the supervisor's supervisor, where finally they tell me that they will call the hotel on Monday, BUT that if the hotel says no, I'm out the money. I called the hotel, the manager is actually in tomorrow, so I have no idea what is going on. Hopefully I get a refund, if not, I might consider a dispute with my credit card company, which is what the lady at the hotel I am currently staying in recommended.
So, all in all, I'm done with Expedia. When things work well, they are great, good prices and good website, but when things don't work well, their customer dis-service just cannot deliver. I caution anyone that books travel to think about it before you use Expedia, I know I finally learned my lesson. (In other news, anyone have a good replacement recommendation?)