Three Online Booking Horror Stories That Show Why You Should Always Use a Travel Agentby Daniel McCarthy /
Expedia and other online travel agencies (OTAs) boast about saving travelers money on flights, hotels, and rental cars at cities around the world. But, even when they promise savings, they’re not always able to deliver. Especially when travel plans go astray.
The biggest issue? Travelers booking through OTAs don’t get the benefit of someone at their side when things go wrong and, reading reviews of OTAs, things tend to go wrong often.
Here are three of the worst recent stories of passengers left out in the cold because of a lack of support from the teams at OTAs.
When a hotel isn’t a hotel
One user, Julia from Spokane, Washington, started off her review by declaring that, “I never write bad reviews, however, I could not be more disappointed.”
Julia, according to her review, had been trying to get a refund on a hotel she had booked on Expedia that turned out to not be a hotel at all, but someone’s personal apartment.
“I couldn't even stay the night if I wanted to as there was no way of even entering the building,” she wrote. Unable to purchase insurance, she reached out to Expedia’s reservation team to see what they could do to help her get a refund, but they were unable to contact the hotel because they didn’t have the correct contact information.
She ended up taking matters into her own hands, finding the hotel’s contact information and then serving as the middleman between Expedia and the hotel, going back and forth through email trying to get her money back.
“I have been mediating a conversation and relaying info back and forth between the ‘hotel’ and Expedia for over a month now and the ‘hotel’ insists they have not received any sort of messages, emails, or calls from Expedia requesting the refund,” she wrote. “I am still owed well over $200 and have not heard anything from Expedia in the last week.
“To say I'm frustrated is a huge understatement and I have not been contacted via phone or email despite my polite requests for over a week by any sort of management. I went to leave a Google review and it is impossible to do so. I have emailed time and time again. I have gone through every means to be noticed by them and am getting to a real point of anger.”
She finished her review by explaining that she wouldn’t be upset if she knew that her situation was getting dealt with, no matter how slowly, but she had no “reassurances that they were trying to solve the situation.”
Check in, check out, check in again
One user from Fremont, California, booked a three-day family vacation to Las Vegas through Expedia on a single itinerary, but it turned into separate, one-night bookings after going through Expedia’s booking system.
That meant that the traveler and his family had to check in one day, pack up the next day and check out, before checking in yet again at the same desk they used less than 24 hours prior.
“The hotel said that the check-in will be only at 3 p.m. and the room was not ready. I have to wait in the lobby carrying my luggage until 3 p.m. and wasted my vacation days at Las Vegas. I booked for a Grand Canyon trip, but due to this issue, my trip got canceled. I was waiting at the hotel with my wife and kid from morning to 3 p.m. to get the room. It was a horrible experience for me,” he wrote.
When the vacation was over, he called Expedia to try and get an answer as to why his reservation was made like that and to see if he could get some compensation for having to miss the Grand Canyon tour he booked. It took two hours on the phone for him to talk to a manager and he ended up with an offer of a $100 Expedia voucher for future travel.
“Comparing my difficulties on that day canceling my precious trip to Grand Canyon and losing one whole day at Las Vegas was not enough for me,” he wrote. “This is not at all acceptable and I suggest not to go with Expedia anymore.”
One New Jersey family wrote that their Expedia reservation, scheduled for a few nights stay at a hotel in Sydney, Australia, was stolen.
“We received a notice of a change in the reservation,” the user wrote, indicating that the reservation for a hotel in Sydney, Australia, had been changed to a non-existent hotel in the Dominican Republic.
Expedia, to its credit, was able to track down the recorded conversation of the reservation change, but didn’t end up helping to refund, or rectify, the hotel reservation.
“We lodged a claim. They came back and said that they had done nothing wrong and I would have to pay for the hotel. I attempted on numerous occasions to escalate to their legal department to ensure the fraud was reported. They would not connect me,” the user wrote.
Eventually, after more back and forth with Expedia, they refused to release the tape of the reservation being changed. Because the reservation was booked through American Express, which provided some anti-fraud protection, they were able to get a refund.
“Do not use Expedia. It is an unsecured site with highly questionable anti-fraud practices and atrocious customer service. Neither your reservation or your money is safe with Expedia,” the user wrote.