My mother and I are going to Marseille the last weekend of March. I booked tickets for the two of us on Expedia. Since it was an international trip, there were a lot of screens to get through as I completed the booking. Somewhere along the way, I accidentally entered my mother's maiden name instead of her married name. It was a dumb mistake that I recognized right away when I received the confirmation. I was pretty sure I would have to pay a penalty to get it fixed, and I wasn't going to let my dumb mistake put a damper on the trip.
On February 14, I called Expedia to explain my mistake and ask for advice on the best way to get it fixed. I talked with a very friendly and helpful gentleman who said it was a bit of a tricky problem, and he needed to call the three airlines I would be using (Delta, Air France, KLM) to see how best to proceed. He asked me to hold as he consulted with each airline, and all told I was on the phone for well over an hour. My cell battery was running low. In the end, though, he said he would fix it by cancelling the ticket and applying the Delta credit to a new ticket under the correct name. There would be a penalty, but not very much, and I said Great! Do it! Thanks! He was working on completing the booking, and I was on hold, when my cell started beeping that it was about to die. I knew the rep had my phone number, so I disconnected.
I went to lunch and checked my e-mail when I got back to work. I had a confirmation e-mail from Expedia for the new ticket. Just to be safe, I went to the My Itineraries screen on the Expedia site and pulled up the new itinerary. Everything looked correct, but there was an "On hold" notice at the top. I called Expedia back and asked why. This new gentleman reviewed all that had happened and said that it was no problem, the booking was going through, and I was all set.
I kept checking the itinerary all week, and the "On hold" notice persisted. So yesterday I called Expedia again. Here's where the fun began. The lady I spoke to said it was on hold because the ticket couldn't be fixed. I had to buy a whole new ticket and I wouldn't get reimbursed at all for the ticket with the wrong name. I explained that the gentleman a week ago had carefully checked with every airline and come up with a solution, had then booked a ticket, and that a different gentleman had confirmed that everything was fine and the booking would go through. She said that was wrong. I said, I don't care if it was wrong; it was your employee's mistake and I have a confirmation e-mail that says everything is a go. She said that the e-mail was a mistake. I repeated that I didn't care; the key was it was their mistake, not mine. I told her to fix it however she needed to, but to do it for the price I paid originally plus the penalty and no more.
She said she wasn't authorized to do that. I said, find someone who is authorized. She said she understood my frustration but wasn't able to help me. (Oh, and by the way, there was a man sitting next to her feeding her these lines. I could clearly hear him saying "Tell her you're not authorized." "Tell her you understand she's frustrated." Oh, the rage.) Additionally, every so often during this argument she would say that she needed to put me on hold for 3-5 minutes, but would actually leave me hanging for 10-15. I believe 100% that this is part of their strategy; they know some customers will be forced to hang up, or will give up, when left on hold for too long.
At one point I said, "OK, this is your mistake, and I have proof that it's your mistake. You can't tell me that Expedia can't afford to just buy me a ticket and fix this." She said, "No, we are not able to do that." I said, "You're able, you're just not willing." She was silent.
Another thing she said to me was that the ticket wasn't fully booked the first time because I disconnected. I told her I did that because my cell was ready to die after being on hold for over an hour, but that I called back on a land line at my first opportunity and was told the booking would proceed. (More proof that keeping people on hold is part of their strategy -- if you disconnect, they try to use it against you.)
I don't get mad very often. I am very even keel, and I try not to yell at low-level customer service people. But after half an hour of speaking with this puppet woman, with her puppeteer feeding her her lines, I told her I was going to post the whole story on my blog, my Facebook account, and my Twitter account -- a combined audience of well over 500 people daily. She said she was going to put me on hold and consult her supervisor. I said she damn well was not going to put me on hold again -- that her supervisor could call me when he had a solution. Twenty minutes later a gentleman called me, confirmed that the switch was just between a maiden and married name, and said he would fix the matter.
I checked with Delta a couple hours later, and they sent me a Delta e-mail showing the booked trip. Relief. Then, about an hour ago, I received an Expedia confirmation for a flight that is sending my mother to Rome. Not Marseille. Rome. I am truly beyond the end of my rope. I will call Delta again tomorrow to double check that we're fine.
I am NEVER using Expedia again. The tactics they use to screw people are so utterly transparent. They don't want to help their customers; they want you to give up asking for help and cave to their demands out of sheer exhaustion. In case you think mine is an isolated incident, I offer the following for your consideration:
Those are just the first five that come up. Please feel free to share this post far and wide. The great thing about social media is the power it gives us, as consumers, to hold companies accountable.