Orbitz Customer Cancels Reservation For Spite

Even with Orbitz’s notoriously inept customer service – behind that facade of campy commercials and flash games, there’s…more facade – this is a new one. Reader Missdona booked a room at the Bellagio hotel last week. Yesterday, the price dropped $20. She tried to lock in the lower rate but was unable to online and the phone people consistently put her on long hold only to disconnect her or refused to help. She decides to cancel and book with the hotel direct. A phone rep tells her that cancelling will cost $25.

Because she’s so pissed, Missdona decides to eat $5 just to cost Orbitz money, along with all her future business.

Her letter, inside.


Missdona writes:

    “Had a terrible customer service experience with Orbitz. I booked the Bellagio for 11/15 through their website last week. Yesterday, the price drops $20.

    Orbitz has no web-friendly way to confirm the lower rate. They want me to cancel and rebook, charging a $25 fee. If I booked through Bellagio, there would be no fee.

    I call customer service.

    - Voice Prompts — to someone who confirms my phone number and can’t help me– transfers me to a “number that is disconnected or no longer in service”
    - Voice Prompts — to someone who confirms my phone number and can’t help me– transfers me to a hotel specialist that puts me on hold until it gets disconnected
    - Voice Prompts — to someone who confirms my phone number and can’t help me– transfers me to a hotel specialist that tells me it’s “impossible” to adjust the price on the hotel without the cancellation fee. I ask for the manager who tells me that it “just can’t be done.” I assert that if she wont help me, she’ll lose the booking and I’ll gladly eat the $25 fee to re-book with the hotel directly. She refuses to help me.

    I cancel the reservation online and re-book with the hotel directly.

    I hope that Orbitz enjoys that $25, because it’s the last dime they’ll ever get from me.”

Comments

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  1. missdona says:

    At least now, if the price drops another $5, I wont be on the hook for another $25 fee.

  2. billhelm says:

    I book directly whenever possible on hotels. These all in one travel sites don’t make much on the bookings themselves, so fees have become a standard operating model for them

    Sites like Orbitz, Travelocity, Hotels.com also do things like pre-paying for hotel rooms. While you might get a bit of a discount, it also takes away almost all flexibility around cancellations… worth the extra money to me to have the flexibility to cancel…

  3. missdona says:

    I had to pre-pay the first night anyway; it’s typical with the Vegas hotels. (Those bastards at) Orbitz had a better rate at the time.

    That day is a one day tack-on to a trip that I booked directly with the hotel.

    What pissed me off (besides the BS customer service) is that I wasn’t “canceling” the reservation in the conventional sense. I’m still staying there on the night booked.

  4. Anonymously says:

    While not quite on the same level as the Bellagio, Ramada (and the other establishments in its family) offer a “best price guarantee” on their website. Just choose the AAA rate even if you don’t have it, they never ask for the card anyway.

  5. missdona says:

    Stupid Orbitz has a best price guarantee too- but it’s only valid for 24 hours after making the reservation.

  6. “I book directly whenever possible on hotels. These all in one travel sites don’t make much on the bookings themselves, so fees have become a standard operating model for them”

    I generally use Orbitz, et al, to find low rates, then go compare them on the sites directly. You can usually save around $30 in fees on plane tickets by finding the lowest rates on Orbitz, then booking directly through the airline. Ditto hotels, and a lot of chains have “lowest price guarantees” so you can sometimes beat the hotel’s lowest published rate.

    But I do appreciate Orbitz doing all the preliminary research for me. :P

  7. Yeah, I do the same thing as Eyebrows McGeee. Those sites make it much, much easier to find flights and compare prices, but the fees always seem to be a little lower if you just go directly to the airline websites to make your reservation (once you know what specific flights you are looking for). You do have to remember, though, that they don’t appear to aggregate info. for the discount airlines like JetBlue and Southwest (and I assume others).

  8. Jay says:

    Speaking as someone who does quite a bit of traveling to Vegas, I offer this bit of advice: always, always, ALWAYS book directly with the hotel. As people have pointed out above, this is true for most hotels in general, but it’s especially important for Vegas.

    Not only do almost all of the big Vegas hotel-casinos have best-price guarantees (and by the way, you can often do *much* better than even the hotel’s rack rate by signing up for some email lists a couple months in advance), and let you cancel and rebook without any penalty whatsoever, but your method of booking determines your eligibility for upgrades and/or comps. Comps may not be a big factor if you’re not a gambler, but Vegas hotels will sometimes give free upgrades when checking in if you ask nicely. Those upgrades, however, are much harder to come by if you didn’t book directly with the hotel.

    The only exception to this rule would be if you were getting your hotel along with an airfare package, but even then the savings you get on the hotel from booking directly usually outweigh the package savings.

  9. missdona says:

    I’m not so much a gambler and this is only my second time to Vegas. I booked the hotel and airfare seperately.

    I’m scoping out the best prices, but I’m going for my wedding I need something (good) booked as a safety. The rates for some of the nights have gone up $100 from the price I booked, so I’m still doing okay.

    Thanks for the advice.

  10. comedian says:

    I’ve had an Orbitz account since July of 2001 (I just checked), but
    I’ve never booked anything with them because I’ve always been able to
    find a better deal.

    Actual content in above portion of comment added merely to justify this quote from last night’s Daily Show.

    I did not pay no three hundred dollars on f***ing orbitz for no motherf***in’ snakes on my motherf***in’ plane!
    — Samuel L. Jackson