Expedia, Delta, And Bank Of America Team Up, Form Bad Customer Service Voltron

Paul tells Consumerist that he has a few problems. First, Expedia and Delta Airlines failed to correctly undo and reschedule a flight that his family took from Michigan to Florida. Second, his wife and children have gained the ability to bilocate. Or teleport. At least according to Delta and Expedia. Neither company seems fazed that the family flew the same route twice in a row both times. Sure, this trip might be physically possible, but it’s also completely insane.

The situation is now so complex that Paul has started his own blog about it.

On July 18th, my wife and our two kids flew to Michigan on Delta Air using Expedia to get the ticket. Expedia had originally given us a more expensive flight, but was fixed for an earlier date to get a cheaper ticket. However, unbeknownst to us, Expedia hadn’t actually fixed the tickets. The amount of the error: $538.20. She wound up paying that amount plus the price of the new tickets, almost double.

After a few weeks, we noticed the error, and contacted Expedia. Expedia then put us through a turmoil, amid the fact that we had documents and emails from them that showed she and the kids didn’t fly Delta Air twice in a 24 hour period, Expedia didn’t see the problem and passed us over to Delta.

Delta thinks that my wife and kids somehow took two separate, magical flights from Florida to Michigan on July 8th & July 9th. Because, you know, my wife must somehow be two different people. Plus, they think she took two flights on the return: both on July 29th at 11:10AM, somehow drove/flew/teleported back to Michigan, & then fly back with Delta at 7:40PM. I kid you not. Delta doesn’t see a problem.

But the other issue is Bank of America, who’s absolutely dumbfounded by all of this. They set up claims for us twice, giving us a credit until they investigated. They then reversed it. Then they credited us again. Then they reversed it again, plus charging us for the NSF fees while Expedia stole our money, and Delta made up fantastic stories.
It’s so simple: Don’t charge us for the obvious mistake. Charge us for the flights we actually took. Instead, we have been charged multiple times, & have even been told that they charge us even if we didn’t fly, regardless of who’s mistake it was.

We’ve reached out to Delta for help with this situation and will keep you posted.

Comments

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  1. Adam1222 says:

    “Expedia had originally given us a more expensive flight, but was fixed for an earlier date to get a cheaper ticket.”

    What the heck does this mean? It starts off the gripe in a way suggesting the writer has no idea what’s going on. Expedia didn’t “give him” a more expensive flight: he booked one, and then tried to change his (presumably nonrefundable) ticket. Did he pay a $150 per ticket change fee? Or did he just buy new tickets?

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      Why did Expedia tell him it could refund his ticket? Maybe what Expedia was telling him was that it could book him for the earlier, cheaper flight and the OP thought Expedia meant that it could give him his original flight’s money back. But is it really Expedia’s policy to completely refund the cost of a flight you booked? What if the flight wasn’t refundable? Do you still get a refund?

    • craptastico says:

      that’s what i thought. it sounds like he bought one flight. then found a cheaper flight and bought that. i don’t know about expedia’s policy, but usually internet site tickets are purchased as non refundable, i.e. even if you find a cheaper flight you’re stuck with the first one.

    • jimstoic says:

      I agree that the sentence doesn’t make sense. I’m not certain why Consumerist posted this.

  2. IssaGoodDay says:

    Reading through the blog, it looks like they were charged twice for the flight they actually took, PLUS the originally booked, more expensive flight. Somehow the amount they paid for flights they didn’t take ballooned to $717.60, in addition to ~$360 for the flights they did take.

    While they may be on the hook for some ticket change fees – it hopefully won’t be $717.60 worth of ticket change fees for two round trip tickets.

    I certainly wish everything were laid out more clearly though!

  3. SPOON - now with Forkin attitude says:

    is blog more coherent?

  4. NeverLetMeDown says:

    That summary is so incoherent that I’m not surprised he’s having issues.

    It sounds like his wife booked a ticket on Delta through Expedia, then discovered that a different set of dates would be cheaper, so she booked had Expedia change the ticket. Depending on the booking rules, this would likely have resulted in a change fee. Somehow, the original ticket didn’t get cancelled, and now they’re on the hook for all of them?

    Not to blame the OP, but a couple of things:

    1. Whether or not the flights were flown, or even could all physically BE flown, is irrelevant. Doesn’t matter. Nonrefundable tix are nonrefundable. If I book a nonrefundable flight from New York to Chicago, leaving New York at 8AM Monday morning, and a separate nonrefundable flight from New York to Chicago leaving New York at 9AM that same Monday morning, I still get charged for both tickets.

    2. Another case where using a credit card would have been better than a debit card. The OP wouldn’t be out of pocket (or paying NSF fees) while this all gets resolved.

  5. MitchV says:

    This may be the best title I’ve ever seen!

  6. LoadStar says:

    And yet again, another example of why you should use CREDIT, not DEBIT cards for this sort of thing. Yes, in theory, debit cards have most of the same protections as credit cards, as many anti-credit-card people frequently point out.

    However, had this been a credit card, he wouldn’t have been out his own money during this whole debacle, until the moment that he had to pay the bill. He wouldn’t have had to deal with the NSF fees that resulted from the apparent double charging that depleted his account, and he wouldn’t be out the money while they “investigated.”

    • reimero says:

      Additionally, some travel-centric credit cards offer additional worthwhile services, including travel insurance and trip protection. I have an airline-branded card that waives the fee for the first checked bag for everyone in my party, a cost which can add up very quickly. Obviously, everyone’s needs are different, but they’re worth considering.

  7. reimero says:

    In my (admittedly limited) experience, it’s generally best to avoid booking through Expedia, Orbitz, Priceline, etc, for precisely the reasons the OP mentioned. If you deal directly with the carrier/hotel/car rental place/etc, they are in far better shape to deal with things. If a third party is involved, there’s a great deal more passing of the buck and another level of complexity to handle. Nobody is refunding anything until they know 100% for certain they are to blame, and it’s easy for Expedia and Delta to keep pointing fingers back at each other.

    Personally, I’ll use travel sites for comparison shopping in terms of air fares and hotel costs, but I’ll do the actual booking directly with the merchant. I have far, far fewer problems that way. And the simple fact of the matter is, these travel sites aren’t actually going to save you much money, if any at all. Delta, for instance, has a low price match guarantee, and when I was hotel hunting recently, I found that the rates offered directly by the hotels were very close to the rates offered by the travel sites. In fact, in some cases the hotel’s websites were cheaper by several dollars.

    One stop shopping might be convenient, but CSRs for airlines and hotels have a much, much, MUCH easier time helping you if there’s no middle man involved.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      Or, if you’re flexible with your travel dates, go with the cheapest flights for the days you’re willing to travel. I’ve booked through Expedia, Orbitz, etc. plenty of times and have never had any problems. I’m not saying there aren’t problems at all, but the OP really complicated things for himself.

    • jimstoic says:

      I’ll admit that I frequently use Travelocity and Orbitz to find flights, rental cars, and hotels, and then go to the Web site for the carrier, rental company, or hotel to complete the transaction.

  8. damageddude says:

    Stop being nice, go to police and file charges against all 3 for theft, fraud and whatever else is applicable. Since it is over $500 (I think, I lost track of what is actually being stolen) it probably is a felony. Then go to civil court and file suit again — don’t forget to ask for attorney and court fees. That will probably get everyone’s attention.

    • NeverLetMeDown says:

      If he wants the police to take down a fraud charge, he’s going to have to be WAY more coherent than this summary, or anything in his blog. This suggestion is just silly. The cops would just laugh at him.

    • rpm773 says:

      go to police and file charges against all 3 for theft, fraud and whatever else is applicable

      I’m not sure about the fraud or theft, but accusing the three of “whatever else is applicable” sounds like a pretty good move. There’s no way they can weasel out of that one.

  9. Conformist138 says:

    OK, people, read the blog before commenting on how bad the summery is. We should be pretty familiar with the fact that Consumerist posts, written by an OP or an editor, often come out missing key facts. This is why we always gotta RTFA

    Turns out, he clearly states that his wife was told by someone at Expedia that the swap could be done and a refund would be issued. She didn’t just think she could make the change at will without consulting first. And, even having the flights changed would cost less than all the full-priced tickets combined.

    • NeverLetMeDown says:

      OK, people, read the blog before commenting on how bad the summery is.

      I did. The blog is no more coherent.

      Here’s what would be coherent:

      On X date, my wife booked two tickets on from X to Y, leaving X and returning Y, on Delta flights X and Y, respectively. The tickets were $X each, or 2x$X total. The next day, my wife discovered that by leaving on day X-1, the tickets were only $Y each. She called Expedia, and they said (whatever they said, which seems to be the issue, maybe “we can change them, for a $150/ticket fee” or “we can change them, for no fee”).

      Instead of changing the tickets, Expedia (or Delta) left the existing tickets in place, and booked us two sets of tickets at the new fare. So, instead of having one set of tickets for $Y, we now have paid for three sets of tickets, one set on X date at $X, and two sets on Y date for $Y, for a total of $Z. We should be refunded $X+Y+Y-Y, but we’re getting the runaround from Expedia and Delta.

  10. kate708 says:

    So sorry to hear about this awful experience. We are looking into this immediately and are attempting to contact the customer. The Expedia team.

    • psychocatlady says:

      I was NEVER contacted by Expedia to fix this, I had to initiate this over months. Just letting everyone know on an old problem that was never fixed. Expedia kept the money. They made a mistake, and they knew it, but were clever enough to hold out until the issue became worse, and claim it was our fault.

      Thanks Expedia/kate708. I will never use you again.

  11. kate708 says:

    So sorry to hear about this awful experience. We are looking into this immediately and are attempting to contact the customer. The Expedia team.

  12. tbax929 says:

    I have only had one experience with Expedia – when they left me stranded at the airport in Louisville without the rental car I booked through them. I haven’t used them since. I have had experience with B of A and Delta – some good, mostly not so good. The thought of doing my travel using a combination of Expedia, B of A, and Delta just about makes my head explode.

  13. webweazel says:

    We flew recently, for only the second time in my life, just a few weeks ago. Reading here on Consumerist, and doing more research online, I have been readily edumacatid. Here are some money & stress reducing hints I have found for domestic travel:
    About two months ahead of time, use Expedia, Orbitz, Kayak, etc. to find the CARRIER and general range/times/layovers of flights you’d like to use. Write them down. PLAN on using the SAME CARRIER for departure and arrival to your destination, and again, back. If there are weather delays (which happened to us), it is very easy to get that day’s flight(s) rescheduled. Not so easy when dealing with multiple carriers on the same day.
    We booked with Delta, and their prices came out exactly the same for round trip vs. one way. (I don’t know about other carriers.) So, you could theoretically fly with Delta to your destination, and, say, United on the way back. So, you may not need to use the same carrier on departure and return, if it would work out better for you. This is what you look for on the Kayak-type sites.
    Flying on Tues-Thurs will always come up cheaper.
    Wait until a month to three weeks before you’d like to fly to book, but no less than 21. (Fares 7-14 days ahead of travel are the most expensive.) Book online Tuesday-Thursday, after midnight if possible for the cheapest fares. (Wednesdays after midnight is the best, they say.) Book DIRECTLY from the carrier’s website. Refresh often, as the prices can change while you’re browsing.
    Use a CREDIT CARD. Period. DO NOT pay off the card FULLY until you have returned from your trip, all charges have been finalized on your bill, and you see everything is correct. Even if you have to take an interest hit. (But at only a month, there probably will not be an interest hit.) If there is a dispute of charges, the CC Co will not make you pay that portion of funds while under investigation. If it’s already paid off, they have a lot more trouble dealing with a negative balance in your favor, and may be less willing to help.
    Keeping these hints in mind will definitely help you in the end if there are any unforeseen problems anywhere down the line, and should help you save some $$$ overall.
    Anybody have anything to add?

    • reimero says:

      I also find it useful to enroll in the relevant frequent flyer/traveler/renter/whatever program. They don’t grant you instant access to awesome service (which a lot of people don’t seem to get), but they DO tend to make the CSRs pay a little more attention. It’s not much, but I find I’m taken a little bit more seriously that way.

      The one caveat there is that enrollment usually also means you’re bombarded with credit card offers and similar stuff, so take it for what it’s worth.

    • jessjj347 says:

      Also, I would add to try to check in as early as possible so that you get a better boarding “zone”. That way, you don’t have to worry about being forced to check your carry-on (which could lead to a potential lose and having to wait in the baggage claim).

      • NeverLetMeDown says:

        Unless you’re flying Southwest, when you check in doesn’t matter. Boarding priority is based on (a) cabin (First vs. coach), (b) frequent flyer status, and (c) where your seat is (back to front, window/middle/aisle, etc.).

  14. Crystalkat says:

    I have had the same problem with Expedia. I booked a reservation (for 1 person) for air and hotel. I also marked for them not to retain my credit card information. I went back 36 hours later to see if my reservation had been confirmed. It said they couldn’t get it for the price quoted and needed another approx $75 for the airfare portion. Since I had told them NOT to keep my credit card on file I clicked to approve the increased price. It asked for my credit card info again. I input everything and the next day they confirmed a single reservation for the flight and hotel.

    When I arrived at the hotel they told me there were 2 reservations exactly the same. They were very nice and cancelled 1 reservation and put refund in to Expedia. They said this happens every now and then. So when I got to my room I called Expedia to tell them I had 2 room reservations. Expedia CS informed me there were also 2 tickets issued because I had processed and paid for 2 reservations. Expedia CS said there was nothing they could do since I paid for 2 reservations and there was no refund due. The CS Rep wasn’t very nice and wouldn’t put me through to a supervisor or anything. It was my fault – end of story.

    I called back to Expedia CS another time and the CS Rep said the airlines had notified Expedia about the possible duplicate reservation. Expedia did nothing to notified me of the possible error. The Expedia website also didn’t show 2 reservations until I was already at my destination and complaining about the error.

    When I returned home I wrote Expedia and my credit card company. Expedia sent the credit card company 2 print outs of my online reservations and said the charge was valid. EXPEDIA NEVER RESPONDED DIRECTLY TO ME REGARDING MY COMPLAINT, LETTER OR TELEPHONE CALLS. The credit card company added the charge back on to my card and I ended up having to pay for 2 airline tickets and 1 hotel room. The 2nd airline ticket was around $380!

    I absolutely will NEVER use Expedia again. I tell everyone I can never to use Expedia. Their Customer Service sucks and seems to take no interest in resolving problems. I tell everyone I can to book all your reservations directly with the airlines or hotels and EVADE Expedia at all costs.