Expedia Gives Error Message, Puts Order Through After You Buy Elsewhere

Reader TeraGram tried to buy some plane tickets from Expedia, but for some unclear reason, the site wouldn’t let her. She tried to contact them to find out why, but after trying to call a few times and even falling asleep while on hold, she gave up on that route and bought tickets somewhere else. Naturally, after that was when her original purchase from Expedia went through.

I tried to buy airfare for my husband & daughter. After I supplied my email and credit card info for the purchase, I was told, “there is a problem” and although I don’t remember the entire message I believe I was told “this ticket was not purchased”.

I tried to call. I was on hold for over an hour and my cell disconnected.

I tried to call back and fell asleep sometime later. I awoke to a loud buzzing from my cell.

That morning I looked at my computer for emails and saw nothing from expedia. I tried to rebook. I received another error message. I tried to call back. Again with extremely long wait times and disconnects.

I figured that I should buy my tickets from someone else. And I did.
THEN I received a message from Expedia about my previously purchased tickets.

I tried to call back. AGAIN no answer, just long hold times. Finally I did get through but I was told “oh, too late, but perhaps your credit card company can issue a dispute”.

I called Citibank, who said, “we don’t have it on our system yet, call back when it hits your account.”

And I did. Now I am being told, “Oh, you should’ve called back within 24 hours.”

To be honest, the Citibank rep I was on hold wiht for almost 3 hours tonight was extremely patient and the United Airlines and Expedia reps were the ones who put the hold times into excessive times.

Expedia is claiming that I never received any errors from them. Expedia is claiming I never called them within 24 hours. United is claiming they have no responsibility even though the charge to my credit card is by them instead of Expedia. United is claiming “no refunds, but yeah you can change the travel for $150 per ticket.”

I have bought lots of travel over the years and never had any sort of issue. This particular instance has me spinning and disgusted.

I don’t know what my alternatives are but I do know this: I will never use United or Expedia ever again if this particular ticket is not backed out and fully refunded.

Calling up a company for help only to be told, “oopsie, guess you’ll have to try a chargeback!” is disappointing, but we expect no less from Expedia. Please be careful, though. Some years ago, another reader reported that Expedia sent debt collectors after them for daring to seek a refund through their credit card company.

Four Reasons Not To Book Your Hotel Room Through A Third-Party Site


Edit Your Comment

  1. Marlin says:

    Charge back!

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      You are a moron. Read the damn article.

      • MaxH42 thinks RecordStoreToughGuy got a raw deal says:

        Who peed in your cornflakes this morning? I read the whole thing, and I agree that’s their best bet. They should also go through their browser and call history, save as much as they can, and write a very specific timeline of the events while they’re still fresh.

        • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

          Maybe too harsh a comment, I’ll admit. The comment just rubbed me the wrong way. It’s stated very clearly she contacted her bank.

          • Marlin says:

            “According to the Federal Trade Commission’s Fair Credit Billing Act, consumers have 60 days to dispute a fraudulent charge in writing.”

      • Captain Spock says:

        Louis should support harsher punishment against Marlin’s who do not RTFA

      • Lyn Torden says:

        I just read the article. There is a 30 day window for chargebacks once the charges post through and the account information is there. Teragram should be sure to NOT be swayed by any of the culprits to wait for any proof. If there are no ACTUAL refunds by the deadline, do the charge back for sure.

        Then we can go about applying harsher punishments against corporations that have poorly programmed web sites (that’s most of them).

      • Marlin says:

        No, You’re the moran. RTFA again Loias

        • Coffee says:

          fight, Fight, FIGHT, FIGHT!

          *holds everyone back*

        • awesome anna says:

          Such a maroon… (to no one in particular)

        • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

          “I called Citibank, who said, ‘we don’t have it on our system yet, call back when it hits your account.’

          And I did. Now I am being told, ‘Oh, you should’ve called back within 24 hours.'”

          That avenue was already addressed in the article.

          • Marlin says:

            “According to the Federal Trade Commission’s Fair Credit Billing Act, consumers have 60 days to dispute a fraudulent charge in writing.”

            Its been less than 60days so per the Article she called back in 24hrs, less than 60days.

            Pesky facts.

    • jiubreyn says:

      Finally I did get through but I was told “oh, too late, but perhaps your credit card company can issue a dispute”.

      I called Citibank, who said, “we don’t have it on our system yet, call back when it hits your account.”

      And I did. Now I am being told, “Oh, you should’ve called back within 24 hours.”

      Sounds like she did try to get a chargeback from her bank but they denied the request. Just because you can REQUEST a chargeback within 60 days doesn’t mean it’s going to be approved.

  2. livingthedreamrtw says:

    The important lesson here is to never book via a 3rd party service like Expedia or Orbitz. Otherwise you’ll get stuck in the never-ending loop of finger pointing. 1 source, 1 point of blame, 1 person to solve the problem.

    • Quake 'n' Shake says:

      Agreed. I used to use Travelocity and later Expedia to purchase plane tickets, but I haven’t in a long time. I use Exepdia now to basically find the flight schedules and get a rough idea of cost. I’ve found that if I then go straight to the airline’s website, I can book the same flights for the same price. If there’s a price difference, it’s often negligible.

    • Auron says:

      Either you’ve gotten very lucky or haven’t had to deal with the frontline CSR’s. Very few of the frontline CSR’s have the ability to do anything besides tell you that whatever issue you are having is your fault and there is nothing they can or will do about your situation. Oh and try and push unwanted/unneeded services on you.

      • livingthedreamrtw says:

        I always take my complaints to Twitter/Social Media/CEO emails and get a favorable response back straight away. Doesn’t hurt that I am a travel blogger with a decent following on said social media networks, though.

    • bar_foo says:

      With one major exception: sometimes they can get you a flight with legs on two different airlines that can’t be booked on either airline’s site directly. I’ve saved a lot of money, or gotten flights at much more convenient times, flying that way.

  3. az123 says:

    This is the problem of not getting something in writing and well letting the company that screwed up tell you they cannot fix it. whenever something like this happens have them send you documentation and do not get off the phone unless they are actually going to resolve the problem the way you expect.

    To me sounds like they had a system problem, probably tons of liability on this one because of it and are just avoiding paying out, be the loudest about it and you will win

  4. There's room to move as a fry cook says:

    I take screen shots and paste into Excel at every step of a purchase.

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      That’s probably excessive, but a screen shot after an error might be a good idea in this case.

    • Jawaka says:

      Who can you give the screen shots to? IF you’re lucky enough to actually speak to an Expedia employee they’re not likely going to give you their direct email address.

  5. SerenityDan says:

    This happened to me once with Dominoes, luckily was solved by just refusing the pizza when it showed up (over an hour after I had ordered somewhere else and was eating)

    • That guy. says:

      Was it that the pizza never showed, so you ordered elsewhere…or that there was an error in the online ordering that made it look like it didn’t go through?

      • SerenityDan says:

        It said “We are sorry your order could not be completed at this time” I tried two more times and it said it both times so I gave up and got pizza from someone else.

  6. sirwired says:

    It’s correct that United is not responsible. They received what appeared to them to be a perfectly valid booking request from a travel agent. The charge appears from them because Expedia gave it to them.

    Any refund is going to have to come from Expedia.

  7. Coffee says:

    I will never use Expedia again after my last experience with them, which involved them repeatedly trying to cancel a reservation shortly before I had a flight to Hawaii because the connecting flight in Honolulu didn’t work (rebooking would – because of the date, have required us to pay at least $1,500 more). The initial problem stemmed from the fact that they were too lazy to try to talk to the second airline about the connecting flight, refusing to do so on multiple occasions. I finally called the airline, got them to process the change, and called Expedia to leave us alone vis a vis the ticket cancellation because everything was worked out. Regardless, we still received an e-mail from them that they were going to cancel the tickets on a daily basis, prompting more phone calls.

    It was such an ordeal, and they were so incompetent and unhelpful, that I happily give my business to Orbitz when I’m too busy to do thorough research on ticket prices.

    • Oranges w/ Cheese says:

      I hope this doesn’t happen to us – we just booked our honeymoon through Expedia O_o
      Never had any problems with them before though, so I hope it doesn’t start with this one!
      *knock on wood*

      • Coffee says:

        Check to see if you’re using more than one airline…that’s where our problem lie. Because when you’re only dealing with one airline, they will move your second flight if the first one gets cancelled and there’s only minor inconvenience. If you’re dealing with two, the second is under no obligation to change your flight if there’s a problem with the first.

  8. Browsing says:

    Though today’s Christopher Elliot’s blog might dispute that point…. http://www.elliott.org/blog/so-you-have-a-screen-shot-of-your-booking-so-what/

  9. ferozadh says:

    This will be hard to dispute. They can claim a variety of user errors like double clicking, clicking on back button, etc etc. I guess the only thing you can do is never use Expedia again, which should be a no-brainer since their prices are consistently higher than others. Use Kayak and it’ll show you the comparison between all the major brokers.

  10. Jawaka says:

    Cancel the newer tickets that you bought elsewhere?

  11. donjumpsuit says:

    I thought the new rules allowed for cancellations withing 24 hours? Something is fishy here.

    Under more rules that take effect Jan. 24, airlines will have to:

    –Include all taxes and fees in advertised fares.

    –Let passengers hold a reservation without payment, or cancel it without penalty, for 24 hours after the reservation is made, if the reservation is made at least one week before departure.

    –Disclose baggage fees when passengers book a flight and on e-ticket confirmations.

    –Provide prompt notification of delays of over 30 minutes, as well as cancellations and diversions.

    Many airlines already provide these services, but Congress has refused to mandate them, says Rick Feaney, CEO of Farecompare.com.

    Since the Obama administration took over, “they have been edicting many of the things that were in the passenger bill of rights through the Department of Transportation and Federal Aviation Administration. It’s good. Some of these things (such as refunding bag fees for lost bags) were so commonsensical you think nobody would break them,” but they sometimes did, Feaney says.

  12. longfeltwant says:

    She used Expedia.

    cf Sears, Best Buy, Dell

  13. tonsilpool says:


    ALWAYS do a “Screen Dump” of every page into a jpg file as you work through the process of buying online.
    Doing this saved me $300.00 when dealing with an order online.
    The price quoted on the page increased by $300.00 “AFTER” I submitted the order.
    Use: Ctrl + Prt Scr
    The threat of a charge-back and sending the screen picture to the CS rep resulted in the return of my $300.00.
    Good luck!

  14. HogwartsProfessor says:

    I have used Expedia lots of times and never had a problem until recently. They seem incapable of understanding that from my airport, you book through US Airways and then United is actually the carrier for most/all of the flight. They must have recently changed their phone support, because it is DISMAL now.

    The airline canceled my 1:00 pm return flight from AZ over Memorial Day weekend, and Expedia sent me an email asking me to call them immediately. I was rebooked on a flight leaving at 8:00 am Tuesday (gag!). Then I found out my bf had to work early that morning, and would not be able to take me to the airport. So I would have to rebook for the next day. Expedia told me NOT to call to rebook my return until after I got there, so the airline wouldn’t cancel the whole thing.

    They said I could use the unused portion of my ticket as a credit, but they couldn’t seem to make it work because of the US Airways/United thing. After calling them three times from AZ, and getting disconnected, not called back as they promised, and having to explain it over and over, I was told “This is no longer our problem; you’ll have to call the airline.”

    Fine. I did. The US Airways lady was awesome. It cost me $300 to rebook (the difference between flights and the change fee), but I got on a late-morning flight on Wednesday. My bf’s work thing was cancelled, so we actually got an extra day together. I made it home with no problems or delays.

    I pray on bended knees that my upcoming flight to LA over Labor Day weekend isn’t subject to this crap. If it is, I’m calling American immediately and not even bothering with Expedia. At least that ticket is with one airline, even if I do have to go through O’Hare on the first leg in order to get there at my preferred arrival time. BLARGH!

  15. lvdave says:

    The wife and I used Expedia back in 2003 for an “air-hotel-car” trip to DC. I had no problems with them, but after reading all the horror stories since then, I’d be deathly afraid to use them again, but that shouldn’t be any problem, as I refuse to fly anymore thanks to the fuckwads at TSA..

  16. shufflemoomin says:

    Hmm. The first paragraph contains the phrases “I don’t remember” and “but I believe…”. Not exactly solid evidence, is it?

  17. TuxMan says:

    “Your card will not be charged until the tickets print” is NOT an error message.

    Falling asleep while on the phone tells us you should NOT have been placing any online orders.

    OP fails to mention how much they had to drink.

  18. dush says:

    Got to take screen shots of those error messages.

  19. webweazel says:

    I just bought plane tickets two days ago. I looked for days/times/prices/airlines on Kayak. Then I went directly to the airline’s booking site and ordered them there. Done. Any delays or problems, we can take it up with them right at the airline counter, get it fixed in two minutes, and move on. Which we have done in the past. Easy peasy.

    After reading the horror stories over here, I just think of this nightmare scenario:
    –Book a trip through a third-party site,
    –have different legs of the journey go through different airlines and
    –introduce a huge storm system somewhere on the route that causes a delay.

    Watch your brain literally explode right there in the terminal from all the finger-pointing and wait times on hold. Might be less stress and probably a whole lot faster to WALK to your destination.

  20. AustinTXProgrammer says:

    I recently booked with Expedia and Jet Blue. 10 minutes later I got an email that the event I was traveling for was rescheduled for 1 week later. I was expecting to pay a change fee but I was easily able to cancel the itinerary until midnight the next day and buy new tickets (that cost $130 more, but that’s just because it was a more popular travel week).

  21. Difdi says:

    It’s not just Expedia. I’ve run into quite a few websites over the years that did something similar. It’s most often a product of poor software design, the most common reason I’ve seen has been where the software fails to account for things like server load or net lag causing delays.

    You hit the Purchase button, and the website you’re on has a timeout set to less time than the actual purchase processor site does. So the website reports a failed transaction, while the actual purchase processor waits a little longer and it goes through. So you either buy the same item again on the website (with the possibility of a second timeout mismatch) or buy the item elsewhere…and all the while, your original purchase went through just fine, because the either the software developer is a dumbass, or whoever is in charge of configuring the server is a dumbass.

  22. rawrali says:

    Something similar happened to me at Kayak when making a hotel reservation. The website indicated that I was booking directly through Kayak, a fact I double and triple-checked (depending on the reservation, they often send you to another site to complete your order, however, in this case, I was always at their site). When I submitted my reservation, I was given an error message.

    I immediately checked my bank account and saw a pending charge from GetaRoom.com. I called this company the next day and was told that I did not have a reservation, none of my information was in their system, and that the charge would drop off. The charge went through the next day, so I called back again. They had charged me the full price of my reservation, but did not actually make the reservation. I called back time and time again to get my money refunded, and finally had to go to my bank to do a chargeback as the company was blaming my bank for the holdup of the refund (which was not true).

  23. PhilipCohen says:

    Now, if she’d paid by PreyPal (aka PayPal), everything would have been sorted out pronto …