Online “marketing” company Webloyalty has settled with the New York AG for $5.2 mil. You know how when you buy movie tickets and at the end it says, “You won a free $10 gift certificate!” And then if you read the small print it says that if you accept the gift certificate you get signed up for a discount club that charges a monthly fee? Yeah, that was their game.
One thing that always has mildly irked me about searching for airfare is all the ads. Do you want to look complete the same search through one of our partner sites? Do you want to add on a hotel? Yadda yadda, just gimmie da plane! Da plane! Well now you can strip away all that gimcrack and tomfoolery and go directly to Matrix, the software that powers sites like Orbitz, Kayak, FareCompare, and Hotwire.
This morning, travel service Expedia announced it will abandon its book by phone fee, which it first implemented last May. This makes it the only major online travel agency to not ding customers with a fee for booking flights over the phone, notes consumer travel advocate Christopher Elliott.
Austin bought two tickets to Aruba last December. By the end of February, Orbitz had changed his itinerary so many times that now they were only flying him as far as Atlanta, and 11 days later were flying him back from Aruba—it was apparently up to him to get from Atlanta to Aruba in the first place. At this point, the only option was to request a refund, which Orbitz said would take 60 days. Two months later, Orbitz told Austin that they’ll give him his money back in 60 days. We’re pretty sure that’s 120 days total, and there’s still no guarantee Austin will see his money.
Ryan’s wife is currently traveling alone with their 3-month-old son on the way to an unexpected funeral near Salt Lake, Utah. Despite the fact that she paid for the rental up front as part of an Orbitz package, the local Hertz jerks are refusing to give her the car unless she goes to an ATM and brings back $200 cash, which they say they will mail back in check form a few weeks after she returns the car. Even Hertz says this isn’t their policy, but they can’t seem to stay on the phone long enough to help Ryan and his wife.
You’d think a whole bus is hard to hide but Orbitz had no problem trying to sneak one past Harry McCracken when he was booking a flight to Las Vegas. He noticed at checkout there was a $14 ground transportation fee that had been “added for [his] convenience.” Paging backwards, tucked in a list of about 40 upgrades and local attractions was a $14 bus fee. The tricky part was that all the others were opt-in and this one was opt-out. Naughty Orbitz, trying to sneak a bus onto an airplane!
You won’t get the best deal booking your hotel room through third-party sites like Expedia or Travelocity, according to an anonymous hospitality industry insider. Inside, four excellent reasons to book directly with a hotel to guarantee the best rooms at the best prices.
Orbitz sent out an “email exclusive” advertising 20% off select hotel rooms, which might have been a decent deal if hadn’t expired four days before the email was sent.
Richard is angry. He paid good money for travel insurance when he purchased tickets to Italy, and when he ended up having to work over vacation he canceled the trip and filed a claim. Access America denied it because being required to work during a trip isn’t covered by Richard’s benefit plan.
Inside, email addresses, phone numbers, and addresses for over 100 different companies to inject your customer service complaints into their corporate executive offices, and get it well on the way to success.
There was an amusing little tangent in my conversation yesterday with an Orbitz rep when I went to change my ticket. Talking with her was the first time I’ve ever hinted to a telephone customer service rep that I write for The Consumerist.
Nicholas had a business trip go bad quickly when USAir canceled a flight and wouldn’t make things right again. His tickets were through Orbitz, and although he had a terrible experience with Orbitz’s first line of CSRs, he eventually managed to find a supervisor who made sure USAir helped solve the problem—even going so far as to let Nicholas secretly listen in on a call with a USAir agent.
If you have a problem with Orbitz and regular customer service and escalating to a supervisor doesn’t help you, give this gal a call.
Here’s some updates on the post about reader Josh, whom Orbitz wanted to make pay for a ticket they never sold him and he never used. Turns out that between when he sent his original letter to us in February and when we posted it, Orbitz sent him to collections. But now that his story got on here and Digg, Orbitz’s ass-covering machine has been activated…
I’m just getting situated here and it’s amazing how many unfounded complaints there are in the old Consumerist tipbox about Orbitz. It’s really not fair, so, to counteract that and the negative stories Consumerist posted, here’s the number for their HQ: (312) 894-5000. Ask to be transferred to the office of Steven Barnhart.
We’re not saying the rest of you are dumb, but when physicists from CalTech can’t manage to make travel arrangements without getting stuck with hundreds of dollars in “change fees,” there might be a problem with the website. And by problem we might mean “scam.” And by scam, we might mean, “policies designed to increase fees by being deliberately confusing and overly restrictive.” In this case, Sean, a Senior Research Associate in the Department of Physics at the California Institute of Technology, was trying to book a new ticket with money from a credit on a previously canceled ticket, which is much harder than identifying the unified field theory.