Sometimes it pays to take your own advice … no matter how good a deal looks.
I’m always telling people that using a travel agent is usually better than booking at an Internet site … even one as popular as Orbitz.
As a travel agent I rarely book just airfare for my clients because I get no commission for it and would have to tack on a service fee to keep from giving away my services. (I will book flights in connection with other travel services.) My promise is to give clients the lowest possible price, and adding a fee makes that impossible.
So when I needed a one-way ticket I went to Orbitz on a lark and behold … I found a one-way ticket for a great price. I put in the required personal and credit card information, selected my seat and figured I’m done.
So I pushed the “purchase” button and to my surprise Orbitz informed me that particular ticket was no longer available for the price. There was no delay in inputting the information, it just happened.
I realize that those things happen in the airline industry where the price of a ticket can go up or down in the time it takes to scratch an itch.
Since I needed to get to my destination, I took the next lowest priced ticket on a different airline and everything went through smoothly.
End of story, right?
Two days later while checking my bank account I noticed that I had been charged for two sets of tickets. Apparently, the first ticket went through, even though the Orbitz website clearly said it had not.
So I called Orbitz and after a supervisor got involved I was told that I could pick which ticket I wanted and the other ticket could be used as a future credit. Meanwhile, they would check to see if there was a glitch in the website, and if so, I would be refunded the money.
I wasn’t happy, but the supervisor said that’s an Orbitz policy.
I’m assuming this is a rare situation, but just to make sure I Goggled “Complaints against Google.
Low & behold, I discovered that this is common with Orbitz. And even more disheartening is the fact that often times it takes Orbitz months to acknowledge their mistake and for any type of refund to be issued.
Here’s one that sounds familiar to my own … from www.pissedconsumer.com.
“I attempted to purchase two round trip tickets from Washington DC to Cancun, Mexico, but before the online transaction was completed, I received the following message: “We’re sorry. That flight is no longer available.” I immediately booked another flight that nearly matched my first attempted purchase, except for the last leg which terminated in Baltimore instead of Washington D.C. I was charged for both flights. I called Orbitz customer service and was told that I could get a credit for one of the flights, but not a full refund.. The explanation was that the flights had to be exactly the same before Orbitz would consider the issue a website issue!”
There were others, including one where Orbitz acknowledged a $2,000 mistake and still wouldn’t issue a refund. Some issues took six months or longer to resolve … usually not to the customer’s satisfaction.
If you insist on using Orbitz and the infamous “We’re sorry. That flight is no longer available” pops up on your screen, I suggest calling customer service and speaking to a supervisor to make sure you haven’t been charged before trying to book another flight with them or anyone else. Get the supervisor’s name and a reference number for future use because you may need it.
After reading the myriad of complaints against Orbitz I’ve faced the reality that I’m not getting my money back and will be forced to book another flight with Orbitz (for the last time) to collect my credit. It’s either that or lose the money completely.
But Ive learned my lesson. Even if I have to pay a bit more I’m swearing off website airline ticket bookings … at least for this lifetime.