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Sunday, February 10, 2008

Why I will never use Expedia again: part one

I've spent the last 730 days on the road travelling, bouncing across the planet from one commission to another. I book all our travel online - air, bus and ferry tickets, hotel rooms, you name it. It's been years since I've stepped foot in an agency and years since I held a paper ticket in my hands. Up until now I've not had a single problem. I've bought all my air tickets on airline travel sites - and I've taken scores of flights over the last couple of years - and up until recently I made many of my hotel bookings using Expedia. But never again... A week ago, after comparing prices on a number of sites, I decided to buy our air tickets from Cyprus to Crete on Expedia. It was my shopping mistake of the century! Firstly, Expedia emailed me to say that despite offering an electronic ticketing option, they were now not able to provide e-tickets. Moments later, an email arrived telling me they'd couriered my paper tickets to my billing address - in Dubai! But I was in Cyprus. When I emailed Expedia to redirect the tickets to Cyprus instead ,as I had no way of accessing tickets in Dubai, they sent me a meaningless email telling me to phone their USA sales staff. I was flabbergasted. An online agency instructing its customers to phone them? And to phone them on a 1800 number at that. Don't they realise that people outside the US cannot call 1800 numbers? And why on earth can't an online business resolve problems - problems that they have created - by email? I frequently travel with Emirates Airlines and when I want to change a flight, no matter where in the world I am, I send a quick email. They immediately email with confirmation. Easy. Why a major web travel business like Expedia can't do the same is beyond me, and 7 days and 19 ridiculous emails later, I am still left wondering. And if they must speak to me, then why can't they call me (particularly as they have created the problem), instead of them expecting me to phone them? Not only is telephoning often an impossibility when I'm travelling all day every day, especially in remote areas, but when I'm in a hotel room it's a costly effort - the cost of a ten minute call from one hotel I checked with to the USA would have been in the vicinity of US$100. The tickets are only costing US$200!

The graffiti pictured is on a wall in the old town of Nicosia, the world's last divided city, in the northern Turkish-speaking area of Cyprus. This is how I'm feeling about the thought of ever having to use Expedia again.


Heather said...

Lara, Not that you should have to rectify this situation by making a phone call, but you can call 1800 numbers in the US by using Skype. It is free that way. Hope this mess gets sorted out in time!!

Lara Dunston said...

Thanks for the tip! Much appreciated. The matter has now been resolved although I'm still waiting on more of an explanation - I'll report on it when I get one. We'd booked a flight for tonight direct with the airline but it's been canceled due to an airline strike in Greece. Obviously we weren't meant to travel today for whatever reason...

zoe krylova said...

i have the same photo on my blog:

i'm sorry to hear you had a bad experience with expedia. we almost took some bad turns making reservations via internet before our recent trip to cyprus, but we seem to have managed avoiding the bad eggs for the most part!