Three online booking horror stories that show the value of a good travel agent

Online Travel Agencies (OTAs) are all over the TV and radio announcing that they are the only ones that can save travelers a lot of money on flights, hotels and cars from rental in destinations around the world.

But, looking at the reviews of travelers who have had the misfortune to book through OTAs, you see the whole story, the one where travelers are left stranded and forced to dig deeper into their wallets and wallets just to get home .

Here are three of the worst stories of passengers being stranded due to OTA incompetence.

“All About the Dollars”
An Australian couple, who had booked a 26-night stay in Cambodia through Expedia, arrived at their hotel to find it was no longer in business. It wasn’t even there. It had been demolished.

Locking up at a nearby hotel, the couple, without a working mobile phone, contacted Expedia via Facebook to let them know about their situation (Expedia has a bot for Facebook Messenger that’s supposed to help travelers with their plans). But Expedia’s Facebook bot told them that the only way to solve their problems would be to contact them by phone.

“Eventually we found a gentleman who let us use his phone. Expedia put us on hold forever and did not provide any help. Every hour the phone would cut out… We were so disappointed and frustrated and wanted just come back to Australia.

After calling someone to help them, they were told they could change their flights back to Australia for the next day, but it would be expensive. “We refused. They always insisted that we had to have a phone number for them to call us before they could help us with anything.

So they had to travel to get a SIM card for their cell phone to wait for Expedia’s call, only to be re-booked on another flight and convince Expedia to cover the extra cost to change flights.

When they finally got home, the couple contacted Expedia, asking for a full refund, which seemed like a reasonable request given their arrival in a disused hotel. But that didn’t happen.

“Expedia turned us down. They said it was because they paid a lot of money to change flights for us to get home early…they put you on hold forever with no music. As one said, “It’s all about the dollars! I think that’s Expedia’s attitude, it’s all about dollars, not service.

Bypass
The main marketing argument of OTAs is to save travelers money by advertising a minimum price, but most of the time this advertised price is not close to what the fees will end up costing. This was the case for a traveler from Illinois last summer.

After checking in and spending the first night of a stay at a vacation rental property booked through Hotels.com, the traveler woke up to an email stating that the price had been changed from $183 to tonight at $308 due to cleaning service charges. that’s standard for the property — but not standard enough for Hotels.com to show when booking.

“It all sounded ridiculous,” the traveler wrote in a Consumer Affairs review. “To think that I could never justify paying $120, just to stay somewhere for one night and have them make the bed when I leave the next morning.”

After contacting the property, who told her it was Hotels.com’s fault for not informing Reservations of the charge, she contacted Hotels.com and received the full tour, from a automated voice system that only allowed the undo option. no refund, over an hour wait to speak to a real person.

Then she tried using the Hotels.com chatbot, hoping to have better luck there. “I say hello, they wait 2 minutes and answer. I tell them that I really need a number to call to explain this. Four minutes pass and they ask me how they can still help me. What joke. I tell them I have a situation where typing isn’t the most convenient. Then the chat freezes where I can’t type.

All she received in return was a message asking her for information, questions that had been asked before the chat even started. “At one point she tells me there is no refund, and she basically says general statements, so when I explain what happened, she just asks me the same question which repeats my first statement.”

She shut down the chatbot and contacted Hotels.com’s parent company, Expedia. She managed to talk to a real person – “Awesome!” – but still no luck. They can’t do anything, he is told.

“Expedia doesn’t care how Hotels.com works, how its anti-customer service design works, or the headaches and hundreds of dollars wasted because of its system. They don’t treat their customers as people.

European holidays
After a long vacation in Europe and about to return home, a couple from Lansing, Michigan were met at Edinburgh Airport at 3:30 a.m. with news that because Orbitz didn’t not confirmed their plane tickets, and despite booking reference numbers from the original booking, they were unable to board their return flight.

“I asked her what she suggested we do, and with nothing more than a shrug, she suggested calling Orbitz.”

Surprisingly, or unsurprisingly, Orbitz said there was nothing they could do. No refunds or options to return home other than a flight for three times the amount originally paid. Orbitz blamed them, explaining that they had sent an email months before that allegedly secured their flights.

In the end, the couple ended up paying $1,150 per person for a flight to Chicago and then another $250 for a flight from there to Lansing, on top of the $800 cost of the initial flights. All because Orbitz did not confirm the flights they had already paid for.

“We did absolutely nothing wrong,” the couple said. “Yet we are still the ones who suffer with no one wanting to take responsibility for helping. After an incredibly stressful day of travel, $1,500 we had no intention of spending, exceeding our package telephone (which was supposed to be used only sparingly for emergencies) and being awake for more than 24 hours, we landed.

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