Open Letter to Mr. Paul Brown, North American President of Expedia.com

To all of my friends:
Sorry I haven’t written this week, but I’ve been dealing with this. I’m going to catch up this week… Promise!

An open letter to (I mailed a copy to him as well with all of the numbers and documents included):

Mr. Paul Brown, President
Expedia, Inc.
3150 139th Avenue SE
Bellevue, WA 98005

Dear Mr. Brown:

I placed a reservation on 12 Feb. 2007 for a round-trip flight from MCO to ABE, flying April 21, 2007 and April 23, 2007, Expedia itinerary #XXXXXXXXXXXX. US Air was the issuing ticket agent, even though my return flight was to be on Delta (Appendix 1A and 1B). A few days later, I received an email that Delta changed flight times and I would need to reschedule the return flight. Not a problem.

On February 19, 2007, Junelle assisted me with my problem, keeping the original US Air outbound flights and rescheduling me on the return (Appendix 2). I had my flights and confirmation codes/ticket numbers. No problem.

I look at my credit card statement two days later to find that I have been charged a SECOND TIME for the flights, this time by Delta. I telephoned Expedia on February 23, 2007 at 12:34 a.m., where the woman I spoke with could see that I was charged dually, and started the refund process. She also credited my account with $50.00 Expedia credit (which is currently not showing on my account – but that’s another issue). No problem.

The refund process is not simple. During this call I was not advised that the refund could take over two months since it has to be issued by Expedia and then by the airline and then back to Expedia and finally into my account. Since I booked this flight at the end of a billing cycle, two passed before I called back inquiring about the status. That was on March 20, 2007 at 11:12 a.m. This was the day from phone hell. My first phone call was 20 minutes, during which I got disconnected. I called back at 11:47 a.m. only to find that I cannot talk with the same person since your call centers are scattered all over the nation and there’s no way to keep the case with ONE PERSON. After I explain my situation to the second man and not receiving a satisfactory explanation as to why, I was placed on hold while he looked for a manager. This phone call ended 1 hour and 52 minutes later when my headset for my VoIP lost its charge and I got disconnected. I call back at 1:41 p.m. using my computer’s internal microphone and speaker and am on the phone for another 17 minutes while yet another person looks for a manager. Once again, I am put on hold and for some reason or another the call is ended. I call back again from my cell phone where I am finally put in touch with a manager who explains the refund process and gives me another $100 Expedia credit to offset the finance charges accruing on my credit card because of your mistake. By this time it is close to 2:30 p.m. and spent over 3 hours of my day on the phone. This is a problem.

I waited over two billing cycles to receive my refund that arrived on March 26, 2007 (Appendix 8). This cost me over $100.00 in finance charges ($275 at 18% isn’t chump change!). On April 18, 2007, I receive a reminder email about my flights (Appendix 3). I log on to verify my flight tonight, only to find that it is NOT BOOKED (Appendix 4). I use the airline codes provided on this sheet to see if the individual airlines can confirm the details. Neither US Air nor Delta has any information about these flights. This is a problem and unacceptable.

Once again, I call on April 19, 2007 at 1:15 a.m. and reach Rhianna. She places me on hold to review my account. Over the next 20 minutes, I get placed on hold numerous times while she talks with the customer support representative where they determine that the agent cancelled the reservation when the refund was issued. NO KIDDING. They also are looking at the option of reissuing tickets for the same flights. Finally at 1:40 a.m. I am asked if I ever faxed the statement that shows the double billing. At this point I ask to talk to a supervisor, and am once again placed on hold until 1:57 when Bernitha speaks. She says that she still needs the statement faxed over and she can take care of it immediately. Problem is, I don’t have a fax machine in the house and it’s 2 a.m. Bernitha allows me to email the statement (Appendix 7) to her at 2:10 a.m. She says that she’ll call with the new flight information.

Approximately 3 a.m. I hear the phone ring and stumble out of bed, only to have voicemail get to it before I do. Bernitha leaves a message with the new flight information, saying that both her (Appendix 5) and Delta (Appendix 6) emailed me the information. As I’m looking over the information the next morning, I see that there is only a Delta ticket number, not a confirmation code. With my experience flying, this sends up a red flag.

Around 2 p.m. (the first break I get at work) on April 19, 2007, I call Delta with the ticket number to confirm the flights. With that ticket number, they are only able to confirm the flight on April 23, 2007 from ABE to ATL. None of the other flights exists. I shoot a quick email to Bernitha in the hopes that she can get back to me quickly. In the meantime, I call Expedia again since I am headed off to my second job. This time I speak to Garette. She talks with the ticketing department, and at 3:20 the call ends with no resolution, but she will return the call when she has some information. At 3:45 I receive a voicemail (I was in a meeting at that point) that she needs to check the flight details. She also gives me the reference #XXXXXXXX. I return the call at 3:55 p.m. where I stayed on hold until 4:25 p.m. to be told there aren’t any updates. I ask them to call back before 5:45 p.m. since I will be unable to receive calls after that. At 4:53 p.m. I receive an update, asking to confirm the flights and wanting to know when the flights were confirmed through both US Air and Delta. Once again, we hang up without a resolution. I get another update at 5:36 p.m. that they’re still working on it, and will purchase a new set of tickets for the flights. I ask them to call back with information between 8:15 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. or after 11 p.m. EST.

I get home at 11:15 p.m. without hearing anything. At 11:55 p.m. I call Expedia and am once again placed on hold. The day changes to April 20, 2007, and the representative is looking at other flights on TED/United to get me to ABE/ the same flights Delta on the MCO return. At 12:10 a.m. the call is ended with a promise of a call within the hour. I receive a call at 12:17 a.m. saying that the US Air flights are not available, but I’m still not booked. I let the representative know that I did receive the refund from US Air but not Delta. Once again the call ends 20 minutes later without resolution.

Finally, Beth calls at 1:57 a.m. with US Air confirmation code XXXXXX (flights 1842/2576 on April 21) and Delta confirmation code XXXXXX (flights 4206/855). US Air is once again the originating ticketing agent (ticket #XXX-XXXXXXXXXXX). This is very close to the original flights, but for some reason I could not be booked on Delta flight 1188 like my original itinerary. Beth suggested I check with the Delta agent upon check-in to see if I can change flights. At this point, she expressed Expedia’s apologies for the length of time it took to resolve the situation and promised to pass this on to her supervisors. When I asked the length of time it would be until I heard something about what happened, she said a week. The week is now up, and I still have not heard anything regarding this situation from Expedia.com. Oh, and those confirmation codes and ticket number finally allowed me to confirm my flights with both airlines. Beth was the first person in the last part of this ordeal to take any real interest and be proactive, working for a final resolution.

Flash-forward a week: The flights went as planned, I had no problems checking in, and I made it to my sister’s wedding shower that I planned. A Delta gate agent was even able to get me on Flight 1188 without the $25 stand-by fee since they needed the seats on the later flight. The problem occurs when I check my credit card statement today. US Air charged me $274.61 again on 4/19/2007 for the ticket, so I am still out that amount of money from Delta. I am on hold, so far for 30 minutes. You need to vary your hold music if you make someone hold for this long: there’s only so much Pachelbel’s Canon in D major a person can take.

At 11:40, I end that call since I was on hold for over 30 minutes. I call back, briefly speak to Desireé before getting disconnected (my cell phone lost signal). I call back and speak with Deneshia who asks me to explain the situation. I explain that US Air charged me on 4/19/2007 for tickets, thus leaving me dually charged once again. I let her know that I would like to see a refund issued through Delta since they have nothing to do with issuing the tickets. She needs to call the airlines to figure out what to do. She takes my contact number and says she’ll call back within the hour.

The hour comes and passes. I am writing this on April 28, 2007 at 1:30 a.m. and I still have not heard from Expedia.com. I called Delta at 1:00 a.m. to see if they issued a refund to my credit card, to which they say they have on April 23, 2007 (ticket #xxxxxxxxxxxxx). I call American Express as soon as I get off the phone with Delta, and they have no record of this refund. I opened up an investigation to challenge this charge, and American Express has taken the charge off my account for the 6 to 8 weeks while the investigation is occurring. For now, I have my $274.61 back, but the situation is still not resolved.

Through this ordeal I have spent over 10 hours on the phone or on hold. If you multiply that by my hourly working rate of $20/hour, that’s $200.00 of my time wasted by one problem caused by your company. Add that to the cell minutes I used and the finance charges on my credit card, the total adds up to near $350. That’s more than the price of the original ticket! I used Expedia in the past without any issues. This is ridiculous. In addition to this letter to you, I will also be mailing a similar one to US Air and Delta to apprise them of this situation. I expect some type of compensation for my time and frustrations, and for my credit card to have the $274.61 refunded by Delta within two weeks. I also expect the $50 coupon to be returned to my “saved coupons” page, and I expect to hear a resolution within two weeks of your receipt of this letter. I can be contacted via email at [email protected], by phone at xxx-xxx-xxxx, or at the address listed on the first page. Thank you for your time, and I await your response.

Regards,

Sara Mooney

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Sara Written by:

I'm an Information Architect and Taxonomist in the greater Philadelphia, PA area. Mad about metadata. Incessant organizer. Knowledge monger. Information seeker. Wisdom chaser. Curiosity has yet to kill this cat!

3 Comments

  1. Anonymous
    2007/05/01

    sheesh i feel for ya sara i truly do

    ~m

  2. guy aka Certainlyerz
    2007/05/25

    Whew. what a headache you have! I am surprised you’re not cussing like a sailot, I know I would be were I in your shoes!

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