I have a lot of experience with booking travel plans due to my past competitive dancing career. I was literally heading to Toronto Pearson Airport twice a month, whether to fly out to Calgary to compete for a weekend, or a 2-week trip around the world for training and world championships. I’ve been through it all. And along the way, I’ve tried a lot of the 3rd party travel sites. Last year I had a less than pleasant experience with Cheap-O-Air, but surprisingly, my recent experience with Expedia takes the cake.
Let me explain.
A month ago, my boyfriend and I couldn’t decide how and where we wanted to spend our winter break between semesters at university. It was between being lazy on a beach for a week down South, or visiting family and friends in Israel. At the time, we decided to go to Israel. While booking our tickets (you guessed it, on Expedia!), we were offered a Cancellation Insurance for about $90 with Global Allianz. Seemed very promising, especially since we weren’t 100% sure about our plans, so we took it. The way it was advertised, made us believe that we will be able to cancel our tickets without any problems.
Now, a few weeks down the road, due to many circumstances, we’ve changed our minds about our travels. So naturally, we called Expedia to cancel. We mentioned that we purchased the insurance, at which point they redirected us to call the insurance company directly. No problemo!
Once finally on the phone with Global Allianz, it turned out that I either needed to be popping out a baby 9 weeks before or after the trip, someone had to be on their death bed, or Israel had to be under a globally announced terrorist attack (that’s the gist of the claim reasons). To them, it didn’t matter that the cities we planned to visit had stabbings occurring every single day. At this point we were extremely upset about how misleading the insurance was at point of purchase. On top of that, even if we did come up with a claim that would be accepted by Global, it would 4-6 weeks for them to mail us a certified check with the full refund – not quite soon enough for us to put that money towards a new trip.
Through my travel experience, and knowing many other travellers, I know that rules are made to be broken. We called Expedia, explained to them the situation, and how unfair it was with the insurance (that we had to pay for), and asked if possibly they could help us. After about 6 phone calls, amounting to 5 hours of my week gone to waste, they said they can’t do shit except refund us the tickets at a fee of $300 per ticket. This, my friends, is absurd.
The base fare of each ticket was $249 (before taxes), and after having spoken directly with Air Canada, the airline, they told me it’s impossible for Expedia to charge $300 if the base fare is less. Do you think Expedia cared? Of course not. Even though I asked Expedia to call Air Canada themselves to resolve that, they claimed they called them, and suddenly Air Canada didn’t agree (though they directly told me I shouldn’t be charged a dollar more than the base fare.)
Needless to say, we feel as though Expedia has literally robbed us. This is the worst experience I have ever had with a travel agency, and that’s considering I’ve had my fair share of travel crap throughout the last 6 years of my dancing career.
Customer Service works a certain way, I know this from working retail. Yes, there are rules, there are policies, but it is possible to break them, especially in situations where the customer has been mislead and treated unfairly.
As for our vacation down south, and any future travel plans… We sure as hell won’t be booking with Expedia.