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DO NOT USE TRAVELOCITY!

Posted by Tim Bryce on August 28, 2013

BRYCE ON TRAVEL

– Of course, if you can live without refunds and don’t mind talking to India…

(Click for AUDIO VERSION)
To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, send TIM a request.

Not long ago I wrote about the perils of Travel Planning (July 14, 2013) where I described my displeasure with being forced to become a travel agent. I also described the problems with on-line discount travel agencies. Unfortunately, it took a turn for the worse recently.

A few months ago I booked a business trip to western New York through Tavelocity, complete with rental car and hotel room. When the trip fell through, I naturally contacted Travelocity to cancel my reservations. I had no problem cancelling the hotel and rental car via the Internet, but hit a brick wall when trying to cancel my airline reservation which, of course, was the most expensive part of the trip. I cannot remember the exact wording, but the web page indicated there was a problem with the cancellation. Naturally, I wanted to know why and called their toll free number. I was put on hold and waited my turn to talk to a customer service agent which I discovered was in India.

I do not have anything against the Indians offhand, but I experienced difficulty trying to understand the English dialect of “Apu”, and I suspect he had trouble understanding me as I had to repeat myself several times. I even called back a second time as I was unsure whether the first Apu understood my problem. Unfortunately, Apu2 was even worse than Apu1. The best I could understand from their yammerings was they were unable to issue a credit to my credit card. Instead, I had a credit against my Travelocity account whereby I would have to book another flight through them within one year. If I didn’t use it, I would lose the credit. I told Apu2 this was unacceptable and I would seek some other way to reclaim my money. Frankly, he was unapologetic, but I think he plain and simply didn’t understand my displeasure (or anything else I was telling him).

Since I didn’t receive satisfaction, I decided to write about it, so other consumers do not experience the same snafu I faced. It’s bad enough you cannot get your money back from Travelocity following a cancellation, but to make the consumer talk to customer service representatives who do not have a command of the English language adds insult to injury.

This was a horrible experience for me. I feel truly scammed by the company. Perhaps my only way out is to convince others not to use Travelocity. I may never get my money back, but hopefully I can convince others not to use them as well. Hopefully this will have an adverse effect on the Indian gnomes they use.

One thing is for sure, it will be a cold day in Hell before I use Travelocity again, and I will certainly think twice about using any other similar on-line discount travel agency. They all lost a lot of credibility with me on this one.

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:
timbryce.com

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Copyright © 2013 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

NEXT UP:  MAKING YOUR PROBLEMS MINE – Where should the buck stop?

LAST TIME:  PRICE VERSUS VALUE – Are we really comparing apples to apples, or apples to oranges?

Listen to Tim on WJTN-AM (News Talk 1240) “The Town Square” with host John Siggins (Mon, Wed, Fri, 12:30-3:00pm Eastern), KGAB-AM 650 “The Morning Zone” with host Dave Chaffin (weekdays, 6:00-10:00am Mountain), and KIT-AM 1280 in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Lance Tormey & Brian Teegarden (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific). Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube.

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13 Responses to “DO NOT USE TRAVELOCITY!”

  1. Tim Bryce said

    A T.P. of Boston, Massachusetts wrote…

    “Ha, I have had the pleasure of using our help desk and off shore developers. I can’t understand a thing they say. And I’m sure my fast talking New Jersey accent stymies them as well. Cheaper indeed, can you say “The Tower Of Babble”?”

    Like

  2. Alex Menin said

    Hi Tim,

    This article pairs well with the Value vs Price one, doesn’t it?

    Thanks for sharing, Alex

    Like

  3. Tim Bryce said

    A D.A. of Ada, Michigan wrote…

    “Same with Expedia arranging flights to NJ! We are going directly to the airlines – the other choices are too risky and not worth the supposed savings.”

    Like

  4. Tim Bryce said

    A B.H. of Boulder, Colorado wrote…

    “What is it my (our?) father used to say? “You get what you pay for.”

    Over the years, I’ve found that when something SEEMS to be too good to be true, it usually is. Travel booking falls into that category. When I was in the navy, we had to abide by JTR (Joint Travel Regulations). I had to book a trip to Edzell, Scotland on business. It turned out I was going to be there for a couple of weeks, so I talked it over with my wife and we decided it would be a good opportunity for her to go over with our 6 year old daughter who was born there so she could see the country where she was born (we returned stateside when she was 6 months old). So, she booked a flight on World Airways for herself and my daughter. I think the fare for the two of them was like $500 round trip on a DC10. My trip, booked by the standard government travel office at my HQ was on a PanAm 747 and cost like $1200 round trip. I went to the office and asked them to cancel that flight and book me on the World flight with my wife and daughter….thinking that saving money would be a good thing. I was told, in no uncertain terms by the agent that it was against the regulations because the government had a CONTRACT with PanAm, and we HAD to use them. No amount of arguing would change their mind. So, I finally went to their boss’s boss and challenged him to SHOW ME where it said that we couldn’t use a more cost-effective arrangement. Turns out, the regs DO allow for the option to use a cheaper REGULARLY priced fare as more “cost effective to the government” – but most people, including the travel office employees, didn’t know that. Like the ACA, it is a HUGE document, rife with bureaucratese and numbers that will drive you crazy. And, that provision was in the “fine print.”

    Fast forward a number of years. I’m now a civilian, and I’m an employee of a small navy-oriented government contractor. They are so small that each employee is told to make their own reservations and submit the bills to the company. While we’re not permitted to fly first class, and the option to use business class was restricted to longer flights overseas, basically you had leeway to pick and choose your favorite carrier. Some people liked United, others liked other airlines and tended to use them whenever they could. Same thing with rental cars. I happened to prefer National, but my boss preferred Hertz. There was NO COMPANY policy restricting you to using one or the other “service” for your airline, rental car, or hotel. We had to adhere to government stipulated rates for reimbursement, but the company told us that if we could not find a hotel within authorized per diem and we were required by the customer to be there, just find a place and the company would cover the excess out of profit. Of course, they watched you carefully to make sure you didn’t book a suite in the most expensive hotel around. But, it worked well for the 4 years I was there until we were bought by another company.

    When we were bought out by Titan Corporation out of San Diego (a larger government contractor) suddenly POLICY became paramount. We HAD to use UNITED unless they didn’t serve the destination airport. We HAD to use AVIS (no one wanted to – and my boss refused – he stayed with Hertz, but the rest of us were forced to use AVIS. OH, and a big surprise…the company decided that ALL bills had to be paid with a company-authorized credit card – CARTE BLANCHE!!!! Do you have any idea how many places in the US take a CB? Yeah, virtually NONE. Made life a bit of a challenge. Most of us carried a VISA/MC of our own “just in case.”

    Then, L3 bought us out and we were told that WE could no longer make our own reservations. We had to use the company travel agent (out of Chicago) because they could get us a “better deal” than we could get on our own. We’d save all sorts of money. Oh, and we had to use a company issued American Express card. WE got the bill from AMEX and had to pay it, but in theory the company would reimburse us for the costs BEFORE the bill from AMEX came due. Yeah, that worked well for short trips. We had a kid in Denver from our Chantilly VA office for over a month. Needless to say, “policy” said he couldn’t file the trip claim until it was OVER, and the AMEX bill came due while he was on travel in Denver. In the end, the travel expenses were well over $10K to this guy, and it had to come out of HIS pocket until he returned to Chantilly and filed the claim with the company…which took them a month to adjudicate and pay. Meanwhile, HE’s out of pocket on the trip. So much for “policy” in big companies.

    Anyway, a senior guy in DC dutifully went thru that office, got his reservation for a DC to Denver trip, and the round trip costs were like $1400 for a non-refundable seat. He thought that was a bit out of line based on previous trips he’d made, so he went directly to UAL’s web site to book a seat on the same flight. He booked the seat NEXT to the one that the travel office booked on exactly the same aircraft. Cost? Oh, like $500. So, he called the travel office and cancelled his reservation through them, then he called the president of our division and bitched about the experience and showed him the difference in booking costs. He said that while HE wasn’t paying for the trip, he was still a taxpayer and resented the notion that we (the company) would be paying more for a trip than was NECESSARY, and the president relented and cancelled the policy requiring people to use the travel agent until he could check out the problem. Turns out, eventually we had to go back and use the travel agent, but ONLY after the head-shed in NY complained to the contract travel agent that they were NOT doing the job promised in the contract, and if they didn’t start cutting better deals on travel, L3 could cancel their rather lucrative contract. Amazing what a little “persuasion” can do for you.

    The moral of that story? While you CAN get a better deal with travel agencies (regardless of whether they are advertised on TV or not) – you can also run into problems. I’ve been TOLD by some of my former co-workers that when you book through places LIKE Travelocity, the rooms you get in those hotels usually are the ones that no one really wants – the ones by the noisy elevator, next to the noisy pools, or whatever. Yes, the hotel itself is 4 star or whatever, but like every business, there are rooms that are more desirable, and some less desirable. You get one of the less desirable rooms at those cheap rates. And, you never get to “upgrade” using your mileage or night-stay memberships either.

    In other words, “you get what you pay for.””

    Like

  5. George W EATON said

    Did you take this up with the airline? Credit card issuer?

    Regards,

    R.W.B. George W EATON, DDGM 14, VANCOUVER BC sent from my iPad

    Like

  6. Ron Thompson said

    Hi Tim
    I have suffered at the voices of these indians I refuse to talk to them I thought we only got them in Ireland! I now write letters to the parent company.
    The only way I book flights is directly with the air carriers. When Anne was ill last year Virgin Atlantic was brilliant they froze my flights untill I was able to use them.

    Best wishes
    RonT

    Like

  7. Thanks for the tip Tim. I actually will sometimes use these types of websites. I won’t be using Travelocity again though. Sorry that you had to experience such a run around no less loss of money.

    Like

  8. sirchristiantheheck@reagan.com said

    Sorry to hear about your loss. I will follow your direction and not ever use Travelocity

    Like

  9. Katrina said

    And I thought I was my own worst travel agent b/c I simply waited too long to book a flight so ended up paying well over $250 more than what it had been a week or so ago. Go Delta! Needless to say, all the flights were packed like a can of…well, you know. And can we talk about carry on luggage? This is the biggest time-waster in the land of flying. If I didn’t have to wait for all of youse to get yer bags o’ stuff from the cabinets above the hapless trapped flyers, we’d be off that rotten, OLD plane in triple time. Do we really need carry ons? But I digress which I readily admit is a bad habit, I apologize. I would never use Travelocity or anything that says you can get a nicer hotel room b/c we buy up cancelled ones…whatever they say, it raise weeks. Well, that’s easily rectified, of course. Move out. Yes, one gets what one pays for but shouldn’t these places be taken to task by some Head of the Cheap Programso are we and we deserve to be traded with in our own country with our compatriots. Those phone jobs in India, in case you don’t know, are considered “tony” jobs! Wha wha what?? They put you on mute..you can tell, whislt they figure out how to move on to the next hapless human on hold for how long? Better have an Ipad handy so you can play Scrabble or text madly. Sorry you had the problem with TravelAtrocity and thanks for sharing. I hope you got your proper credit back, too. Giving someone a “store credit” is so last decade. What a swindle that is, ya think? One last gripe about “swindles” so you will be aware: you sign up for a trial membership s Department? As to talking to India when you need a real problem solved, doesn’t your heart sink a bit? Yes, these are nice people working hard for a living. But or even a year to say, FindaFriend.com (fake site). The terms are it will “automatically” be renewed in a year if YOU don’t tell them to cancel it. So raise your hands…how many of you remember a year from now to cancel your subscription to XYZ.com? Right…not many unless you list it in reminders. Then you get a whopping charge for this “automatic renewal” on your charge card used last year by XYZ.com. This is fine if you like and truly use the site. My point is, their “automatic” renewals are a smooth way to make money b/c many of us (raise your hands again) do not check over our charge bills thoroughly (why do you think they use 6 pt. type?) and it would be very easy to overlook the automatic renewal fee. Voila! Into their pockets goes your money for a UNAUTHORIZED charge. IF the site had real scruples and ethics (remember those??), they would send you a reminder notice a month s red flags in my Don’t Even Like to Fly Mind, or live at a crappy hotel for twobefore your sub is expired to see if you want to renew. Right? Right. OK, I’m off my soapbox for now. Remember, though, if it’s too good to be true, it isn’t. And you can test the waters by calling tech support BEfore you sigh up with Travelocity of the ilke. If you get India or not the U.S. on the line, move on to a real travel agent. The extra cost will be worth it. It’s your vacay or an important biz trip. Who needs the extra hassles of what you went through.

    Like

  10. Katrina said

    Sorry for those typos…too much coffee is my excuse.

    Like

  11. […] DO NOT USE TRAVELOCITY! […]

    Like

  12. Tim Bryce said

    An S.G. of Palm Harbor, Florida wrote…

    “Tim, I am very sorry to hear that you are having such issues with Travelocity. The unfortunate truth is that you can find some decent deals on the web-based booking engines (Travelocity, Orbitz, Expedia, etc.); however, the risk that you run into is that you never have someone working on your behalf to inform you of each cancellation policy and ways to recover your trip cost in case of emergencies. Also, one incident many clients seem to keep running into is that they book a room at a hotel, then show up to find out the hotel has been sold out and their room is no longer available. As such, the hotel needs to find a comparable room at no cost to the traveler, but it becomes a travel nightmare! I know that I am biased because I own a Travel Agency, but I always recommend checking with a Travel Agent before booking your next large vacation. Sorry to hear about the headaches you are facing though. Please feel free to contact me if you need any help with vacations or if you just have general travel inquiries! “

    Like

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