Sunday, February 19, 2006

"Guarantee? I think not." A customer service story

Dear Travelocity,

I booked this flight four months ago, in November 2005. I was taking Northwest from New York to Prague, via Amsterdam. All was fine.

Last week, three days before my departure, I received an email saying I was now traveling to Bucharest, Romania, but returning as originally scheduled, Prague to New York via Amsterdam.

That day I called Travelocity and spent more than half an hour on hold making sure that I would actually get to Prague. I was given a new flight number--with two different airlines, Delta and Czech Airlines--and I requested an email confirmation. I was irritated at the time and energy it took just to make sure I would actually arrive at the destination that I booked FOUR months previously.

By Friday (the day before my departure), I still had not received any confirmation of the change. So I checked Travelocity's online reservation, and it still said Bucharest. Now panicked as well as irritated, I called Travelocity again, and had to spend another half an hour trying to make sure I would still arrive in Prague and not Bucharest. Only when I asked did I receive a confirmation number through Northwest, even though my departing flights were with different airlines. I was able to access that information and print my corrected itinerary on nwa.com.

On Saturday, I arrived at JFK and first went to the Northwest counter. After conferencing with a supervisor, the ticket agent confirmed that I was indeed going to Prague, on Delta. He told me to go check in at Delta.

Once I got to the ticket desk at Delta, it took about fifteen minutes and five agents to make sure I was headed to the correct destination, Prague, and not Bucharest, since part of the reservation still said Bucharest.

At the Delta gate, due to a very overbooked flight, I was bumped off the flight and rebooked for the next DAY, on a direct flight with Czech Airlines. Delta gave me a new ticket and a voucher and arranged for a car to get me home.

Now I will not arrive in Prague until Monday morning, instead of the Sunday morning, as I booked it four months ago.

To attempt to get back some of that time I will be cheated out of, I called Northwest to see if they could change my returning flight to a later time or day. Their flights were full, and the representative told me to call Travelocity to see if they could do anything to rectify this upsetting situation. I asked the Northwest rep to check on my originally-scheduled flights (New York-Amsterdam-Prague) and she said they left just fine and on time.

Thus, there is NO reason for all of this hassle. I should never have been removed from my original booked flight, not to mention rerouted to a completely different country.

This morning, Sunday, once again I called Travelocity. This time I spent forty-five minutes on the phone, explaining the domino effect that Travelocity has had in drastically changing my trip experience before I have even left the country.

I patiently and calmly explained the whole story, and asked for some help in getting some kind of assistance regaining my lost time and effort. The rep, Jason, said he could not do anything to help me. When I asked to speak with a supervisor, after a lengthy wait on hold, he said they were all busy and could not speak with me.

Then he said that it was not Travelocity's fault. I restated that I never should have been taken off of my original booking, and I certainly should never have been told I was going to a different country altogether! He insisted it was the airline's fault, and I reminded him that Northwest said their flights left as scheduled.

Once again, he claimed it was not Travelocity's fault and he could not and should not do anything to help me get a later flight back from Prague.

The Travelocity Guarantee states that you will work with your customers to make sure that everything about the booking is right. Well, my booking has been very wrong indeed. I am very upset about this entire experience, and that no one in the customer call center has been able to help me. Your claim of "expert customer support" is just plain not true.

After this horrible experience, I will certainly never patronize Travelocity again. I will also let my friends and family know that the Travelocity Guarantee is merely an advertising gimmick to make the customers think positively about the service. I am disappointed and upset about all the time and effort and money that I have lost, and I haven't even left the country yet.

If you have any questions about my experience, or if there is anything you can do to make my experience better, please feel free to contact me by email. Thank you for your time.

Sincerely,
J.

When I clicked "Send Message", I got a pop-up saying that all messages must be under 1000 characters. Of course.

Friends, you probably already knew this. But I must say it again. PLEASE, for your own sanity and trip enjoyment, do NOT ever use Travelocity to book any flights.

Dealing with the stuff at the airport, waiting in long lines, getting searched in Security, even being bumped off the flight, I took it all in stride, very calmly. It didn't bother me, except for the lost day in Prague.

But the longer I spent here at my own apartment, when I should have been flying to and then arriving in Prague, the more I am upset at the sheer ridiculousness of the situation. It just plain should never have happened.

4 comments:

H0kie Erin said...

You have a whole day to wait that you should have been in Prague, right? Boy, I would be spending that time calling Travelocity and waiting to talk to a manager.

If Jason won't let you speak to a manager, call back. Heck, I wouldn't even explain WHY you want to talk to a manager. When they answer, just ask to speak to a manager. I would also send the complete letter through regular mail.

I hope your trip gets better once it actually begins. :)

Nancy said...

I agree with Erin...you should send a hard copy of your letter. I would also send a copy of your letter to BBB. There's also this consumer complaint blog-type thing but I can't remember the name of it. As soon as I figure it out, I'll pass it on!

Anonymous said...

I was sorry to hear about your experience. I actually find it quite useful to use Travelocity or Orbtiz to research travel options, and then book directly with the airlines/hotels that offer the most convenient options. If you tell the hotel about the price listed online, they will usually offer to match it.

I recently had to cut a vaction to Florida short, and was told by the hotel that because I booked directly through them I could leave early without incurring a financial penalty; if I had booked online, they said I would have had to try to fight for a refund from Travelocity/Orbitz.

I hope you are still able to enjoy your trip to Prague, and enjoy a much deserved vacation!

jonathan said...

I like what anonymous suggests.. use travelocity as a reference, and then go directly to the airline. travelocity or orbitz will in effect tell you which airline has the best deals. It sometimes works out cheaper. but even if not, you are much safer. And what's the worst? If it is more, it can't be that much more $$, and for the peace of mind well-worth it.

BTW, your pictures are gorgeous. Makes me want to change my own summer plans.