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Travel Consolidator Web Sites (Caveat Emptor)

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Here is my review of Expedia.

Zero stars would be the choice. I do not believe the following is an Expedia-specific problem or issue, but more probably equally applies to many if not all travel bookings resellers.

Expedia accepted a hotel booking for travel to a college town on Parents Weekend, and also a home football weekend. The room was listed as available to book, so I did so. I also prepaid, a half year in advance, not to take a chance on any misunderstanding or snafu given the business of the weekend in question, locally. At the time of booking, I had plenty of hotel choices (I booked at a major chain), room choices, and choices in terms of how I booked. Expedia had been my go-to for many such trips and I had not previously felt poorly served.

I had months, and then weeks, before the weekend in question. I had read accounts in the Parents' Facebook group for the school in quesiton, of how certain local hotels had overbooked their rooms. I was neither concerned nor deterred because the Expedia web site (and phone app) showed my booking as confirmed and paid. That is, until I received an email from Expedia a mere five days before my trip, telling me that the hotel had cancelled my reservation and offering no proximal or reasonable booking option.

Customer Service was unable to help. Apparently there is fine print in the contract between Expedia and the hotel chain (and probably all hotel chains?), that allows the hotel(s) to rent rooms to its own clients for a more premium price, regardless of whether or not Expedia (and I believe, any site like it) has made a so-called "confirmed" commitment to one of its clients. In other words, it appears that when you "book" through Expedia or any of them, implicit in what the customer thinks is a contract is an "...unless the hotel can otherwise sell the same room to someone else for more..." I have been the victim of the latter.

Now unlike some of the online Expedia horror stories, I am getting my prepayment refunded in full. Of course, I still was left without a reservation (I now have one 25 miles distant). Expedia (and all web sites of that ilk) have lost me as a customer forever, and I have made it my mantra to use my dubious free time on social media to warn as many people as possible of this deceptive practice, so as to cost them as much business as possible. It's a sworn civic duty. So here I am.

Caveat emptor. Use them as a research tool only. Then book direct.

Sorry not a Sparky topic. But unless I spread this as far and wide as possible, Expedia wins. We cannot have that, can we?
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
  • PROVERBS31JULIA
    Way back when I first heard of Expedia and such, I was also reading the horror stories about mishaps like yours and I have refused to book through them for important things. For the random little trips where it’s not for an IMPORTANT EVENT, I like to play spin-the-bottle on Priceline and have gotten some really wickedly cool deals over the years (but in general the deals are just Meh.). So it depends. But yep, booking directly with the hotel is safest!!
    231 days ago
  • PICKIE98
    I belong to AAA. Since 1972 as a Master member. I have never used any discount site to book anything. Ever. It is not worth the hassle and sheer terror of not having a flight, room, or car.
    Booking direct and especially in off-season, is cheaper. I got a $300 room in Mackinac City, MI for $49 one autumn a week ahead. It was a premium room with spa, two pools, all of the amenities. I told them I would only pay under $50 and they gave it to me. Your event is another deal altogether. AAA will book it for you and no charge or wondering.
    Most of the places I research through those discount sites, never have what I want.
    525 days ago
  • PHEBESS
    Ugh, how frustrating!

    We had something similar happen back in June, but with the booking site hotels.com. The hotel cancelled our reservation two or three days before we were due to arrive in New York City. Fortunately, hotels.com has a phone line, and they booked us at another hotel in Manhattan - and picked up the difference in price themselves. However, we had to pay the original price again - and it took several months and endless emails with hotels.com and our bank in order to get the refund of the original hotel's price. It worked out, but it was insane for a while there. (We also nicely enquired whether we needed to contact our attorney in order to expedite the refund. That may have sped things along a bit.)
    526 days ago
  • no profile photo CD23858752
    That’s terrible! The last time I booked a hotel I used frequent flyer miles and that was a nightmare. They told me the fine print showed the miles used did not cover everything. I was already in Manhattan so I was stuck. Thanks for shouting this out loud and saving others from having this experience. Hope this becomes a faded memory for you and you have an awesome time and find a suitable place quickly.
    526 days ago
  • WOUBBIE
    Good info! Glad your story had a (mostly) happy ending!
    526 days ago
  • IMLOCOLINDA
    Happened to me too! I couldn't get a room within 60 miles so just skipped the weekend trip. Been calling the hotels myself since then.
    526 days ago
  • PHOENIX1949
    emoticon for this PSA.
    526 days ago
  • IAMAGEMLOVER
    I can't afford to travel, so they will never have me as a customer. On rare occasions when I do take trips I go with my friends company., he is a tour director. Thanks for the warning though. Is Expedia like Priceline or what ever it's called?
    526 days ago
  • MARYANN2323
    I've never used them before, and now I have reason to never use them in the future. You've lost them at least 1 customer of the future. And I'm sorry that happened to you but I hope the weekend turns out great none the less.
    526 days ago
  • 1CRAZYDOG
    OMG, I had a similar experience and learned to always book direct. That can doe with problems as well, but seems lots less than booking thu Expedia or any other similar site. Glad you did find a hotel. Sheesh!
    526 days ago
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