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?