I did business with the travel site Expedia for years without issue. I booked some great vacation and hotel deals over the years. I happily saved money and even recommended their site to others. However, over the years I have began to notice that Expedia has some major customer service issues.
As I said before, I was an Expedia cheerleader. I used and promoted the site. I loved the deals I found. As long as everything goes to plan, all is good in the world. I had some wonderful vacations I booked using both of these sites with out an issue. If everything goes to plan, you will most likely have a wonderful experience with Expedia. However, as soon as something goes wrong, good luck to you. Now you are forced to deal with the customer service nightmare that this company calls superb.
All of this came to head over a computer glitch. Yes, a computer glitch. I tried to book Super Shuttle from the San Francisco Airport to my hotel. It would not let me because for some reason the computer was reading that I was flying into Oakland. Super Shuttle wasn’t an option from Oakland. I just figured that it was a programming glitch. I e-mailed them to notify them of the problem. I figured they could fix the error and add the shuttle service. This shouldn’t be a big deal right? It is a little problem. It should be a little fix.
That is where I was wrong. From the first time I sent my e-mail, until the moment I just gave up was an uphill battle of epic proportions. It took ages to get an initial response. When I finally received one, it was a canned e-mail from a rep. You know, one of those e-mails where you know they didn’t even bother to read it. A simple, “yes we screwed up, let us fix it for you,” would have sufficed. Instead no, it was weeks of canned e-mails, half answers, hours on hold and large amounts of the run around. After a few rounds with Expedia, it was no longer about the minor issue. This was about the blatant lack of customer service.
I went round and round with the Expedia people. It was infuriating. One rep would say one thing, another rep would say another. The rudeness was maddening. Basically, I had asked for the error to be fixed. This was an error that Expedia eventually admitted was an error on their part. Instead of having a programmer fix it for me, they suggested I purchase another service so that I could get the ground transport option I wanted. Now the whole fact that I really didn’t want another service didn’t seem to cross their minds.
I get that maybe it wasn’t a super easy fix, but when I simply asked why it couldn’t be resolved by programming and why the only way to fix it was to purchase another service, no answer was given. If it won’t work, at least tell me why. Later I told that even if I bought another service it wouldn’t fix the issue. Why did the reps initially tell me this? No one was able to give me an answer.
Another thing that bugged me about their customer service was the reps. When you called, they acted like you are a waste of their time. When they responded to my e-mails, they never actually answered any of the questions in the e-mail. The answers they did give were canned. It was so obvious they were reading from a script over the phone. If the answer wasn’t in one of the scripts, they were totally clueless. The Customer Service reps I dealt with over the phone and online made me feel like I was a waste of their time and energy.
When the employees were unable to answer my questions, I asked to be transferred to a supervisor. The rep refused to do so. I asked over the phone and in e-mails for contact information for a supervisor. Still, no one provided me with that information. I’m sorry, but if you do not provide the answers in your scripts, you as a supervisor better be ready to provide those answers.
That brings me to my biggest issue with Expedia. It is their stealth approach to customer service. Reps will not connect you to a supervisor, nor will they give you contact information. Apparently, my e-mail had been sent to another department, but no one told me this. Also, the rep in the new department never identified themselves as such. I knew my complaint was being bounced around, but because I was not told about how the complaint was being processed, or how it was escalating, I just felt like I was being brushed off. I was being shuffled from one nameless faceless person to another.
Eventually, my e-mail reached the Customer Advisory Department. This is the point where I just about lost it. Once again the rep didn’t know the answer, so I asked to be transferred to a supervisor. What she said next was classic: “We are all supervisors here in the Customer Advisory Department.” Wow. I was stunned. I didn’t buy it. Somewhere, they still have a supervisor. I pushed the issue until on 2/24 an exasperated rep told me a supervisor would call within 24 hours. I heard nothing until 3/7. Even then the supervisor who called was short and rude as she left her voice mail. Eventually, I did speak with her, and even then she was rude and unaccommodating.
By then I was done. Expedia’s solution was to give me $75 voucher and hope it appeased me. It didn’t, but I was tired of fighting. My issue was minor, and my fight over principles of basic customer service was waning. I had argued my point as far as I could take it. They refused to give out supervisor contact info. They most certainly would not give out higher up info. I later did find their contact info. When I did e-mail execs at Expedia, it took them over a month to send me a canned e-mail that basically said since my “issue was resolved” they weren’t going to do anything about it. However, they did encourage me to reply if I had any additional questions or comments. I send another e-mail, but I have yet to hear from the company. If I get a reply, I will be sure to post their comments accordingly.
I had hoped that my nightmare was an isolated incident, but then I began to hear more horror stories. These stores came from friends and acquaintances. They had similar run ins with a less than helpful Expedia. It was one thing if one person gets screwed, it is another if it is a trend. My boss actually had an issue with Expedia that could have cost her hundreds of dollars, but she stuck to her guns and got results. If it just happens to you, that is one thing. When it becomes a trend ,that is another issue.