By Paula Ebben, WBZ-TVBy Paula Ebben

PLAISTOW, NH (CBS) – Nancy DiPirro of Plaistow, New Hampshire loves to travel and every year she books a weekend away with a group of girlfriends. This year it was a trip to sunny Cancun to break up those long cold days of January.

“I booked through Expedia, two rooms,” she said.

Engin Yapaci spent months planning a vacation to Turkey with his fiancé. He too booked with Expedia.

“They told me everything was ok,” he said describing his phone call to the company to confirm his reservation.

Both travelers would soon discover discover everything was not o.k.

WBZ-TV’s Paula Ebben reports

Nancy ran into trouble when she called Expedia to add a 6th person to her trip. The customer service agent said it would be no problem.

“But when I called the hotel, they told me the 6th person was never included,” Nancy said. She had to pay an additional $800 to add her friend to the trip even though she had been told in a previous phone call to Expedia that her reservation was all set.

Engin hit a snag when he and his fiancé landed in Paris for a layover. That’s when the airline said they had no record of his fiance’s ticket from Paris to Istanbul.

“It was so frightening,” Engin said. They were stuck in the airport in Paris with a snow storm headed their way. Engin had not choice but to pay an additional $800 for a seat for his fiancé.

Both Nancy and Engin say Expedia promised refunds but it wasn’t that simple.

“Expedia always bounced me back to the airline company,” Engin explained. “I have spoken with a minimum of 25 people,” Nancy said. “I have three different case numbers that have been assigned to it.”

Stephanie Abrams is a nationally syndicated travel talk show host with decades of experience in the travel industry.

She believes it’s easy for an individual traveler to get lost in these huge online travel companies.

“When you are doing billions of dollars in sales online, how important can any one client be,” she said.

Expedia’s own Facebook page is full of posts from unsatisfied customers complaining of poor or nonexistent customer service.

This is the statement the company sent to us:

Expedia uses Facebook to maintain a dialogue with our customers. We now have more than one million fans on Facebook and believe social media is central to helping us engage with the world’s travelers. Customers come to our Facebook page for a wide number of reasons, including customer service. The volume of customer service cases on Facebook is actually a reflection of the scope of our efforts. We are the world’s largest travel agency; about two million people come to every single day in the United States. Expedia has hundreds of airline partners and more than 130,000 hotel partners. And because travel can be complicated – airline flight times change, storms can cripple entire regions – Expedia helps customers deal with that complexity. Social media is a quick, simple way for customers to reach us. We respond immediately, investigate their circumstances and help them solve their travel issues.

Nancy finally got a partial refund – but only after about 60 hours of phone calls and emails.

“The stress that I have had to go through and the documentation I have had to keep track of, it’s not reasonable,” she said.

Engin says he contacted Expedia more than a dozen times and still nothing.

“I have lost $800 and I will never shop from Expedia again,” he said.

We asked Expedia about both Nancy and Engin’s story.

They told us they stand by their decision to issue Nancy a partial refund.

Expedia did admit making an error in Engin’s case.  The company has agreed to refund his $800 and provide him with a $200 credit on a future booking.

Some travel experts suggests using online sites to research the best deal and then book directly with the hotel or airline.

Many will be glad to match the deal.

Stephanie Abrams suggests using a local travel agent, someone you can call if you have a problem and someone who is counting on your repeat business.

Comments (11)
  1. p2 says:

    Is Expedia owned by Microsoft?

  2. Brian Weber says:

    maybe one should get insurance especially if using a 3rd party

  3. Jen says:

    I booked a travel package (plane and hotel) through Expedia for a late Feb. – early March 2005 trip to LA. When I arrived at the hotel in LA very late at night (took a red eye flight) I was informed that the hotel never received my reservation and since it was Oscar weekend, they were booked solid! After a few phone calls to other area hotels, they were able to locate one with a room for me that night. After a taxi ride and restless night’s sleep, I contacted my friend (whom I was visiting) who then picked me up and brought me back to the original hotel to argue and finally gain a hotel room for my stay. I did receive compensation from Expedia for the taxi ride and 1 night’s stay, but I won’t do business with Expedia again.

  4. Cheryl Waterfield says:

    We also had an issue with Expedia last November when a snowstorm canceled our flight to Cancun. We were booked on a flight the next day and called Expedia. After a 3 hour phone call, most of which was being placed on hold, an Expedia rep. assured us our hotel reservation was adjusted to start 7 days from our arrival. On the 6th day, we were told by Hotel staff we needed to leave as there was never any change made by Expedia. Thankfully the Riu Cancun staff let us keep our room and they dealt with Expedia. This was the second time our travel plans had been affected by weather, both times we had problems because Expedia did not follow through as they told us they would. We will never book wityh them again.

  5. mark bergeron says:

    I have been using Expedia for the past eight years. i typically travel with them twice a year. I am thrilled with their service. They have always been polite and helpful on the phone, and i have only experienced two problems, neither were their fault. and both were corrected by them. in once instance i had a meal plan, but when i arrived the buffet restaurant was under renovation. i spoke to the hotel and they offered no assistance. i called Expedia and within three hours the hotel manager approached me and and handed me some signed vouchers that we could use at a neighbor hotel and he apologized for the trouble. the second was a change we had added a traveler when we arrived at the airline they were missing the extra person. Expedia only allows 5 travelers we had 6. luckily we arrived at the airline 3 hours early rather than the recommended 2 hours. i contacted Expedia, they contacted me back and had spoken to the airline, who had told me that i would have to pay for the additional person. it turned out that the airline had oversold and bumped the 6th traveler (a 5 year old) to a separate flight. Expedia was able to get us all on the new flight. turns out it was a more expensive direct flight at the same price. their service is great. yes there will be glitches there are with every company. but i can’t say enough about them.
    Mark B

  6. joe says:

    i was stranded in Ixtapa last Feb for rain in Houston. The airlines said they couldn’t get me our for 4 days ! THey said since I booked through Expedia, I couldn’t get re-routed without their permission. Expedia was feuading with American Airlines at the time and refusedt o book me on an available flight for the next day. Refused! I had to go back to my hotel, at my own expence, arrange and pay for an AA ticket out and then chase the original airline (Continental) for a refund. No help at all through Expedia.

  7. Scooby says:

    So is there a lesson learned? I don’t get to travel much. Maybe a travel agent can chime in and tell us the benefits of Expedia vs. a travel agent?

  8. emom says:

    I never deal with these 3rd party agencies. I deal directly with the airlines, hotels and rental cars.. it’s a lot of work but so much easier in the end…. I get what I want and if there is a problem I can deal directly with them. Not some nitwit at some agency that hasn’t a clue or care. Besides don’t they charge a price to do the work for you….. I tried to book a flight a few times with them and the price was way more than the airline it self,, WHATS THE POINT OF PAYING MORE FOR THE SAME SEAT AND FLIGHT ….In this day and age saving $$$$$$ is what its all about .. This is a BIG lesson learned…..

    1. Kelley King says:

      You and Lauren are absolutely right. With a travel agent, I just pick up the phone, tell them what I want and hang up. I do my work while they’re doing theirs…..and they call me back with all the reservations or prices/options.
      Biggest plus for me has been the ease in doing refunds when necessary. No haggling or endless voice mail loops with reserervations people.
      I wish this job segment had not been eliminated by the Internet. Would like to see the return of the Travel Agent! There are so few left nowadays.

  9. lauren says:

    I have never used a third party travel agency like Expedia. I have only used a trusted travel agent. The benefit to using a travel agent, in my opinion, is they have traveled to many of the places people are booking through them. Therefore, they can recommend good hotels, good cruise ships, and good airlines to fly with. The travel agent I used has never let me down. I have always had a great experience, and like Paula Ebben said in the story, if you do run into a problem, you can call your travel agent directly to get the problem solved.

  10. Allan says:

    I don’t understand why you’d use a third party company to book your stuff anyway. Anytime I travel, when I compare their prices with just booking direct myself, I always come out ahead by dealing direct & putting it together myself. If you’d have done that, you wouldn’t be out the money.

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