Reporting 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 Expedia.com 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.