This is a writeup of my experience of having to deal with an airline ticket refund I purchased via Expedia.com. If you know me, I’m a very patient and understanding guy but after dealing with such a poor and ridiculous customer experience with Expedia, I felt it was worth documenting the steps I painfully went through in my attempt to collect the refund/credit I rightfully deserved.

I’ve read other horror stories on the web from people who had similar problems so I know I’m not the only person having to deal with such crap. I am actually writing this post as I wait on hold with Expedia (one of the many many times). I have also attempted to collect each persons name and call center location I speak with from Expedia. So here’s how the story goes….

On December 30th, 2006 I purchased a round-trip ticket from San Francisco to Tokyo on Japan Airlines (JAL) from the Expedia.com web site for $876.52. My flight was scheduled for January 25th, 2007 but I had to cancel the ticket because I could no longer go. I called Expedia in January a week before my flight and let them know I needed to cancel. I spoke to someone in their Philippines call center and they had no problem canceling the ticket. They informed me I had 12 months to reuse the credit of $871.52 and there will be a $100 re-booking fee per the airlines ticketing rules. Fine with me…I’ll just re-book the trip next time I plan on going to Japan.

The time finally came in September 2007 when I needed to book a flight to Tokyo. Here are the events that occurred while trying to book the flight. Each bullet represents either a call or email exchange I had with Expedia or Japan Airlines.

  • Called Expedia on 9/26 to book my new ticket. They started booking the fare but for some reason their system wouldn’t book it. They called the airline to ask what the deal was and according to JAL, the ticket isn’t valid anymore because it needed to be re-booked immediately once I canceled it back in January 2007. This is the exact opposite of what Expedia told me and even the Expedia system says I’ve got the credit to use. Now Expedia tells me to call JAL to resolve. Call time – 45 mins
  • Called JAL and they said I needed to contact Expedia since they originally booked the ticket. Call time – 10 mins
  • Called Expedia back and explained the situation. I was put on hold while they read the details on this case. They left me on hold and never returned so I eventually hung up. Call time – 53 mins
  • Called Expedia back again and told them the same story. The woman read my case and told me I needed to contact the refunds department and gave me the email address. Here’s the email address she gave me “expedia.com-refunds”. I told her that’s not an email address and it won’t work. She assured me it’s what her reference paper says. What a joke. Call time – 24 mins
  • Made another call back to Expedia and spoke to Sarah in the Ohio. She recommended I email the refunds dept directly since they are the only ones that can handle this issue. I was given the email address travel@expedia.com . Call time – 25 mins
  • I spent the next 30 minutes preparing an email with all the details about this case. I sent the email and waiting for a response. Time spent – 30 mins
  • About 1-2 hours later I received a reply from Expedia and they said I needed to call their 1-800 number and speak with a support rep to resolve this. Hello?? That’s what I’ve spent the last few hours doing and they referred me to you! How come nobody will take ownership and handle this issue? (At the bottom of this post is the actual email exchange I had with them)
  • Called Expedia again and spoke with Dan Lewis from the Atlanta call center. He read my case and then called JAL and spoke with Kaori. Dan then got back on the phone with me and said he had good news. JAL will give me the ticket credit and I just needed to call them directly to book it. Finally! I thought it was resolved and I was starting to get excited. Call time – 22 mins
  • So I called JAL and tried to get in touch with Kaori so she’d know exactly what to do but ended up speaking with another JAL rep. She said Expedia needs to handle this since they originally booked the ticket. What the heck??? I told her Expedia just spoke with Kaori at JAL and she said to call you directly. She said Expedia made a mistake and that’s incorrect. I was so upset at this point but I couldn’t get mad at JAL since it’s all Expedia’s fault. Call time – 12 mins
  • Called Expedia back and told them JAL cannot handle this since Expedia was the ticketing vendor. Told them I want my refund or credit asap and need to book my ticket today. I was placed on hold while the agent read my case. I waited on hold for over 40 minutes and she never returned so I hung up. Call time – 48 mins
  • Called Expedia back and told them they need to handle this now and I’m sick and tired of the runaround. I was put on hold while the support rep read my case. I explicitly told her to be quick so I wasn’t put on hold for more than a couple minutes. A few minutes later, I’m no longer on hold but connected to JAL! She didn’t tell me anything….just transfered directly. WTF? Call time – 10 mins
  • Called Expedia back and spoke with Jardine from the Philippines call center. I requested to not be placed on hold while she reads my case notes. She agreed and instead put me on mute. She then read the case and got back to me. She now needed to call a different department and speak with a supervisor. I told her I do not want to be placed on hold because of my previous experiences of being left without resolution. She agreed to check back in every 5 minutes to let me know she’s still working on it. So far so good. She’s been checking back every 5 minutes to let me know she’s still trying to get in touch with her supervisor (Call time – 60 minutes already). After being on hold for 1 hour and 40 minutes, Jardine finally got connected to her supervisor. They are looking over the case and reviewing the details while I wait on the other line. (Fingers crossed) Great news! Jardine got back on the phone and told me my credit card will be credited in the amount of $823.37! It’s about $50 less than I should be credited but at this point I’ll take what I can get. Now I won’t believe it until I see the credit on my next statement (it could 30-60 days) but I’m done! No more Expedia….ever.

Summary: So after making 10+ calls to Expedia and JAL, speaking with several different call center reps from all over the world, and spending over 7+ hours of my personal time trying to resolve this issue (not to mention the new gray hairs I got) I finally got what I deserved.

Bottom line: NEVER book something with Expedia unless you definitely plan on taking the trip. Their customer support is HORRIBLE and you can just search google to read other people’s experiences. Try searching Google for “expedia refund” to see what I mean. This is not the first time I’ve had a problem with them but it’s the worst one to-date. I now use sites like Kayak.com and then book directly with the airlines instead. This allows you to cancel or call the airline directly if any changes need to be made. They can’t refer you to someone else to resolve the problem like Expedia continued to do.

Here’s the email exchange I had with them. They never replied to my last email.

Hi Andi-

Thanks for the coupon. So what should I tell the support line when I call this time? They just tell me they can’t help. I need this resolved asap….I’m tired of being thrown for a loop.

~David

—– Original Message —-
From: Expedia Travel Support
To: David Cowgill
Sent: Monday, October 1, 2007 4:44:57 PM
Subject: Re: Attn: Refunds Department – Case # 30864XXX – Case ID: [REQ:36659241]
Dear David,Thank you for prompt reple as well.We would like to take this opportunity to apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused you. We understand how frustrated you are at having to wait. Unfortunately, we cannot handle your refund request via e-mail. We are limited in the information we can provide via e-mail. This is something that would need to be resolved on the phone with one of our customer service representatives and internal helpdesk. Thus, it is imperative for you to call our Customer Support line for further assistance.For the inconvenience, we would like to extend to you a goodwill coupon in the amount of $100.00 toward a future stay at any of our preferred properties. (For more information regarding coupons, please see the page titled “Using your Expedia.com coupons”)If you have additional questions regarding this issue, feel free to reply to this e-mail or contact Expedia customer services at 1-800-397-3342 and reference case ID 36659XXX. You can also visit the Expedia.com “Customer Support” page (http://www.expedia.com/daily/service/default.asp ) for more customer service information.Thank you for choosing Expedia.com

Andi
Expedia.com Customer Service Team

—–Original Message—–
From: David Cowgill
Sent: 10/1/2007 4:14:19 PM
To: Expedia Travel Support
Subject: Re: Attn: Refunds Department – Case # 30864XXX – Case ID: [REQ:36659241]Hi Claudine-Thanks for the quick reply. I’ve actually already spoken with several
customer support reps via the number you gave me and none of them are
able to handle my request. They told me the only way to handle this
situation is to email you this address.Please let me know how to proceed since everyone I talk to at Expedia
refers me to someone else. I’m a very frustrated consumer at this point.~David—– Original Message —-
From: Expedia Travel Support
To: David Cowgill
Sent: Monday, October 1, 2007 4:07:04 PM
Subject: Re: Attn: Refunds Department – Case # 30864XXX – Case ID:
[REQ:36659241]Dear David,

Thank you for contacting Expedia.com about your refund request.

Unfortunately, we cannot handle your refund request via e-mail. However,
we would be happy to assist you over the phone. Please give our customer
support desk a call at 1-800-EXPEDIA (1-800-397-3342). If possible,
please have your itinerary number and/or booking ID available when
calling.

If you have further questions regarding this issue, feel free to reply
to this e-mail or contact Expedia customer services at 1-800-397-3342
and reference case ID 36659XXX. You can also visit the Expedia.com
“Customer Support” page (
http://www.expedia.com/daily/service/default.asp
) for more customer
service information.

Thank you for choosing Expedia.com

Claudine
Expedia.com Customer Service Team

—–Original Message—–
From: David Cowgill
Sent: 10/1/2007 3:16:16 PM
To: travel@expedia.com
Subject: Attn: Refunds Department – Case # 30864XXX – Case ID:
[REQ:36659241]

Hello-

I’m writing in regards to a credit/refund I should be receiving in the
amount of $871.52 for a ticket I purchased which was never used.

Back in Dec 30, 2006, I booked a flight with JAL to Tokyo using
Expedia.com. The actual flight date was not until January 25, 2007 and
after I booked the flight my plans had changed so I needed to cancel the
flight. I called Expedia.com in January prior my flight to let them know
I needed to cancel this flight and ended up speaking with someone from
your Philippines call center. She told me that it would not be a problem
to cancel the flight and I would have 12 months to use the $871.52
credit on Japan Airlines. I asked her twice just to make sure and she
confirmed that the only extra charges would be whatever the airline
charges for a change fee (in this case she said $100 from Japan Airlines
and $30 from Expedia).

So last week I called Expedia to regain my $871.52 credit and the
customer service rep saw the credit and began booking my flight. She
then started having trouble and had to call Japan Airlines and put me on
hold. After speaking with them she said the ticket that was originally
booked was a discounted fare and Japan Airlines can not give me credit.

Since Expedia.com’s customer service rep gave me the wrong information
when I was canceling my ticket in January 2007, (she said I had 12
months to re-book this ticket) it is obviously the mistake of
Expedia.com so I demand a credit or full refund of the $871.52.

Please review the case and notes (case # 30864XXX) to see my pain,
hassle, and trouble (not to mention over 3 hours of either being put on
hold or trying to explain my situation to one of the many customer
service reps whom I spoke with). It’s very frustrating trying to deal
with a situation like this and spend my time chasing down money that
I’ve spent but never received a ticket or refund for.

I encourage you to pull the actual tape of our recorded conversation
back in January to prove to you that in fact this customer service rep
did tell me I had 12 months to reuse my credit.

I am requesting either a credit or full refund in the amount of $871.52
so I can rebook my flight to Japan asap.

Thank you,

David

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