Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Why You Should NOT Book with Expedia

Or really any of those services that tell you they get you leftover rooms for less.

The first reason is the blatant way they are set up.  They are very specifically making a business out of ripping off hotels.  The appeal is that if the hotel doesn't sell the room, they make less than if you book it through them, right?  Except that the hotel WOULD sell that room, to you in fact, so Expedia, Priceline, and all of those fellas aren't really helping us out now, are they?   There's also the fact that you pay them upfront, then they pay the hotel when you check out.  If you never check out, because something went wrong and you never even checked in, Expedia just keeps that entire sum.  The hotel only receives a portion of what you paid Expedia, so don't expect a bill that matches what your credit card was charged.  Your $90 rate you paid Expedia?  Yeah, we got about $60 of that.  That difference is their profit, they're not gonna refund it, and apparently they like to pretend it's some fault of the hotel's instead of just saying so.  Sound friendly, don't they?  But anyways.

The real reason  you shouldn't book with companies like Priceline and related names is because...they're assholes.  Since they are paid upfront, their customer service is zilch.  Let me explain what happened to a fellow last week who booked a room with Expedia.

It was around 1:00 AM or so, and the hotel was completely booked.  My expected arrivals list was empty.  Everyone was in bed.  Imagine my surprise when an additional person walks in to check in, claiming he had a reservation.  I double-check my expected arrivals in case he was already checked in by an earlier shift, but his name wasn't in the system, period.  He was a part of a group that was definitely in our hotel, but no reservation for him had actually been made.  He immediately called Expedia, through whom he had made his reservation, and remained on the phone with them or on hold for the next, oh, 45 minutes or so.  He was still on hold with them when he left.

I called every sister property and hotels I didn't even know existed, and every single hotel was at full occupancy.  I called the reservation central line to see if they had any record of him at all.  Nada.  He showed me the email he received from Expedia with a useless "itinerary number" and no confirmation number FROM the hotel to show it had been set up.  It took us the full 45 minutes or so to finally find a place nearby that had one room left and could take him.

So.  What exactly happened?

Expedia told him he could have the room.  Expedia did not do their part and actually arrange the reservation with the hotel.  Therefore, fellow is left without a place to stay in the middle of the night, is still out the entire sum to Expedia who may or may not transfer the issue to the different hotel, and he's stuck on the phone with them for ages.  Oh, and it wasn't just them they were screwing over.  They called me, too:

Call #1:
"Good evening and thank you for calling the LOL Hotel, my name is Wednesday, how may I assist you?"
"Hi this is bitch from Expedia, calling about a Mr. Completely Screwed.  We've just been notified (by the guy sitting across the counter from me on hold with them that very instant...) that while you had a reservation for him, you cannot provide him a room.  Is that correct?"
" did not set up the reservation.  He is not in the system, Reservations does not have a record of a reservation for him, and he was never sent a confirmation number."
"So you will not be able to provide him with a room tonight, is that correct?"
"No.  We are at 100% occupancy."
"Okay, then.  Goodbye."

Call #2, about 10 minutes later in the midst of calling other hotels:
"Good evening, thank you for calling the LOL Hotel, my name is Wednesday, how may I assist you?"
"Hello this is Bitch from Expedia again, and I was calling to see if we needed to be finding another room for Mr. Completely Screwed, or if you would be taking care of that. (What the hell have they been doing while they had him on hold, huh?)"
"I'm just dialing numbers - if there is a way for you to fix the problem and find him a place to stay for the night I would appreciate it."
"Well...we could do that...we would have to do a search within the local area (duh?).  I'll send the information over to Whatever Desk."
"Thank you (for fixing the problem you created for this poor man)."

Call #3, about 5 minutes later:
"Good evening and thank you for calling the LOL Hotel, my name is Wednesday, how may I assist you?"
"Hello, this is Bitch from Expedia.  I was calling to ask if your hotel would still be charging Expedia for the room?  (WHAT ROOM?)"

Now, at this point I COULD say that we don't charge until checkout anyways, so no, we're not charging for something we didn't have.  But that guy was still sitting at the counter, flipping through the phonebook with me and dialing on my cell while he's on hold with them on screw 'em.

"I don't have access to that information (you greedy hoes).  Try calling Sales in the morning."
"Okay, goodbye."

I wish with all my heart that I could describe exactly how frustrating the entire situation was.  Expedia dropped the ball, blamed the hotel, stuck a guy on hold for ages while I can only assume they played ping pong in the back, did not assist in finding a new room for the poor guy, were rude to the both of us, then asked if they got to keep the money or not.

I am not saying this because it will somehow profit me.  I'm saying this for YOUR good, so you know what I didn't know until I started working here:


No company should do that to its customers, and on so regular of a basis.

Grrrbrrrgrhrhrh.  Rrr.

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