Will never use Orbitz again
On March 11/12th, 2007 we made reservations via Orbitz to travel on July 17th to the UK. My whole family (husband, wife, 3 kids) were going over for my sister's wedding vows ceremony and just to visit with everyone. Unfortunately, on March 16th, I got the unexpected and devastating news that my mother had terminal cancer, and her prognosis was very poor. Basically, I needed to get to the UK ASAP if I was to see her alive. I contacted Orbitz the very next day, via their (subtracted to India) customer services.
#1 representative told me that, no problem, so long as we provided documentation, our flights would be "transferred" and we could fly out to the UK as soon as we could. Great news! On this basis, we started contacting our kids' teachers, my husband's professors, and my boss.
Calling back on Monday to clarify what was needed, #2 representative informed me that #1 representative was incorrect and that Orbitz "never transferred flights". #2 representative told me that we would have to seek a refund instead. I began to panic. My mother was deteriorating daily, and I needed to get to England. I asked her how long the refund would take and her response was that the refund would take place "immediately."
It took until Tuesday evening for us to straighten out the kids' schools, work and college, and by then I had received a letter from my mother's doctor in England. He wrote that she had "terminal illness with a poor prognosis." She was dying.
On March 21st, I faxed this letter from the doctor with an explanatory note to Orbitz. As requested by rep #2, I called 2 hours later and they confirmed that the letter was received. I asked #3 representative about the refund, emphasizing that we needed to leave NOW. #3's response was that it took 30-60 days to process a refund! When I had picked up my jaw from the floor, I repeated that #2 had told me that the refund was immediate. #3 told me that #2 was wrong (are you hearing the pattern here?) and that the refunds took 30-60 days - blah blah, credit card cycles, blah blah airlines fault etc. I told #3 that we had not used a credit card, we had used our bank debit card which had used funds available in our checking account. #3 then continued to quote the 30-60 day processing time.
Defeated and deeply emotional, I quit on calling Orbitz for a few hours. Then I called back, spoke to rep #4. I explained yet again that my mother was dying and I had to fly out now. I told #4 that I needed to speak to someone with authority to grant this refund immediately. #4 lost me someplace in the system. Called back again, same rigmarole, #5 lost me in the system. Called back again and explained to #6, and after a long - endlessly long - wait, another person came on the telephone, a female. #6 claimed to be a manager. I explained yet again the circumstances, and #6 went away for a very long time. When she returned, she told me that, and I quote exactly: "Orbitz has taken the hold off your money. All you have to do is call your bank, and they will take the hold off and you will have your money." I asked her to repeat that, and she did.
I hung up on her (BIG mistake!) and called our bank, USAA. The customer services rep looked at our account and said, no, no money waiting "on hold". I told her about my conversation with Orbitz and she checked everywhere she could but there was no money waiting.
Shall I spoil the suspense here and say that we are STILL awaiting this refund which Orbitz took the hold off on March 21st??
The bank told me to wait until the next day, which I did, but there was no money so, heart sinking, we took money yet again from our savings and we went ahead and booked a flight to leave for England on March 24th. Because of the delay with Orbitz, this was the soonest flight we could get that we could afford! We flew out of San Antonio on March 24th at 2:00pm and my mother died in England at 2:30pm. When we arrived in England on Sunday morning, it was way too late.
I was so done with telephone calls to Orbitz. I couldn't bear to be told any more lies, but I was very angry about the deliberate lies told by their customer services. I had begun emailing them on March 22nd, and I continued even after my mother's death to pursue both the issue of the lies told, and the whereabouts of my refund. All that I got was more company policy quoted and a suggestion that I call their 1-800 number. Which I declined.
When we returned, it took some time to regain momentum. The loss of a parent does that to you. On April 9th I wrote to Orbitz in Chicago. On April 16th I had a response from customer services. They apologized, they re-stated 30-60 day policy, they told me how huge Orbitz is and how many customers they have, and said they had faxed our information the airline (BMI).
Then followed a long period of silence. We had calculated the maximum 60 days from March 21st to expiry on May 19th (tomorrow as I write.) There has still be no sign of the money. So this morning, May 18th, I called customer services at Orbitz.
The person I spoke to there advised me that the 30-60 day period had "begun again" on April 16th when she wrote to me. When I questioned her, she finally acknowledged that the paperwork I had faxed to Orbitz had never been sent to BMI, hence the delay and the re-setting of the 30-60 day period. When I checked further, I found that - at today's date - our reservation to fly to England is still a "confirmed reservation." The airline hasn't even canceled our reservations!!
I have today faxed and emailed BMI to find out whether they ever received our paperwork. I have my doubts.
We are absolutely miserable and defeated. Orbitz made a bad situation significantly worse. I would never, ever, EVER travel with Orbitz again. I would rather get to England in other way than use their services. This is a bad, bad company.