Travelocity Informative - Reservations Gone Bad And Deceptive Customer Service
SAN JOSE, CALIFORNIA -- I'm writing this lengthy review in hopes that it will help someone that falls into a similar situation with Travelocity during the summer travel season. Last summer, my wife and I booked reservations to Kauai, Hawaii, through Travelocity. We arrived at the airport to learn that our flight had been changed to an earlier one. Since we'd received no warning of the flight change, we missed our flight and as a result all of our connecting flights to Hawaii were cancelled.
The airlines told me there was nothing they could do and that it was Travelocity's responsibility. I finally got in touch with Travelocity's customer service line and was told they'd try to get me on another flight that day. Understandably, I was irate, but nevertheless I was not rude nor condescending with the foreign representative. I was finally told that there were no flights available from our airport. I offered to drive two hours away to a larger airport, using my own vehicle, to catch another flight if one was available...I received no alternatives; not even for the following day. Basically, Travelocity buys the tickets in bulk and if they can't find a flight for the same price that they purchased the original tickets, you're out of luck.
I spent at least two hours on the phone, with my wife standing beside me in tears, trying to get customer service to take care of us. Their argument was that an email is automatically generated whenever a flight is changed and anyone connected with that reservation will receive notification. My wife checked her emails the night before and the morning before we left for the airport and there were no notifications. I told the representative to fax me a copy of the email to the airport and they would never produce the document saying that it is in code that only airline personnel can decipher!!!??? Travelocity told us if we wanted to go on the trip, we'd have to purchase the tickets anew and seek reimbursement later.
Since we had been planning the trip for months, and were meeting family in Hawaii, we bought them again from another, more reliable, travel website and left the next day. The airline ticket agent told us that although the flights to Hawaii had been cancelled, our return flights were good to go. Well, lo and behold, we went to leave Hawaii and the ticket agent in Kauai told us our tickets were no good, although I had called the airlines and confirmed our reservations the night before. The airlines told us to contact Travelocity, who in turn told us that the airlines were responsible. All in all, we had to buy our tickets home at the counter.
When we returned home, I immediately went to work to get our money back. I went to the Better Business Bureau website and wrote a detailed complaint against Travelocity, while also sending the complaint to Travelocity's online "customer service" email address. I also sent a complaint against the airlines through the BBB for telling us we had seats and then forcing us to buy tickets home. Again, I sent a detailed complaint to the airlines' customer service email address. (Most companies do not receive customer complaints via phone, but through email.) The BBB contacted each company on our behalf to seek resolution.
Travelocity agreed to refund us the cost of the return flight, but would not refund the cost of the flights to Kuaui because they stood by the argument that some phantom email was sent. The airlines also refunded us the cost of the tickets we bought to get home. The refunds we received through both companies were enough our travel expenses.
Through this experience I learned: 1) never, I mean never, to use Travelocity again; 2) make no mistake about it, the personnel in India, or wherever "customer service" has been outsourced to, know full well what they are doing. They are there to shuffle through customer complaints that arise from the mess that is today's airline/travel system. They have been fully instructed by the company what they are allowed to provide the customer who is in a pinch. If it costs them money, forget about it; 3) use resources, like the BBB to your advantage. They can't perform miracles, but they at least get someone at the company to answer your complaint; 4) I believe Travelocity knows that there's a maximum amount they'll refund you to stop you from taking legal action against them. I spoke to a lawyer during this incident and he seconded this belief. For instance, not many people will shoulder court costs/lawyer fees to seek a $1000 refund, but a $4000 refund is another story. So they'll refund $3000 of the $4000, knowing you probably won't seek legal action for the remaining $1000.
After this horrible experience, my wife and I have told everyone who'll hear to refrain from using Travelocity. Their responsibility is to take care of the customer, regardless of the cost, and they failed miserably in this situation. Yes, they refunded us part of the money, but they left us at the airport with no recourse but to buy our own tickets, two times in a row.
If you've ever been in this situation, you know it's disappointing and extremely frustrating. I'm anxious to see how many so-called positive responses against this post appear from supposed "customers." Most of them are probably from Travelocity employees trying to solicit good press for a ruthless institution.