Travelocity Informative - Glad I didn't get burned by this one
I was just looking around on My3Cents.com reading some complaints and stuff and I noticed one of the rotating links that says "Hassle-Free Travel - No More Change or Cancel Fees on Travelocity". My wife and I had been taking about taking a trip but there's a lot of uncertainty in our schedules right now.
It's a long story but if we were able to lock in a fare and not be locked into certain flight times and dates, it could be really helpful. I would have expected that the fare would not be as low as a regular "non-refundable, non-cancellable" Travelocity booking and that would be reasonable.
So, I click on the link and come to the normal Travelocity Home Page and put in a couple of possible dates for a round-trip flight to Milwaukee. I pick out a flight and go through all the normal stuff. The normal page comes up and as I read through the fine print, I see where it says that the booking is non-redfundable and a fee would be charged if we need to change any flight time, plus pay the difference if we switch to a flight with a higher fare.
To be honest, I wasn't totally surprised and had suspected this was pretty much a waste of time. To avoid wasting any more time, I used the feature on the Travelocity site that allows you to send an email to their customer support dept. I asked how to do a booking with no change or cancel fees and the response was that I should call "Customer Care".
I talked to Victor at Customer Care who put me on hold and then came back to say that all airline bookings on Travelocity are non-refundable and non-cancellable and that I might want to book directly with an airline to get a cancellable reservation. When I asked him what the statement "No More Change or Cancel Fees on Travelocity referred to", he asked me to clarify exactly where I saw the link, etc. and started to put me on hold again. I asked him whether this was going to be just an added waste of my time because I was understanding that they really didn't have any kind of booking that would meet my needs. He said he was hoping that he would be able to come up with some explanation as to what they were advertising.
As he was doing that, I took a screen shot of a My3Cents page with the Travelocity add showing on it and e-mailed it to Customer Care at Travelocity. I've suggested to them that they correct this misleading statement.
Victor came back and said that there are hotel and car rental bookings you can make without cancellation fees and that if you make a change on an airline booking, the airline will charge a fee, not Travelocity.
I still think this is misleading and told him so. This is the kind of thing that leads to misunderstandings that cost people money and you can read about those issues all over the My3Cents site. They need to work on avoiding misunderstandings, not causing them.
***Update 9/23/2010: I got this e-mail from Anna T at Travelocity Membership Services...
Thank you for responding.
We sincerely apologize for the inconvenience caused to you. Please note that the advertisement “No More Change or Cancel Fees on Travelocity” is for only hotel reservations.
...when booking a reservation on our website, we try to prevent such situations by providing a review page, so all passenger information, itinerary details, policies, rules, and restrictions can be reviewed prior to making the purchase. Once you have provided your credit card information and clicked “Complete Reservation”, we are required to uphold the terms and conditions of the fare. The change and cancellation policy depends upon the fare rules of the ticket.
***Here's how I responded to Anna...
If the statement applies only to hotel reservations, why doesn’t it say it only applies to hotel reservations? This may not be false advertising but I still am of the opinion that it is very misleading.
Here’s a statement that appears on your site, for a hotel I started to book today…
• Cancellations or changes occurring within 3 days of 12:01 am (Central Time) on the day of check-in are subject to a cancellation penalty. This includes a 1 night room charge plus applicable Tax Recovery Charge & Service Fees.
• Cancellations or changes made after check-in are subject to a 100% charge.
I don’t really care if you want to try to come up with some kind of semantic justification for why the fees described in the above statement are not “Change or Cancel Fees” as referred to in your advertising. But as far as I’m concerned, there is no meaningful distinction.
I do understand and agree that your site website presents a confirmation page that specifies all the terms and conditions that apply to a given booking before it is confirmed. Trust me, I do review pages like that on travel sites as well with as any e-commerce transaction that I engage in.
You need to understand that links like the one I’ve identified potentially cause people to go to your site with an expectation that they will be able to gain goods or services on terms that are not actually available on your site. Hopefully, people will be as careful as I am and won’t confirm reservations that aren’t consistent with their expectations. In a case like that, they’ve merely wasted their time. (Notice that I say “they” because as long as I continue to see these kinds of misleading statements, I will not be using the Travelocity site.) Worst case, people will be making bookings with the reasonable expectation that there are “No More Change or Cancel Fees on Travelocity” because that’s what your advertising says. That kind of misunderstanding could cost people dearly.
You are fostering that kind of misunderstanding. I really wish you would stop that.