What to do when travel dreams turn into a booking nightmare: Roseman
Travel can be stressful when things go wrong. Your dream trip can turn into a nightmare. Here are a few cases where I helped readers receive refunds after their travel bookings didn’t measure up.
Alison Bukhari was planning a two-week vacation to Maui with her husband and three children. She used Expedia to search for hotels.
“We found the perfect location and booked,” she said. “I received emails from Expedia confirming our booking at 475 Front St., Lahaina, right near the beach.
“Then, just days before we were scheduled to check in, the hotel sent me an email with check-in details. The address was 660 Wainee St., much further from the beach.”
In a panic, she called Expedia to report the error. Would she have to pay a cancellation fee? Was it safe to book another hotel?
Expedia assured her that it would work with the hotel to get her a refund, Bukhari said. She booked another hotel and kept checking her credit card account while on vacation, waiting for a refund to show up.
She called Expedia when she returned — five times in the first 10 days — and spent hours trying to get a response. Finally, a supervisor said that she was out of luck.
In a written response, Expedia told me that the hotel in Hawaii had a policy of charging a penalty of 50 per cent of the reservation cost when customers cancelled. A representative had told Bukhari about the penalty, but also suggested she cancel the reservation and book a new hotel in a preferred location.
Expedia said it had tried to advocate on her behalf, but the hotel would not waive the penalty, especially since the customer cancelled five days before the arrival date.
After I got involved, Expedia apologized for the misunderstanding and provided a full refund of $ 2,918.32 back to Bukhari’s credit card.
In another case I handled, there was a mix-up in booking airline seats. Barb Crowther and Ian Wigle wanted to fly business class to Copenhagen, but an Expedia agent had overlooked their request.
The agent did tell them during the booking process that their tickets were in the economy section. For this reason, Expedia denied a refund when the couple complained about having to buy new tickets.
Expedia later apologized for the confusion. It acknowledged the error and provided a refund of $ 2,295.98 for the lost residual value of the tickets and exchange fees.
Daniel Cabandie asked for help with Air Canada after he was barred from boarding a flight to Sao Paulo, Brazil, last July. The airline said there was a problem with his credit card.
When he had booked the flight in March 2016, he paid with a credit card that was replaced afterward because it wasn’t working. Shortly before departure, he rescheduled the flight using his new card.
At the airport, he was not allowed to check in for his flight since he was using a credit card that was different from the one used to purchase the original ticket.
“At one point, they requested the other credit card,” he said. “I no longer had it, since the bank had told me to break it and discard it. I missed my flight and was forced to buy a ticket to Brazil with United Airlines.”
Citing fraud prevention, Air Canada said it could not provide service if he could not produce the credit card used for the original booking — despite having confirmed payment at the time he rebooked.
It provided a refund on the flight he missed and a 20-per-cent discount on a future flight.
Cabandie wrote to me and to the Canadian Transportation Agency. Eventually, Air Canada agreed to refund the amount he had paid for the more expensive United ticket purchased at the last minute.
Keep pushing. Travel complaints can be difficult to resolve. You need good records to support your claims. But with a solid case, you should eventually reach a resolution.
Ellen Roseman’s column appears each week in Smart Money
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