Billed twice? There’s a fix for that, travelers

Mattes/Shutterstock
Mattes/Shutterstock
Glenn Rossi’s recent Avis car rental had him seeing double. Literally.

He’d prepaid for a vehicle in Vienna, Austria, through Expedia. When he picked up the car, Avis also swiped his credit card. Within a week of returning the vehicle, Rossi, a retired telecommunications consultant who lives in Kelkheim, Germany, saw two charges for 333 euros (about $460) on his MasterCard: one from Expedia and one from Avis.

He’d been billed twice for the same car.

“I sent my contract and payment records to both Expedia and Avis but still have no refund of my double payment,” he says.

Rossi’s experience is common in one respect: Small billing errors happen routinely when you’re on the road — a currency conversion error, a fee added to the final bill or a room charge that belongs to another guest. But in another sense, it isn’t. Double-billings are relatively rare. Fortunately, they’re also relatively easy to fix.
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Will the Travelocity-Expedia deal be good for travelers?

B747/Shutterstock
B747/Shutterstock
Depending on whom you talk to, Travelocity’s unexpected announcement last month that it has reached a strategic marketing agreement with longtime rival Expedia will either create a dominant new Internet travel agency, give consumers access to more hotel choices or raise prices.

All three things could happen, actually, but the conjecture surrounding the announcement reminded me of the fallout from the last big online travel deal. After Priceline’s $1.8 billion purchase of travel-search site Kayak.com in 2012, I received an e-mail from someone who identified himself as a reader named Ben Tester.

As part of that purchase, Priceline promised to run Kayak independently, which is important because Kayak purports to display unbiased prices from hundreds of online sources. But Tester charged that since the acquisition, Kayak had quietly started to list hotel results from another Priceline-owned site without including fees and taxes, making its prices look lower “and misleading consumers.”
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That’s not the ticket credit you promised me

Mtkang/Shutterstock
Mtkang/Shutterstock
After a canceled flight, a merged airline and crossed wires with Expedia, Anoop Ramaswamy is the proud owner of a worthless airline ticket. Now what?

Question: I booked a roundtrip ticket from Buffalo, NY, to Chennai, India, on Continental Airlines, just before it merged with United Airlines. I used Expedia to make the reservation. I completed the one-way trip but due to a family medical issue, I had to cancel the return. I called Expedia and requested a cancellation.

Expedia issued a cancellation, saying it would be in the form of an airline credit that would last a year. I called Expedia a few months later to use my voucher, but was told they couldn’t book the flight because of the merger with United. They asked me to call United directly.

I called United and they informed me that fare rule mentions that I can only book the same return flight and nothing else.
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Help, the names on my kids’ airline tickets are wrong — what should I do?

arrowHeather Matinde’s problem is fairly common, but when it happens to you, it can sure seem like the end of the world. She’d just paid a small fortune for airline tickets from Los Angeles to Brussels on Expedia, only to discover a serious problem with her sons’ reservation.

Each boy had each others’ middle names on their tickets, and the airline was balking at making a correction. Unfortunately, Matinde didn’t reach out to Expedia and the airline, Jet Airways, within 24 hours and — you guessed it — the airline was refusing to fix the names.
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Should I help get a refund for a “disastrous” hotel stay?

Ngarare/Shutterstock
Ngarare/Shutterstock
The Sunswept Beach Hotel, a budget hotel on Barbados’ western coast, promises visitors they will be left “wanting for nought.” But when Josh Trevers checked in for a recent stay, he was left wanting for something: a working air conditioning to take the edge off the Caribbean heat.

Trevers’ case is a difficult one because there are so many players. More than usual.

He says he asked the hotel to fix the broken AC in his room, but it didn’t.
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The 6 best online travel agencies of 2013

D Arts/Shutterstock
D Arts/Shutterstock

In this year’s best online travel agency category, it was yet another close vote. Travelocity and Kayak were tied until almost the last minute. But then Travelocity pulled ahead with just seconds left in the voting — almost a photo finish.

Expedia, Orbitz and Priceline round out the list, followed by Hotwire.

I didn’t distinguish between so-called “opaque” sites like Priceline and Hotwire and the “full-service” agencies. The list is a useful guide for anyone considering making a travel purchase online.

Here are the top online travel agencies of 2013 according to the readers of this site.
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No oceanview room – and no refund

Jeff Kinsey/Shutterstock
Jeff Kinsey/Shutterstock
Question: I recently booked a hotel room for a three-night stay at the DoubleTree Beach Resort by Hilton Hotel Tampa Bay – North Redington Beach through Expedia. I opted to pay the higher rate of $239 a night to guarantee a beachfront room. The lower rate of $199 was refundable but would not guarantee the oceanview room.

My husband and I decided it was worth the risk of losing our $800 so that we can have the oceanview. This was risky since we have four small children and anything could have happened to force us to cancel our reservation.

When we arrived at the hotel on Friday, March 2nd, they gave me a landview room and told me that Expedia booked me a landview room. I thought once I called Expedia, the issue would be resolved but after an hour on the phone with a supervisor who was extremely rude, I had no such luck.
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