Help, they canceled all of my Travelzoo vouchers

Question: Travelzoo ran this deal a few weeks ago that offered two nights in Palm Springs, Calif., including dinner for two.

My mother bought three vouchers and I purchased one so that our entire family could take a three-day trip to Palm Springs together.

One of my brothers found out he had to work, so my mother called to cancel one voucher with Travelzoo within the time period allowed.

Last week she received her credit card statement and realized that Travelzoo had not just canceled one voucher, but all three. She called the number on the Travelzoo voucher and a representative admitted that it was their mistake as the cancellation said it should have been a “partial refund.” She told her she would receive a call back from Travelzoo in three to five days.

After not hearing back from Travelzoo after five days, my mother called them yesterday. The person she spoke to looked into the issue, but nothing had been done and she was told it would be another three to five days before anything would happen. This time my mother was told to call Travelzoo after this period of time.

I loved Travelzoo … until now. I can’t believe that they have such poor customer relations! Could you possibly help? — Christina Conte, Los Angeles

Answer: Travelzoo shouldn’t have canceled all of your mother’s vouchers, only the one she had requested. And when this was brought to its attention, the company should have reinstated the vouchers right away, instead of making your mother wait and call back repeatedly.

I always advise travelers to put their grievances in writing, but I can understand why your mother didn’t.

I tried to find an “email us” page on Travelzoo at the time I helped you mediate this case a few months ago, but couldn’t. It seems the company prefers to be contacted by phone. (In fairness, Travelzoo offers a “suggestions” form, but it specifically says it is “unable” to address questions about trips purchased through the site.)

I’ve encountered this kind of strong preference for calls with cellphone companies, too. Seems they would prefer to keep their customer interactions by phone, which the company can easily tape, but which you don’t have any record of. That kind of arrangement only benefits the company but puts customers like your mother at a disadvantage.

What do I mean by that? Well, show me proof that Travelzoo promised a resolution in three to five days. Or even that it agreed to reinstate the vouchers. You don’t have it, because you called Travelzoo.

I contacted Travelzoo on your mother’s behalf, and it reinstated the vouchers.

Update (8/29): Travelzoo asked me to include an update on its customer service initiatives, which it has implemented since this case was resolved.

Here is what has changed with the customer service department since we last emailed with each other in 2011:

– Customers can reach us via phone or email.

– Travelzoo’s Customer Support Team is available Monday through Friday from 8:00 AM to 8:00 PM (CT) on 1-877-665-0000.

– Customers may also email via or through the website under Help > I have a question regarding a Local Deal >

– They aim to respond to all email inquiries within two working days. However, if they need to research an inquiry, then it may take a little longer; they will inform the subscriber if there is a delay.

– In March 2012 Travelzoo moved to a completely new call center and customer service team dedicated to assisting Travelzoo customers.

– Their customer relationship tool is brand new as of late- November 2011 give them the capability to track and manage customer inquiries and escalations.

– The refund system has been re-vamped as well to allow for an automated process in issuing refunds, eliminating the manual process of the past that was prone to human error. (This is the origination of the issue with Christina Conte’s vouchers.)

– Since March 2012, they consistently meet or beat their service level target of answering 80% of calls in 30 seconds; current average wait time is 40 seconds or less.

– Process improvements, self-service options and improved first call resolution rates have significantly lowered call ratios by 30% since January, a measure of quality that indicates customers have fewer reasons to call.

Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is an author, journalist and consumer advocate. You can read more about him on his personal website or contact him at Got a question or comment? You can post it on the new forum.

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  • typhn

    I voted yes.. I want to be able to communicate offline without waiting ages and wading through menus on a phone.

  • SoBeSparky

    Phone is quicker with time for explaining complicated situations and to answer questions of the travel site representative. It’s called give and take.

    You can always write snail mail if you want to put something in writing. However, usually you can solve a problem with many sites immediately on the phone, i.e. airline reservation.

    It would be a giant leap that a phone-only system is customer unfriendly. Write a letter when you have several weeks. Geez, doesn’t anyone remember 10 and 20 years ago? Impugning a website like this is a bit paranoid.

  • BillCCC

    We used to complain because we couldn’t reach anyone by phone now we are complaining because we can only contact them by phone.

    Personnally I prefer to have many ways of contacting a company and have used phone, email and live chat. I do not believe that a phone only option necessary means anything. I am sure that there are many companies with email only options that do not give a darn about customer service.

  • Nica

    I like to speak to someone as well as have the option to write, email, ping, use smoke signals, flags, carrier pigeons, etc. When you have more than one option I believe that you have a better chance of getting someone to answer you – even if it is that pain in the butt form letter.

  • lorcha

    I think the real reason for “phone only” is that you can make the customer sit on hold for a bit. That way, you can make the customer evaluate for him or herself whether or not that issue is really worth sitting on hold for half an hour for.

  • $16635417

    A quick search of “how to contact travelzoo by email” gave me a website fairly high in the list called

    It appears they do montor this site. As recently as 8/20 their was a travelzoo response, with email address.

    We thank you for your feedback. If you would like to ask questions, provide feedback about an experience with a merchant, or request a refund, please contact Travelzoo’s Customer Service Center at 1-877-665-0000 Monday-Friday, 8:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m. CT, or email us anytime at We thank you for being Travelzoo subscribers. Cortni H.
    Cortni H.

  • Christina Conte

    This is because Travelzoo has revamped their customer service department since the incident Christopher is referring to happened; at that time, there was no email address.

  • Fly, Icarus, Fly

    I’ve contacted TravelZoo thru email before and they replied within a day or two.

  • Michael__K

    The phone agents are typing in notes to document the call, right?

    If at the end of the call, they offered to send an email confirmation that briefly confirms the topic of the call and any representations made or expected followup activities, then that would suffice I think. I’m not holding my breath…

  • l2y2

    Interesting. It seems more common for businesses to not want to pay for people to man phones. I get upset when I CAN”T find a phone number to call and have to reply on a lame email system helping me in a timely manner. I guess it is hard to please everyone.

  • JenniferFinger

    I voted no because I don’t think a “phone only” policy means that a company isn’t “serious” about customer service-just “misguided.” A little semantic issue.

  • Chasmosaur

    “I’ve encountered this kind of strong preference for calls with cellphone companies, too. Seems they would prefer to keep their customer interactions by phone, which the company can easily tape, but which you don’t have any record of. ”

    Actually, there is a way around that: Skype (and presumably other VoIP services). For my business, I have a Skype subscription, so I can make calls to land lines. I also have a plug-in that allows me to record phone calls; I use that – with my client’s knowledge and permission – when we are having longer phone calls to hash out details. It’s partially to act as note-keeping for myself, and partially a CYA maneuver, so the client can’t come back to me and say “I never said that!”

    As long as you let the rep know you are also recording the phone call (much like you get one of those standard “these calls may be recorded” messages when you call into most customer service lines), you have a record. If I had to deal with a company that was phone-contact-only? I’d be firing up my Skype without hesitation.

  • Michael__K

    My experience is that quite a few companies have a policy that they will terminate the call if you ask for permission to record.

  • DavidYoung2

    I do all three. When I’m on the phone, I meticulously take notes. I ask for the person’s full name, ID#. Then I ask for their direct phone number (in case we get disconnected, of course) and e-mail address. Then I take five minutes to put into an e-mail what was agreed to. That lets them know you’re serious and helps stop the run around.

  • Chasmosaur

    Well that sucks. So reputable.

  • Ann Lamoy

    In my business, we conduct it via a mix. I often get calls from vendors in the field with requests for things that I need to take care of.

    But I always make sure to follow up with an email to them stating the details of the request-“Per our phone conversation, blahblahblahcakes, this is what I ordered/did/will do.”

    It covers ours butts in the long run in case they don’t follow through. plus they have a record that I did what they requested.

    I think both email and phone are important. I also think that many companies are turning to other forms of social media for customer contact. Twitter and Face Book are definitely ways for people to resolve issues.