Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Beware Travelocity: a cautionary tale

Before I begin, this just happened:
Upon my return from the restroom, I removed the mostly used-up tube of moisturizer from my desk drawer, shook the contents to the top, then opened the lid. As I did so, a glob of moisturizer flew across my desk and onto my 2012 budget files. I used the moisturizer from the files on my hands but I neglected to take off my ring. So before it got too goopy I took it off but it fell out of my slippery hand and onto my wool skirt. Attempting to avoid staining the skirt I knocked the ring to the floor. I leaned over to pick up the ring and hit my head on the corner of the desk.
This is just reason #812 why I am awesome. And should maybe always have a chaperone…

Here’s the actual tale:
Several months ago I purchased tickets for the Man and me to go to Mexico in November to take a vacation with my parents and brother. Yesterday Travelocity emailed me to say that American Airlines had changed my flights so materially that I had to call to reschedule the whole trip out to Mexico. I called Travelocity. I was on hold for 10-15 minutes. They then told me they couldn’t do anything for me so they had to refer me to American Airlines. They then transferred me over and I was on hold for another 10 minutes or so. When the rep came on the line she was so distant or quiet that I couldn’t hear her. Likewise, I had to yell to be heard. Apparently American had canceled so many flights that there were no longer any seats available on the day I wanted to travel. We could go the day before and have an 11-hour layover in Dallas (and take an extra day of precious vacation), or we could go a day late and lose the money on the hotel room for the night we’d miss. I didn’t want to do either of those things. I explicitly asked the airline rep if there were any viable options on our preferred travel date: NO. Then I explicitly asked the rep if I would get a full refund from them (through Travelocity) if I wanted to cancel: YES.
In the meantime I searched for available flights online and found some perfectly reasonable ones through United.
I called back Travelocity and explained my situation: They had changed my flights and couldn’t provide anything for me on the preferred travel date and I wanted to cancel for a refund. The rep spent several minutes getting those simple facts straight. Then she spent the next half hour verifying that American had no available flights for us, despite my just telling her that I had already checked with the airline. After agreeing, a half hour of hold time later, that there were no flights, she put me on hold for another half hour – despite my increasingly passionate protestations – to verify that they could provide me with a full refund. Now: how can Travelocity not know the policies of American Airlines, who they deal with EVERY DAY? How? How can it take a half hour for them to verify something that should come up all the time?
When the rep finally re-emerged and the overly cheery hold-music stopped she said, as if I had won something, “I have good news. You get a refund.” I ALREADY KNEW THAT.
My transaction had taken up a significant minority of my awake/at home time, and I’ll never get that time back. And you’ll never back the time you spent reading this.
The purchasing of the tickets from United took about 5 minutes total. And then I drank all the wine. The end.

1 comment:

die Frau said...

American Airlines is having serious problems: Their workers seem to be deliberately sabotaging the airline over union issues, or something to that effect. There was a recent article about it on Slate which also linked to a hilarious piece from the NYT about a nightmare flight (unfortunately on AA). Glad you got your refund and a ticket on another airline!