Did Expedia charge this traveler a booking fee?

When Nicia Casimiro books a trip on Expedia, she finds an unexpected — and unexplained — additional charge of $22. Can our advocates clarify the charge and get it removed from Casimiro’s account?

Question: I booked and prepaid for a trip through Expedia, including flights on AirAsia, a Royal Caribbean cruise, and three hotel rooms at the Sydney Hotel CBD. When I checked my credit card statement, I noticed a separate charge from Expedia for $22.

I contacted Expedia’s customer service to find out what this charge was for. I was told that Expedia doesn’t charge booking fees. Five different agents responded to my emails, asking me to forward copies of my credit card statement. But none of the agents explained the fee or were able to find it in their reservations system.

It doesn’t make sense to me that I should have to pay a fee that nobody can explain. Can you help me find out what this fee is for and get it refunded to me? — Nicia Casimiro, Oak Park, Ill.

Answer: I agree with you that Expedia owes you an explanation for every fee it charges you. If its agents can’t provide that, then it needs to reverse the charge.

Your story is a reminder to all consumers to not confirm any online or remote purchase without checking all the terms for hidden charges and conditions. Otherwise, you might be required to pay an unexpected charge with a full explanation buried in the fine print.

Expedia’s Price Guarantee promises its customers that it does not charge fees to change or cancel any bookings made on its site, although the site does indicate that changes and cancellations may be subject to fees charged by its supplier companies.

Related story:   Ridiculous or not? Hotels eye airline-like rebooking fees

But you weren’t asking Expedia to change or cancel your reservations. And it shouldn’t have taken five agents to respond to your inquiry, let alone continually ask you to resubmit your credit card statement.

So why did it? And why weren’t you given the help you asked for the first time you requested it?

Interestingly, all the agents who responded to your request for clarification had Indian names, so I’m wondering if a language or cultural misunderstanding contributed to the lack of assistance you received.

Another issue with your case is that your paper trail shows that you threatened to ask your bank to initiate a chargeback when you didn’t get the answer you were looking for. As we’ve frequently noted, it’s never appropriate to issue threats when asking for help.

You might have escalated your complaint to higher-level executives of Expedia using our company contact information, but you turned to our advocates instead. We reached out to Expedia on your behalf.

Ultimately, one of the agents told you that the $22 was a booking fee charged by the airline because you booked through an online site. You were also told that this fee was disclosed to you when you made the reservation, but you claim that you didn’t see it at that time.

Expedia has agreed to credit the booking fee back to your account as a one-time “gesture of goodwill.” You should see it on your statement within five to seven business days.

Jennifer Finger

Jennifer is the founder of KeenReader, an Internet-based freelance editing operation, as well as a certified public accountant. She is a senior writer for Elliott.org. Read more of Jennifer's articles here.

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