Hey Tripmasters, could you please talk to me?

Jocelyn Wong-Rolle’s husband’s name is misspelled on his air ticket, purchased through Tripmasters. “We’re working on it” is the only response Wong-Rolle receives to a name change request. Since Tripmasters won’t talk to Wong-Rolle, will it talk to our advocates and do the name change?

Question

My husband and I booked a package tour through Tripmasters, which includes air tickets on Turkish Airlines (code-shared on Aegean Airlines). But the company did not allow us to see our tickets until recently.

It was then that I discovered that on two of the tickets, my husband’s name is spelled wrong. I’ve tried checking our reservations on Turkish Airlines’ website, but the airline says it hasn’t been paid for the tickets. Turkish Airlines refuses to help us, claiming that it’s Tripmasters’ responsibility to fix the problem.

I’ve been trying to get Tripmasters to fix the tickets, without success. First, its agent told me that they couldn’t do it over the weekend. Then I received an email from Tripmasters charging me a change fee.

Since then, the company representatives keep telling me “they’re working on it” when I ask about the status of my husband’s tickets. Tripmasters’ agents place me on hold for 30 minutes whenever I call, and nobody will let me speak to a supervisor.

The tickets cost over $15,000, and we’re scheduled to depart next Friday. Tripmasters says to wait until Monday. I’m worried that we’re going to be stranded because my husband won’t be allowed to board our flight with incorrect tickets. Can you get Tripmasters to fix this mistake without charging us a change fee? — Jocelyn Wong-Rolle, Oakland, Calif.

Answer

Yikes. This close to boarding time, you need Tripmasters to stop “working on it” and actually fix your problem. You also need Tripmasters to tell you that it has resolved your issue instead of keeping you in the dark.

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Sadly, this behavior is common when booking travel reservations through sites like Tripmasters. Travel companies refuse to deal directly with customers who use agents for their bookings. That includes both online sites and brick-and-mortar agencies. Booking through these sites is riskier than a brick-and-mortar agency or directly through airlines. You’re at the online site’s mercy when things go wrong.

When the terms and conditions are not on your side

Tripmasters’ terms and conditions help explain the agency’s lack of assistance. The terms regarding name changes on airline reservations don’t favor Tripmasters’ customers:

Names on reservations must match the information included in your passport(s).
You are responsible for providing us with your legal first and last names as they are shown on your passport.

Once your package is processed, name changes are NOT allowed. Vacation packages are not transferable. Airlines and other providers do not allow name changes on their tickets. …
In the event you provide us with the wrong name(s) for your reservation, then you agree to cancel such reservation applying all involved penalties and repurchase services with the price available at that time.

Name changes are not allowed. You cannot exchange a ticket from one airline to another. Tripmasters.com does not control the fees set by the airline and has no authority to waive them.

All of which is legalese for “it’s not our fault if we got your name wrong.”

Time to finish “working on it”

Because Tripmasters wouldn’t give you a confirmation of your reservation, you had no way of knowing if the online agency got your names right. Tripmasters should have sent you a confirmation that you were properly ticketed. And it should have paid the airlines for your tickets. That’s the responsibility of a travel agent. Nor should you have to pay for its mistake on your husband’s tickets. Finally, Tripmasters needed to communicate with you instead of stringing you along with “we’re working on it.”

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Since Tripmasters wouldn’t help you, you asked us for assistance. Our advocate, Dwayne Coward, reached out to Tripmasters on your behalf.

Tripmasters continued to give both you and Dwayne the silent treatment. But you have notified us that you saw corrected reservations for your husband on Aegean Airlines’ website.

Enjoy your trip!

What should travelers with unresponsive agents do if the problems remain unresolved within a week of departure?

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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