Did Expedia just lie to a consumer advocate?

Even though Expedia is one of the most complained-about companies on this site, I’ve never had a problem with one of its bookings — until now.

It was bound to happen sooner or later. And as a bonus, I didn’t even have to travel to experience this.

It started with a seemingly routine case from David Weitzman, who booked a room at the Cassa Hotel 45th Street in New York.

“I was confirmed for a Petite Single room and an offer to ‘Forgo Housekeeping & Save 10%,’” he explains.

He skipped housekeeping. But the hotel skipped its promise, too.

“When we went to check out, our bill did not credit us with the 10 percent savings for forgoing housekeeping,” he says. “A hotel representative told us that if we wanted housekeeping, it would have cost us an additional 10 percent over the promised rate of $269 per night, and Cassa Hotel refused to give us a refund.”

Expedia didn’t offer a refund until our advocacy team got involved, and it only promised a refund. I covered the case in a Travel Troubleshooter column, which is widely syndicated.

And you’ll never guess what happened next. Despite its promise to refund the $108, Expedia did nothing.

That was last year.

Since then, I’ve been in constant contact with Expedia. Every few weeks, Weitzman contacts me to let me know he still hasn’t gotten a check. And every few weeks, I contact Expedia to let it know the refund is still missing in action.

Here’s a play-by-play:

Nov. 27, 2015

Me: Could you please check with your team. The customer has not heard from Expedia.

Expedia: The Expedia team spoke with David on November 13, 2015 and let him know that though the advertised rate included the discount, Expedia would offer a refund of $107.64 as a customer satisfaction refund. The refund was issued during the phone call.

Please let me know if you have any further questions, Chris.

Dec. 6, 2015

Weitzman: FYI, I’ve received nothing from anyone no check, no explanation.

Me: I’m so sorry. I’m circling back with Expedia now.

Dec. 17, 2015

Weitzman: For your information, we have still not received the promised refund. Today is December 17th, and on November 22 Expedia claims it was sending a check.

Again, thanks for your help, but it’s beginning to look like Expedia for a second time, can’t be trusted.

Me: I’ve made numerous queries on your behalf. Let’s give them a little more time. Everything slows down near the end of the year.

Jan. 12, 2016

Weitzman: Almost a month has passed and still no check. How much time is “a little?”

Me: You’ve waited long enough. I’m on the case.

At this point, I checked again with Expedia.

Expedia: The Expedia team has let me know that the refund of 107.64USD was issued on November 13, 2015 while David was on the phone with our team. The team ensured that he received the email confirming the refund while they were on the phone. It was issued to a VISA card ending in 0766.

Let me know if you have any further questions.

Jan. 26

Weitzman: I feel I’m getting a runaround. This is not rocket science. With the invention of phones and computers, it should take minutes, not months. What’s to look into? Their bookkeeper would know if they sent the check or not! Can you contact a higher-up?

April 19

Weitzman: I was under the impression that Expedia had made you a promise. You so represented in your newspaper column regarding my claim.

To date, we have heard nothing! They have failed to keep their word to me and now you, impacting both their reputation and yours.

Please do something. I have no idea who you talked to or what was said, and I am helpless.

This is truly agonizing. And there are three possibilities:

  • Expedia credited Weitzman. It took a few credit-card billing cycles, and the money is already there. He just hasn’t verified it yet. I hope that’s the case.
  • Expedia didn’t credit Weitzman, but it was an accounting error. It will be fixed — eventually.
  • Expedia lied to Weitzman — and me.

I really hope Expedia didn’t choose door number three. If it did, that would represent a huge breach of trust. When a company tells me that it will refund a customer, I believe it. Does this mean I will have to verify a refund is received before I can actually write about a case? Also, does it mean I can’t believe anything they tell me? That would be a worst-case scenario. I don’t even want to ponder that possibility.

A more likely possibility is that Weitzman was looking for a check when he should have been checking his credit card statement. If that’s the case, then I will be the first to apologize to Expedia for the mix-up.

I’ll update this case when I know the answer.

Did Expedia lie?

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Update: After some more back and forth, Weitzman has brought us closer to a resolution. He writes:

Somewhere there has been a mixup. When we were in NYC in October I lost my credit card and immediately canceled my Visa card. My wife paid for the hotel on her American Express card. There is no way the amount was credited to either the cancelled Visa card or the AE card.

I assume this is an honest mistake and I’m not sure how to rectify it, but we have not received the promised sum. Nevertheless, I thank you for your continued help.

Update 2: Expedia has responded:

The team let us know that Mr. Weitzman will need to confirm with his bank if the account is still active (which is often the case when the card number is compromised, for example). If the account is still active, the bank should be able to transfer the funds to the new account.

If the account is no longer active, Mr. Weitzman will need to provide documentation from his bank advising that the refund was not received and that the account is in fact closed. Expedia can then refund the purchase to another card.

What a mess!

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