Like so many travelers, Cheryl Emerson had second thoughts about her upcoming trip to Europe this summer. But then an Expedia booking mistake made an uncertain situation even more uncertain, and she wants to know how to fix it.
Emerson booked roundtrip tickets on Air France through the Chase Sapphire Preferred card customer service line. She was supposed to leave Aug. 1 and return Aug. 19, flying from Boston to Toulouse, France.
“I could change the ticket with no change fee up to the day of travel,” she explained. So in June, as the number of COVID cases began to climb again, she called Chase to adjust her departure date to a week earlier
And that’s when the trouble started.
Emerson’s case underscores the risk of dealing with two or three intermediaries when you’re booking travel. But it also highlights the effectiveness of self-advocacy, even when you’re faced with a seemingly unsolvable problem. With many other airline passengers facing similar difficulties now, her story is a practical roadmap for fixing an Expedia booking mistake — or any booking mistake.
Why this case is so important
There’s something you need to know about Emerson. She’s a regular reader of this site, and we’ve helped her with several problems, including this Dell laptop with a Wi-Fi problem.
Emerson, a pastry chef from Milford, N.H., is well acquainted with our cause. When she approached my advocacy team, she wasn’t looking for our assistance. She wanted to advocate this one herself.
I love that. When a case like hers comes across my desk, I feel like hanging the “Mission Accomplished” banner in my corner office.
OK, I don’t have a corner office or a “Mission Accomplished” banner. I think it’s still rolled up somewhere in the USS Abraham Lincoln’s hold. But my point is, this is exactly what we’re trying to do here at Elliott Advocacy: empower consumers to solve their problems and help those who can’t.
What was the Expedia booking mistake?
When Emerson phoned Chase, it transferred her to Expedia, which handles fulfillment for Chase.
“I found myself dealing with an Expedia rep who was outsourced to what I now know was the Philippines,” she recalls. “I got the same two flights to Toulouse, but a week earlier. The rep even told me I was getting a $125 credit to Delta, good for one year.”
But that wasn’t the whole story.
A few days later, Emerson went online to choose her seats. And guess what? Her return flights were gone.
She phoned Chase in a panic.
“After several attempted phone calls — and no one able to help — I asked for a supervisor at Expedia,” she says. Again, Chase transferred her to Expedia’s call center in the Philippines.
A quick note: When you ask for a supervisor, you may get transferred to someone who identifies themselves as a supervisor. But chances are, they’re just a different representative with no power to fix your problem.
After Emerson explained the problem and gave the representative the Chase email confirmation information, he contacted another department.
“The representative said the mistake was Expedia’s fault, that they would remedy the situation,” she says. “They promised to get me back my return flight, and there would be no extra charges.”
Chase assured her that it would get the Expedia booking mistake fixed within 48 to 72 hours. It even gave her a case number so she could track the progress.
A long wait to fix this Expedia booking mistake
Not surprisingly, her problem wasn’t fixed as promised. So after 72 hours, Emerson started to call Chase. Most alarming, Chase hadn’t sent her an email confirming that it would fix the issue. All she had to go on were the words of a representative she now couldn’t reach.
“I ended up with someone in the Philippines again,” she says. “Now I am on a loop and going around in circles. I am very concerned that my flights will just get more messed up than they already are.”
Like many people who come to us for help, Emerson doesn’t have a problem with the Philippines or even offshoring a call center. She does have an issue with the lack of accurate communication with the staff of the offshore call center. Definitely something for Chase and Expedia to look into if they’re concerned about improving customer service.
How to fix this Expedia booking error
When Emerson reached out to me, I took a look at her correspondence with Expedia and was confident we could help. But she wasn’t ready yet.
“I am going through the motions,” she explained. “I am trying to line up my ducks if needed.”
She’d already hit a few roadblocks. She tried our executive contacts at Chase, but one of the emails bounced.
“I have made several calls to Chase and always end up back in the Philippines,” she added. “I asked again for a written confirmation and was told I would get an email with my new travel information.”
Emerson wanted to wait until she’d given Expedia every opportunity to respond, so she also sent a brief, polite email to the Expedia executive contacts.
A few strategies for fixing a booking mistake
Before I get to the resolution for this case, I wanted to offer a few ideas for fixing a booking mistake.
- Review your itinerary carefully. Had Emerson checked her reservation online immediately after booking her trip, it might — I stress, might — have been possible to fix the cancellation and restore her original itinerary. Even if it wasn’t fixed, it’s always good to know about a potential problem sooner rather than later. So read your confirmation.
- Work with your agent, but let the supplier know. All of the correspondence I saw from Emerson was with Expedia, which is as it should be. But if the problem persists, you should let your supplier (the airline) know about the issue. It might be able to apply some pressure to your agent from the other side to get this resolved.
- Get everything in writing. Emerson was correct to ask for a written confirmation of the changes. It’s unclear why Chase and Expedia didn’t send her one. But if you’re thinking of a ticket change, having everything in writing can lead to a much faster solution.
And one final thing: The more parties are involved in your reservation, the greater the chance something will get screwed up. Having Air France, Chase and Expedia involved was a recipe for chaos. If at all possible, avoid dealing with that many parties.
Sidebar: We saw more third-party booking confusion earlier this week in Michelle’s latest article. Coincidentally, that case involved Orbitz whose parent company is Expedia.
By the way, I see the end to the era of high-annual-fee, points-earning plastic like the Chase Sapphire Preferred card. New blockchain-enabled payment systems and cryptocurrency are on the verge of revolutionizing the way you pay for travel and earn rewards. Mark my words.
Another problem solved
Emerson stuck with it. The emails to executives at Chase and Expedia finally yielded results. A few days ago, I received the following update:
“I got a phone call from Chase today that everything has been taken care of and an email from Delta with my information,” she says. “Barring another COVID lockdown, France, here I come. What a relief! Thank you for being there.”
Any time, Cheryl.