Cameron Lee spent months searching for a missing Expedia voucher. His inability to rebook his Yellowstone National Park hotel stay had erupted in a geyser of disappointment with Expedia. But with Elliott Advocacy’s help, he can once again look forward to his vacation.
Lee’s story contains a valuable lesson for customers of e-commerce sites. These companies may communicate with you using accounts and other features on their websites rather than external email addresses. If you book through an e-commerce site, it is crucial to regularly check the business’s website for messages and updates sent to your account inbox.
“Who canceled my reservation? Not me!”
Last October, Lee booked a reservation for a stay in May at Jackson Lake Lodge in Moran, Wyo., through Expedia, for $852. But in April, Expedia notified Lee that his reservation was canceled because of COVID-19.
Expedia offered Lee a cash voucher worth $980, or 115 percent of the original value of his booking. Lee accepted the voucher because he hoped to rebook his trip for a future date. Later that day, he used the voucher for a new reservation at the Comfort Inn Yellowstone North in Gardiner, Mont. But within an hour of his new booking, Expedia emailed Lee that this reservation was also canceled.
Lee himself did not cancel this second reservation and doesn’t know how or why the cancellation came about. Expedia’s email offered no explanations.
Where was the missing Expedia voucher? He tried to find out for months
Lee then used Expedia’s online chat feature to ask when the voucher would be returned to his account. An Expedia representative told him that he would receive a replacement voucher within three days.
But no replacement voucher arrived.
He contacted Expedia several times over the next two months. Each time, an employee assured Lee that the missing Expedia voucher was on its way. But by July, he still had not received it.
Lee called Expedia once again and spoke to a manager. But the manager told him that Expedia would not issue him a new voucher “because he had canceled the reservation at the Comfort Inn.”
This made no sense to Lee because he had not canceled that reservation.
A voucher for the wrong amount
Lee then used our Expedia customer service contact information to request help.
An employee of Expedia responded:
Thank you for reaching out. I apologize for the delay in getting a resolution back to you regarding the coupon reissue of $980 for your canceled reservation to Comfort Inn Yellowstone North.
I found that the coupon was reissued but it transmitted at the incorrect amount. We are aware of this problem and resolving and reissuing the coupon in the correct amount. Please allow us up to 30 days to return the coupon back to your account.
But one month later, Lee was still waiting for the missing Expedia voucher. He then turned to Elliott Advocacy for assistance.
He didn’t look for the voucher in the right place
Our executive director, Michelle Couch-Friedman, reached out to Expedia on Lee’s behalf. She received the following response:
We recently made it possible for customers to view coupons and credits right on the site. Do you know if Mr. Lee has checked to see whether the voucher shows up there?
Michelle forwarded the response to Lee. He followed the instructions, but could not find the voucher using Expedia’s mobile app. He tried again using Expedia’s website. At long last, he finally found the voucher.
What Lee and Expedia had was a failure to communicate
Lee updated and thanked Michelle. He added the following feedback:
If you can provide any feedback to Expedia, please express to them how important it is that they make vouchers like mine visible on both the website and within the app. Also, it would have been helpful if this solution could have been mentioned to me previously by any number of the customer service reps I have been in contact with over the past several months. And most importantly, it would be helpful if Expedia would simply communicate better. I don’t know when this voucher was added to my account.
Michelle sent Lee’s feedback to our Expedia contact, who promised to pass it along to her customer service colleagues. The contact noted that “[t]he Coupons and credits page is quite new. [It was] created in recent weeks because of the new need for customers to find this information easily without having to call in.”
If your refund or voucher is missing
It’s generally safest to book travel reservations or make purchases directly from companies rather than use third-party websites. But if you need help obtaining a missing refund or voucher from an e-commerce company, here are some steps you can take to speed things along:
- Remember that the coronavirus pandemic is forcing many companies to operate with reduced staff and resources. Longer wait times may be necessary to resolve cases, including issuing refunds and vouchers for canceled transactions.
- Check the company’s website and mobile app for updates. The company may have added new features to its website. The refund or voucher may be waiting for you in one of those new features.
- Double-check your own email inbox as well as your spam and junk mail folders. The company may have sent your refund or voucher using an unfamiliar return email address.
- If you haven’t received your refund or voucher within the promised time period, write a letter of complaint to the company. Our Contacts section contains executive contacts for hundreds of companies. Write to the lowest-ranking executive. If that person doesn’t give you a satisfactory response in 10 to 14 days, escalate to the next highest-ranking executive.
- Keep a solid paper trail of all your communications with the company, including emails, confirmations, receipts and other documents. Those items will be necessary to successfully advocate your case.
- Be sure to observe the three Ps of consumer advocacy at all times. Patience, persistence and politeness often make the difference between happy and unhappy customer service experiences.
And if all your efforts have failed, don’t forget about Elliott Advocacy. Our advocates are here to help you!