“May have been the losing side. Still not convinced it was the wrong one.”

"This report is maybe 12-years-old. Parliament buried it, and it stayed buried till River dug it up. This is what they feared she knew. And they were right to fear because there's a whole universe of folk who are gonna know it, too. They're gonna see it. Somebody has to speak for these people. You all got on this boat for different reasons, but you all come to the same place. So now I'm asking more of you than I have before. Maybe all. Sure as I know anything I know this, they will try again. Maybe on another world, maybe on this very ground swept clean. A year from now, 10, they'll swing back to the belief that they can make people . . . better. And I do not hold to that. So no more running. I aim to misbehave." ~ Captain Malcom Reynolds

Monday, April 13, 2020

Don't bother giving Expedia or Travelocity your money.... and, a related pandemic observation.

BLUF - Travelocity and parent company Expedia are apparently doing everything they can to avoid DOT regulations and decent business practices, and are not refunding customers money for cancelled travel.

The story as of April 13...

We had booked a family trip overseas this summer through Travelocity, and made all the payments and such for airfare. No, we did not purchase travel insurance or refundable tickets - more on that in a bit.

With all the issues of the pandemic, obviously there had been concern lately over whether the trip would still happen or not. But, we kept planning appropriately and crossed our fingers. Turns out that was a waste of time, as Saturday we received word that the trip was cancelled completely on the airline end due to the travel restrictions in place.

NOTE - while obviously that bit is frustrating, I FULLY understand and have no issues with that action. No matter what side of any spectrum you take on this thing, it's abundantly clear that limiting travel and social contact has helped reduce deaths from COVID 19. So, this isn't the post to dispute what measures are/are not good there.

Now, being an informed consumer, and knowing how to use a search engine, there's that bit about the airfare. Per U.S. Department of Transportation regulations, as well as stated company policy from both the airline and Travelocity, if the flight is cancelled by their end, they are required to provide a full refund if requested. Yes, they can offer credits, incentives to take the trip later and all that - but, if you want your money back, they have to do so. Which - given the uncertain state of things right now - is the option I want.

Now we get to where Travelocity has apparently decided the customer isn't a part of the equation at all, much less what priority they get.

The email notice - provides an option to file for airline credit. Nothing else, and it's a "do not reply" address.

Website customer service? The bot options are unresponsive, stating they cannot help with anything but rebooking, and that they cannot connect you with a customer service agent at this time.

Phone assistance? Again, useless. They (supposedly) will connect you with an agent IF your flight is within the next 72 hours - EVERY OTHER option kicks you off the system with no result, and no work arounds I've found.

Email? A search through their site, as well as other resources turned up a couple of possible addresses. All of which are currently bouncing back every attempt to communicate that route.

Heck, let's even check social media. Well, not only are they not replying to any customers through those routes, it's a collection of pretty damning statements nationwide. People running into the same issues, lack of communication, and delays. Apparently they are even refusing to respond to customers who purchased their internal travel insurance as well - so it's an across the board issue.

So... I've currently filed a dispute with my bank, and will see what happens. Maybe Travelocity and their parent company will step up and do the right thing. In which case, I will post an equally detailed discussion giving them full credit for resolving it and taking care of the customer.

But, as of right now, neither company will ever see my business again.

* * *

Which leads to my other observation.

I've long had a personal policy of judging a business and/or person by how they handle adversity or mistakes. Everyone can look good when things go perfect - it's how they treat people at the other end of circumstances which matters. I've stopped patronizing a business or service because of how they act (or don't) when they mess up. I've equally, if not more so, sung the praises of a company when they step up and do more than the right thing. To me, it's simply a reflection of the character and priorities the organization is supporting (or not).

The 2020 pandemic is showing this nationwide. And, I suspect that coming out of the far end, a number of companies will continue on, or be gone, based on how they treated things *during* this event. Note, I'm not discussing things beyond their control. If they can't get merchandise and supplies, or can't open due to the nature of their personal contact I more than understand. But, when they are still doing business, how they're acting matters.

The food place, offering to let you purchase a meal for a first responder or health care worker along with your order? Yeah, they're keeping my business.

Amazon? Yes, it can be frustrating that you no longer get the book or item you wanted with a two-hour delivery (or even two day for a lot). BUT, I respect that they're saying "Hey, we're going to prioritize the people who need food/health care/basic necessities a little more than your knick-knack in our shipping model right now." - I'm good with that.

The grocery store, letting you order an item for pickup, but pushing the date back a week - and then, cancelling THAT DAY saying the item isn't available? You need to fix your business approach, folks.

The online retailers, blatantly price-gouging due to increased demand? Yeah, I can delete you from my saved links.

The small business, unable to open for regular browsing, but setting up online displays and times to come pick up your purchase? Fantastic, and going to do everything I can to support such places.

Just an observation.

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