I am mailing off the letter below to Orbitz today. This should provide adequate background into my sordid history with Orbitz... and justify the creation of this blog. Since I'm still in the midst of ticket-buying, I'm sure updates will soon follow. Hopefully Orbitz will be responsive to my letter though and then I'll have something nice to say, for a change.
February 24, 2006
Dear Orbitz Customer Service,
Over the past two months, I have encountered one problem after the next with your company’s service. In fact, never before have I found working with a travel agency to be so difficult. I have booked flights with your company numerous times, including four trips in the past two months. Only in utter frustration am I sending you this letter, in hopes that you will consider it helpful as you aim to improve your service in the future.
My numerous problems are as follows:
1. I received very little indication that my cancelled international ticket, REFERENCE NO. 3LV2GR, would be sent back to me after it waited in your office for fourteen days. As I was experiencing difficulties with my visa for international tra
vel, I was unable to re-book the ticket within this time period. Having had to send the plane ticket back and forth to the office in Mankato, MN, wait for receipt, and then attempt booking changes within the allotted fourteen day time period, has caused a one month delay to my travel plans and severely detracted from my work, in large part because of all of the obstacles encountered by this change policy.
1a. Although I received notification that the paper ticket would be sent back upon Orbitz’ initial receipt-confirmation email, I never received any sort of follow-up or confirmation email that the ticket was being sent back after fourteen days. I had called the company three times during the process of canceling and trying to exchange the ticket, and in none of my conversations with Orbitz representatives was I made aware of this policy. Certainly it is the least that Orbitz can do to tell someone in a simple email to look out for their ticket in the mail, and to confirm the appropriate mailing address with the recipient.
1b. Since I received no such correspondence from Orbitz, the ticket was mistakenly sent to an address to which I no longer reside. This added greatly to my stress, particularly because the ticket was apparently signed for by someone completely unbeknownst to me. It took extensive research and good luck for me find out that a neighbor in my former place of residence had signed for the ticket.
1c. Further, Orbitz sent the ticket uninsured, thereby jeopardizing all of the money I had invested, when it mailed the ticket to the wrong address. When I first mailed my ticket to Orbitz, I insured it, and expected at least the same courtesy on the company’s part. In addition, Orbitz mailed the ticket back while charging my credit card for the mailing costs. While I was paying around $6.00 to have the letter tracked and insured by USPS, Orbitz charged me about $21.00 to mail it through Fed-Ex, uninsured, and without my permission on the mailing charges.
1d. Upon sorting out the above situation with various customer service representatives, I found the management entirely unapologetic, insincere, and unhelpful. One representative suggested I go through the airline company directly, and upon trying to do so, I received information that in fact, the company (Varig) was unable to process the fare because of the special ticket rate, so I had to return my ticket back to Orbitz, in a second attempt at exchanging it. The misinformation I received from Orbitz remains a constant in my experience with their phone representatives.
1e. Nowhere on the website is mailing address information available for where to send cancelled tickets. In asking for the address with a phone representative, a suite number in Mankato, MN was given, but then the representative misinformed me to send my ticket to the attention of “Refunds” instead of “Exchanges.” Only because I have now dealt with the company so extensively was I able to point out to her that she should please double-check this information because it seemed dubious to me. Time and again in all of my conversations with Orbitz, I have been put on hold, and asked for my billing ZIP code for security purposes – only for a simple address or minor question.
2. “Is there anything else I can help you with today?” are words seemingly unknown to your representatives. After speaking with a customer service manager (unfortunately I did not catch her name), I was sorely disappointed at the lack of responsiveness she provided. I additionally was never asked the most basic of questions - once the immediate problem at hand was addressed (see 1c) there was no follow-up contact number given, no willingness to be of further service, and no openness offered towards hearing any of my other concerns.
3. Hold-times for international booking were frequently upwards of one hour in December, 2005.
4. It inevitably takes about three transfers between representatives just to get to the person one needs to speak with, if one has such complications. Dropped calls and misdirected calls are frequent, and no estimates of waiting times are ever provided in your phone system.
5. There is no way to keep an Orbitz account in one’s name, while changing one’s email address. While I do not want to have two or three different Orbitz accounts, I now do, because of changes to my email address. This should be a simple technical fix to the computer system. However no one at technical support was able to correct the problem, or merge my several accounts under my name. For many people, having multiple email accounts, or switching email service providers, is a relatively common phenomenon. Changing one’s email address should still allow one to keep one’s name in the system and to have one’s prior history stored with the company. It reveals appalling disorganization to have overlooked this matter and have no process in place for fixing the problem.
Overall, I am so distressed with your service, and have such little confidence that this letter will do any good, that I am starting a weblog (www.OrbitzStinks.blogspot.com) to help cope with these issues in public. I do hope that it will finally, spark someone in your company to pay attention to the seemingly systematic inadequacies in your service.