Monday, February 27, 2006

New twists

I called back. This time I speak with someone named Mandy, but I don't think it's the same Mandy as the person who transferred my call in the last attempt. Mandy the first had a slightly Indian accent, since I was calling at 11:00 pm, it's probably fair to assume she's in Bangalore and is probably not really named Mandy at all.

Mandy-the-second is good about asking if it's ok that I be put on hold before she does so, but I'm still on hold... I'm typing this blog entry with the phone cradled to my ear.

She takes a kind of smart-alecky attitude with me. She is telling me that in fact, while Orbitz publishes 1-way fares for as low as $577 for the exact same date and destinations as I'd like to travel, what I could actually get in terms of a fare is $1,672.00. Why? I ask. Orbitz publishes these significantly lower fares, so why can't I apply my credit towards these? Her answer sounds straight out of some legalistic fine print, quite a rehearsed performance, considering it's mumble-jumble of technocratese. Basically, she says, Orbitz buys in bulk from the airlines to get their discounts on the published fares, but if I want to apply my credit, then I need to buy a ticket through Orbitz's purchase of a ticketdirectly from the airline's inventory, where the cost is $838 additional, when my credit is $834.20. Interesting. It's like buying two tickets! Not what I had in mind.

So, I got ahead of myself, just a little. I asked Mandy at the beginning of the conversation whether I absolutely had to apply my credit, or if a refund was possible. She replied (without putting me on hold) that no, I could only get credit and since the ticket was non-refundable. BUT THEN, upon hearing the outrageous prices of applying the credit, I asked her again to please double-check and see if there was any way I could get the fare back, even if it meant getting charged their $200 fee. See, despite being earlier told I couldn't get the refund, several other representatives I've spoken with over the past few months have told me that getting refunds really are possible if you're willing to suck up the $200 fee. Mandy put me on hold for a good long time this time to check it out, and came back with the happy news that yes, they were willing "to make an exception for me."

You may be wondering why I hadn't taken this option much earlier - I am too - in part I never expected making the change to the ticket would be this completely difficult and cost-prohibitive. Second, it takes 60 days to process the credit, while the $200 charge is applied to one's credit card immediately. I was in a difficult financial spot for a while there, and so I couldn't make the change - I was still awaiting the credit to apply from an earlier ticket I cancelled on December 27th to apply. The credit from that one should go through tomorrow... but if it doesn't I'm sure I'll have to write another blog entry.

So it's back to the drawing board, I'm still trying to get to Brazil, but at least all I have to worry about now is what other source of cheap tickets to use, because I'm damn sure that I'm not going to use Orbitz this time around.

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