Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Dear Travelocity

Now that my phone is permanently attached to my ear (oh, wait--for some people, this is probably a reality)...I mean, that's what happens when you're on hold for 1-1/2 hours.


With nothing resolved.

See, I guess my first mistake was booking a package on-line through Travelocity, because here's the deal: now that the sh*t has hit the fan, I can only deal directly with them. And, for some reason, changes have to be made via telephone which, you may be surprised to discover, ain't very convenient.

First, you call the toll-free number, WAIT FOR A HALF-HOUR, during which they play the MOST ANNOYING music, then you get one of those cheerful but useless guys from India on the line. You tell him your problem.

Okay, I'm sure you've all heard the airlines are being real generous--waiving the penalty to change flights into and out of Mexico--but, it turns out this isn't the problem. Because...well...you need a date to change TO, doncha? Like, I dunno...a week from now? Two? How about four months? Oh, and there's this little rarely mentioned (and less understood) caveat: you have to pay the difference in class if the class you purchased is no longer available (and guess what--somehow, it's a CINCH it's no longer available).

So Sahib puts you on hold to contact the airline and check on the date you've grabbed out of the air--your birthday in September. When he comes back, he informs you that you only have to pay an additional $229 to change the flight. (See? So much for waived penalties.)

Next, he puts you back on hold in order to contact the hotel. (This is after you've already been on hold off and on for an hour and a half.) Comes back to say the hotel reservation people are at lunch, and you'll have to call back later...putting you at the ass-end of the line again. (I'm really not understanding why these agents can't use computers.)

Anyway, I decided to try Citibank.

After all, they have a big old sign on their website that says I automatically qualify for trip cancellation/interruption insurance. So I call their gal in India--only I discover that in fact I'm NOT automatically qualified for these benefits. (I guess because the planes are still flying and, technically, I can still take the trip I'm scheduled to take.) Anyway, from what I gather, they WILL however cover that pesky $229 addition...and maybe even the change in the hotel (if I knew what the hotel adder would be). The scary part of this is that I priced the exact same trip for September on Travelocity this morning, and...yikes...it came out to $1400 MORE than I paid.

Meanwhile, my traveling partner sells pre-paid legal insurance. Yep, we're covering ALL the bases.

I just read an on-line article in which would-be travelers to Mexico reported full refunds from Expedia.

Hm. Travelocity, are you paying attention??

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