Travelocity – a bad experience

We booked a trip to the Mayan Riviera through Travelocity, first time using this service (we’ve been Expedia customers for some time). We made an error in our booking – set our return date one day too early – but this was prompted by erratic behaviour on the Travelocity website which forced us to rush through our booking.

Getting help from Travelocity was a wretched experience, and we will most certainly not book with them again. I did see many warnings about Travelocity online, but most were dated four or more years ago – I’d thought they’d matured somewhat, but this is apparently not the case.

The full text of the issue is below, in the form of the letter I sent to their support team, but to really appreciate how poor their customer service was, you have to consider a couple of things:

  1. We booked our trip at on 28 December, 2011 at 12:45 AM EST.
  2. When we recognized our error, we called back at 9:30 AM – in other words, on the same day.
  3. However, because Travelocity is based in Texas, they are on central time, so technically the booking was recorded at 11:45 PM on 27 December, and so we fell out of the “same day” changes that would have saved us considerably.
  4. The latter point is actually moot – the Travelocity call centre (located in Bangalore, India), chose to leave our fate in the hands of their IT department. By the time they had dealt with it (claiming “user error” – when in fact they misunderstood the nature of the problem) – it was too late to affordably make any changes. January 5th – that’s when their IT department finally got to responding to our issue.

To summarize: if the problem had been dealt with promptly, our fees would have been more manageable, and Travelocity’s offer to waive their change fee would’ve actually been meaningful.

While an email to Scott Quigley, Vice-President of Sales and Customer Care received a reply in which he stated, “I hope that by resolving quickly we can earn back your trust as a customer,” his hope was not to be fulfilled: it didn’t happen quickly (three days for any further action, and that after I prompted with two further emails), and they certainly did not earn back my trust as a customer. Quite the contrary. Travelocity wouldn’t do more than waive their change fees. In other words, all carrier fees, which had inflated because of the extremely slow response time by their customer service department, were to be borne by us entirely.

Here’s the letter I sent to their customer service department 12 days ago:


This is the first time we’ve tried Travelocity (in the past we’ve been dedicated to the great service we’ve received from Expedia), but we were excited to see some of the excellent prices you offered, and decided to give your service a try.

We finalized plans for our Cancun trip and began the booking process in the late evening of Wednesday, December 27th. When we had completed our selections, the clock had just passed midnight, and that’s when your website began to misbehave. After carefully constructing our trip, we were told that due to a timeout (or misuse of the back button – which we hadn’t touched), we would have to restart the process from scratch. We did so, and when we clicked the button to commit to the purchase, we encountered the same error. This happened two more times. So, in total, we had entered our info four times, and were rejected each time.

Since we weren’t using the back button at all, we thought we were timing out. On our fifth attempt, we rushed through the entire process and were finally successful in booking everything and paying for our trip. It was about 1:00 a.m. at this point, and we were fatigued and dispirited by the process.

error message

The next morning I found in my inbox confirmation of our trip…with the wrong return date! We had hoped to return on Friday, January 20th, but our return date on the confirmation showed Thursday, January 19th.

I concede that in our rush to complete the booking, we may have entered an incorrect date. But we were rattled and rushed by the mishaviour of your website.

I immediately called your customer support line, and was told somewhat rudely by the attendant that it was impossible to change our trip, and that the cancellation cost would be substantial. When I explained the circumstances surrounding the error, the attendant indicated that she would file a report with Travelocity’s technical department. In other words, it would be up to your IT department to determine whether our problems with your website were legitimate, and whether or not we could change our plan without penalty.

I am the Senior IT Manager at the Canadian Film Centre. Not only am I certain that we did nothing to invoke the timeout/back button error we experienced, but I’m also keenly aware that your IT team will be motivated by pride and possibly skepticism to defend your system and lay the blame on me, the user. Admission of a technical flaw in your system will reflect on their performance and ability – it’s always easier to blame the user, or, in IT parlance, the “wetware.”

In other words, it does not show good faith for you to put the fate of our trip and our relationship with Travelocity at the discretion of your IT department.

I was told on Thursday morning to call back in 48 hours for an update. I have just done so, and was told that there was at this point no resolution, and that I was actually supposed to wait 72 (or more) hours before calling. So I continue to be mistreated and inconvenienced by your staff.

I would be pleased if this matter could be settled properly and quickly. I am prepared to immediately pay the difference in price between the erroneous booking and the correct one ($4244.56, versus $3841.96, for a difference of $402.60).

The trip details are identical, except: 1) extension of the stay at the resort until Friday, January 20th, 2) a change to the reservation on Olympus Tours ground transport to the same date, and 3) seats on the same flight the next day: Westjet flight 2581, depart CUN 3:50 p.m., arrival at YYZ at 8:44 p.m. I have just confirmed on your website that all these changes are currently available and possible – but such may not be the case if we wait another few days for your IT department’s verdict (which I already expect will be negative, for the reasons I’ve explained).

As things stand, I would not book with Travelocity again in future (I’ll go back to Expedia), and I’ll recommend to others that they should also avoid your service.

I would like to hear back as soon as possible from someone with authority to make these changes. I do appreciate any assistance you can provide in this regard.

Thank you,

Brian Panhuyzen

It isn’t hard to conclude that Travelocity will protect its bottom line, even in the face of upsetting and losing customers. Please feel free to post about your own Travelocity experiences.

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