Travelocity are incompetent fuckwits suckled at Satan’s poisonous nipples

March 17, 2008 – 12:46 am

I took a trip to ETech earlier this month. I initially attempted to book the trip using Travelocity but it turned into a massive clusterfuck of their making. I’ve documented it below in case you, my lovely reader, need any reason to avoid this dribbling shit trickle of a company running down the thighs of modern travel. If you hate people whining about (incredibly incredibly bad) customer service, skip this message now. You have been warned ….

It began, as all good nightmares do, on the web. I booked a multi-city trip: AKL-LAX, then SAN-LAX-AKL (I drove LAX to SAN). Or, at least, I thought I booked it. Within a few hours I got an email message:

	Subject: 	Unable to ticket reservation
	Date: 	17 February 2008 3:22:37 AM

Thank you for booking your travel reservations with

We are unable to complete the processing of the reservation you
made on our system, until we can obtain some additional information
from you.

We are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  Please call us at
888-872-8356 and give the agent your 12 digit Trip ID 5551246369.

Your reservation has not been ticketed, so please remember
that no fare is guaranteed until it is ticketed.

Ooookay. I jumped on the phone, though I’m paying international rates (888 = toll free, but it’s $ to call a “toll-free” number from NZ). Indian agent, female, picked up. She was puzzled by the message, her systems showed no reason why such a thing would be generated, but said she’d look into it. “Can I put you on hold for two minutes while I contact the airline?”. Sure. I spent about 10 minutes on hold, then she came back and said the problem was that I wasn’t spending long enough in LAX between the San Diego flight landing and the Auckland flight departing–it has to be two hours and I had only allowed 75m. The airlines won’t ticket unless it’s two hours. Would I like to take a few minutes with her to rebook?

I’d love to, but I had kids to get from school. I figured, I’ll call back when I return and we can sort it out then. I returned with kids and try again. The next agent was not just puzzled by the email I’d received but also by my explanation of what I wanted to do. “You want to book another flight from LA?” No. “You are happy with your flights, then?” No. “So would you like me to book another flight from LA for you, sir?” After ten minutes I managed to communicate my desire to bring forward my SAN-LAX leg. “Can I put you on hold for two minutes, sir?” Sure. Long delay. “I’m showing all your flights in the system, sir.” “What?” “All your flights are in the system, sir.” Okay, perhaps I wasn’t so successful in the communication of the desire. “Yes, I was aware of that, but I need to change the SAN-LAX leg to an earlier flight.” “Oh! Ok, sir. Two minutes!” Fifteen minutes of hold ensue.

Ring ring, click. “Hello, welcome to Travelocity. How can I help you today?” “Um, I was being helped but the phone rang and you answered it.” “Certainly sir, what can we do to help you today?” Repeat the saga. “Two minutes on hold while I–” “Riiiiiight.” On to hold I go for ten minutes.

Ring ring, click. Oh, you are SHITTING ME. “Hello, welcome to Travelocity. How can I help you today?” In clipped tones yet still in the face of provocation remaining polite, I reiterate my simple request to change a leg. “Can I put you on hold for two minutes while I–” “Well, actually, that didn’t go so well last time.” “Well, I have to put you on hold to talk to an airline representative, sir.” Can’t you just use the, oh I don’t know, INTERNET to change my flights? Why does Travelocity have to use the telephone to talk to United? Oh well, “sure, if you think you can manage to avoid losing me, go for it.” Hold.

Ring ring, click. Don’t you dare. “Hello, welcome to United. Mary speaking. How can I help you?” THE FUCK?! “You are NOT going to believe how I came to be talking to you, Mary …”. Mary confirms that they’ve held the seats but not issued tickets. I check my bank’s web site: they’ve got a hold on the account for the money but haven’t put the transaction through. I don’t trust these incompetent pricks by this stage, though, so I get Mary to also hold the seats but not issue tickets. I’ll call Travelocity back and cancel the flights (hopefully easier than changing them!) and thus avoid being stiffed.

So I hang up and call back. After about five minutes someone answers. I immediately ask to speak to a supervisor. “Certainly, sir!” and I’m transferred to an unanswered line. Twenty minutes of not speaking to a supervisor and many swearwords later, Jenine convinces me to get off the phone before I give myself a coronary. I use the customer support part of their website to request they simply cancel the ticket:

	Subject: 	Travelocity Customer Service Request - Change or cancel a trip
	Date: 	19 February 2008 8:14:23 AM

The following information request was submitted to customer service : 

E-mail : 
Message : There is a problem with the flights--the layover in Los
Angeles is not long enough to issue tickets.  I've spent over two
hours on international phone calls with your "customer service"
and nobody has been able to make the simple flight change
without hanging up on me.

So please cancel this transaction.  Do not charge my card.  Do
not issue me tickets.  I will buy tickets elsewhere and I will
never use your "service" again. 

Product : Air 
Topic : Change or cancel a trip

The reply comes, less than three hours later:

	Date: 	19 February 2008 11:03:06 AM

Dear Nathan,

Thank you for writing to Travelocity.

First and foremost I would like to apologize for the frustration this has

Per your email, we have checked your reservation and we are sorry
to inform you that your reservation for your trip to Los Angeles, CA is
unconfirmed and not yet ticketed.

Nathan, to cancel the reservation you will need to contact our Customer
Care Center as we cannot change or cancel reservation online or via email.

We request you to call our Customer Service Center at 1-888-872-8356
Outside of U.S. and Canada: 210.521.5871 once again so one of our phone
representative will assist you in canceling the reservation.

We are sorry for the inconvenience and appreciate your patience and ask
that you call back at a later off peak time 10PM to 7AM (CST).

Please forward a day and night phone number where you can be reached
so that we may set up a callback request for you. 

We regret this inconvenience.

We appreciate your patience and co-operation. 


Victoria T
Travelocity Customer Service

I give up, confirm the flights with United so I’ll have at least one set of tickets, and hope that in a few days the credit card authorization will lapse. It does.

So, to reiterate, Travelocity’s big success in this whole affair was that they failed to book me tickets.

ADDENDUM: I just got a “so how’d we do?!” customer support survey from them. I went through checking all the “suck” boxes, and got to the final “any other comments” field in the form. I’m submitting the following and will consider the matter closed.

I'm actively telling all my frequent flying friends to avoid Travelocity. I spent way too much money and two hours of international phone calls with incompetent customer service staff, who repeatedly proved incapable of operating the phone equipment (an agent would pick up my call, hear my problem, put me on hold while they talked to the airline, then the next agent would pick me up and have no idea who I was and the loop would start again). When I sent mail to the customer service saying, "look, I just want to cancel the reservation and never have to spend another dollar on the phone not being helped", the only answer I got was "sorry, we can only cancel on the phone!"

Up the lot of you. I'm booking through the airlines from now on. I've realized that saving $50/flight isn't worth the international phone calls and two hours of my time on the telephone trying to clean up when Travelocity shits its pants. Your customer service is appalling and the entire division should be lined up and shot. This may already have happened, judging from the 30m lack of answer the last time I tried calling. It wouldn't surprise me: helping the customer is obviously regarded as a cost centre and something to be understaffed, poorly tooled, and generally avoided.

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