Outrage II: The Customer is Always Wrong


Pulled from the ‘Rules and Restrictions’ portion of my ticket. Emphasis is mine.

I purchased my British Airways ticket on Expedia in late summer. All fine, decent fare, reasonable terms, yadda yadda. I always buy a ticket that permits changes, my bicontinental lifestyle requires it. Fast forward to last week, when I accepted a two month contract at Sony in Salzburg and attempted to change my ticket.

  1. I take my intinerary to the travel agent. The agent calls British. British says they won’t do business with an agent as it’s an individual purchase.
  2. I call British. British tells me my ticket can not be changed. I quote them the terms you see above and they disagree with my interpretation of the text. They tell me changes are not permitted after my outbound flight. They tell me I may apply for a waiver by faxing the above terms to British. I ask them if they are kidding me. Faxing? What? I ask for a supervisor.
  3. The supervisor tells me I must settle the deal with Expedia and that the ticket as seen by British is not changeable. They say Expedia must pay for any changes.
  4. I call Expedia. The agent says, “Sure, I can go ahead and make that change,” but is then unable to do so. I ask if she sees anything that tells me I can not make the change and then, she says no, but British must make the change because travel has already started. She connects me with British and leaves me there. Lather, rinse, repeat.
  5. I call Expedia. The agent says, “Sure, I can go ahead and make that change,” but is then unable to do so. She does some further research and says that my ticket has “two fare rules and that they are required to apply the most restrictive rule.” I ask, rather politely, I think, where that information is available to me and she concedes that it is not. I ask for a supervisor.
  6. The supervisor tells me, repeatedly, that the terms of the ticket are clear and that changes are not permitted after my initial outbound flight. I ask, repeatedly, where where that information is available to me and she concedes that it is not. She finally says she can contact British to apply for a waiver.
  7. I call Expedia. The agent reviews my case but says that the British has not yet been contacted and asks me to hold. I refuse. The agent, who is actually trying to be helpful, agrees to contact British and request the waiver and tells me to call back.
  8. I call Expedia. The agent says “Sure, I can go ahead and help you with that. Changes are 75 dollars.” (What? Huh?) I explain, again. The agent, who is actually trying to be helpful, reviews my case and sees that the request has been made, but has been denied by British. The agent has a suggestion for me, however. She says that the flight schedule has been changed and it’s my right as a passenger to refuse that change and ask for a different flight. She suggests I try that route with British. She then offers me a 75 dollar credit on my Expedia account. I say, rather politely, that is insufficient to cover my expenses and time, and if British refuses again, I will incur additional hassle and expense. I say that Expedia is responsible for all this hassle and that I want them to resolve the issue. The agent concedes that it’s a drag, but says that if she contacts British, they will resist because “they know she knows the rules.” She says it’s really best for me to do it and insist upon my rights as a passenger. The change which allows me this loophole? A delay in an outbound departure.
  9. I call British. British tells me that, yup, I’m correct about the rule, but the schedule change has to be a two hour minimum. My flight change? 20 minutes. (Still, good to know. Fliers, keep that in your pocket should you ever need it.)
  10. I call Expedia. Luckily, I get the same agent again. She asks me what I want her to do. I tell her that Expedia needs to either compensate me for the half of the ticket that I can not use or provide me with a new flight. She connects me with a supervisor.
  11. The supervisor says that because I was informed that the ticket was not changeable, there is nothing she can do and she offers me a 100 dollar voucher. I tell her that actually, I was informed that the ticket was changeable by several Expedia agents, who happened to also be wrong. The conversation devolves, I kid you not, in to a “no you didn’t” – “yes you did” sort of thing. I suggest she review the tapes of the conversation, but she insists that I was never told that the ticket was changeable.I ask to speak with her supervisor. She puts me on hold after stonewalling me about how her supervisor will tell me the same thing. Worn out for now, I hang up.

I do actually undertand that I’m in the wrong about the terms of my ticket. But so were several Expedia agents, so it’s not really surprising that I didn’t get it right. The terms as stated are not clear – it does not say anywhere that changes are not permitted after travel has commenced. Are the terms intentionally obfuscated? I can’t help but wonder.

Nonfamousi, do you know anyone at Expedia? I’d like to, um, get in touch with them.

4 thoughts on “Outrage II: The Customer is Always Wrong”

  1. Wow, what an ordeal Pam. What makes you think you were wrong about the terms being you cannot change the ticket? The rules certainly seem to indicate that it’s allowed.

    I put the blame firmly on Expedia here. I always book my BA flights direct with BA, and I’ve had nothing but helpfulness when dealing with ticketing issues with them directly. (I was a silver member last time I needed a change though, so that may have had something to do with it.)

    Good luck getting this resolved!

  2. I do actually believe that the terms for the ticket are that it’s unchangeable. British said so, and, after doing their homework, Expedia said so too, though they had to dig to find out. I don’t believe they’re lying (unlike the Expedia “supervisor”, who I found myself saying, “Do you actually think I’m LYING to you” to). I believe they did not provide accurate information up front. To me OR their agents.

    I passed my tale of woe on to the troublemaker – I mean troubleshooter of Elliot.org and he said he’d try to get some answers out of Expedia for me. Stand by.

  3. You were sold the ticket with what appears to be clear indication that it was changeable at the time of sale. Under the commerce laws of most countries that’s enforcable: the product must fit the advertisement. You’d have a good case to take this to court, if that’s the way you wanted to go.

  4. Oh, I’m with you. Agreed. The plan is to do small claims court if Elliot fails. Actually, I do have enough to do, but this kind of thing just INFURIATES me, so I’ll make the time.

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