Just fixing the problem isn’t good customer service

I recently traveled to Cancun with my friend Cammie, her mom Naomi and our friend Shalee. Cammie is a flight attendant and has a self-professed travel addiction, so we put her in charge of booking the trip. She found a deal for 5 days at an all inclusive resort, with airfare, for under $450 a person. We assumed the trip was so cheap because 1. We were sharing a room and 2. We had a layover in Miami. She booked (using Naomi’s name and information) with Orbitz because they had the best price, but a variety of carriers were within about $30 of each other.

We spend all day Saturday traveling, get to the resort about 9 p.m. and go to check in. It’s 90 degrees in the dark and we’re thrilled because we didn’t really get a summer in Michigan. But we’re hot. And hungry. Oh, and did I mention Cammie’s five months pregnant?

Except there’s a problem. Orbitz booked us as two adults and two kids. Our reservation clearly says four adults – we even have our birth dates on the reservation. The front desk says they can only direct us to call Orbitz. So Naomi gets on her phone at $.59 a minute and calls Orbitz. And talks to someone for an hour. She tries to have the front desk talk to Orbitz – the manager refuses.

You can guess what happens next – Naomi pays Orbitz another $500 for two more adults. Why? Because we’re in México, with a pregnant woman who’s starving and a plane that doesn’t leave for four days. What could we do? (The rest of the trip, thankfully, was fun and restful.)

When we returned, I complained on Twitter and the Orbitz account asked me to DM my contact info within 24 hours. I gave them Namoi’s, as the reservation was in her name. They explained that while four people can share a room, they only guarantee rooms for two people. This information was not on the Web site when we booked and was not explained to us when we called initially. (Apparently it has since been updated on the Web site.)

Orbitz never did charge her for the extra room, offered to reimburse her for the cell phone bill and gave her a $200 travel credit. They fixed the problem. And the $200 travel credit was a nice way to try to apologize for the misunderstanding.

Even so, it will be a long time before I ever travel with Orbitz again. Why? Because good customer service would have been fixing the problem WHILE we were in Mexico. Without having to spend an hour on the phone. Sure, everything is fine now, but in the future? I’d rather pay $30 more and travel with a company I know is going to take care of me – especially if I’m far away from home. Peace of mind is priceless, indeed.

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