Is Expedia Stealing From Its Customers?

This past weekend, Lauren and I took a trip to Las Vegas for a friend’s wedding (they live there, it was not a chapel wedding). We looked at a lot of hotels, trying to decide which would be best for us. We were not going to be having the normal gambling and a show experience as we were only there for one night (the night of the wedding), but we did want to sit by the pool and who can say no to a little craps?

Is Expedia Stealing From Its Customers?

We Got A Great Deal…I Thought

We found a great price on a hotel, which booking directly would have been about $200, and going through discount sites was $180. But through slickdeals, I found a $25 off coupon when booking with Expedia’s mobile app. I downloaded it to see what the price would be, and to my surprise, it included an additional discount, down to $164! I applied the coupon, which brought the price down to $139 and checked out. This was a great price, especially since it included all resort fees (which were $25 at this hotel). Our other options were around $110 (+$25 resort fee) for a much smaller room at a hotel that was not rated as highly. I was planning on using the $20 trick to get upgraded to a room that wouldn’t have even been as nice as the one we booked.

Expedia Charged Me an Extra $25 Without My Permission!

Expedia Checkout Screenshot

A few minutes after booking, I got an email confirmation, along with a receipt. To my surprise, it showed that my credit card had been charged $164! I knew something was wrong, so I immediately got back on my phone and recreated the purchase, and took screenshots along the way. It looked exactly the same, and I was pissed off! I think it’s awful (and maybe illegal?) for a company to quote you one price and charge you another without your permission. I authorized a charge of $139, the additional $25 was not something I was aware of. And of course, I booked a non-refundable deal, so my next step was to email and call Expedia.

I emailed the company, but got antsy, so gave them a call. It took awhile to get someone on the phone, but finally a woman got on the line and tried to help. The first person couldn’t really help me. First, she told me that the coupon wasn’t applied with my original order. As you can see from the screenshot below, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Then, she offered to cancel the purchase (I thought that couldn’t be done?) and re-book, but the lowest price (after the coupon was applied) she could get it to was $160. Um, no thanks. She transferred me to her supervisor, Autumn, which required a 20 minute wait. She told me that she could credit me the $25 that I shouldn’t have been charged, which was a good start.

creating a plan to get out of debt

Are Others Having Money Stolen From Them, too?

However, my concern isn’t just about the $25, it’s about the process and the fact that this was allowed to happen in the first place. If Expedia was able to charge me $25 more than I authorized, could they be doing something to other customers as well? Probably. So I started asking about that possibility, and they said if it was an issue for anyone else, they could call in and get their purchases refunded as well. But what if people didn’t notice? It’s totally not OK for a company to take customer’s money and only give it back if the customer calls in to complain (and waits on hold for an extended period of time)!

After a 30 minute wait, Kallie, a customer service supervisor in Las Vegas, took my call. When I expressed my concern that Expedia could be stealing from other customers, she said it would have to be sent over to the tech team. I asked that she do that, but there’s really no way for me to know if the issue is being addressed, so hopefully my twitter mentions and this post will be a kick in the pants for them.

Lessons Learned From Expedia

I learned a few lessons from this experience. One, if you have an issue with an Expedia order that can’t be refunded, try telling them that the price is wrong and a coupon was applied but did not count. Those magic words seemed to open a new possibility that was previously unavailable. Two, Expedia, while admitting to a mistake, doesn’t really care about their customers. They made an error, corrected it after 75 minutes, but did not acknowledge that this could have had worse effects on other people. Had I gone over my credit limit and been charged $35, they wouldn’t have done anything else (I asked). Even a $25 credit to my account would have been a nice gesture, even though I won’t be using Expedia again in the future.

Have you ever had such an experience with a company? Does it scare you that this could happen without our knowledge and never be corrected?

UPDATE: I called again to complain the day of the wedding, and after explaining the situation, was transferred to Freddy, who works for the corporate customer service. After threatening to report them to the Better Business Bureau, he issued me a $35 refund, which made all the phone calls worthwhile for me (but this post is still necessary).

How to Apply the 80/20 Rule to Your Side Hustle

Is your side hustle not going according to plan?

It’s a hard pill to swallow, but you’re not focusing on the right stuff. Or at least, that’s what Pareto’s Principle would tell you.

Simply stated Pareto’s Principle, or the 80/20 rule, says that twenty percent of what you do brings eighty percent of the results. In my own side hustle experiences I’ve found this to be true.

If your side hustle is failing, chances are you’re doing the busy work instead of the results-producing work.

You can turn this around by applying the 80/20 rule.

But First, Set Clear Goals

Before you can do anything to increase your chances of success you have to know what you’re working toward.

If you don’t have a goal then nothing is going to help you. So first define success (aka your goals.)

A set of clear goals for a side hustler might be reaching a certain amount of prospects each week, finding two new clients per month, or connecting with a certain person in your field of work.

Make your goals specific and actionable. But most of all make them meaningful to you.

20 Percent is Vital, 80 Percent is Trivial

Now comes the important part.

You see, as a side hustler you can often let fear, embarrassment, or laziness stop you from taking action on the stuff that really matters. Instead you do the same things over and over and over even though they aren’t bringing any results. And you wonder why you aren’t gaining any traction.

The truth is that twenty percent of what you do is vital and the other eighty percent doesn’t even matter – it gets you nowhere.

Free yourself from all the busy work and get down to the real business.

Focus on the 20 Percent

To find that twenty percent make a list of your goals and then make action steps to take you there.

Every day when you’re about to work on your side hustle make a list off all the things you need to do. Try listing ten things.

Now go through the list and immediately mark eight of those things off. Concentrate on the two tasks that will make a real difference in your business.

Everything else can be delegated to someone else or can be done at a later time. You shouldn’t even think about doing the eighty percent until you get the twenty percent completed.

Practice the 80/20 Rule Everyday

There’s no reason why you shouldn’t have side hustle success.

If you can eliminate the busy work and instead focus on the tasks that are vital to your business you’ll be amazed at how quickly you reach your goals.

On top of that your stress level will go way down. When you start your working day by first getting the most important tasks completed the rest of the day will be a breeze.

Try it today.

Get out of your rut and change up the way you do things. In a year from now you’ll be so glad that you did!

RBS follow in the footsteps of the payday lenders

The Royal Bank of Scotland is the first of the UK’s high street banks to try and fill the glaring gap in its personal banking division by offering its customers ‘loans within minutes’ as part of a £1bn overhaul of its retail business.

RBS claims the move is in response to the ‘wake-up call’ the taxpayer backed lender has received from payday lenders such as Wonga, which have proven extremely popular in offering UK consumers a simple, easy and fast source of short-term credit. Although it clearly has a lot of catching up to do, RBS believes it can find a method of making affordable loans available in minutes, rather than days.

Making banking simple, easy and fair

Les Matheson, the newly appointed head of personal and business banking, is determined to make personal banking services more accessible to RBS’ customers. To do this, he has decided to adopt some of the practices currently employed by the UK’s leading payday lenders.

The recent £1bn investment in RBS’ high street division is a step in the right direction for the UK banking sector. However, it still remains to be seen whether banks will be able to compete with the payday lenders on price, given the proposed cost cap which will limit the total cost of interest and fees to 0.8 percent a day.

The new caps, introduced by the Financial Conduct Authority, are currently in the consultation period before they come into force in January 2015.

Hampered by regulation

Currently RBS are fighting against the regulatory tide to make their banking service simpler for its customers. Despite their best efforts there are a number of glaring stumbling blocks ahead.

In 2012, RBS suffered a catastrophic IT failure that left many customers unable to access their accounts. In fact, Matheson openly admits that improving RBS’ range of digital services will not be easy given the bank’s outdated systems, which “don’t talk to each other very easily”. This will represent a significant challenge given just how quickly and effectively payday lenders can make lending decisions.

There is also the challenge of overcoming and reversing the hapless image the banking sector currently has following the much publicised catalogue of scandals and disasters. While the payday lenders receive a hard time in the press, many have a loyal client base who are happy with the service they receive. On the other hand, the banks face an uphill struggle against customer dissatisfaction resulting from PPI mis-selling, the Libor rigging scandal, business loan mis-selling and the catastrophic mismanagement that resulted in the costly taxpayer bailouts in the first place.

Lending to those who need it the most

Speaking of the payday lenders, Matheson said: “When you look at why people use payday lenders – because they are simple, easy and fast – in that sense banks need to do a better job. We should be able to find a way to make loans available as quickly – in minutes, rather than hours or days or weeks.”

However, it seems RBS’ short-term loan products will not be in direct competition with the payday lenders after all. While Matheson hopes to appeal to the payday lenders’ existing customers by delivering convenience and speed, RBS will not offer the small sums of money the majority of people use payday lenders to access.

Currently the average payday loan amount is £260 borrowed over just 30 days. RBS do not plan to go in that direction. Not only will they offer higher loan amounts, they will also retain the strict lending criteria that excludes many of those who currently borrow from payday lenders. Rather than competing with payday lenders, they will offer an alternative source of credit for their existing customer base, whilst those most in need of short-term credit to cover the cost of essentials will continue to use payday lenders.

Do you think there’s a genuine need for the type of short-term credit option RBS will offer? Will this dent the demand for payday loans? We’d love to hear from you on this topic, so please leave your thoughts in the comments section below.