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?
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!
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.
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).