Category Archives: Customer Service

Is Expedia Stealing From Its Customers?

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?



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 Get Ridiculous Phone Upgrade Fees Waived

getting phone upgrade fees waivesWhen I upgraded to the iPhone 5, in addition to the cost of the phone ($200+tax), there was also a $36 upgrade charge on my AT&T bill. $36 for what?

According to AT&T, it’s for the “costs associated with selecting and activating your new equipment.” That sounds kind of silly considering that all they do is stick in a new SIM card into your phone (and in some cases, you are just putting your old sim card into a new phone)!

This fee sounds even more ridiculous when you go to an Apple store and have them do it all for you, without even taking the phone out of the box. So why is AT&T charging customers so much? Because they can.

The upgrade fee used to be $18, which I still think is very high, but the good news is that there’s a pretty easy way to avoid paying those pesky $36 fees each time you upgrade. When you have 5 plans on a family plan, that can add up very quickly.

I called AT&T and simply told the customer service representative that I saw the charge and that when I upgraded, the store manager told me that it would be waived. After looking at the notes (and not finding anything, obviously), the customer service rep told me that it wasn’t there, but that she could refund that fee for me.

Is it wrong to lie to AT&T to save money? Maybe. But is it wrong for AT&T to charge me $36 for an upgrade that they had no interaction with? I think so.

I tested with for a few others, including Lauren’s family, which had 3 upgrades on the same bill. The result? No problem, $108 removed from the bill. That’s a big deal!

Readers, what do you think of the $36 upgrade fee? Do you think it’s ok use my tactic?

What Happened to Envaulted?

I’ve discussed Envaulted just once before on this site, when my brother asked if he should sign up for a service that gives 1% cash back on all credit card purchases just for giving them access to your purchase information on certain credit cards.

At the time, I said no because I thought there were a few actions that would have a much bigger effect on his finances. Why try and make about $2 a month when you can make changes that will make you $50 or more?

After signing up for Lending Club and opening an IRA account, he decided to try out Envaulted. Why turn down free money? It’s hard to argue with that logic.

My brother received a cool $100 from Envaulted over the past year, which is pretty sweet. But this past week, the site went down. I won’t even link to because the site doesn’t even load.

There is no way to request payment anymore, let alone log in. People have connected their bank information, and there is no way to delete it. If I were a customer, I’d be worried. There’s no response from customer service, either. The only public communication was a single tweet from the Envaulted Twitter account, which has elicited plenty of responses, such as this one:


There is also this forum about Envaulted on FatWallet that discusses the issue. Alex, the COO, mentions that information is safe, but doesn’t say anything else to help people out. The mystery continues.

People want to know what happened, if their information is safe, and if there’s any way to get the payments they deserve.

This is just another reminder to choose the companies you do business with wisely, especially when it comes to secure financial information. I think the smart thing to do now is to change the passwords to any financial institutions that you had connected to Envaulted.