Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Orbiting Orbitz

Warning: Helpless giggling may ensue as you read this post.

I set forth below, unabridged, malapropisms intact, and as it occurred (but for identifying info), an actual string of email correspondence. It speaks for itself and, in so doing, tells a very sad story that is also somehow totally hilarious. Is this merely more evidence of what's wrong with customer service in America? Or have I uncovered a neat scam in how these so-called "best rate" sites work? You be the judge - and enjoy.

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From Me to Orbitz's online email contact address
Sent: Mon, 14 May 2007 10:42AM

When I booked my stay at the [HOTEL] (confirm #), the rate quoted was $385.36. This included a room rate of $329, plus $56.23 in taxes and fees. This total amount was charged to my credit card and appears on my May bill. The hotel actually charged me a total of $307.76, consisting of a room rate of $269.78 and taxes of $37.98. Will the difference be credited to my credit card and, if so, in what amount? If not, why not?

Thanks.

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From Orbitz
Sent: Mon, 14 May 2007 12:01 PM

Dear Debra,

Thank you for contacting Orbitz.

In reviewing our reservation system, I show that you have a confirmed a past hotel reservation titled [identifying info].

With response to your query, we request you to contact our hotel helpdesk at 888-656-4546 for further assistance on this issue. Our Customer Service representative will be glad to assist you.

We value you as a customer and look forward to serving you again in the future.

Sincerely,

Harris
OrbitzTLC
www.Orbitz.com

Orbitz - The faster, easier way to find the trip you want.

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From Me
Sent: Mon, 14 May 2007 12:05 PM

Thanks, but I already tried the phone approach and I do not deal with automated phone systems. Like most customers, I find them an exercise in frustration and I suggest that you eliminate them. If phone is the only way for this to be handled, please ask a phone representative to call me at [number]. Thank you.

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From Orbitz
Sent: Mon, 14 May 2007 1:55 PM

Dear Debra,

Thank you for contacting Orbitz.

In reviewing our reservation system and your account under the e-mail address ' ', I see that you have a past hotel reservation titled [identifying info].

Due to a heavy inflow of calls you may experience some difficulty in contacting us. We apologize for the inconvenience this may cause and greatly appreciate your patience.

For security reason, we, at Orbitz Customer Service E-mail are unable to make outbound calls and hence, unable to contact you via phone.

However, for further clarification with regards to your issue, please contact our hotel helpdesk at 1-888-656-4546.

We value you as a customer and look forward to serving you again in the future.

Sincerely,

Frank
OrbitzTLC
www.Orbitz.com

Orbitz - The faster, easier way to find the trip you want.

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From Me
Sent: Mon, 14 May 2007 2:04 PM

As I wrote before, I do not deal with automated phone response systems. I will not call again. If my question cannot be answered from your end via either email or a phone call to me, I will simply chalk this up to experience and stop doing business with Orbitz. Thank you.

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From Orbitz
Sent: Mon, 14 May 2007 3:47 PM

Dear Orbitz Customer,

Thank you for contacting Orbitz.

I sincerely apologize for the inconvenience caused and troubled you.

In reviewing your 'My Trips' and our resources, I show that your hotel reservation titled [identifying info] was a prepaid reservation and the hotel should not have charged you. The only additional charges from the hotel could for any incidentals.

If you have been double charged for this hotel reservation, please contact our hotel helpdesk at 888-656-4546 or if you are calling from outside of US, please contact us on our international number at 312-416-0018 to have this resolved.

We apologize for any inconvenience this has caused.

We value you as a customer and look forward to serving you again in the future.

Sincerely,

Nick
OrbitzTLC
www.Orbitz.com

Orbitz - The faster, easier way to find the trip you want.

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From Me
Sent: Mon, 14 May 2007 4:20 PM

You have missed the point of my question. The hotel did not charge me separately. What it did was give me a statement for my records showing what was charged, and this amount was less than what Orbitz charged to my credit card. My question relates to the difference between the $329 room rate charged by Orbitz and the $269.78 on the statement from the hotel. (Please see my original email.) As I have now said several times, I will not be calling anyone. Your automated customer service phone system is a nightmare that I have no interest in revisiting. Please either answer my question via email or let me know that you are not prepared to do so. Thank you.

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From Orbitz
Sent: Mon, 14 May 2007 7:41 PM

Dear Orbitz Customer,

Thank you for contacting Orbitz.

We apologize for the inconvenience caused. When you call Orbitz Customer Service, the automated voice would ask you to enter your phone number. You may ignore this prompt. You may be asked to enter your phone number 2 or 3 times, but please ignore the prompt without answering.

You will then be directed to the main menu. You will be asked to choose from Flights, Hotels and Cars. Say 'Help' on this prompt and you will be directed to a Customer Service representative.

Orbitz is a self booking internet service tool where you act as your own travel agent to make your travel plans. We are unable to quote these fares through e-mail, as they are constantly changing.

For further assistance, we advise you to contact the Orbitz Customer Service at 1-888-656-4546 or Internationally 1-312-416-0018, our agents will be glad to assist you.

We value you as a customer and look forward to serving you again in the future.

Sincerely,

Yeshuah
OrbitzTLC
www.Orbitz.com

Orbitz - The faster, easier way to find the trip you want.

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From Me
Sent: Tue, 15 May 2007 9:42 AM

I assume the last few "responses" in this email string are intended as some sort of joke. Please (1) review my original question [identifying info], (2) read the rest of the email string, and (3) let me know if you are able to answer my question via email or not. Please do not send me any further instructions about calling your number. I believe I have made my position on that clear. Thank you.

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From Orbitz
Sent: Tue, 15 May 2007 11:01 AM

Dear Debra,

Thank you for contacting Orbitz.

It is very disappointing to learn of the situation you encountered. I sincerely apologize for any inconvenience you have experienced.

In fact, our customer service is not automated. They have been trained to assist our customers and they are professionals.

However, if you are having problems in contacting our customer service. I request you to call again and below below give you some hints.

When you call us, the system will first ask you for a number five times. It is not necessary to enter a number and if you do not enter one, you will be provided with the menu with various options. You need to say 'Help' from the main menu which will provide you with two options 'Password' or 'Website'. You need to say 'Website' to speak to a customer service representative.

Despite the impression this has left with you, we hope you will be forgiving enough to afford us your continued support.

We value you as a customer and look forward to serving you again in the future.

Sincerely,

Frank
OrbitzTLC
www.Orbitz.com

Orbitz - The faster, easier way to find the trip you want.

1 comment:

buffie said...

Oh my god.  I think you should keep up the correspondence FOREVER.  I am actually surprised that  they are *kind of* reading your emails and not just sending the same response each time.
What a riot, be sure to send Harris, Nick, Frank and the gang a nice card at Christmas.