Orbitz has an in-place blowoff policy for "customer service"

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Aug 2, 2016
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#1
I had used Orbitz many prior times to make travel arrangements without any problems, but when a problem came up I learned a few unfortunate things about their "customer service" policies. The lesson is to use them at your own hazard. They have quite intentionally built an air-tight wall between themselves and accountability to their customers.

Here is a summary of my problem, which now mainly centers on Orbitz, and my futile efforts to obtain the courtesy of a real response from them. I had made a reservation for a car rental through Orbitz. I have made innumerable online car rental reservations and never had a problem; there do seem to be strong and clear industry standards in place. This time, though, that was not the case. I encountered a rental company that was in every way substandard, in terms of the condition of cars and additional charges. Most of all, I was subjected to what was clearly bait-and-switch. In order to get a car that I considered roadworthy and safe, I had to pay way more than I had contracted. I resolved as soon as feasible to get in touch with Orbitz, to request compensation for bait-and-switch charges and to see that no one in the future would be subjected to this substandard operation. That's when I began to discover that my larger problem was with Orbitz. I called one of their customer service numbers. In spite of representations that I got from various offshore agents I spoke with, ALL lead only to offshore agents. They have limited knowledge and seem to have (or were instructed to say they have) zero discretionary power. I described my car rental experience and was told that they could not rescind the additional charges (more than original rental fee) I was forced to make for a safe (and even then very high mileage) car. I then asked for a supervisor with some discretionary power; I was told there was no such person. I then stated I wanted to speak directly with an actual employee of Orbitz with managerial responsibility. I tried making this demand over more than an hour. I ultimately spoke with six different offshore agents. I would begin with this request, asking if I was speaking to such a person or to an offshore agent again. After making my needs clear, I would be placed on hold for long periods and then eventually given another offshore agent. I was given several numbers that simply connected me to additional offshore agents. Through Google, I found what seemed an email address directly to Orbitz. I sent an email describing my initial problem and then my larger problem with Orbitz. I received what seemed to be a form reply asking for the details I had just provided; the only return email address was the same general one. I sent back another email pointing this out and immediately received an automated form email stating that I would receive further response within 24 hours. I never heard from them again. I once more called the customer service number and this time got a more knowledgeable offshore agent. He gave me what he said was a fax number directly to the corporate offices of Orbitz. I faxed them a letter describing my experiences and problems, including a transcript of email correspondence; I said I wanted the courtesy of a considered response. I never heard back from them, now going back more than two weeks.

Orbitz is a shamefully cynical operation. You'll be fine as long as no problems arise. If any do, you'll probably soon understand their utterly contemptuous disregard for you as a customer!
 
Jul 27, 2016
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#2
Without knowing what the underlying issue with the car rental was, it's really hard to help you. You booked a car rental through Orbitz. What car rental company? Where? Did you prepay, or was it a "pay on pickup" reservation? You ended up paying a lot more than Orbitz had quoted to get a car - why? You say that "Most of all, I was subjected to what was clearly bait-and-switch. In order to get a car that I considered roadworthy and safe, I had to pay way more than I had contracted." What did you reserve originally? What were you offered? Why wasn't it roadworthy? What did you end up getting? How much extra did you pay?

Also, your complaints about "offshore" agents don't help your case. I've had excellent customer service from people physically located in India, and lousy customer service from people located in Utah.
 
Aug 2, 2016
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#3
My post at this point to the Orbitz forum is NOT directly about the bait-and-switch car rental. It is entirely about the wall of unaccountability that Orbitz has erected between itself and customers with a problem. I agree that customer service agents can be helpful or not helpful regardless of location. In this case, the agents, from what they seemed to know, claimed to have no authority to act and could refer me to no one with additional authority.
 
Oct 5, 2015
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#4
I think you need to take a long hard look at how little money can be made for distributing most travel products (excluding hotels and cruises and some expensive tours).
If the income is low then offshore the customer service (and sell a ton of add-ons) because that is what it takes to continue to be in this distribution business. This is especially so because customers do not want to pay extra for US based service. Cheap.
 
Aug 2, 2016
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#5
I think you need to take a long hard look at how little money can be made for distributing most travel products (excluding hotels and cruises and some expensive tours).
If the income is low then offshore the customer service (and sell a ton of add-ons) because that is what it takes to continue to be in this distribution business. This is especially so because customers do not want to pay extra for US based service. Cheap.
 
Aug 2, 2016
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#6
No doubt true. But employing agents with no apparent knowledge or authority to resolve problems--even for possible future customers encountering a bad service--and no further recourse possible seems to be a kind of business decision. Ultimately, as in this case, any imagined "money saving" may backfire.
 
Oct 5, 2015
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#7
But employing agents with no apparent knowledge or authority to resolve problems
This is the norm, Mark. I just went through the same frustrating experience with Amazon.
Nothing got resolved until I pointed to them what their error was. It is weird when the buyer is more intelligent than the seller and has to help the seller fix their problems. The common thing between Orbitz and Amazon (just like others) is their call centers are in the Philippines. Nice people but useless. Sorry I have no solution to this problem. We all know this did not use to happen when calls went to the midwest.

BTW kudos to Costco. I called and an American answered and finally solved my weird problem. Yes I am racist when it comes to customer service. So what?
 
Aug 2, 2016
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#8
Sadly, you may be right. But note in your case you were actually able, at least eventually, to have communication that resolved the problem; Orbitz has simply ignored, blown off, my efforts at communication. This is the first time I have encountered a company where the customer service didn't work but which ALSO had made themselves 100% walled off from direct communication.
 
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Feb 9, 2016
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#9
Sadly, you may be right. But note in your case you were actually able, at least eventually, to have communication that resolved the problem; Orbitz has simply ignored, blown off, my efforts at communication. This is the first time I have encountered a company where the customer service didn't work but which ALSO had made themselves 100% walled off from direct communication.
You assume that Orbitz even cares that they are contracting with a company that gives their customers sub-par service/takes advantage of them.

Orbitz got their booking fee.....

I had a similar experience when Budget tried to get me for damages, that i did not cause, to a vehicle I rented. I booked the car using southwest. I sent an email to southwest about the whole situation, got an auto reply and never heard another thing. I thought southwest would care that the rental car company was attempting to bilk the southwest consumer. Nope.
 
Aug 2, 2016
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#10
I think/hope that a smart long term business strategy goes past that--and I hope that the airing from this forum helps. I think that customers ultimately appreciate a broker that wants to weed out the occasional bad vendor, that wants their customers to know that they provide communication and recourse. On the other side, it's ultimately destructive for a business to have potential customers believe that they'll be cynically disrespected.
 
Likes: sas80
#11
how much did you pay for Orbitz service . . .there is your answer.

The people sitting in a cubical in a non-airconditioned warehouse in Bangalore simply are trained to find key words and then enter them in a system that produced standard call center answer number 5.

Change the words a little - get answer number 12.
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
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www.promalvacations.com
#12
Unfortunately, this is true of ALL OTA's. They don't make money unless they sell en mass. If you use them, the handoff is virtually no customer service.

We advise people to use them to research and then book directly with the supplier you find. Or use a real travel agent because that's the service they provide.

However, all is not lost. Check our customer contacts on top of the page. See if your car rental company is listed. If they are follow our directions on how to write to them. One at a time. See if you can get it fixed that way.

You might also want to look at our car rental forum. We have threads on how to protect yourself when renting and how to fight a false claim.
 

technomage1

Verified Member
Jan 5, 2015
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#13
@Mark Sulkes did you want us to advise you on your claim or did you just post to share your experience? Either way is fine, but if you want us to advise you we do need more details like Just A Guy posted.
 
Aug 2, 2016
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#14
@Mark Sulkes did you want us to advise you on your claim or did you just post to share your experience? Either way is fine, but if you want us to advise you we do need more details like Just A Guy posted.
Yes. I'm having trouble uploading the documentation to you via the site communication now. Can I email to you (email address?) as attachment?

Further note: The Elliott.org site gave very useful information--the email address of someone at Orbitz management overseeing customer service. As soon as this thread started, I emailed her ('ldiehl@orbitz.com') with the link to the thread, to let her know that the discussion had been opened. She has not seen fit to respond to this thread or to me by email. I think that says it all.
 

technomage1

Verified Member
Jan 5, 2015
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#15
@Mark Sulkes,

Please ensure you remove or black out any personal info before you upload. It should be a matter of selecting the black "upload a file" button to the bottom right of the post window, right next to the "post reply". What error message are you getting?

When you select this button it shows you the file types you can upload.

I do know some folks are experiencing server issues today so if it doesn't work for you, please try back this evening.
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
12,704
12,701
113
New York
www.promalvacations.com
#16
If it has been more than a week, write to the first executive we show for Orbitz. Give hiM a week to reply. If he or she doesn't, move to the next one. Repeat weekly until you get to the CEO.

But your real beef is with the car rental company. Are their contacts shown on Elliott? If so write to
them. That's who has to fix it, not Orbitz. They are merely your go between,

But make sure your letter is polite, states fact only and keep emotion out of it.


Yes. I'm having trouble uploading the documentation to you via the site communication now. Can I email to you (email address?) as attachment?

Further note: The Elliott.org site gave very useful information--the email address of someone at Orbitz management overseeing customer service. As soon as this thread started, I emailed her ('ldiehl@orbitz.com') with the link to the thread, to let her know that the discussion had been opened. She has not seen fit to respond to this thread or to me by email. I think that says it all.
 
Aug 2, 2016
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#17
Very frustrating! In attempting to send materials to technomage1 I have uploaded files and composed explanatory message. I see obvious black "start a conversation", "upload files", and "preview" buttons. I have looked for a matter of minutes and see no obvious "send" or "post message" button. How do I send!!?
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
12,704
12,701
113
New York
www.promalvacations.com
#18
Very frustrating! In attempting to send materials to technomage1 I have uploaded files and composed explanatory message. I see obvious black "start a conversation", "upload files", and "preview" buttons. I have looked for a matter of minutes and see no obvious "send" or "post message" button. How do I send!!?
Are you doing it as a private conversation using the envelope icon on the top? That should work.
 

technomage1

Verified Member
Jan 5, 2015
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#20
Very frustrating! In attempting to send materials to technomage1 I have uploaded files and composed explanatory message. I see obvious black "start a conversation", "upload files", and "preview" buttons. I have looked for a matter of minutes and see no obvious "send" or "post message" button. How do I send!!?
I haven't gotten any conversations from you.

Again, please use the "Upload a File" feature just to the right of the "Post Reply" button. If you can't get your documents to load that way, then I can't either, so I need to know what error message you're getting in order to help you.

I was able to upload a test document just now, so it should be working OK. See the "Post Reply", "Upload a File", and "More Options" on the second image? You want the "Upload a Reply"
 

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