Small claim court vs Orbitz/ Expedia

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Jun 29, 2020
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It seems that now I have to go to a Small Claim court against Orbitz/ Expedia. I live in NY. Where should I file the claim? In Seattle, WA, Expedia HQ or in NY? I saw that people first have to find the address of the agent for service of process for Orbitz, LLC for their state. Is that true? I can't find this on the NY state website. Should I file in Seattle?
 

Neil Maley

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Washington I believe. From Expedia’s terms:

These Terms of Use are governed by the Federal Arbitration Act, federal arbitration law, and the laws of the State of Washington, without regard to principles of conflicts of laws.
 
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Jun 24, 2019
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I respectfully disagree with Neil. The quoted language tells you what law applies to a dispute, not where the dispute must be brought. (Choice of law vs. venue.)

You may find the registered agent for service of process on both Expedia and Orbitz on this New York State web site:

https://www.dos.ny.gov/corps/bus_entity_search.html

Whether you can bring a small claims case in New York against either may depend on which company you contracted with and what the connection is with New York State. Some small claims courts have folks to assist claimants. Check with the small claims court in your county.

Many contracts require arbitration, but many of those exempt small claims cases.
 
Jun 29, 2020
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I respectfully disagree with Neil. The quoted language tells you what law applies to a dispute, not where the dispute must be brought. (Choice of law vs. venue.)

You may find the registered agent for service of process on both Expedia and Orbitz on this New York State web site:

https://www.dos.ny.gov/corps/bus_entity_search.html

Whether you can bring a small claims case in New York against either may depend on which company you contracted with and what the connection is with New York State. Some small claims courts have folks to assist claimants. Check with the small claims court in your county.

Many contracts require arbitration, but many of those exempt small claims cases.
Thank you. now I have found Orbitz LLC on NY web site, but is says Registered agent: none. Does it mean anything?

Selected Entity Name: ORBITZ LLC
Selected Entity Status Information
Current Entity Name:ORBITZ LLC
DOS ID #:4619086
Initial DOS Filing Date:AUGUST 08, 2014
County:WESTCHESTER
Jurisdiction:NEW YORK
Entity Type:DOMESTIC LIMITED LIABILITY COMPANY
Current Entity Status:ACTIVE



DOS Process (Address to which DOS will mail process if accepted on behalf of the entity)​
SUJIT GHOSH
495 CENTRAL PARK AVENUE STE 20
SCARSDALE, NEW YORK, 10583
Registered Agent​
NONE
Selected Entity Address Information
 
Jan 6, 2021
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I respectfully disagree with Neil. The quoted language tells you what law applies to a dispute, not where the dispute must be brought. (Choice of law vs. venue.)

You may find the registered agent for service of process on both Expedia and Orbitz on this New York State web site:

https://www.dos.ny.gov/corps/bus_entity_search.html

Whether you can bring a small claims case in New York against either may depend on which company you contracted with and what the connection is with New York State. Some small claims courts have folks to assist claimants. Check with the small claims court in your county.

Many contracts require arbitration, but many of those exempt small claims cases.
I respectfully disagree with @SoCalTraveler. This information is only partially accurate.

I will break this down in the most basic way; you should seek out self-help resources for small claims litigants; you will usually find links on the court’s website. You should also look for free legal aid clinics in your area; there are often volunteer attorneys and law students who can guide you in your filing.

You sue a corporation where the transaction took place. In the case of the internet, it’s where you made the purchase. The law assumes the corporation came to you to do business.

You serve a corporation where it lives. If Expedia and Orbitz are headquartered in Washington, that’s where their registered agent is. Corporations do not keep a registered agent in every state.

File in NY, serve in WA. You will have to research the rules for service in your jurisdiction. Sometimes you can serve the lawsuit on the registered agent by certified mail, sometimes you can’t.

Check around for a legal aid clinic...they’re not uncommon and an attorney/law student in your jurisdiction will give you the most accurate information pertaining to your situation. I can practically guarantee there’s an arbitration clause in your contract—I’m not familiar with any clauses that “exempt small claims cases.” What would be the point?
 
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Jun 24, 2019
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My experience is that large corporations have an agent for service of process in most every state, and certainly in all states it which the corporation is registered. Whether one can serve a summons from a New York small claims court in Washington is a legal issue. As both orbitz and Expedia appear to be registered in New York they may be served there.

the contract under which your claim arises may contain terms which affect where you can sue and for what. Some large corporations, such as cruise lines, require litigation to be brought in Miami.

check with your local small claims court. There may be someone there quite expert in these issues.
 
Jun 24, 2019
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For Expedia, Inc., if that is the entity with whom OP dealt, the registered agent in New York is
NATIONAL REGISTERED AGENTS, INC.
28 LIBERTY ST.
NEW YORK, NEW YORK, 10005

Orbitz is a subsidiary of Expedia. I'm guessing, and I could be wrong, but I think the correct name of the business is Orbitz Worldwide, LLC. I do not see that Orbitz Worldwide is registered in New York. I do see Orbitz Travel Insurance, a separate legal entity, registered in New York, using National Registered Agents.

The entry for Orbitz leading to Mr. Ghosh is a puzzlement, as that Orbitz, LLC, is a New York corporation (as opposed to a foreign, i.e., out-of-state, corporation, and the address is a medical office building.

Once again, if OP would share information as to the dispute, we might be able to determine, or at least guess at, the precise name of the business with which OP dealt.
 
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Neil Maley

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www.promalvacations.com
My experience is that large corporations have an agent for service of process in most every state, and certainly in all states it which the corporation is registered. Whether one can serve a summons from a New York small claims court in Washington is a legal issue. As both orbitz and Expedia appear to be registered in New York they may be served there.

the contract under which your claim arises may contain terms which affect where you can sue and for what. Some large corporations, such as cruise lines, require litigation to be brought in Miami.

check with your local small claims court. There may be someone there quite expert in these issues.

Wouldn’t the website of an entity say where litigation must brought? Our attorney drew up our terms and conditions and in it they state any litigation needs to be done in our local county.
 
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Wouldn’t the website of an entity say where litigation must brought? Our attorney drew up our terms and conditions and in it they state any litigation needs to be done in our local county.
Oftentimes, yes. Additionally, it is almost a given that the Terms & Conditions will require binding arbitration in a location of the corporation's choice as part of the contract.
 
May 9, 2019
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I looked through Expedia and Orbitz's TOS (they're essentially the same) and it didn't specifically say where the case needs to be opened. But it does say disputes can be handled either through arbitration or small claims court.

"
You agree not to bring any suit or to initiate arbitration proceedings until 60 days after the date on which you communicated your Claim to Customer Support have elapsed. If we are not able to resolve your Claims within 60 days, you may seek relief through arbitration or in small claims court, as set forth below.

You and Expedia agree that any and all Claims will be resolved by binding arbitration, rather than in court, except that you and we may assert Claims on an individual basis in small claims court if they qualify.
 
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except that you and we may assert Claims on an individual basis in small claims court if they qualify.
This is the rather underhanded add-on to an arbitration clause, and it is not at all uncommon. Who decides if the claim qualifies for litigation in small claims court? The holder of the privilege, of course--the drafter of the contract.
 
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Neil Maley

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This is the rather underhanded add-on to an arbitration clause, and it is not at all uncommon. Who decides if the claim qualifies for litigation in small claims court? The holder of the privilege, of course--the drafter of the contract.
I’m sure the one of the attorneys who post as a volunteer can weigh in, but I don’t think it means much other than to try to discourage a lawsuit.
 
Jan 6, 2021
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I’m sure the one of the attorneys who post as a volunteer can weigh in, but I don’t think it means much other than to try to discourage a lawsuit.
Absolutely. The reality is that since Expedia/Orbitz/Whatever Company is the drafter of the contract, they are the ones who decide if they want to be sued in small claims court. Short answer: They don't. Binding arbitration happens in a location of their choice with an arbitrator of their choice with their counsel--in other words, friendly territory. If you sue them in small claims court, they have to retain local counsel.
 

Neil Maley

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www.promalvacations.com
Absolutely. The reality is that since Expedia/Orbitz/Whatever Company is the drafter of the contract, they are the ones who decide if they want to be sued in small claims court. Short answer: They don't. Binding arbitration happens in a location of their choice with an arbitrator of their choice with their counsel--in other words, friendly territory. If you sue them in small claims court, they have to retain local counsel.
And isn’t there often a fee for the consumer for arbitration?
 
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And isn’t there often a fee for the consumer for arbitration?
Yes. Most of the time, each side pays half of the fee. However, I have seen many arbitration clauses that include a "loser pays all" provision. These fees vary by region and the experience of the arbitrator, but you're looking at anywhere between $1000-$2000 per day.
 
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Thank you everyone who posted here. Here is my situation:

I bought a ticket on Orbitz in December, 19 for travel in May, 2020 on APG airlines. Due to Covid, there were no flights and the ticket was cancelled. It was a refundable ticket with a small penalty. The refund was initiated in April, 2020 and I was told that I will get a full refund pretty soon. After a year of calls and correspondence with Expedia/Orbitz I am still waiting for the refund. Also, it seems next to impossible to reach anyone at Orbitz/Expedia except overseas agents who promise each time to connect me to the corporate care reps but failed each time. Also, Orbitz agents usually claim that they can’t reach APG airlines and, therefore, can’t do anything. After a while I decided to reach APG airlines myself and actually was able to connect with their President and CEO (by Linkedin!) and some other higher level officials from APG. Basically, they told me that: All refunds from APR to AUG have been processed manually due to the closure of the automatic refunds in GDS.Expedia group has refused to send bank details to receive the refunds in order to refund the passengers.Then we issued 6 ACMs to Expedia to refund all tickets, ACMs have all been rejected>>

I tried to reach Expedia contacts (Peter Kern and Liz Gorton) without any success. Unlike APG airlines, it seems that to find anyone responsible is quite impossible. That is the reason I am looking for the option of a small claim court.
 
Jun 24, 2019
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Many large corporations draft arbitration clauses to include provisions making arbitration easier, or less expensive, or exempting small claims actions, to avoid a court ruling that the clause is unconscionable. This issue is extensively discussed by the Supreme Court in AT&T Mobility v. Concepcion. That case was 5-4, but I would think that with the current Supreme Court the majority would be larger.

The Concepcion's sought to bring a class action challenging AT&T's advertising that cell phones were free when AT&T charged sales tax on them, in accordance with state law. Among consumer advocates there was much consternation about this case as AT&T did not profit from the allegedly false advertising, as all of the sales tax collected was remitted to the state.

These days binding arbitration might occur by mail, by phone, or by Zoom, so a consumer would not need to travel to a distant location over a $100 claim.

Having said that, I'm not a fan of arbitration, so don't blame me.

As to small claims court, in California a corporation must appear through a manager whose job is not solely going to small claims court. Attorneys are not permitted, although attorneys may appear on an appeal of a small claims case. In California, only the defendant may appeal an adverse decision.
 
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