Skipping the On-Line Travel Agencies.
Why do people continue to use the on-line travel agencies? Is there some benefit that escapes me? If something goes wrong or if there’s a problem of any kind, you’ll end up in a three-party discussion at minimum, with all the buck passing and time wasting that the process will inevitably involve.
My most recent experience was a hotel reservation in London booked through expedia.com. The details aren’t really important, but suffice to say that the dispute was never resolved to my satisfaction and literally hours were wasted with me going to expedia, expedia contacting the hotel, the hotel giving inaccurate information to expedia, me disputing that information in another conversation with expedia–and on and on.
Of course, almost every time I contacted expedia, I got a different person, who had to access my file and skim it before proceeding. After a few days of this—and I have no doubt that’s part of the strategy—I realized that if I got a full refund of the amount in dispute, it would add up to small change per hour for time I had invested in trying to get the refund.
So my approach now is to use the on-line travel agencies to compare room rates or air fares and, in the case of hotels, read some of the comments and look at the photographs. Then I go direct to the web site of the airline or hotel for the actual booking. The fares and rates are almost always the same, but if something goes wrong, I’ll have only one person in one Customer Service Department to deal with.
That seems so logical . . . but what am I missing?