It’s a service business. Did Expedia fail to get the memo?

D’s organization Privacy Activism is going to be debuting the graphic novel Networked: Carabella on the Run at ComiCon … how cool is that?  So I was making plane reservations for her.  We usually fly Alaska Airlines up and down the west coast — after a decade of doing the two-city thing, we’re “MVP golds” which means that if necessary they’ll kick off the co-pilot to give us a seat.  But since she needs to stop in San Francisco on the way it turned out to be a lot cheaper to do the SF/San Diego leg on another airline.  So I turned to Expedia.

After filling everything out, I hit the “pay for booking now” button.  It whirled around for quite a while and eventually told me

Your booking request could not be completed

Drat.  I hate software.  I tried again; same result.   I switched to another credit card.  No dice.   So I called it a night and went to sleep.

This morning when I got up, I once again got the same message.  So I phoned the toll-free number, waited on hold for a long time, and finally talked with a reservation agent.  After having me read the information to her, she tood all my information again over the phone, and told me she’d made the reservation manually.  Ooops, it turns out that there had been a fare change.  Was that okay with me?  Yes it was.  She tried again.

“It’s taking a long time … there’s a lot of latency today … don’t worry, I’m still on the line …  Oh.  I’m getting the same error message you did.  So, you should just try to make the reservation yourself later.”

“Yeah but I’ve tried quite a few times already.”

“I’m sorry for the inconvenience.”

I stared at the phone, not sure what to say.  Eventually I said, “You know, I’m not having a good experience here.  I spent time online with your software and waited for quite a while on hold, and then spent a lot of time with you, and still don’t have my reservation.”  When she didn’t respond, I said, “Well, maybe I’ll just call the airline directly.”

“Is there anything else I can do for you, sir?”


Fortunately, Virgin Atlantic’s site worked just fine.

And there are plenty of other search engines out there — bye-bye Expedia.