Expedia: Not All That Expedient

by Leo Notenboom

Expedia just lost me as a customer. And it really hurts me to walk away. Unlike most customers, who'd probably have walked away long ago, I have an emotional attachment. I was one of the engineers who helped create Expedia.

When it first went live, I was the guy who installed the "final bits" in the MSN datacenter where it was housed at the time. My account is one of the first on Expedia. Somewhere within the bowels of Expedia, it's quite possible that some of my code remains.

And yet, no matter how hard I try, Expedia refuses to take my money.

Here's the story. Last week I finally decided to book a trip my wife, a friend and I would be taking to Austin in September. Very simple: three adults, Seattle to Austin, and a car at the destination. I laid out my itinerary and went to purchase it. Several screens later, Expedia finally responded with "We are unable to authorize this credit card. Please use a different credit card."

And for the record, it's a Visa, and very valid. I had used that day for other things and no, I'm nowhere near my credit limit.

Fine, I try again. I reenter the credit card information, make sure the expiration date is current, and so on.

"We are unable to authorize this credit card. Please use a different credit card."

OK, fine: I'll use my American Express card. In fact I even have another trip already booked and paid for on Expedia using it, so that should work, right? Wrong.

"We are unable to authorize this credit card. Please use a different credit card."

Same story, I double check all the information, reenter the number and expiration date.

"We are unable to authorize this credit card. Please use a different credit card."

OK, ok... I "get" software. I even understand credit card processing can be a pain in the behind at times. I'll let it sit a couple of days so any transient problems can work themselves out. If it's a widespread issue, you know they'll be all over it.

Days later I go to try again. You can guess where I'm headed:

"We are unable to authorize this credit card. Please use a different credit card."

So I call customer service. To their credit, it was relatively easy to get to a real person, with whom we repeated the process -- and got the same results.

OK, we'll try the other (Amex) card again. This time she put me on hold when it failed, presumably to get help from someone.

She came back, and indicated that perhaps one of the flights in my itinerary wasn't available anymore, so she wanted to rebuild it from scratch. Why an unavailable flight would manifest as a denied credit card is beyond me, but what the hey. Like I said, I'm patient, and wanted to cut my beloved Expedia some slack. Sure enough the return trip was no longer available, so she booked a different flight.

Cool? No. You know where this is headed....

Back on hold I went.

After a couple of minutes she came back on and indicated that the airline (American Airlines) "was in the database" and that could be causing the trouble. Again, why a database issue like that would manifest as a denied credit card is beyond me, but I carried on. Her suggestion: wait 15 minutes and try again. So I did.

Actually I waited longer. Three or four hours.

"We are unable to authorize this credit card. Please use a different credit card."

Two different credit cards, that I know are good, work elsewhere, and use different back-end processes.

Apparently Expedia doesn't like me anymore, and doesn't want my business.

Sigh. I feel so ... rejected. And as silly as it sounds, sad. Expedia was one of my "kids".

Maybe that roaming gnome will have me? Yep, the gnome likes me. First time, without a hitch. A double pain for me, since Travelocity was "the competition" when we were building out Expedia. Sigh.

>:-(

Leo Notenboom runs the popular tech support site, Ask Leo.



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Comments

My partner and I have actually been ok with Expedia but then again we normally double check with a mini recon online with any accomodation we go for as we have a 3yr old in tow.

Great post.

Has anyone received back their money for the double charges with Expedia? I am in the process of fighting them and if they do not refund I am going to look into a class action lawsuit - has anyone done this yet?

Please use caution when booking through Expedia.

I cancelled a flight, the Expedia rep advised I had one year to redeem the credit. When I called back to rebook the flight (within the year) expedia refused to redeem the credit. The airline would not give the credit either, it was not their policy. Now I'm out over $600.

It's MUCH easier to deal with the airlines direct.

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