On-line Bait and Switch

My wife and I are planning a trip to Hawaii in July. We have booked the place to stay and have been waiting on airfare to drop to book our tickets.

We have been scouring the web night and day to find the best prices. Most of what we have found is price over $750.00 per ticket. I located a decent deal from American Airlines that had one stop both directions. However the trip would take more than 14 hours in a single direction. I could fly to Sydney Australia in less time.

The other night we were doing our airfare web crawl, and my wife found a good price on Hawaiian Airlines for $577.00 incl. taxes to Maui. Not bad, one stop in both directions and with only about an hour layover in Honolulu. We would depart from SFO and Return back to OAK. Not a big deal since BART takes you to both airports. We booked the tickets through Orbitz.com and we are happy… until today.

Today, I was looking at a TripAdvisor.com ad to win a million dollars (no purchase necessary). I clicked on it and it took me to TripAdvisors new feature of flight locators. So just for S&G I popped in our travel info and what do you know on Hawaiian Airlines I found the same Flights but to and from OAK. The price… the price was $371.00 per ticket incl. taxes. What a deal.

In a matter of only 15 minutes, I did all of the following:

I contacted Orbitz to find out the penalties to cancled our trip. I could still cancel our trip without having to pay any fees as long as it has been within 24 hours. (Cool feature on Orbitz) The only problem is that it could take two billing cycles to refund the money to the credit card. That sucks. I could cancel on-line, but I waited until I had the new tickets first.

My next step was to book the trip on Travelocity.com, who had the $371.00 price. I put in all the information and pressed enter. Poof! I get a per ticket price of $449.00 per ticket. Wait, that wasn’t the price? I check again and went through process a second and third time to make sure I wasn’t doing something wrong. Nope price says $322.00 per ticket +tax $371.00. Checkout says $449.00. Umm… that’s not right!

I called Travelocity.com to confirm the two prices. The operator (Kelly) said she saw the on-line price of $362.00 incl. tax per ticket. So I said I want to book it, and do it online to avoid the $25.00 phone surcharge. So, can you override the system to allow me to book for that $371.00 price?
Then Kelly said wait! We are getting a different price now. I see a new price of $449.00 per ticket. I said, “On your webpage, I still see $371.00”. I would like to have the airfare price I see advertised on your company website. She said she couldn’t give me that price, but she would be happy to confirm tickets at the new rate.

I shared my extreme frustration with Kelly and explained to her that she and her company (Travelocity.com) have committed on-line bait and switch. It was a clear and blatant attempt to lure customers on a great price. However, when the customer actually purchases the tickets they change the price. I told the Kelly that she should still honor the price, she refused. When I asked to speak to her supervisor Kelly hung-up on me.

Nonetheless, I am glad I didn’t cancel my tickets. I learned my lesson years ago with purchasing tickets on the web and canceling one before I had the other. Even though the price is still more than $100.00 cheaper, I refuse to give a company my money, when they practice a disregard in business ethics. I have a long list of companies I refuse to do business with and it continues to grow. Travelocity.com will go on the list right below American Airlines.

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