Wednesday, May 14, 2014

So, last week I posted about a bad experience with Expedia and the Star Inn Hotel Wien Schönbrunn. Expedia advertised the hotel as having "air conditioning" and "climate control," but when I got there I found the air conditioning had been disabled in all rooms. (Which is why I was mystified when I phoned Expedia to complain and in a startling display of competence they got the desk clerk to move me to another room. Another room with, um, no air conditioning.)

I never got the air conditioning and didn't get moved to another hotel, so when I returned home I called Expedia and spoke to a supervisor. He disregarded the previous supervisor's mention of a refund and instead he offered me a $100 "coupon" for my trouble. For eight nights with no air conditioning in a room nearing eighty degrees. (Remember, European beds have duvets rather than top sheets, which means I was laying totally naked and sweating on a mattress with nothing at all covering me. On Expedia, evidently, this deserves four and a half stars.) For the hour I spent on the phone explaining the problem and trying to get them to move me to a new hotel. If I accepted the "coupon," however, Expedia wouldn't admit they were wrong, and they wouldn't remove the words "air conditioning" from its listing.

I tweeted a few times about my experience, and eventually I got a direct message from Expedia saying they'd "sent this case to [their] top tier team to review." Naturally I was elated. I mean, I assumed the idiots you're first connected to when you call a company are their bottom tier. I guessed folks with a bit more experience were the middle tier. A dude on the top tier, I thought, probably had a briefcase and a badge.

I waited as patiently as possible. There was no way I could lose. The investigator would call the hotel, confirm that there was no air conditioning, see the words "air conditioning" in Expedia's listing, then decide how much of a refund I was due. Needless to say I was thrilled when my top-tier investigator telephoned and left a message saying she'd decided on resolution.

It turned out top-tier investigator Aliya could do faaaar better. Forget "coupon": she could get me $100 CASH. But Expedia still wouldn't admit they're wrong, blah blah blah.

I didn't even think for a second -- particularly because I'd forgotten that the previous offer wasn't, in fact, for cash. It's not like there's a gray area, I told her. Anybody with a third of a brain can see Expedia is cheating their customers.

Pssh, Aliya said. Everybody knows European hotels only have air conditioning in the summer months. Everybody knows it. And heating is only turned on in wintertime.

That's interesting, I said. So you're going to add small print to every page saying, "Some of this information is wrong, but everybody knows that"? Look, I said, YOU CLAIM THERE'S AIR CONDITIONING. THERE'S NO AIR CONDITIONING. NO AIR CONDITIONING.

But there is, she maintained. See, air conditioning doesn't necessarily mean cooling the air. It means conditioning it. There are a lot of ways to condition the air. If you're heating the air, you're conditioning it. If you're blowing the air around, you're --

And that's when I hung up.

My second husband, George, used to redefine terms when he was losing an argument. It was like Bill Clinton redefining "sex." What do you mean by black? George would ask. What do you mean by white? I went back to the Expedia website to read the comments of other guests. 98% positive reply rate, it said. And I flipped through looking for my review ... and it wasn't there.

So, here's a question for Aliya: what's a 98% positive reply rate when you delete negative reviews? She may be in the top tier but I'll bet even she couldn't answer that.

1 comment:

Yet Another Steve said...

Well, it's enough for ME to never use Expedia, so I for one can thank you even if you didn't get a refund or a correction.