Monday, March 23, 2020

Orbitz Is Overwhelmed

We were just starting to pack for our Spring Break vacation two weeks ago when things started to look dicey. Coronavirus cases were climbing fast and cities across the country were shutting down attractions and restaurants. The writing was on the wall: We were going to have to cancel our vacation. I had booked the suite directly with the hotel which had a policy of allowing for cancellation 24 hours before check-in. It took me all of five minutes to cancel that. Cancelling the flight, however, would prove to be much more difficult.

Ordinarily, you're pretty much out-of-luck if you want to cancel your flight. But, Orbitz, in anticipation of the pandemic, allowed for a generous cancellation window. I tried to cancel the flight through the Orbitz website. An hour later, when I hadn't gotten any kind of acknowledgement, I tried to cancel again. And yet again the next morning. I finally gave up on the website and called the Orbitz customer service number and was met with a message saying that the had high call volume and could not take my call. I tried several other numbers and finally got through. I was put into a wait queue and sat on the phone for over an hour until the call got disconnected. I called back and got the option to schedule a call back with a rep. I did that and about 90 minutes later, the call came in. I picked up and an automated message said I was being transferred to a customer service representative. The call got dropped.

Calling American Airlines directly was a much easier experience and I got through before very long. I told them that I would be cancelling my flight and they said they'd take care of it, but I'd have to contact Orbitz for a refund. The day of my flight, I tried over and over again to get in contact with Orbiz to no avail. I then decided that it might be smart to call in at 2am. After an hour wait, I was connected to a customer service rep out of the Philippines who basically told me that he couldn't issue a refund.

At that point, I was tired of trying to deal with Orbitz and I called my credit card company to dispute the charge. They'll notify Orbitz of the dispute and give them a chance to respond. The way I see it, Orbitz is likely overwhelmed, so they likely won't even respond. And, even if they do, I have it well documented that I tried to call and cancel and that American Airlines via Orbitz was offering refunds under the Coronavirus circumstances. I have heard some anecdotes about Orbitz sending successful chargebacks to collections, but I'll deal with that if and when it comes along.


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