|Friday, July 05, 2002|
I remember Cory Doctrow writing his complaints about Expedia here and here. Travel was one of the first purchases to go online, so it's one of the first areas to discover that customer service matters. It matters a lot if your customer is stuck in another city trying to get home, or trying to get service on a purchase of a few hundred dollars. A bookseller might get away with screwing you on a $30 book, that's a bit more difficult with a $500 ticket. Part of the difficulty here is that the airlines really set the exchange policies on tickets, and they're getting worse for the customer all the time. The travel agent is caught between the customer and the airline; they need to keep the customer happy, but if they stretch things too far, they can get in a lot of trouble with the airline, to the point of having their plate pulled (meaning they can't issue tickets for an airline).
Somehow, I see a lot of complaints about Expedia, the #2 travel site, but not many about Travelocity. Is that because Travelocity is better, or because Expedia has more blogging customers? This also makes me wonder that if the airlines get their wish and eventually customers purchase most of their tickets directly from the carrier, will they do any better? Southwest does this already and seems to handle customer service well, but Southwest has long been an exception in this industry.
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