Today was a victory for this little guy.

The story is this: When we went on vacation to Mexico, we ordered five round trip Ottawa/Cancun tickets from Expedia.  The itinerary said that the trip included meals.  However, no meals were provided.

I don’t know about you, but I am fed up with the arrogant attitude of the airlines these days.  Service has gone down the drain, and the ubiquitous "snack" is hardly a substitute for a meal.  This was the last straw.

When I got back, I wrote this to Expedia:


Dear Expedia,

I am lodging a complaint with you about my latest travel. Specifically, when I booked my travel with Expedia, the itinerary clearly stated that meals would be served as follows:

1) breakfast on United Airlines flight 8326,

2) breakfast on United Airlines flight 971,

3) dinner on United Airlines flight 972.

No meals were served.

I have carefully read the terms and conditions of the contract. Nowhere does the airline, or Expedia, ask me to waive liability in the event that meals which have been contracted for, are not served.

Furthermore, in order to be on the 6 AM flights, we needed to be out of bed and at the airport by 4:30 AM. We had a small snack when we left, but basically my family, with small children, went without food for nearly 11 hours on the morning of March 12.

It is infuriating that meals contracted and paid for should be arbitrarily denied. As the agent for the airline, it seems to me that you falsely advertised that meals would be served. Therefore, I am demanding that you compensate me for 15 meals not served. I am also demanding that you compensate me for interfering with the enjoyment of my holiday by denying us food for a period of 11 hours.

Please tell me how you to plan to address my complaint.

Sincerely,

William A. Saunders

They responded with this response:


Dear William Saunders,

Re:Itinerary: 110924165338

Thank you for contacting Expedia.ca with your resent travel experience.

We would like to apologize for the inconvenience that this has caused to you and your family. We would like to take this time to inform you that Expedia.ca acts as a third party on behalf of the airlines. Any meal information shown online is provided by the individual carriers. We recommend that you contact Air Canada/United Airlines with for further investigation and compensation request.

Please feel free to contact us if you have any further questions. Our Customer Support Representatives are available to assist you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Thank you for choosing Expedia.ca!

Customer Support Team

Typical customer service response… pass the back.  In this case, blame the supplier.  However, I had an ace in the hole.  I had bought five tickets from Expedia and used points to get two more tickets. I had two different itineraries, one from BTI, and one from Expedia, and they differed on the meals.  Here is what I wrote back:


Thank you very much for your prompt response.

At the time we booked these tickets, we also booked two additional tickets using Royal Bank Visa Avion points through BTI Canada. I have attached the ETicket they sent me, which clearly shows just "SNACK" or nothing, but not meals for the flights in questions.

My belief is that airlines will point to Expedia’s database as the source of the problem, leaving me, as the customer, out of pocket.

Accordingly, I am repeating my request for compensation, and notifying you that if no compensation is forthcoming within 14 days, I intend to pursue this through small claims court.

Sincerely,

William A. Saunders.

It was a bit of a bluff, because in Ontario you can only sue in small claims court in the defendants actual place of business, and I didn’t know where Expedia.ca was located.  So, I didn’t actually know where or how I would take them to small claims court.  But I figured that the threat of small claims court, and the attendant expense of having to send a lawyer to defend themselves against a complaint worth no more than a few hundred dollars might cause them to deal with my case quickly.  Here’s what they said:

Dear Mr. Saunders,

Thank you for your patience while we investigated your case.

Upon further research into what occurred with your meals, it appears that the flight information in the computer reservation system was never updated by the airline.  Due to this the meal offers were shown on the Expedia.ca itinerary.  We have processed a refund for the cost of 15 meals as requested, calculating approximately $7.00 for the meals which gives a total of $105.00cad that has been refunded back to your credit card.  You should see the credit on your next statement and a refund receipt has been sent. 

Again we do apologize for the inconvenience that this has caused and for any further questions or concerns, do not hesitate to contact us at 1-888-EXPEDIA(397-3342).  Our customer support representatives will be happy to assist you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Thank you for choosing Expedia.ca
Customer Support Team

That’s more like it!