Saturday, April 6, 2013

Kayak and Customer Service

A month and a half before the trip to Boston The Young One and I recently took, we searched for hotels that were close to the convention site. First, there was the sticker shock about the cost of a hotel room and then no hotel rooms from here to Nebraska were to be found.  Himself suggested we try booking the room through Kayak. We did and we got a great rate for 4 nights at the Boston Park Plaza Hotel, $170 less than the room rates offered by the hotel.

A week after the reservation was made, The Young One found out the team didn't have to be in Boston two days earlier than the convention start. Great, I'd save a bit of cash on the room. I called the hotel, told the clerk we wouldn't need the room on Wed. but would arrive on Thurs. instead. No problem. Even though, we had booked through a third party, he said he would take care of everything.

I should have called back, the day before we were to arrive, but I didn't and there was a small problem when I arrived for check-in. No credit had been issued and I had been expected the day before.  The clerk gave me a song and dance about dealing with a 3rd party company. Fortunately, I remembered the name of the clerk I spoke with over the phone. There was some back office chit chat behind the closed doors of the reservation desk. Clerk came back, told me to call (company that handles hotel reservations for Kayak) for the credit as the hotel couldn't issue the credit.

I made the call and there was another song and dance about getting a refund, but the helpful clerk would talk to the hotel and call me back. No phone call to me. I figured I would have to eat the extra room rate. Punishment for not dealing directly with the hotel.

On check out day, I asked the desk clerk about the refund. She went to get her manager which turned out to be the clerk I dealt with when I checked in. He said he received an email from GetARoom that a credit would be issued. He said I would receive an email confirming the credit.

No Email, but it was over a weekend. No email all week. On Friday, there' was a voice mail from Kayak customer service. A credit will be issued, but depending on the "bank" it could take anywhere from 7 to 10 business days or two billing cycles to show up. It's been two weeks since our trip.

So here I am still in the Kayak without a paddle. It amazes me the lack of customer service there is nowadays. I spent most of my business career dealing in customer service. When I worked at the cement company (a Fortune 500 company, btw) if a customer had a problem with our product or delivery, the problem was resolved quickly and a credit issued quickly. Ditto when I was a programmer/consultant. If the client had an issue with the billing, the issue was resolved quickly. The motto was the customer was always right, even when s/he was wrong.

Honestly, Kayak, it isn't the bank that is taking a rock of ages to issue the credit. It's you! You charge my account quickly enough. You should issue the credit tout suite, also. The bank isn't issuing the credit. The bank is waiting for you to issue the credit. Your cashflow must be really low, really poor if you can't issue a credit for a measly $159 and change.

I have no issue with using Kayak to book services. As I said, we got a great rate at the Little Princess Hotel, but you may want to think twice about using the service especially if there's a chance a problem arises.

In hindsight, I know I should have listened to you, Andy. You never steer me wrong when it comes to advice. I'm confidant the Captain, my Captain wouldn't have let me down and a refund would have been issued without a lot of dancing around.

Have you used Kayak? Any problems?


  1. Been there many times, receiving non customer service, frustrating isn't it.

  2. Customer service has gone the way of the dinosaur! Frustrating is an understatement! I find a well placed scathing letter does wonders. LOL

  3. I've never used Kayak, but I have had to deal with Priceline customer service and its excellent. I have never stayed in a hotel less than three stars (and I'm picky) and I've gotten some amazing deals like mid town Manhattan for $55. I know a lot of people are nervous about not knowing the hotel up front, but in well over 100 hotel stays I've never had a bad experience.

  4. I was reminded that I used Travelocity once, or whatever one uses the garden gnome as a mascot. My hotel was $80 and it smelled like smoke and leaking sewerage, when I complained they offered me an extra night free, not much use in a place I didn't want to spend even one night in. So all the travel sites are not equal.

    The Shat is where it's at

  5. OMG don't you hate that? And you're right its pretty typical these days. We've got a caterer we use at work, because his customer service is so great. Unfortuantely, its hard to find these days.

  6. Hmm...that is interesting and frustrating. I've never used Kayak. I have used though. No issue.