Q: I am deeply disturbed by my experience with Expedia. I’m paying for 15 members of my family – my wife and myself, four children and their spouses, and five grandchildren – to take a family vacation to celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary.
The kids wanted to have a party for us, but we asked them to save their money, and we would pay for a family vacation. We have never been able to get everyone together to accomplish this.
The only time we could get everyone together was June 4 to 11. We booked our flights through Expedia, but JetBlue canceled our Saturday flight, moving it to Monday and leaving us with a four-day vacation.
Expedia said I would get the money refunded, but it did not refund the travel insurance. All my calls to Expedia are put on hold waiting to talk to a supervisor, then the call goes to a busy signal. On Saturday, I waited patiently for one hour, one minute and 29 seconds before the call went to a busy signal.
The airline switched my flight, which made our vacation plans change. I am paying for my entire family to take a family vacation. I’d like Expedia to refund the $784 I spent on insurance. – Robert Sykora, Parma, Ohio
A: Insuring your trip was a smart move. Some – but not all – trips should be covered by insurance. Special events like anniversaries and family reunions definitely fall in the “insure it” category. But Expedia owes you an answer about your insurance and whether it’s refundable.
When you contacted me, I tried to find out if your premium was refundable, but my reading of the terms left me with more questions than answers. While it addressed a cancellation by you, it didn’t indicate what would happen if a supplier, like an airline, canceled the trip. The only clear-cut refund of the policy was a brief window to cancel and receive a full refund. I found that confusing.
I’m troubled to hear about your experience with calling Expedia. If an online travel agency goes to the trouble of publishing a phone number and inviting customers to call, the least it can do is promptly answer. Hanging up on you after an hour is inexcusable.
I highly recommend using email for a request like this. I list the names, numbers and addresses of the key Expedia executives on my consumer-advocacy site: elliott.org/company-contacts/expedia.
Personally, I think if your entire trip gets canceled, you should receive a full refund. But it’s possible that Expedia and its insurance carrier saw this differently. Still, in the absence of a clear rule, I needed to find out what Expedia had to say about your case.
I contacted the company on your behalf. It promptly refunded your $784. So I guess it was refundable after all.
Christopher Elliott is the ombudsman for National Geographic Traveler magazine and the author of “How to Be the World’s Smartest Traveler.” You can read more travel tips on his blog, elliott.org, or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.