Expedia.com, one of the world’s most popular travel sites, is refusing to help a victim of a credit card scam involving Expedia Thailand.
While apologizing for the “inconvenience”, Expedia supervisors in the US told this reporter they “cannot access the system” of Expedia’s agents in Thailand or contact them in order to deal with theft of money from this reporter’s credit card.
Officials with Thailand’s Ministry of Tourism said that they and Thai Airways staff were also unable to contact officers at Expedia Thailand. Several Thai Airways officers at Bangkok international airport also said they could not contact Expedia Thailand to resolve issues.
Without citing reasons, Expedia Thailand cancelled this reporters reservation on Thai Airways from Bangkok and Dubai at the last minute on February 18, and has refused to refund the full amount.
A veteran world traveler who has bought dozens of flights on Expedia, I saw Expedia’s name online on Feb. 17 and used my VISA card to purchase a ticket for 18,240 baht on Thai Airways from Bangkok to Dubai. Expedia sent me emails telling me to prepare for the flight.
But as I tried to check in at Bangkok international airport two hours before the flight, Thai Airways staff said they couldn’t find my name in the system. Over the next hour, Thai Airways staff were unable to contact Expedia Thailand officers by phone or email.
With the flight leaving soon, I then purchased a ticket directly from Thai Airways, whose managers helped me hurry onto the awaiting plane bound for Dubai. They charged me the same price as Expedia: 18,240 baht.
After arrival in Dubai, I checked my bank account and saw no deductions from Expedia. I checked my online itinerary from Expedia. The billing was zero, as it should have been.
I later saw this apologetic email from Expedia. They gave no explanations for canceling my reservation at the last minute. “Billy” promised to refund me within 15 days. (Note the poor English and incorrect spelling of my name).
But in fact, Expedia did take money from my account, after the cancellation, and didn’t refund the amount in full. After canceling my ticket, they then took $717 Canadian from my VISA account. This appeared in my bank statement more than a day after the cancellation. Seeing this, I emailed Expedia demanding a full refund. A day later, a refund of $675 appeared in my account — 42 dollars short.
This meant that Expedia was effectively charging me $42 for their bizarre decision to cancel my reservation. I insisted that Expedia return the $42 to my account. But Expedia officers in Thailand and the US tried to stonewall my attempts to receive the proper refund. Expedia Thailand’s replies said refund issues couldn’t be solved online, and their phone agents weren’t helpful either.
Expedia US tried to wash their hands of the matter, claiming that only Expedia Thailand could deal with it.
A few weeks later, when I asked the Canadian Embassy to inform Interpol about this cyber crime, they told me to contact Thailand’s Ministry of Tourism. Thailand’s Ministry of Tourism later said they couldn’t even contact Expedia in Thailand.
In mid-March, about a month after the problem began, an Expedia Thailand phone agent called me in Bangkok and promised to send the $42 immediately to my account. He claimed the problem was based on “differences in the exchange rate” between the days when money was deducted and later refunded.
But three weeks later, the amount still had not arrived.
When I called Expedia Thailand’s number in Bangkok, a supervisor named “Vikash” appeared illogical and irrational. He erroneously claimed that they had already made the refund in full. He claimed that they had billed me 18,200 baht, and refunded me 18,200 baht. “I’ll send you the receipt to prove it,” he said.
He refused to acknowledge that the floating exchange rate meant that Expedia was effectively short-changing me $42. “There’s nothing we can do. That’s your problem,” he said. He then accused me of being “rude” for demanding full payment, and he hung up the phone.
I immediately called Expedia’s number in the US. After two hours on the phone with several agents, a supervisor named “Mario” explained that a manager at Boston headquarter’s named “Lisa Bryan” told them that they couldn’t help me, because “Expedia US cannot access the Expedia Thailand system.”
“Mario” then promised to connect me with Expedia Thailand’s managers.
Alas, nobody answered the phone.