Booked a return flight to Oz - was left stranded in Sydney due to online travel agent error

Hi, some advice please.

I booked a return ticket (flight only) with Expedia to travel to Sydney. 

Once there, I needed to return earlier than planned so contacted Expedia online to change my flight. This was an excruciatingly painful experience due to getting constantly cut off from whoever I was dealing with and having to start again - time and time again. But ... the final result was that I was told my return flight was confirmed and I could see payment taken on my CC for the changes.

Turned up at the airport - not booked in with the airline and unable to board. Online chat with Expedia gave me nothing helpful so returned to my family's house to stay until sorted out and could return home.

Expedia told me they needed to contact the airline to confirm what had gone wrong before they could issue my return ticket. I said this wasn't acceptable and they had a responsibility to get me on the next available flight home. They refused unless I paid in full for a new ticket - one way from SYD to LHR. My only other option was to wait for their back office team to get back to me within 48 hours!

I eventually gave up and booked myself a return flight home - by booking direct with Cathay Pacific as the most reasonable flight I could get (later that same day) and the most reasonable price. The price of this one way ticket was more than my entire return flight ticket!

I have since contacted Expedia and taken them to task for their failure to assist me and leaving me effectively stranded in Australia with no firm prospects for a return home.

In changing my return flight they had failed to actually do this correctly - they have admitted this. And had managed to bump me off the original return flight. So returning to the airport for my original return flight would have been as much of a waste of time as the previous time. This was my reason for eventually giving up and booking a return flight direct with CP.

Obviously I have a claim due to Expedia's failure and their admissions. However, since getting on to them they have been vile in the way they've handled my complaint. They asked for all sorts of information/evidence about how I booked/paid for my return flight etc. Once they had what they wanted, they simply refunded the "return" aspect of my original ticket rather than compensate me for the actual flight costs or the delays they created. 

Initial return ticket - approx £1,200.
Return ticket cost - £1,100 
Refund from Expedia - £560
Additional costs - taxi to and from SYD airport (AUSD 140 x 2), meal at airport (AUSD 8) due to length of time trying to sort issue without eating.
Returned - over 48 hours after I should have if the flight change had gone through correctly.

I have the conversations saved that I had with Expedia - all of them. 
I have the receipts for food at the airport and taxi fares and also my return flight.

My main question is who should I be going to in order to get this progressed? Is it CAA, the airline (though Expedia have admitted not even communicating to the airline about the changes - hence my inability to check in), my travel insurance company (this doesn't make sense to me due to the circumstances) or A N Other. Obviously I can try with Expedia but they seem to have decided they've dealt with the issue and dismissed me so this will clearly be a fruitless task.

Haven't posted on the flight delays board as this doesn't seem to be a flight delay - more just complete incompetence from the online travel agent.

Thanks
MFW date 2nd Jan 2024 - task complete YAY!

Comments

  • eskbanker
    eskbanker Posts: 29,926
    First Anniversary Name Dropper Photogenic First Post
    Forumite
    You can argue that Expedia have some sort of moral obligation to meet your extra costs, but it's not clear to me that they have any legal or contractual one to do so - what provision are you seeking to rely on?

    If there isn't a compelling legal or contractual case for reimbursement from Expedia, then your insurer may be more viable?
  • madaboutspots
    madaboutspots Posts: 157
    First Anniversary First Post Name Dropper
    Forumite
    Surely having booked a return flight with them they are duty bound to get me home in the same way as the airline would have been if my flight was cancelled due to unforeseen circumstances? 
    MFW date 2nd Jan 2024 - task complete YAY!

  • bagand96
    bagand96 Posts: 6,025
    Name Dropper First Anniversary First Post
    Forumite
    edited 8 January at 12:39PM
    Surely having booked a return flight with them they are duty bound to get me home in the same way as the airline would have been if my flight was cancelled due to unforeseen circumstances? 
    Unfortunately not. Your contract with Expedia will state they act as your agent in arranging services with the supplier (airline).

    They have clearly failed in their responsibility as agent, but I don't think there's any legislation which makes an agent responsible for getting you home in the same way that there is for airlines. Morally I agree they should help you out as they have caused the error. This can be the problem using 3rd party agents though, especially when their customer care is so poor.

    Did you pay Expedia with a credit card? You could try that perhaps under S75, but I'm not sure if it would stick or not. 
  • silvercar
    silvercar Posts: 46,765
    Academoney Grad Name Dropper Photogenic First Anniversary
    Ambassador
    Turned up at the airport - not booked in with the airline and unable to board. Online chat with Expedia gave me nothing helpful so returned to my family's house to stay until sorted out and could return home.
    Expedia told me they needed to contact the airline to confirm what had gone wrong before they could issue my return ticket

    It is reasonable for them to investigate who was at fault. If they genuinely believe that they had booked and ticketed you on the plane, they will want to look at if the airline IDB’d you ie involuntary denied boarding to you. If so the airline would be liable.

    If they admit liability, or it is proved that it is their fault then they would be liable, certainly for all your out of pocket expenses. I don’t know if travel agents are liable for compensation. 

    The next stage would be for them to issue you a letter of deadlock, or you wait 8 weeks and then you go to arbitration or court. I’m not sure who Expedia use for arbitration, you should be able to find out, otherwise it’s the small claims court if you want to go to court. Do you have legal insurance?  I can’t see what harm contactIng your travel insurance would do. In fact I would have contacted my travel insurance as soon as I needed to return home earlier than my booked flight.

    I'm a Forum Ambassador on The Coronavirus Boards as well as the housing, mortgages and student money saving boards. I volunteer to help get your forum questions answered and keep the forum running smoothly. Forum Ambassadors are not moderators and don't read every post. If you spot an illegal or inappropriate post then please report it to [email protected] (it's not part of my role to deal with this). Any views are mine and not the official line of MoneySavingExpert.com.
Meet your Ambassadors

Categories

  • All Categories
  • 341.8K Banking & Borrowing
  • 249.7K Reduce Debt & Boost Income
  • 449.2K Spending & Discounts
  • 233.9K Work, Benefits & Business
  • 606.1K Mortgages, Homes & Bills
  • 172.5K Life & Family
  • 246.8K Travel & Transport
  • 1.5M Hobbies & Leisure
  • 15.8K Discuss & Feedback
  • 15.1K Coronavirus Support Boards