Me: Hello, Hotels.com? I’m calling because I just confirmed a reservation on your website for two nights. One of the nights was supposed to be $114 and the other night was supposed to be $123. When I got the confirmation email, it listed $123 each night. I need to make sure the first night is only $114.
Out-sourced Worker: I see you have a reservation for two nights for $123. Is there anything else I can help you with?
Me (controlling the urge to swear at him in Spanish): Yes. When I chose that particular hotel, the website said that the rates changed during my stay. I requested more information by clicking on the handy red message and was told, via your website, that the first night would be $114 and the second night would be $123. I need to confirm with you that that is the case.
O-s W: It says here that it is $123.
Me: Okay, that’s what the confirmation says. That’s not what your website says, nor is it what I agreed to when I hit the “Confirm Reservation” button.
(Here ensues a 12 minute debate about what the website actually said. He said he couldn’t find that page, even after I almost-patiently walked him through the whole process, while doing the same on my own computer at home. I read to him the popup explanation and said, “That’s a quote, right from your own website. That’s the price I agreed to and that’s the price I want.” O-s W puts me on hold. For quite a long time. When he comes back he says…)
O-s W: We put only the highest possible amount on the confirmation email, that way you are not surprised when you are charged that amount.
Me, asking the apparently impossible: Okay, I need you to send me a confirmation email with both prices so that I can show the page to the hotel when I check in.
O-s W: I will explain it to you again. We put only the highest possible amount on the confirmation email so that you are not surprised when you are asked to pay that amount.
I’m going to pause here to explain that I understand there’s only a $9 difference. And I understand that the fee charged by hotels.com is only $5. However, there’s a larger picture at work here. It’s the picture of a Soulless Corporate Entity Acting with Impunity which, at best, can’t get its act together and at worst, bilks people like me $14 at a time. I can’t change most of the injustices in the world, but by gum, I’m going to fight on this one.
Me, speaking loudly: I heard you the first time. I need a paper that has the correct amount on it that I can show to the hotel. They won’t charge me less than the amount I’ve already agreed to pay, so I need a paper that shows that the first night is $114.
O-s W #2: Mama, mama, mama (okay, so he called me by my real name), I will tell you again…
Me, poking my finger in the air, which would have terrified him had he seen it: I don’t need you to tell me again! I’m not an idiot. I’m telling you…
O-s W #2: Mama, mama, mama…
(This continues for a good 3 minutes, finally I out yell him.)
Me: I want my reservation cancelled and I want my $5 fee returned! Now!
(We argue about this for a long, long time. He keeps saying my name, in triplicate, with a “Rational Man Trying to Sooth the Hysterical Female” voice. I’m guessing this was a training thing for them, and they should really rethink that whole approach. Finally, he says, and I am not making this up…)
O-s W #2: We can cancel your reservation but we cannot refund the $5. It is completely out of our hands.
Me: Are you kidding me? There’s not a company in the entire freakin’ (almost didn’t use that word) world that can take money off of a credit card and not return it. Give me my money back. I agreed to a contract and you changed the contract after I agreed, which makes you big fat liars. I want my money back or I’ll sue you!
O-s W #2: Please hold.
I hold and contemplate the likelihood that I will, in fact, sue. Sure, the labor is cheap, but it’s the principle of the thing, man.
O-s W #2: Mama, mama, mama, we will cancel your reservation and refund your money.
I know they probably won’t. I know it was a trick to get Cave-Woman off the phone before she sent death rays to attack their shoddy operation. I’m having my lawyer draw up the papers now.