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Booking Engine Fiasco Or Why You Need A Travel Agent For Bucket List Trip

by John on 11/28/2016

undercover-jetsetterBeware when you book with online travel engines like Priceline, Expedia, etc.

I learned the hard way trying to get a deal in Las Vegas recently.

Let me give you the lessons first, then the details.

  • First, those online ads offering deals of $8 a day or $80 a week for a car rental, for the most part, don’t exist. I clicked on them and searched and found nothing close to that.
  • Second, realize that these booking engines are offering you deals that nobody else wants. You are getting the garbage because they are trying to clear their shelves. Our new engine — — does not.
  • Third, read the fine print. If you don’t pick the car up at the right time, they will cancel your booking then charge you at a higher rate. If you can’t keep to a strict schedule, then you will get hit with higher fees.
  • Fourth, these booking engines, which seem easy to use, actually force you to do more and waste your time.
  • Fifth, when you need help, you are on your own.

I am not saying don’t use them. I’m just saying beware.  So here are the details.

I needed a car in Las Vegas for one week. All I wanted was something cheap to get me to appointments quickly.

A Priceline deal lured me. $80 a week car rental in Las Vegas? Sure.  All I found was $160 for the week. I booked it anyway.  I set the pick-up time at 5 PM on a Monday.

But work went longer so I couldn’t get there until 7 PM. Unfortunately I booked it at a Budget Rent-A-Car that was not at the airport, but at a car dealership.  So when I arrived at 7 PM, the Budget office was closed. The car dealership was still open.  I checked the reservation and there was no mention that the Budget office closes at 5 PM.  So even if I was a few minutes late I would have lost my reservation.

So I had to go back the next day. But the employee at Budget said that my reservation had expired because I did not pick it up the night before.  He would book me a new reservation but it was going to be $250 — $90 more.  He said he could not give me the Priceline deal because that was strictly through Priceline.  He had no control over it.  And, he didn’t. I realized pleading my case to him would be useless.  I actually felt sorry for him.

So I went back online with Priceline. And all I could get was the same $250 deal Budget offered.

Now understand all this has taken an additional hour out of my day. Not to mention the two hours of time from the day before when I had to get a car from a friend for Monday night.  Plus, I pay an additional $90 a week for a cheap car rental that sounds like hamsters are running the engine.

I even tried chatting with someone on Priceline about this.  They were no help.  They told me since I missed the reservation, there was nothing they could do.  However, he admitted that there was nowhere on the reservation that said when the Budget office would be closed. Great solace but no financial compensation.

In addition, this new deal says that if I do not bring back the car with a full tank of gas I will be charged – get this — $9 a gallon.

So I got up early and I filled the tank.  But wait, it gets better. I told them I would return the car on the following Monday at 7 AM.  I was there at 7 AM and they weren’t.  Their office doesn’t open until 7:30 AM. And again, there was nothing on the reservation that told me that.

Granted, this was not damaging a vacation.  This put me out about $100 and about for five hours of time. I’m not saying that’s insignificant. But think if you were on a big, long-awaited vacation and this happens.

This is especially enlightening for me since with our new TV show Undercover Jetsetter, we are offering a new travel engine for all travel whether it is vacation or work.

Ours is different in many ways.

  • The first is this is the booking engine used by travel agents.  So the site is not just offering a limited supply of vacation deals. This is everything that is out there and available.  That’s significant. When you reduce the supply while the demand is going up, you create higher prices which is what so many travel businesses are doing.
  • Second, our deals will stay constant.  Unlike Travel engines like Priceline and Expedia, they follow you and track you.  So you might look at a flight, a hotel room, a car rental and not book it.  But you may come back later.  And when you do, that price will be higher.  That is not how ours will work.

Take a look at Jetsetter Deals.

Don’t get the runaround like I did.
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