My parents visited me in Athens, Greece! While we were hanging out in Athens, we had to deal with some extremely terrible customer service with Priceline.
How to Deal with Terrible Travel Customer Service
To give you an overview, here was the situation:
My parents are taking a cruise from Athens to Istanbul that tours the Greek islands in between. But due to the recent Istanbul airport attacks, the cruise changed its arrival destination back to Athens. With this change, we had to book new flights. Initially my parents booked a flight from Istanbul to Berlin so we had to request a refund for the flight in order to book an Athens to Berlin flight.
But when trying to get the refund, it was difficult getting through to customer service.
Before leaving on their 3-4 week trip, my parents spoke with Priceline over the phone THREE times trying to get a refund:
1st conversation: they ended the phone call in mid conversation.
2nd conversation: They told us: “We’ll process your refund and send you an e-mail confirmation within 15 minutes.” Nothing ended up happening.
3rd conversation: They told us: “Your previous agent processed this incorrectly. You will receive an e-mail confirmation in 48 hours.” Nothing ended up happening.
After no action taken by Priceline, my parents were already on their way to Europe, worried that this hadn’t been resolved. They also knew that phone calls abroad would cost way more money than within the USA, but because Priceline didn’t help us, we would have to make international calls while in Athens.
How to Deal with Terrible Customer Service
When dealing with customer service, I like to start online so that all conversations are documented. This is the order in which I like to deal with issues:
Live chat / e-mail -> Social Tweeting -> Phone call
Live chat/e-mail: Live chat allows me to deal with issues in real-time, so I prefer live chat over e-mail. But in the case that live chat support is unavailable I will turn to e-mail support.
Social Media Tweeting: If I’m unable to get a solution, I might write up a dissatisfied complaint on Twitter. The thing about social media is it is shown to the public eye. Businesses will be more worried about maintaining their reputation online and therefore may respond sooner to your inquiries. I’ve almost always gotten take care of via Twitter.
Phone Call: I use this method last because in my opinion it requires more work, and chats aren’t documented so it’s a bit unreliable. I hate being put on hold as well. You could speak with a representative on the phone for hours, then encounter a dropped call which puts you back to square one.
However, sometimes phone chats will be more beneficial especially if live chat isn’t available. Real-time discussion can help get things done quicker in certain cases.
My last tip: When speaking with a representative, use a dissatisfied but UNDERSTANDING tone. From my experience, shouting at reps does no good as they deal with angry customers all the time.
So how did we deal with Priceline’s BS?
Live chat: While my parents were with me in Greece, I accessed Priceline’s live chat to get a response from a representative, who ended up directing me to their customer support phone line once again. I told them that this had already happened 3 times in the past and nothing was resolved, and I didn’t want to make an expensive international phone call. I showed my dissatisfaction, and they gave me a case ID which helped with less hold time.
I decided to send an angry tweet at Priceline, because social media cases usually get better attention. They ended up tweeting back but did so after I had already resolved everything.
I used my Project Fi plan to call for 20 cents/min, so the call ended up costing around $5, which wasn’t too bad. And yes, I recommend Project Fi! She said the previous agent hadn’t finished the process so she would take care of it for us. This time I made sure the representative kept me on the line while she got the e-mail processed, despite the call charges.
We finally got an e-mail saying the refund had been processed and that the money would show in the bank account after 3-4 days.
I hate dealing with customer service. But when you have to get things resolved, I think the best approach is to try all different modes of communication with support until they get their shit together. Also, make sure to keep a level head so you don’t come off as angry without reason. We hope these tips help as we hate seeing people get jipped by travel companies and crappy support!