Travel billing debate: Avis vs. Orbitz

In October, I extended my trip to Barcelona for VMworld Europe by a week. We spent time in the Andalusia region of Spain, and had a great trip. We rented a car in Seville for a few days to tour the region, staying in Ronda. I had a small issue with the bill for the rental, here’s a quick rundown of what happened. Here is a picture of me checking in during the car rental somewhere in Spain:

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So, I booked the car rental at Orbitz.com. They had a good deal when I bundled the airfare with the car rental, and their insurance offering for the rental was very reasonably priced (a good idea when renting a car internationally!).

The car rental experience was fine. I rent from Avis all the time domestically. In fact, I just got an invite to sign up for their “Avis First” program (more on that later).

If you have ever booked on Orbitz, it is generally a pre-pay experience. Renting cars can be a pay at the time of rental completion. I always use my credit card, and watch my bill closely as one should!

So here’s what happened. The rental was pre-paid from Orbitz, but when I checked my bill – I also had a bill from Avis. I was really confused! I double-checked what I bought from Orbitz, and I indeed did pre-pay for the airfare (Barcelona -> Seville -> Barcelona on Vueling) and the car rental from Avis.

The sequence next became interesting! I’ll start with my Twitter shoutout on December 22:

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I was very surprised when I got a response from Orbitz that same day. I didn’t hear from Avis until December 26. Orbitz replied as followed:

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Literally that same day, Orbitz had already agreed to give me a refund – no questions asked. Avis, well, they replied 4 days later telling me to contact customer services. Which I did, and got nowhere fast. Check out this dialog when I inquired about the dual-charge:

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I love the “we apologize for not having a more favorable reply” part. The Avis replies are visible, including their timing on the Twitter discussion here.

So, the long of the short is I’ll stop being an Avis customer. And big props to Orbitz for fixing something that wasn’t their wrong. I did get an invite to (join?) activate my Wizard profile as an Avis First account, I’ll have to pass. Thanks anyways, Avis.

I further issue major respect to them for their Twitter response. I do Twitter for work for a commercial brand, and it is hard work.

I further realize that Orbitz wants to keep selling car rentals from Avis, so I appreciate the partnership they have and need in the commercial travel segment.

My safety valve here is American Express! They will come to bat for me if needed, but didn’t have to use them this time. BTW, did you see my Instagram pic of the new card with a chip in it? #AWESOME

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Have any travel billing disputes? How were they resolved? Share your comments below!

2 responses to this post.

  1. I think you are letting Orbitz off easy. Of course they are going to be quick to give you your money back, they never spent it in the first place. If Orbitz really had the B2B relationship with Avis done properly you wouldn’t have had a problem. It sounds like Orbitz is marketing a service that really doesn’t exist.

    Reply

  2. Hi Ken – interesting perspective and I haven’t thought of it that way. The fact is however, by the terms, Avis should not have charged me. I am OK with Orbitz collecting when I book and then effectively paying Avis later.

    Reply

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