Last minute.com “Scam”Back to Forum
While the above is certainly true in relation to sites like Lastminute.com and other TA’s it’s not necessarily the case with TMC’s like regular poster Tim Fitzgerald. They can and do arrange last minute bookings, changes etc and can hold a booking you’d normally have to pay upfront for.23 Aug 2015
I had a business with lastminute.com in January 2016. Terrible service, no response, no respect at all. Guess what happened, I found a deal to Mexico, made a booking with my credit card, all looked good, then I started to look for connecting flight to London and hotel, luckily I was slow and did not make a booking in about 5 hours, when got a call from lastminute, asking if I live in UK. I said no, what is the matter, then they said cannot sell vacation to non UK customer. What a hell, no warnings on their site, nothing. They informed refund will be in 7 days. I sent several emails to support, response never came back. Will never do business with such a company and do not recommend to do it for anyone.15 Apr 2016
I just book directly with the airline. I found lastmunute to be either the same price and sometimes even more expensive. Due to an urgent meeting I once booked Swiss to Singapore ex Lugano on Swiss’s website just one hour before the flight was due to take off and it all went seamlessly..15 Apr 2016
Total waste of ti,e. I spent 4.5 yrs waiting on phone for cusromer support. Yes, Corona Virus but no effort to improve service. Would not refund any plane flights, only credit. The plane was cancelled by the airline. No refund. Only credit which is useless as I live the other side of the world.
Never use again.
Go directly to the airline.
Never got on to customer serviceafer5 hour phonewait!!26 Mar 2020
I agree with those who say to avoid OLTAs and book direct with the principal.
It used to be that better deals were available with OLTAs with consolidator fares and rates and generally the penalty clauses were the same or no worse than booking direct. The last time, at least 5 years ago, I booked a month’s car rental in CPT with Bidvest via Auto-Europe, I was delighted to have saved nearly £500. When I arrived at the car rental office they were surprised at the low rate and said there was no way they could have matched it, and for a small charge they even gave me an upgrade to a quicker car which cost me a few hundred rand in speeding fines! A couple of months later I tried the same stunt and found it was now cheaper to book direct. This has become the case with most providers.
The terms and conditions are often more punitive than by booking direct and if you try to amend or cancel you are at the mercy of poorly trained and semi-competent (at best) call centre operators, often offshore, speaking bad English over poor quality phone lines. Usually the principal is inhibited from helping you as the booking doesn’t ‘belong’ to them but to the intermediate agency.
Even the reputable and well-known agencies are subject to the above. In the last few years a number of seriously dubious agencies have sprung up, and whilst they may well have .co.uk, co.za, .de, .ie etc, they will have no more association with that country than a local Skype type number. There seems to be very little policing in terms of how they operate, and there are no safeguards for the buyer. Websites such as TripAdvisor, HelloPeter, TrustPilot, etc are full of stories about everything from incompetency to blatant fraud.
I’d rather pay more for peace of mind than save a few per cent and worry about the potential for aggravation and extra costs. In addition, I’ve realised that it is often smarter to pay a bit more for a flexible rate than to worry about battling over change fees and trying to claim from insurance. The extra price of a flexible fare is a form of insurance and it’s more or less bullet proof.
P.S. This is not intended as a criticism of conventional travel agencies and TMCs, my comments apply only to OLTAs.26 Mar 2020
This thread confirms my view that booking direct even if might be more expensive is always best. I’d like to think direct bookers might get first go at any upgrades too but especially if flights cancelled I’d like to think I would get first preference on alternates26 Mar 2020
Also bear in mind if you try to make any changes on a travel agent ticket once you have left the UK, airlines will generally refer you back to the travel agent, even if you are standing at an airport infront of their ticket office.
Check with whoever you buy your tickets from, if you have access to their office for changes WHENEVER NEEDED – I can personally vouch for Tim Fitzgerald who goes well beyond the call of duty when changes are needed once en route…26 Mar 2020
This story from the Irish Times about a couple who was stranded in New Zealand is a perfect example of why not to book with OLTAs.
I’ve just posted the relevant part of the article as the whole thing was rather long and rambling.
Wickens’ flights to Canada were directly with Air New Zealand, so she was able to get her money refunded when it became clear departure was not an option. Davis, on the other hand, had booked through an online travel agent.
“I have had a lot of trouble with them trying to get my money back. In fact, after being on hold for four hours, I was spoken to for one minute, then told I would be called back in a half hour.”
There was no call back. So he tried again. He was on hold for a further three hours and when he got through he was told the online operator could not reschedule his flight and he was directed to the agent’s website to request a refund.
Davis says he was offered the choice a pittance of $18 on a $2,800 flight or the option to pay the online operator an additional $37 and wait six months for a refund.
He spent days talking to the airlines involved, attempting to get his money refunded. They included Aer Lingus – who said they could not do anything for him as the flights were booked through a third party – and Air New Zealand, who offered him airline credit of $1,900 for one flight and $200 for another flight.
However, “the two vouchers can’t be combined and can only be used under my name, in the next 12 months, and only used on a flight that has to cost $1,900 or more (or $200 or more).”
So to use his voucher, the new airfare must cost in excess of $1,900. “I cannot get a flight that is less than $1,900 and just lose the difference,” he says, the value of the flight must be in excess of $1,900 for the voucher to be accepted.
“The flight prices at moment are $1,700 or $3,000, and I can’t increase the price of a flight by adding bags or picking seats, so I would have to go for the $3,000 flight.”
He says the online travel agent has told him that if he works with the airlines to get anything directly he will forfeit his rights to get any refund from the travel agent.
“There are no good options for me,” Davis says. “I am going to pay the agent more money for their ‘assisted refund’ option because if I go through them I should get cash back and not just a credit. From my conversations with Air New Zealand, the ticket is refundable to the agent and they say they will give me ‘the maximum refund” they can get from the airlines. So I’m taking that chance.”
The Irish Times has been in touch with Air New Zealand who are currently looking into the matter.22 Apr 2020
Thank you Martyn for the recommendation – always appreciate positive feedback!
pjones – as much as I’m no fan of OLTA’s it is possible the airline in question (you haven’t said who your ticket was booked and issued by) are not offering refunds but only credit notes whether you had booked direct or via any agent.
The OLTA only make money on volume as the margins are tiny so given scale of situation they won’t have numbers to process refunds / credit notes quickly, so trying to speak to a human may be a challenge given call demand has probably increased for these businesses by a factor of 1000% plus.
The other side is that since you posted it is possible that the airline position on refunds has changed and that this will now be an option. In this time given the 50ish major carriers in the world, many of them have changed refund / credit policies for part travelled / unused tickets several times. We have had several hundred updates to deal with in a short space of time and goalposts were changing daily, though this has slowed down now a bit. The problem is no common approach by carriers and every airline doing things different to either conserve cash, or some carriers who have been quicker to refund like the IAG group for example who appear to be using this as an opportunity to drive competitors out of existence and for commercial advantage.
Going direct to an airline may have made no difference at that point in time. But it might be a case of re-looking at what airline you had booked with to see if you can now get a refund via your booking agent.23 Apr 2020