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Opodo flies in face of angry travellers as complaints mount

by Ace Damon
The boy’s got hard looks and he’s hard to handle | Séamas O’Reilly

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It's time to revisit the exploits of Opodo, the online travel booking agency. The dozens of complaints I received last year have a common theme: flights or reservations do not exist, but depend on money independently.

In April I showed the situation of a couple who discovered upon arrival at the airport that the South African airline CemAir, which was supposed to take them, was grounded indefinitely on the same day they had booked their tickets – three months earlier. . Opodo forgot to tell them, declined to respond to refund requests, and was still announcing flights with CemAir. The next day I asked if I had notified other affected passengers, belatedly informing reader JH and his fiancee that they had booked CemAir honeymoon flights three months earlier. The short term did not give them time to find affordable alternatives. They also couldn't get a refund until I intervened. The Opodo blamed the "human error" for the three-month delay in news transmission and eventually returned the original tariff and the difference in replacement price.

Manchester SS used the Opodo to book an afternoon flight to Berlin in October. He entered the Opodo app the night before departure but did not receive the promised boarding passes.

A customer service representative recommended that he check in again through the airline's website, where he discovered that the flight had departed early that morning. Another customer service representative confirmed that he was on the afternoon flight and told him to show up at the airport and show his confirmation email. This he did … to find out that the Opodo had booked him on the morning flight, but put the afternoon departure details in his confirmation email.

Opodo stated that he would have to book a new ticket and request a refund online. In so doing, they were told that he was only entitled to recover the taxes paid on the original ticket he would have to make through the airline.

IM Barcelona was unable to board its flight to London because Opodo was unable to complete its reservation despite receiving payment and providing a booking reference. He had to shell out € 300 for a new ticket.

Eight calls of up to 90 minutes each failed to receive a refund. This only arrived after pressure from the Observer.

Opodo blamed a “technical failure” on the denied shipment and explained that its refund request had been escalated to the “incorrect refund queue”, which caused more “misunderstandings”. He added a € 100 voucher in goodwill so he could enjoy the suspense of making a reservation again.

Londoner HH used the Opodo to book their young family in the first break since her husband's death. The agent booked her on a morning flight instead of the requested night. When, days later, they admitted the mistake, they announced that they had rescheduled it on a different day without consulting it.

She was instructed to wait another 72 hours while investigating and was informed that she would be reimbursed in 10 days.

Until then, an alternative flight cost £ 800 more than the original tickets. "What should be a time to relax and have fun with kids has turned into a nightmare," she said.

It took 30 calls to BLC in six weeks to trigger her € 1,229 reimbursement after the collapse of Thomas Cook affected the trip she had booked for the Opodo. While waiting, she could not afford alternative flights to visit her family at Christmas.

Opodo tells Observer that its customer service agents conduct a minimum of 112 hours of induction training, plus weekly training and daily reviews.

"We recognize that on these occasions we have not met our expected high levels of customer service," the document says. “To ensure that these cases are not repeated, we each escalate internally to safeguard future cases. We also request the necessary details from each customer to apologize, process appropriate refunds and offer compensation for any inconvenience caused. "

It is not possible to repeat enough that while third party booking sites can be a useful tool for finding flights and comparing prices, it is always better to book directly with the airline. Not only does this mean that important updates are reported directly, as SS found out when it needed to book a last-minute alternative at the airport, as seat and baggage fees could turn out to be cheaper.

If you need help, email Anna Tims at your.problems@observer.co.uk or write to Your Problems, The Observer, Kings Place, 90 York Way, London N1 9GU. Include an address and phone number. Submission and publication are subject to our terms and conditions.

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