Select Page

Wow! Thought I¹d update you on my progress trying to be an Orbitz customer (UserID orbitz [at] ianbell [dot] com).

After 97 minutes on hold (plus the additional 40 minutes from my first attempt) I finally spoke to a woman in your Indian call center who was doing her very best to fake a Jamaican accent (Call Me Now For Your FREE Tarot Readin¹!) .

Unfortunately, the only purpose of your Call Center seems to be to verify that I am in fact a responsible adult who is capable of filling out a web form properly and finding the ³SUBMIT² button somewhere on screen and to help rebuild my self esteem after such a deflating experience using your web site.

With every good intention she walked me through the same web-based booking farce that I experienced earlier at least half a dozen times only to end with the highly informative result ³There Has Been An Error. Please Try Again Later.²

You should have prefaced your Call Center greeting with an IVR prompt stating that people in the Call Center can¹t actually do anything to help customers do silly things like make reservations, and you would have saved the $2-$3 in Long Distance it cost you to have me on hold for that long, plus the $3 per call that you likely pay that Call Center in Goa, India.

To top it off, Miss Cleo then attempted to dispose of my call by LYING to me and telling me that the seats were no longer available. Now, since I¹m no spring chicken I understand that if a seat wasn¹t available, the reservation network would not return that fare as a possible choice to you, and in turn you would not display it for me as a customer. After all, that would go against the grain of every business rule you¹re taught in Airline Marketing 101 ‹ why show a customer a cheaper fare that they can¹t have when you can pitch an expensive one that they CAN!

So this brings us to an interesting impasse. I gave your company four hours of my time in an obviously misguided attempt to be YOUR customer ‹ and how have I been rewarded? Well, in short, I haven¹t.

But your competitors have. You see… they invested the time and effort required to deploy systems and customer support services that work ‹ that actually save customers who fall through the cracks because of their largely infrequent glitches and human errors.

But then again, I highly doubt that you¹re even interested in the plight of one customer ‹ just another peon not deserving of your respect and attention for a single fare. Just to lend some perspective, during the years 1998 to present I have logged more than 450,000 miles with most of the top airlines and I travel weekly. Your cut of that ongoing travel might have led you to revenues in the ballpark of $5000-$6000 in booking fees, margin, etc. annually from a single customer.

And you just kissed it goodbye. See you on …


—— Forwarded Message From: Ian Andrew Bell Date: Fri, 06 Jul 2001 11:31:37 -0700 To: , , Subject: FW:

Your customer experience is, if this is possible, even worse than actually flying. Here’s my review of the shopping experience with Orbitz: 1) Your web site is pathetically slow (ever heard of AKAMAI?) with heavy graphics that take forever to load even on DSL. 2) I tried for an hour, unsuccessfully, to book a paper ticket Northwest flight via the web site and encountered errors during the booking process every time. Some times, your booking interface completely failed to respond when I pressed “CONTINUE”. 3) Having given up on the web, I called your call center. Big mistake. I sat on hold for 40 minutes, after which I was summarily disconnected without talking to a single human. I called again. At present the timer sits at 59 minutes on hold. Shall we go for 89? Let me ask you a question: Are you people serious about this business? Or are you just trying to block your obviously more technically competent competitors by teasing travellers with lower fares that can only be had once they navigate the maze of fuck-ups that is your customer interface? Unbelievable. Count me out.

-Ian. —— End of Forwarded Message