I had the unfortunate displeasure of dealing with a ExploreTrip.com when booking my April flights to Quito over the last couple of weeks and I want to WARN anyone booking a flight to pay very close attention to the third party selling you that ticket, because if it’s ExploreTrip.com, RUN, don’t walk, away because it’s not worth the headache!
The story starts like this – I had been monitoring flights from Toronto to Quito for a few weeks and was keeping an eye out for the lowest fare and primarily using search engines like SkyScanner, Momondo and CheapFlights to cross-compare the best fares. On November 26th, I happened to see an amazing price (about $50 less per person than the lowest fare) via one of the search engines and had been redirected to a site called ExploreTrip.com. I completed my details and credit card information and received an email confirming “your Toronto – Quito – Toronto flight is booked” – or so I thought.
TIP: Take 2 min to do a quick google search on the company – had I done that, I would have seen that there are A LOT of complaints about this company and that their BBB profile has over 200 complaints!
Fast forward 15 days later (December 11th) – I receive an email stating that my flights were not confirmed because I hadn’t received official tickets yet and that unfortunately, ExploreTrip has cancelled my booking because someone else had booked it and they could not successfully rebook it at the same fare. I emailed a reply the next morning saying that their email and the cancellation of my flights was unacceptable, especially at more than 2 weeks after I had booked – I also pointed out that the same flight is still available (but of course not at the rate I had paid). I reasoned that I had received a booking confirmation email and that I held ExploreTrip responsible for booking the flight at the fare I reserved at and that I would be more than happy to talk to a manager. The next morning, I called in to try and speak to a manager and the first rep I spoke to told me a different story as to why my flight had been cancelled – because apparently, my credit card had declined the payment. After holding for nearly 17 minutes for a manager, I was directed to a voicemail instructing me to leave a message for a call back. I waited 24 hours and received no call back, so I called again… This time, I was told I would be marked as high priority and to leave my name and number directly with the rep and they would have a manager call me back within 30-45 minutes – I waited nearly 2 hours, still no contact, so I called again, and again and again. This was how the next 3 days of my life would play out – trying to talk to a manager while playing their game.
On day 3, I finally reached a manager, Kenna, who firstly apologized when I explained the situation: that 2 weeks was unacceptable to contact a customer and advise of a cancellation, and that I had received two different stories about why it had happened (I ultimately never found out why). She said she could look to rebook the flight, but at current fares. I said absolutely not and that they would honor my original fare price. She took about 30 minutes (while I was on hold) to negotiate with the concerns department about my situation, offering me a matched price for the original booking. I asked if there would be any compensation for the run-around they had given over the last 3 days and how I had at that point spent over 3 hours on hold and she said all she could do was honour the original fare price. So, from there I spent the next 1-hour re-confirming details (names, birth dates, credit card details) with her while being on hold as she rebooked the flights with the concerns department. She processed my card and said I would receive the tickets shortly. I thought it was finally over.
I received a call 20 minutes later (while about to go into a restaurant with my husband and friends for dinner) from ExploreTrip stating that my payment had not gone through and that they could not hold the flights for long without payment. The manager, Patrick, said that I needed to contact my bank and that they would call back in 15 minutes to retry to payment. I called and found out that TD had tried to call me while I was on the phone booking my flight the hour prior and had flagged the intended payment as fraud, compromising my card (lucky me – when I thought it couldn’t get any worse). However, TD could release the hold for a few minutes to process a payment while I was on the line with verbal permission. I spent the next hour of my Friday night standing outside a restaurant, in the cold, helplessly frustrated and trying to get back in touch with Patrick at ExploreTrip, because guess what – he didn’t call back within 15 minutes. The TD rep stayed on the phone with me for 30 minutes while I tried to use my husband’s phone to get back in touch with ExploreTrip (and was placed on hold for several minutes yet again). I finally received an incoming call from Patrick and had to play back and forth hold between TD and ExploreTrip to organize the payment for nearly 5 minutes, but it was finally, finally done! I was told I’d get that tickets within 30 minutes and of course, that didn’t happen. The next morning, I made one final call to ExploreTrip (or at least it had better be the last contact I ever have with them) to request my tickets and they were received within 5 minutes.
In my total contact via phone with ExploreTrip, I spoke to about 7 different reps, had apparently been escalated to the ‘high priority’ status for a manger to call me back on day 1, had waited about 4 hours total on hold for a manager during more than 10 phone calls (and at one point was on hold for 48 minutes before they disconnected my call), and spent nearly 2 hours actually talking to a manager/on hold while they tried to rebook my flight on the final day. I was given an extension to a manager that when I tried to call back, could not get through to (again, on hold with a rep waiting to connect). This is a game I hope no one else ever to play – it caused me so much stress and anger and I ultimately accomplished exactly what I had originally booked online 15 days prior, but with a lot of time wasted and a lot more effort. It certainly wasn’t worth it and I strongly discourage anyone from booking with ExploreTrip – for ANY reason! If the fare looks to good to be true – guess what, it is!
Here's to wishing you much better luck with your future travel plans!
I’m working my way through life in Canada and traveling when I can afford to explore beyond the border. Sharing my tips, trips, opinions and rants on life and travel in the meantime.