by John Delach
When my friend, Joe, asked me for the name of a good resort to take his family on a spring vacation in the Ft. Myers area I quickly thought of South Seas Resort on Captiva Island. After he found a decent deal on Jet Blue airlines’ website and booked it, I gave Joe, and his wife, Barbara, a list of restaurants, etc. on Captiva and neighboring Sanibel. This got me to thinking about our visits to those islands and I decided to see what was available at South Seas in early December.
I had seen TV ads for Trivago proclaiming to be a super site to find the best deals available from an international stable of travel agents. I took a chance and gave them my preferred dates to stay at that resort. One of these travel agents, Hoteling, quickly offered an excellent price of $1,227.35 for a week’s stay which I accepted and Hoteling confirmed to me on April 21.
I then waited for my next statement from Amex that showed this charge had been made against my account by this UK based travel agency. That statement was dated May 6 and upon receiving it I called South Seas directly who confirmed the booking had been made. Satisfied that all was kosher, I booked our own air and rental car independently.
On November 29th, I decided to cross the “t”s and dot the “I”s so I called South Seas to reconfirm. Susan, the agent who answered said: “Sorry, Mr. Delach, but I cannot locate a reservation.”
I didn’t panic as I knew the resort had already confirmed it to me and I asked her to look further. She did then reported: “Found it, but it was cancelled on July 26.”
“By whom?” I responded. She couldn’t tell so I assumed Hoteling. First things first, I asked: “Okay, what do you have available for the period of December 7 to 15”?
She quoted me a rate of about $400 more than I paid which I accepted as my alternative was to tell Mary Ann that we weren’t going which I was not about to do.
I could find little for a way to contact Hoteling but I did find the following US helpline phone number for Trivago: 212-208-1439. When I called it a mechanical voice advised: “The number you have dialed is not in service. Please check the number and try again.” (If you have little to do, call it. You will hear the same message.)
I did locate Trivago’s web address and sent them an urgent request for action. Since this firm is domiciled in Germany, I realized that my plea could not be addressed until at least the next day at the earliest.
James Morrison from Trivago’s user support replied on December 1: “Unfortunately it is with great regret that I inform you that Hoteling.com along with their parent company, lowcosttravelgroup(LCTC) ceased trading on 15th July 2016. This is awful news and very unfortunate that it has happened. We are as surprised as anyone.”
Morison did provide the name of the bankruptcy administrators in London and denied any responsibility whatsoever.
I will not bore you with all that has transpired and continues to transpire since then. Suffice to say, I am not a happy camper.
We made the trip and had a swell time. I did make several attempts to make a case to Morrison to no avail. I did give Morison a parting shot telling him that I can’t wait to see the day when Trivago goes out of business and letting him know I would publish this piece. I did tell him the working title was: “Trivago: Go to Hell!”
One last note, in the middle of these disappointing exchanges I received a survey from Trivago asking me to rate my experience. Needless to say I gave them a Zero . Zero rating.
Beware of using Trivago.