A British man was left “frustrated” and “angry” after he arrived at the airport for a flight to Malaga, only to find the online travel agent he’d gone through had never booked the tickets.
Fred Macnicol, a 78-year-old psychotherapist from London, used eDreams to purchase return flights for himself and a friend, Lisa Schmidt, to Spain from London Gatwick, departing 23 November and returning two days later.
He received an email at the time of booking saying, “We are processing your booking request” and informing him that confirmation would follow as each flight was confirmed by the airline, easyJet.
Mr Macnicol waited in vain for confirmation, but at no point was told that the booking had not been made.
Meanwhile, in the following days he received correspondence from the company, which reassured him that the booking was going ahead.
“They made a number of communications which indicated to us that everything was in order, for example invitations to check in,” he told The Independent.
In fact, Mr Macnicol received a further nine emails from eDreams in total, one of which included a free travel guide to Malaga, and one which came with the heading “Ready to fly? Everything you need for your trip, in one app! Your trip to Malaga is coming soon!” It went on to invite him to check-in, as did another email sent the day before the flight.
“The small print said there was a fee for checking in via the app, so I decided we could check-in at the airport,” said Mr Macnicol.
However, when they got to the check-in desk they were in for a nasty surprise – easyJet had no record of the booking, no record of any payment having been made, and no record of any request for tickets from eDreams.
“Easyjet staff I must applaud,” said Mr Macnicol. “They ran around at great speed checking every avenue they could, but all to no avail.
“The flight was full so there was no way of fitting us in at the last minute. We went to the desk in the airport where they check for last-second availability on flights and they thought we had a chance of getting on a flight to Lisbon and from there onwards to Malaga, but just as the member of staff was checking this on the system, the flight to Lisbon closed.”
The frustrated pair decided to abandon the trip.
This left them around £200 out of pocket, as their car hire and accommodation in Malaga were non-refundable.
“We both felt that the real loss in the situation was less about the money and more about the loss of our weekend in Malaga,” Mr Macnicol said. “It had been really difficult for us to pin down a weekend that worked for each of us and that made the loss of it more poignant.”
The pair felt that, as it was eDreams’ error that had led to them missing their much-anticipated trip, the company should refund the costs incurred.
But, according to Mr Macnicol, his “questions and complaints to eDreams met with predictable brick-wall responses”.
After sending two emails of complaint to eDreams, the travel agency offered “a discount voucher of £30 which can be used against your next booking” as compensation.
“Your offer of a discount voucher of £30 is nothing short of insulting given what we have been through,” Mr Macnicol responded.
“I would not willingly use a third party company when booking any trip in the future,” he told The Independent. “The most ridiculous aspect in my mind is that if eDreams had communicated to us that there was a problem with the booking, we could have rearranged and they might have even made some money out of us in the end!
“However, that does not reduce the irritation and frustration of having a rare trip aborted in such a way. eDreams seem to show no concern about the process at all, which leads me to imagine the same thing could easily happen to other people, and that would be worth avoiding if possible.”
He added: “I would hate to have anyone else have that experience, an experience that could easily have been avoided by the simplest piece of communication.”
Following The Independent getting in touch with the company, eDreams has offered to refund the money the friends spent on accommodation and car hire.
”At Opodo [a subsidiary of eDreams] our customers’ experience and satisfaction are paramount to us and we take customer feedback extremely seriously,” said a spokesperson.
“We have thoroughly reviewed this case and it appears that, due to a rare technical glitch in our systems, Mr Macnicol’s booking could not be confirmed at the time of purchase.
“Although Mr Macnicol’s account was never debited for this unconfirmed booking, as a gesture of goodwill and aware of his inconvenience, we would like to refund the £194 corresponding to the accommodation and car rental costs.
“We are constantly making improvements to ensure our customer service quality is of a very high standard.”
Join our commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies