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PLEASE never book airline tickets with a third party

We had tickets for this May to NZ and Australia that were canceled by Fiji Airways over a month ago. We booked through Vayama so the refund is now under their control. They have stopped answering their phones, emails go unanswered except with an auto-response telling you they will respond to you in the future. We cannot even login to Vayama anymore because it no longer recognizes our booking reference number. I have resigned myself to kissing goodbye to the $3400 of airline fare. I will never again use a third-party booking service. From now on, I will always use the airline website or their call center. Please don't whip me with any "you should have known" comments; I already tell myself that over and over. I've learned my lesson. Just wanted to pass on my story.

Posted by
236 posts

I'm sorry to hear this. You may be telling yourself that you should have known better, but we all have better hindsight and I still hope that Vayama does the right thing.

Posted by
6223 posts

I've never heard of Vayama, but I have used Expedia successfully many times (as well as other major third party sellers like Booking.com, Priceline and Hotwire.com). Not all third parties are the same, and it doesn't make sense to paint them all with a broad brush (plus they're a perfectly legitimate option for those who are willing to trade off some risk for a better fare or package deal). We're in a very unusual situation right now that makes bad events even more exasperating/ frustrating. For what it's worth, Vayama addresses your concerns in its Q and A section. Technically, they are operating within their small print and legally. I realize you're frustrated, but everything is operating slowly and clumsily now (it's definitely not just your experience, millions are in the same boat). I would not resign yourself to eating that $3,400 fare...that's being overly pessimistic. I still have not received a refund of a partially prepaid (domestic) car rental and it has been more than 1 month.

https://www.vayama.com/updates#flight-cancelled
Here are some excerpts:
"Q: How can I check the status of my flight?
A: The status of flights is currently changing very rapidly, so your flight status may not always be accurate and up to date in MyAccount on our website. You might receive a notification of your flight cancellation with a long delay. The most accurate and recent information about your flight can be found on the airline's website, where you can see your flight status and information if your flight has been cancelled due to the impact of COVID-19."

"Q: Why can it take a long time to get my refund?
A: After you bought your ticket with us, the ticket amount was transferred to the airline. That is why, in case a refund is applicable, the airline is the one that needs to initiate the refund.

It can take a long time before you get an update on this as we are dependent on each airline's delays in processing refunds. At this time we cannot provide you with an exact indication of time. We ask you not to contact us about this as we will be processing all cancellations without need for additional information from you. We deeply regret the inconvenience and appreciate your patience and cooperation."

The one negative aspect of Vayama is their $100 administrative fee, which you will likely have to eat, no matter what.

Posted by
454 posts

I use a travel agent. No cost to me, she knows all the tricks and cost saving deals, and her company has a 40-year stellar reputation for customer service, efficiency, and effective and responsive travel insurance.

I cannot say how much more or less I might be spending by using a professional travel agent.

I don’t have the patience or will for for self -booking, bargain hunting for flights and amenities, and trying to cut costs at every opportunity when planning and executing international travel. I have been watching these forums for two years and it seems to me the number of folks who get burned or end up spending more than they planned is about out the same as those who use more conventional services.

When the Madness is past, I will call my agent and make serious plans for Spring 2021.

Posted by
722 posts

Many many years ago I learned through watching that your reservations have codes embedded in them that tell the airlines many tings about you including how you booked the flight. They consider third party booking operations to be one small but necessary step above thieves and the people who use them to be, more-or-less, pick-pockets and they treat you accordingly. They also have codes that mark whether or not you have been a pain in the ass on flights and again treat you accordingly. The lesson is book directly with the airline and behave yourself on the flight.

Posted by
6422 posts

Prolific traveler here: I have used 3rd party Expedia as many times as booking direct (but less when the Norwegian and Wow low cost airlines were around ) and will continue (whenever the price is lower than buying direct ) since 2010 and never had a problem even when my flight back from Europe was canceled. I never see people recommend Vayama and I'm sure even if you booked direct you would have a hard time reaching someone with this Coronavirus thing going on

Don't wast time here you need write this dude https://www.elliott.org/

Posted by
4695 posts

I'm sorry you've had this bad experience. :-(

I see only one reason to use a third party to buy airline tickets: to save a ton of money. Because otherwise it has never seemed worth the hassle to go through a third party. I try to deal directly with the airlines whenever possible.

Posted by
4507 posts

While I do not use 3rd party booking services for airlines, many people do. There is a tendency to demonize them here, which I think shows poor taste and a lack of understanding of why people do things they way they do. So please do not add to that with your post.

ALL businesses are under unprecedented pressures right now and overwhelmed by demands for refunds. In all likelihood, you will get your money refunded. Give it some patience. If Vayama declares bankruptcy, then you can worry.

Trying to initiate a credit card dispute will not likely work at this time because Vayama has not refused to refund her money.

Posted by
1534 posts

I see only one reason to use a third party to buy airline tickets: to save a ton of money. Because otherwise it has never seemed worth the hassle to go through a third party. I try to deal directly with the airlines whenever possible.

And if you are saving a "ton of money" you have probably just been had.

There is NO cheap airfare fairy. NO, these third party places do NOT have a secret source that you can't find.

So generally a couple of things happen
1. They take your cash and a few weeks later tell you , sorry that airfare isn't available we need more cash.... until basically it costs what it would have cost to book direct or
2. They are creative... You fly Southwest from Atlanta to New York's LaGuardia airport where you connect on Norwegian out of JFK to London Gatwick and then Easy Jet out of yet another London airport to wherever you want to go. And you get about 90 minutes for each impossible connection.... and when one of the multiple unrelated carriers changes your flight too bad, so sad, that's your problem.

Posted by
6223 posts

NO, these third party places do NOT have a secret source that you
can't find.

Lots of emotion here. Obviously they do offer some value or else millions of people (myself included) wouldn't use them (the reason they're able to bundle good deals is due to their purchasing scale which individuals can't wield on their own). But I would say that it's good practice to read all the fine print carefully before booking and to vet which third party one uses. Some are much better established and capitalized than others and, thus, can afford to have more robust customer service and actually stand behind their brand (I wouldn't use a fly-by-night third party that no one has heard of, or doesn't have a long-term established reputation). Some are much more transparent in their pricing and offerings than others. This is true also of budget airlines. You take some risk to get something. If you need superb customer service and have little flexibility or tolerance for uncertainty, then third parties may not be for you (and that's OK). I'm fine with many of them and, if they survive, I won't automatically write them off. But would write one off if it charges high admin fees that I don't want to risk having to pay.

Posted by
1534 posts

Spend an hour doing research and come back and defend these "great deals" LOL!

Right now on TripAdvisor alone there must be a hundred threads where hysterical people were ripped off because they believed in the "cheap airfare fairy"

And the example I posted on the impossible connections? I didn't even make that up, I actually know someone who fell for it and that is exactly what she got from them. So she wound up changing the SW airfare to the day prior, spending a night in NY and then rebooking a flight from London to her final airport. There went all the "savings"

Oh I left out the best scam...

Cheap Business Class tickets... If you fall for that one cross your fingers and pray. Generally they are selling mileage tickets which is against EVERY frequent flyer program rule. And if the airline catches on (and they often do) you get stuck in "who knows where" without a ticket home. No, Delta or American etc.. won't care and won't feel sorry for you.

Posted by
2981 posts

I’m very sorry for your difficult experience. It was kind of you to try to warn others, but if this worked (warnings on travel forums) then you would never have used them in the first place as there are many postings about this company.

I hope that somehow you get your refund. That would be a very painful loss.

Posted by
6885 posts

It might make you feel better to know that it can happen booking directly, too. I did book directly with the airline, refundable business class tickets Paris—Singapore and Dubai—Paris, but after 50 days I’m still waiting for the refund. They told me 90 days. And this wealthy Middle Eastern carrier is keeping a healthy “fee.” So, it can happen booking directly, too. The only difference is that a call center employee in the Indian subcontinent still answers the phone to give me a scripted answer. So, our requests have been made and all we can do is wait for now. But it can happen booking directly.

And did you speak to Fiji Airways to find out where your money is in the chain? As stated above, if Fiji had it, it has to go back to the seller first and then to you.

Filing a credit card chargeback should be a last resort. If a refund is in the pipeline, a chargeback will stop it, create confusion and reset the clock to zero. It is an option but a risky one. It’s been only 30 days. This from Chris Elliott is informative: https://chriselliotts.com/winning-a-credit-card-chargeback/

Posted by
7180 posts

AlphaLover gave you perfect advice: dispute the charge with your credit card.

PS: I used vayama successful in the past.

Posted by
954 posts

Im so sorry this has happened and I hold out hope that the issue can be resolved. Take all necessary steps (CC, airline) but maybe Vayama will come through. Ive booked successfully with a no-name third party business and saved a lot, and Ive also been frustrated by booking directly with an airline where they charged hidden fees, and Ive done variations of everything in between, so I dont think there is a blanket determination to be made (as someone said, why else would third party companies continue to operate and people continue to use them), but its certainly a gamble and really sucks if/when things dont work.

Posted by
11678 posts

No help to offer here, unfortunately, but sending some sympathy and hope that all is not yet lost regarding the $$.
There's a lot of tough stuff going around these days. 🙁

Posted by
300 posts

OP, thank you for sharing your experience. We all have done things that, in hindsight, we wish we hadn't, especially when making travel arrangements. It's nice to be able to share those lessons so that others can avoid the same pitfalls.

I hope your refund is just delayed in processing and that it eventually comes through. If it doesn't, don't beat yourself up over this.

Posted by
1118 posts

Sincerely hope you get your money back.
If it's any consolation: my friends were booked with British Airways from Canada to Edinburgh this May.
They were told they would get a full credit, to be used up to one year after their cancellation.
However!!
BA then told them that if the flights next year cost more, they would have to pay more! ; and if the flights cost less by then, BA would not refund the difference!
At least they got a credit.

Posted by
4507 posts

AlphaLover gave you perfect advice: dispute the charge with your
credit card.

Ugh! Read the post directly above this one on why a credit card dispute is NOT the answer at this time. Vayama might not have the best customer service at this time, but they are likely overwhelmed cancellations and refunds. They have not told her they will not refund the money, which is the reason a bank will reverse its charges to you.

A credit card dispute can be a good FINAL option. It is not a panacea.

Please Anne, take a few deep breaths, wait until just under 60 days and keep track of all attempted correspondence. If you hear nothing and get no refund in that time, then contact your credit card bank and discuss with them. Your attempted correspondence, and lack of reply, will be very useful at THAT time. Or, more likely, your refund will arrive by then (or you'll get some response with a timeframe).

Posted by
8715 posts

Patience in this case is what you need. Vayama is right that Fiji has your money and needs to process a refund. They are not a big airline and probably don't have a big staff. Plus, airlines reward loyalty. They are going to take care of direct booking customers first because they showed "loyalty" by booking on Fiji and will lilkely book with them again. You booked through a third party which means you'll take any airline as long as the price is right. (At least in their eyes.)

I have a feeling you will get your money but it may just take awhile.

Unless the airline says they are not refunding or it takes more than 90 days, wait off on contacting your credit card company.

Posted by
4 posts

You can use sites like Skyscanner to get a general idea on approximate prices but ONLY book your ticket on the airline's official website.Use them for research, but book directly with the airline. If you book directly with the airline there's no middleman. It saves problems that might come up using a third party. Always make sure the price that you think is so low and attractive has all the taxes and fees included.