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Complaints over Opodo OTA make colourful reading

April 26, 2017 Headline News No Comments Email Email

Online travel agent Opodo has been in the headlines recently for two very different reasons.

Flight Centre Travel Group is reported to have acquired Opodo Corporate from eDreams for an undisclosed sum and to be planning expansion in Germany. See: Flight Centre ‘buys Opodo Corporate in Germany’

In separate story last week, a distraught mother from Ireland was quoted in the Irish press saying her family holiday to Australia, booked through Opodo, had been ruined when part of her 12-year-old daughter’s full name was omitted on the ticket, meaning her daughter’s boarding pass did not match her passport and visa, so  she couldn’t fly. See: Tears after OTA error destroys dream visit to Oz

The mother said she was certain that she entered her daughter’s full name when she made the booking with Opodo.

Wherever the error may lie, it’s not the first time similar problems have been reported in connection with Opodo.

Last month in Britain, the Guardian newspaper’s consumer affairs advocate Anna Tims ran a story headlined: Opodo charges for its own mistakes.

The article related how a consumer had booked with Opodo, only to find his own surname and that of his wife had been entered twice and Opodo “demanded a fee to correct it”.

Another reader encountered an identical problem – his surname was repeated. “I contacted Opodo within the hour to ask it to rectify the mistake and one operator told me it would cost GBP 45 since everything had already been processed by the airline.”

A third reader said his surname appeared twice on the confirmation after booking a flight to Tokyo.

Commenting on the problems, Tims wrote: “Opodo, the online travel agency, is a familiar name in my inbox, but the complaints this past month are striking in their similarity.

“Customers who booked flights via the website have found that their surname has been entered twice on the confirmation, and Opodo wants a hefty sum to amend it.

“One such incident looks like butter fingers, but several in the space of a week suggests that something is amiss with Opodo’s booking page.”

Last year, the same paper ran a story: Forced to relive the loss of my baby as Opodo fails to resolve my problem. In that story, a reader described trying to get hold of Opodo to cancel a flight after a tragic personal loss. “Over the following weeks I emailed and called Opodo repeatedly. I was told my emails hadn’t been received, or promised call-backs that never came. I’ve spent about five hours trying to sort this.”

Tims noted: “Opodo’s dismal customer services is a regular feature in this column, and your distressing circumstances make the incompetence even more unacceptable. The same day that I contact the company, you receive a call offering a full refund, including the GBP 125 cancellation charge payable.

“Opodo explains that your two months of chasing was because you had amended your original booking, which generated a new reference number. ‘When the refund claim was made, the original reference number was used, hence the confusion,’ it says.

“Why you were not told of this ‘confusion’ when you first tried to cancel, Opodo does not explain.”

In 2015, a Guardian headline proclaimed: Got the airline tickets … all that was missing was the plane!

The reader’s complaint: “I was scheduled to fly from Athens to London Gatwick last year, but when I arrived at the airport there was no sign of the flight. It turned out the airline had gone into liquidation a month earlier, yet the booking agent, Opodo, did not inform me until 48 hours before my flight in a message I missed as I was travelling. I had to purchase a new ticket on the day which cost EUR 500. Opodo has since ignored all my requests for a refund and compensation which I believe I’m due under EU regulations.” 

Tims’ response: “Sadly it’s no surprise that Opodo failed to pass on the information for its communication skills are notoriously deficient (as regular readers of this column will know). It won’t talk to me either. Although you booked through Opodo, it is merely an agent for the airline and since the latter has gone out of business you’re unlikely to see any money from that quarter.

“You are not protected by EU regulations governing flight cancellations if the airline no longer exists. Had you booked a package ie, flights plus accommodation and/or car hire, you would have been protected by the government-run Atol scheme. Nor is Opodo a member of ABTA which offers its own protections. Your only hope is to try to claim off your credit card issuer under the Consumer Credit Act.”

No doubt many other consumers have booked with Opodo and had successful experiences, but the complaints stand out and are hard to forget.

Written by Peter Needham

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