Orbitz.com Considered Harmful

(Offtopic warning: my site is mostly about technical matters, not about consumer affairs.)

Well, that wasn’t fun.

We had reserved, or so I thought, a hotel stay of a few days, using Orbitz.com.  Life intervened, and it became necessary to cancel.  We attempt to cancel.  It turns out that we hadn’t reserved a hotel stay. We had paid in advance for a hotel stay, which was 100% non-refundable. Don’t stay, still pay the whole amount anyway. (With considerable effort, including intervention by the management of the hotel in question (at which we’ve stayed a number of times before), we were finally able to get it resolved.)

While in a free world one should be able to sell such a toxic product, it generally does not make sense to buy one, certainly not as the default. One lesson to learn: read the terms carefully, there are dragons in there.

But I think that is the wrong lesson. The right lesson is much simpler: do not do business with a vendor (Orbitz) who offers such foolishness. Rather, use them (or any similar size) to find a hotel / flight / whatever, then leave their site and go make the purchase by other means, some means by which the more traditional (and sane) terms-of-sale are used.