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Expedia dot bomb

2009 Fay Jacobs

Fay Jacobs

After leaving 9-5 behind to be a full-time writer, it didn't take long for me to utter the phrase I was told would eventually come out of my mouth: "I don't know how I had time to work."

Sadly though, I've spent most of my days answering the door and arguing on the phone. Very little writing is getting done.

Actually, part of my time has been spent working out in-house territory rights with Bonnie and the dogs, who are not used to having me underfoot all day.

I admit, I'd be a little ticked too if my spouse, who used to be absent all day, was suddenly home running her mouth and making inquiries. Bonnie frequently sends me to my room to write.

So I'm in the den trying to compose language and Moxie is pissed off that he can't lounge on the futon, barking at joggers. Apparently, Paddy used to spend his days curled up in front of the file cabinet I keep opening and he's ready to go for my throat. Now Bonnie is standing at the den door complaining that she's been on her hands and knees for two days installing laminate wood flooring and her hips and butt hurt. Frankly, the way this has been going, I'm pleased that she has a pain in the ass that's not me.

Finally, we agreed to sign the Schnauzerhaven accords. They stay out of my way, I stay out of their way and we all come back together for dinner like usual.

But the rest of my work time has been spent on the phone, arguing with nincompoops. First, it was All I wanted was a flight-hotel-car package for a weekend wedding in, of all places, Austin, Texas.

I got a flight for two, a cheap car (a Yugo?) and a room. Fine. I wouldn't even be in Austin long enough to see the million bats fly out from under that famous bridge at dusk. Given that Molly Ivins is dead, the bat thing was really the only reason, besides the wedding, ever to spend a dime to go to Texas.

Imagine my surprise the following week when Expedia charged my Visa card for two vacation packages - a total of four people flying to Texas, two Yugo rentals and a pair of hotel rooms. Short of inviting two other people to Austin not to see the bats, this was redundant. I lodged a complaint with Visa.

Then I went to call Expedia Customer Service. Ever try to find a phone number for a dotcom? Expedia doesn't want to talk to its customers so badly they hide the phone number like Where's Waldo. Oh, here it is in 2-point type.

For new reservations push one, for existing reservations push two, for vacation packages push three, for anxiety medication push four...

"All vacation specialists are helping other customers right now and..."

Vacation specialists? I'm a vacation specialist. These people are aggravation specialists. On hold, I put down the land line.

Then I made a cell phone call. Medicare had approved a new power wheelchair for my dad back in April and the government had already paid the supply company. Despite six months of calls to a woman named Christine, the chair has not been delivered. Dad is 91. You'd think they'd see some reason for expedia. Dot com.

So I called Medicare. A phone robot said "For Medicare selections say 'one,' for Part B say 'two,' for all other questions say 'other.'"


"I'm sorry," said the robo-answerer, "I didn't get that, can you repeat?"

Of course I can repeat but how can I say "other" any clearer? I wasn't gargling the first time.


"You have reached the Medicare Customer Service line. All operators are busy assisting other customers..."

Now there are two phones on hold in speaker mode with dueling elevator music.

Trapped at my desk, I played video games. Finally, the Expedia operator picked up. I described my dilemma.

"Yes," she said, "on reservation 288 we have Fay and Bonnie leaving from Philadelphia in seats 17A & B, changing in Atlanta to seats 21A&B and arriving in Austin. We also have reservation 291 for Fay and Bonnie leaving from Philadelphia in seats 11A&B, changing in Atlanta to seats 14 A&B and arriving in Austin. Is that correct?

"No, that's not correct. Don't you see a problem with this?" I asked.

"You have paid for two packages," she said.

"Yes, but the two of us cannot take up four airplane seats that are not adjacent to each other no matter how porky we are. Hell, if the seats were contiguous we could use the elbow room, but as it stands this is just wrong."

She did not have a sense of humor. She said she'd check into it and call me back.

By this time Medicare took me off hold. I explained that the new chair had not been delivered and the current chair had both wheels leaning north, sending Dad in circles, which was what the wheelchair supply company was doing to us.

I have to say, the Medicare (government option!) people got right on it, checking the records and transferring me to the fraud division. I hope Christine has a good lawyer.

Okay, back to writing. But then the doorbell rings, setting the dogs off. Some teenager wants to re-seal my driveway. No thanks.

Barnum and Bailey had just calmed down when the doorbell rings again, with a hapless salesman trying to sell me a frozen side of beef. "Sorry, eating light these days!"

Then Expedia comes back on the line telling me they are e-mailing me a letter to sign and fax back immediately, swearing I will call off the Visa investigation until they sort it all out. Failure to do so would cancel both packages and keep me from going to Texas.

I considered it. But in the end, we'll go to Austin in two airplane seats, one sub compact and one hotel room, fighting about the rest later. Who knows, if Expedia screws up on the return flight we might get to stay long enough to see the bats.

There goes the phone again. No, I don't want a special credit card rate.

Looky here, Fed Ex just showed up. And the grass cutters are here. Cue the dogs. Honestly, I don't know how I had time to work. But I'm considering getting a job.
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Fay Jacobs, a native New Yorker, spent 30 years in the Washington, DC area working in journalism, theater and public relations. She has contributed feature stories and columns to such publications as The Advocate, OUTtraveler, The Baltimore Sun, Chesapeake Bay Magazine, The Washington Blade, The Wilmington News Journal, Delaware Beach Life and more.

Since 1995 she has been a regular columnist for Letters from CAMP Rehoboth, and won the national 1997 Vice Versa Award for excellence. Her columns are collected in the books, As I Lay Frying: a Rehoboth Beach Memoir and the newly published Fried & True - Tales of Rehoboth Beach.

Fay is Publisher and Managing Editor of A&M Books, the publisher of the 14 classic Sarah Aldridge novels.

She and Bonnie, her partner of 25 years, relocated to Rehoboth Beach, DE in 1999. They have two Miniature Schnauzers and a riding lawn mower.

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