3 Deadly Sins Of A Booking Site - True Story

3 Deadly Sins Of A Booking Site – True Story

It’s a National Holiday. One of those when all businesses from apparel to zoological shops are closed. How great that we have online shopping and booking! They’re open 24/7. I’m unlucky enough to need a car. Today and desperately. So I pick one of car rentals and… right. That’s where my experience starts.

The offer seems fine. Man! Better than in other car rentals I was browsing for. Reasonable pricing and option of return in a different location. Even on the other side of the country. Exactly what I was looking for. Full of hope and almost with the feeling of accomplishment, one by one I insert my personal details. Then the card number. Just like the manual says. Now I’m only one step away from a happy face. The confirm button.

Error! Watch out!

Instead of seeing a confirmation of my booking and an expected “Thank you for choosing our services. We’ll be happy to take you home”, I see a big red cross saying “An error occurred”. Ok, that happens. So what did go wrong?

  • Wasn’t I able to pay online with my card? No information about it.
  • Maybe the CVC number was not correct? No information about it.
  • Maybe there was something with my name even though I tried not to use diacritical marks? Nothing about it either.

No clue. So I keep on trying. I refresh the page and make the booking again, repeating all steps I made only a few minutes ago. Again, a big red cross saying something went wrong. At this point my user experience got a bit undermined.

Hello, anybody there?

“Systems can be tricky, let’s try with people, then!” I’m thinking to reach for my phone to call the customer’s service. I know that in case I fail, I won’t be able to come back home. The autoresponder asked me to dial a number in order to reach the right department. I was hesitating between “Orders” and “Complaints”, finally decided to go with the latter. After all, my order was not successfully placed. One minute, two minutes and all I can hear is that all consultants are busy. Ok. They can be. So I put down the phone and call once more after 7 minutes. The story repeats. Ok, I thought, maybe they are busy. But it seems I underestimated my statement. Fifteen minutes and four calls later, nothing changes. I still don’t know if they were there, busy and talking to their clients or if no one was working.

Four times a charm

What to do? I tried two more bookings – one with a different card (no success whatsoever) and one with a different driver and his card. I should have thought at the very beginning this was the best option. For the fourth time in the story, I clicked “Confirm”. This time, to my surprise – successfully. Happy and anxious like a child on a Christmas day I rushed to my inbox to find out that the trouble with the booking was only a tip of an iceberg. One short look at the email list and I realized what just happened. Not only I got a booking number. I got four of them! And all my cards have been charged for the sake of the booking.

What? We’re closed today!

Remembering that not showing up to pick the car might cost me a lot of money, I cancelled three of four bookings. To my surprise, two of them went clean, one screamed it would charge me with a fee of 50EUR for cancelling on the day of pick up. I decided to post a complain later. After a four-hour flight and almost 40 minutes of waiting for the luggage, I finally reached the airport rental spot to fill the papers. The guy at the counter looked more than surprised that I was able to make a booking. The spot was closed that day after all.

That was enough. Three fees, additional 16EUR for opening a spot beyond operating hours and I knew. Calling customer service would not help me. They had a day off. And so did common sense that did not allow the car rental business to commit those three sins of killing user experience:

  • Not stating clearly that they’re closed on that day
  • Not record a voice message for the day their customer service office doesn’t work, luring the callers that someone would pick up
  • And most of all, not securing their site from charging potential customers for unsuccessful bookings.

Though I came back home safe, I know my experience is not over. I’m going to ask for my money back. But taking into account the user experience I already had with this company, it’s going to be rather an uphill struggle than a piece of cake.