Beware of

Everyone has their horrible travel stories. My travel stories aren’t too horrible in general, but now I’ve got a horrible travel booking story. is one website I won’t be buying from again. Here’s my story:

In looking for flights to Vegas, I searched everywhere (even my usual favorites, Sidestep and Kayak) but for some reason came through with the best price on a ticket. I also knew that Callahan was staying at the Mariott Residence Inn near the convention center, and even though CheapTickets didn’t have a great rate on that hotel (same as the hotel’s rate on their website) I went ahead and booked it as a “package”. I figured it would be nice to have it all in one place, plus it was a little bit of a “thank you” to them for having gotten me good airfare.

A few minutes after I place the order, I get the following e-mail:


We need to speak with you regarding your reservation. Please contact CheapTickets immediately at 1.888.922.8849.

Great sign. So, I call that number and am greeted with the usual answering system, although from what I can tell there is no way for me to speak to a person. Dialing zero did nothing. So I hung up and e-mailed them, to ask how I should call them.

I get an e-mail back with the cryptic obvious instructions on how to talk to a person:

The system will ask you for a number 4 times. You may ignore the prompt without answering. You then need to say ‘Help’ from the main menu which will provide you with two options ‘Password’ or ‘Website’. You need to say ‘Website’ to reach the next available customer service representative.

Well, don’t I feel like the idiot for not guessing that.

So I call and get to a person that sends me to another person who stares at my account and has no idea why they asked me to call them. She says that maybe it has to do with the fact that they were issuing me paper tickets instead of e-tickets. I say I noticed that on the website. We hang up.

The next day I get the following e-mail:


We need to speak with you regarding your reservation. Please contact CheapTickets immediately at 1.888.922.8849.

This time I wasn’t calling back, since I saw how fruitful that was last time. I e-mailed them and told them that I’d already called and the lady didn’t know why I was calling. They finally e-mailed me back to tell me that I was getting paper tickets. What a great waste of my time. Why didn’t they just send me that information in the e-mail to begin with? Who knows.

So, the saga continues. Callahan calls me up tonight to say that the hotel we’re staying at is crappy, so he switched to a different hotel of the same brand, but in a different location. He gives me the phone numbers so I can do the same. I called, and they told me to call CheapTickets because they couldn’t do anything. Great… I can’t wait to talk to these clowns again.

The CheapTickets website informs me that I can’t make changes to anything online because I bought a package, and I’d have to call. The guy who answers tells me that I can’t make changes to anything because I bought a package. The best he could do was cut my 2 nights at the hotel down to one night. Considering the hotel was about $200/night, that was effectively like a $200 fee for changing my reservation, because I’d have to call up and make new reservations directly with the hotel.

After me not giving up and asking him what my options were, he eventually conceded to call the hotel and “see what he could do.” I have no idea whether or not he actually called the hotel, but he informed me that they couldn’t/wouldn’t change it. While he was doing that, I was reading the cheaptickets agreement and, although he claimed the terms said “no changes” they said no such thing. I made him find that phrase, and he put me on hold. He came back with a similar concept that wasn’t quite it, and we went through this dance about 4 times. The terms didn’t say that I couldn’t cancel my hotel, but there was enough loose wording that he at least had some key phrases to point to. At that point I asked about just doing the one-day thing, at which point he metaphorically punched me in the balls.

It was 10:15 PM my time, however everything CheapTickets does is based on Central Time (apparently). So, for them it was after midnight, which meant now I was trying to make my changes on the “same day” as my reservation, so I couldn’t change a damn thing. That part was actually in the terms (although I made him find it for me). Conversation over.

I’m not saying what they do is illegal, but tell me that’s not unethical… or at least not “customer friendly”. Do yourself a favor and avoid these scumbags.