The day started out as a normal day, I was procrastinating, checking all of those promotional emails that convince you that you need something you probably don’t… but it’s 30 percent off?! I opened up the Groupon app, ‘cause every once in a while they have a screamin’ deal. This is one of those “getaways” emails. A girl can dream, right? So, I opened it. Top of the list was a trip to Ireland advertising a trip that included airfare, rental car, and accommodations for something like $799 per person. Of course, the trip leaves from New York, because of course it does, gonna have to live on that coast one day, but that’s not the point here.
I looked if there were options from the west coast, there was one from LAX. Bit of a drive but hey if the price is right? I dug in deeper.
I have done one of these Groupon trips before and while it was a pretty good deal the accommodation was much less than advertised. I went to the site that was hosting it directly to get more details. The site had options that left from San Diego and they were still so affordable!
Ok, so I wasn’t thinking of going to Ireland… but I swear $1200 was barely what a plane ticket costs to Europe usually… So I told my boyfriend, who brought it up to his parents who said “OMG! we HAVE to go!” wasn’t sure how I was gonna swing it since we are also going to New Zealand in spring too. After giving it a couple of weeks thought we decided it was a great opportunity and that it would be a great vacation to all do together.
Here is Where The “Fun” Begins!
Hopefully, you can hear the sarcasm in that. So the company is called Great Value Vacations. I googled them, they had some decent reviews and figured, the hell with it. How bad can it be we will be in IRELAND, as long as it has a bed and the car runs, it’s fine.
So off to the site to book.
The site wasn’t giving me rates from San Diego. It would say “see price” then you click on it and the price would generate a price after what seemed like forever.
So I called.
The first time I got an error “we are sorry the number you have called has been disconnected or is no longer in service. What?? I check the number, call again, same response. Ok, this has to be a scam so I go to Groupon and get the number from there. Despite being the EXACT same number, now it works. I waited, and waited, and waited.
Meanwhile, I am clicking on all of the different days. After many clicks and waiting I found a price and a day that works. When I got home from work I got all of the information in and then I clicked complete purchase. WOOHOO!
… Oh You Thought it Would Be That Easy? Of course, it Wasn’t
It returned a strange error but gave me an order number and told me to call them by phone. I tried to process the payment one more time after checking everything and got the same error.
So I called. Again.
I waited on hold for 25 minutes, finally, someone answered. She is short and not overly friendly. I explained the situation and she said “Oh, it’s because our systems are down, try Wednesday” I expressed my concern for locking in the price since I noticed they fluctuate. She assured me that the order number I had saved everything and that all I had to do was click the link in my email to finish the purchase when the systems were back up on Wednesday.
Wednesday comes along, try to pay, the link doesn’t work. It gives a syntax error. Tried to book the trip from scratch. same error. Tried the same Thursday. Tried the same Friday.
So I called. Again.
Again, it took 3 times for the number to work. This should have been my clue to get the heck away from this, but I was looking forward to this trip! I finally get through. Of course, I waited on hold, for 30 minutes this time. The lady I spoke to was much nicer but that was the extent of the positive interactions.
I gave her my order number, she couldn’t find anything. she looks again and finds something but it’s only part of the information. She then asks if I would like to book it still, I said yes.
She puts me on hold forever.
When she returned she said the issue was the flight that it was using wasn’t available anymore, I balked at this and she asks “so you don’t want to book it then?” I said I wanted the trip for the price I was told. She offers to look into it and call me back. She calls me back to quote me a price that is about $150 more than what I originally was going to pay. I objected of course. I explained what the first person had said the price was saved and all I had to do was pay. She then explained that the order number only holds the information (which it didn’t even do) and that it does not lock the price.
Back on hold.
I then checked the site and said that the price online was still less than the amount she was quoting me. Back on hold. She comes back, says the same thing she had already said about that price not being locked, and said “I don’t know why she told you that, she was wrong” I said “I want your company to be held to their word, I would like to speak with a supervisor”
Back on hold. (I really don’t know why I am still on the phone at this point, I am just so stubborn)
She comes back and instead of getting me a supervisor she explains that the systems are in fact down and they don’t know when they will be back up and that is why I can not book. She then informs me that all of the Ireland packages are “broken” and that we can not book any at this time, she tells me “some are just broken so you can’t book them right now” I explained that it’s basically false advertising, the site offers a price and says it can be book and then it just doesn’t, its bad customer service and its a terrible user experience. She agreed but they offered no solutions to the issue.
So after 4 hours of back and forth with this chick, I have lost half of a day and I can’t book this trip and have no information on if I can ever book it. I was angry, sad and defeated. I guess no trip then.
I returned my focus to nailing down the details of the already book trip to New Zealand. Then I went out with my boyfriend and his parents and we discussed the disappointment of not being able to go. We started just hashing out things. My boyfriend asked, “I don’t get how they can offer these trips so low, it makes no sense.” Then like a ton of bricks, it hit me..
A New Plan
How DO they do that? Could I be able to just book this trip on my own without a crazy package?? Off I went to google, of course. I learned that flights.google.com has an option to choose a flexible trip where you choose the months you can go and how long you want to go and it will show you the cheapest flight in that time frame. To my surprise, the plane tickets were nowhere near what I had expected, they were less than $700! Woah! Ok, one down, two to go. Car. Google, of course, again. Not too bad of a price. Last but not least, the accommodations. I love Airbnb and use it often so started there. Well low and behold, I could do this trip and it was $150 less per person than the original trip I was going to book!!
Off to Ireland Dispite it All
We were all excited that we could do this trip that took the time to do some research and make it a reality. In the next few days, I had the tickets, the car and AirBNBs in 5 cities. This new trip is not only cheaper but it’s way more our style!!
Want to see what the Ireland itinerary I came up with?