I love Costco. I mean I LOVE Costco. I shop at Costco at least once or twice a week. Toilet paper, chicken breasts, movies, books, cheese, the list goes on and on. And living in Lynnwood means that I also get to shop at the Costco Business Center, which has restaurant and convienence store supplies. Kitchen utensils, vending machine candy, baking supplies and more. I'm happy just thinking about it.
So when it came to booking our upcoming trip to Las Vegas to see family for the holidays, where else would I turn but costco.com travel? Back in September, I booked RT airfare for four, four nights at a beautiful hotel, plus a rental car. Total cost $1200. You can't beat that, and I was thrilled.
But then last week a lady from US Airways calls to tell me that the flights have changed from non-stops to big layover stops in Phoenix. Our two and half hour flights were now seven hours! US Airways would not put us on another airline, and would only offer to refund the money. Since I wasn't about to spend two days of our four day trip on an airplane, I got the refund. I've tried to re-book another package deal through every other travel outlet I can find online, but it's so late in the year now, no one comes close to matching the deal we had before.
Needless to say, I'm pretty pissed off at the whole thing. I've written a letter to the Costco CEO and the Costco Travel CEO detailing my woes.
Here's the text of the letter I sent:
CEO, Costco Travel
P.O. Box 34404
Seattle, WA 98124-9775
In September of this year, I booked a vacation package with your online travel service from Seattle to Las Vegas, 12/12/09-12/16/09, for myself, my husband, and our two children. We were going to Las Vegas for our big holiday season family get together. We had non-stop flights, hotel, and rental car all set. We got a great deal, and have been excidely looking forward to the first family vacation we’ve taken in the last three years.
Last week a representative from US Airways called to tell me that my non-stop flights had been changed to seven hour, layover in Phoenix flights. I was told that US Airways was no longer running non-stop flights between Seattle and Las Vegas. The flight changes were terrible options. Our vacation was only four and half days as it was, and now we were told that a large percentage of it was going to be spent either on an airplane or in the Phoenix airport. As awful as long flights and layovers are by yourself, such a schedule with young kids is a nightmare. This change in our flight was an unacceptable change, in my opinion, as we had paid for non-stop flights, and for total flight times to change from two and a half hours to seven hours is not a reasonable alternative.
US Airways could not or would not transfer us to a different airline's non-stop flights, and would only offer to refund our money if we didn't want the flight changes. Since the flight options were so awful, I chose to refund the package and hoped that I could re-book with someone else. All week I've been searching online everywhere I can think of, and have found no options that are within the same price range, probably because my original booking was in September, and now our desired travel dates are only a few weeks away.
We have opted to stay home and not travel to see our family this holiday season. The decision is a sad one, as getting the grandparents together with our children was a very special occasion, but booking a travel package now, at this late date, is well out of our price range.
I wanted to tell you of our very disappointing experience booking travel with your online contract company. While they were certainly friendly enough to deal with, and offered their apologies, and also knowing that travel must always be booked with a grain of salt, had I known then what I know now, I wish I had booked the vacation with someone else. Not having this holiday season time with family this year is a heartbreaking prospect for us all.
I hope your other customers have better luck this holiday season than us.
cc: Jim Sinegal, CEO, Costco
Will my letter net any results? I'll have to wait and see.....