Miscommunication Can Be Costly -- Consider This $5,000 Blunder Courtesy of Orbitz


It goes without saying that planning a wedding is stressful and expensive, but miscommunication can be costly as well. Imagine having everything for your big day lined up, and then one week before the wedding, you receive frantic calls from overseas family members saying they’re banned from boarding the plane.

Bride-to-be Chao Li found herself in this position in September 2014. A month earlier, she had booked four round-trip tickets via Orbitz for her family members living in northern China. The flights to and from Kansas City, MO, cost her nearly $5,000. The day of the flight, Air China wouldn’t let her family members board because the names on the tickets didn’t match the names on the passports.

How could this have happened?

As it turns out, the family members’ middle names, which Li had clearly typed into the Orbitz ticketing system, didn’t transfer to Air China. The problem? Air China uses a ticketing system that eliminates middle names entered in the traditional way. To make the system work properly, Li needed to type the first and middle names as one word into Orbitz’ first name slot. Li was never given this confusing instruction .

After six hours on the phone talking to both Orbitz and the airline, Li and her fiancé Shikhar Sherchan had no luck. They ended up having to shell out another $5,000 for one-way tickets directly through the Air China website.

Feeling desperate and outraged, Li and Sherchan contacted a local news station for help. Once the news channel got in touch with Orbitz, a spokeswoman finally agreed that Li and her family were entitled to a reimbursement and the mistake was clearly Orbitz’s fault. In addition, Orbitz agreed to fix the names on the reservations for the return trip to prevent the problem from happening again when the family returned to China.

This is a clear example of how miscommunication can be costly and have a massive impact on others' lives. To learn more about avoiding costly blunders when working with your customers, please contact Hurley Write, Inc .

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