BigFlyer posted his story on Flyertalk about why he sued Orbitz in small claims court — and won.
My Orbitz adventure began with reading about Orbitz’s “courtesy cancellation policy” on its website. The site stated that one could cancel an airline reservation by 10:00 P.M. Central Time the following day and get a complete refund. The exceptions were paper tickets, tours, and “certain airlines.” I wrote to Orbitz customer service, and was told that “The two airlines that are an exception from the ‘Courtesy Cancellation’ option are Spirit Airlines and AirTran Airlines.” So, I felt safe booking Virgin America through Orbitz.
The day after my booking, I needed to cancel. I went to the reservation, but there was no “courtesy cancel” button. I then called Orbitz customer service.. the first person I spoke with, and the claimed supervisor, said that the courtesy cancel policy did not apply because there was no button allowing a courtesy cancel, therefore the policy did not apply. The simple logical assertion that somehow Orbitz was bound by its own website and its prior response to my email inquiry seemed to be over the head of the representative.
For the next few days I corresponded by email and phone and received varying explanations …
* “It is a courtesy by itself. It is not a policy”
* “When you canceled online and it did not allow you to, it means the ticket is no longer courtesy cancelable. When you called to request a courtesy cancellation, and you were told it was no longer possible, it means it can not be done anymore.”
* “Airlines not offering courtesy cancellations are, but not limited to, Air Tran and Spirit. The response given to you was a general answer to your rather general question.”
* My refund request was “ex post facto.”
… My next step was to go the website of my state’s Secretary of State, where I found the address of the agent for service of process for Orbitz, LLC, the actual entity which operates and sells tickets on the Orbitz website.
I filed in small claims court, naming Orbitz, LLC as a defendant. I asked for my $194.60 back, plus damages for inconvenience and annoyance, and for punitive damages.