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Do not EVER book tickets through Vayama!!!

Vancouver, Canada
posts: 8
reviews: 2
Do not EVER book tickets through Vayama!!!

I just wanted to give a word of warning after an awful experience we had with Vayama through a deal found on a website. A website posted a deal for tickets to Thailand for three weeks through Vayama a while back and my boyfriend, a friend and I jumped at the chance to be able to afford to go. We booked our tickets back in June for about $850 and were eagerly awaiting our November 9th departure date.

I had been checking our flights regularly and at one point we did try to request to have our flights altered so we only had one stop on the way to Vancouver but this proved to be impossible through the company. A slight annoyance since in the past it's been easy to do this through airlines but we sucked it up and figured we'd deal with the 14 hour layover we had in our schedule.

Then the day before our trip, November 8th, I checked our flights. We were flying Vancouver to Shanghai with China Eastern and Shanghai to Bangkok with Sri Lankan Airlines. I noticed a change in the time of our flight to Bangkok and upon further inspection realized the flight left TWO hours before we arrived in Shanghai! We had received "Schedule Change" emails before from Vayama over just a twenty minute difference in a flight, but absolutely no contact was made to us regarding our initial flight being cancelled and being put on a new flight inconveniently leaving before we arrived in Shanghai...

All three of us were on the phone with Vayama throughout the day and they were awful. The worst customer service I have ever experienced. We begged them to rebook the flights so we could grab a connection elsewhere, we asked if we could buy a one way ticket independently but were told if we were a no show for one of the flights it would cancel the rest of the flights on our way back home. The two options they gave us were either wait 45 hours in the airport for the next flight out to Bangkok or receive a refund.

I was warned by a co-worker of maybe needing a transit visa so I phoned the China embassy in Vancouver to get more information. I was informed if we were to spend 24 hours or more in China, whether in the airport or in the country, we would require a transit visa and it would take at least 48 hours to process at a cost of $400. However, our flight was leaving in less than 24 hours when we encountered this mess and originally we had a 12 hour layover. I asked what would happen if we boarded the flight anyways without the visa and the woman told me that once we would board our flight to Bangkok, officials would notice we were in China past 24 hours without the visa and according to the law would have to be sent back on the first flight out to Vancouver.

I wasn't sure if there may be an exception to this rule if we were in Shanghai and if there may be a way to work around it, but we weren't going to risk it. We had NO other option from Vayama but to get a refund.

We had already booked accommodations in Thailand and we'd be losing out on so much money if we didn't go. We managed to find a flight through a local travel agency that left at midnight that night. It'd be an extra $500 from what we originally paid but we figured we'd use most of the money from the refund we'd be getting from Vayama. BUT, we were told it would take 25-45 business days for the refund to be credited back to the original credit card. We were desperate, so we put three new tickets to Bangkok on a credit card and flew out that night.

Vayama was of no help during this entire ordeal. The three of us traveling phoned separately various times throughout the day hoping to get a different answer. We pleaded and begged to book us tickets through a different connecting city other than Shanghai or work it out so we had permission to book a separate ticket to Bangkok. What's horrifying to think is that we never would have seen this mistake if we didn't check our flights the day before. When we explained this to them it sounded like they couldn't care less and they offered no compensation or apologies whatsoever.

The cherry on top of all of this is we came home from our trip recently to find that only two of the three tickets were refunded on the credit card, so now we have a whole other ordeal ahead of us...

PLEASE DO NOT EVER USE VAYAMA! It was by far the worst experience I have, and probably ever will, experience in travel. I can't believe a company would be so unhelpful and unsympathetic to such a situation. If we weren't lucky enough to have a credit card to put three new tickets on we would have had our entire vacation cancelled.

London, United...
posts: 14,841
reviews: 22
1. Re: Do not EVER book tickets through Vayama!!!

Well, at least you used paragraphs...

Booking tickets through a third party is notoriously problematic if one encounters changes, one is always better booking direct with the airline.

You do need to check flight changes yourself, even when booking direct.

In this instance, it looks like Vayama offered you an alternative ( the 45 hour layover) or the refund. Processing times for the refund are pretty normal. So all in it looks like they did their job. Schedule changes are down to the airline and not the third party.

Areas like " not caring" are highly subjective and normally a response to a company not giving a consumer what they want. The visa issues are also not down to the third party.

I understand your frustration, it happens and it's never pleasant, but I guess you know for next time to check the terms of your ticket, before purchasing, and when possible, book with the airline direct, and regularly check your departure time in fhe lead up,

The lowest price is not always the best one, or the cheapest in the long run and a lot of factors need to be taken into consideration prior to purchasing...not least what happens if I need to change my flights.

Portland, Oregon
Destination Expert
for Air Travel
posts: 15,297
reviews: 5
2. Re: Do not EVER book tickets through Vayama!!!

Oh dear! Where to start?

Firstly, it is YOUR responsibility to check on your flight status. Airlines have a poor track record of informing travelers of schedule changes, even passengers who book directly with the airline often don't receive change notices, let alone travel agents. Furthermore, it is possible that a notification was sent, but not received, possibly being filtered by your spam filter or some other process en route.

Secondly -

>> I phoned the China embassy in Vancouver to get more information. I was informed if we were to spend 24 hours or more in China, whether in the airport or in the country, we would require a transit visa and it would take at least 48 hours to process at a cost of $400.<<

Assuming that you are Canadian passport holders, that information is incorrect as far as transit in Shanghai is concerned. In any case, that was NOT Vayama's fault; it was either a mistake by the Chinese Consulate (not embassy), or they misunderstood your question.

>> I wasn't sure if there may be an exception to this rule if we were in Shanghai and if there may be a way to work around it, but we weren't going to risk it. <<

Assuming you are Canadian passport holders, there IS an "exception" for Shanghai. Canadian passport holders (and those of several other countries) who are making International-to-International connections at Shanghai (both inbound and onward flights using either Pudong or Hongqiao airports) may enter the PRC visa free for up to 48 hours.

"5.No visa is required for citizens of the following 30 countries, who transit through China via Shanghai within 48 hours, no matter what types of passports they may hold: Republic of Korea, the United States of America, Canada, Australia, ...." - visaforchina.org/YVR_EN/…253801.shtml

Again, this was either a mistake by the Consular staff, a misunderstanding of your question, or your fault for not checking or framing your question correctly. It was most certainly NOT Vayama's fault.

Pity, as you would have enjoyed a short stay sightseeing in Shanghai.

>> The three of us traveling phoned separately various times throughout the day hoping to get a different answer.<

What makes you think you would have got a different answer? How would different answers help? Multiple answers from Vayama means one of them would be wrong. At the end of the day, it's the AIRLINE(s) that control the tickets, permit changes or not.

You received CORRECT information from Vayama, and YOU chose to cancel the tickets based on incorrect information from ANOTHER source.

And, just to be clear, I don't work for Vayama, have never used them and never will.

UK
posts: 39,785
reviews: 81
3. Re: Do not EVER book tickets through Vayama!!!

What Froggy said. Vayama didn't change flights, the airline did, and they did offer alternatives, either a refund or a reroute

The fact you didn't like either of those and that you had visa issues with one of them is your lookout, if you choose to transit somewhere where an extended delay gives you a visa problem that's your lookout.

So i believe your complaint regards Vayama is the result of unrealistic expectations regarding what they should do.

Since you were using the cheapest flights you could find it wasn't down to vayama to put you on an entirely different routing and take a loss themselves, a refund is all you could reasonably expect, the fact that visa issues wouldn't let you stop over is your problem not theirs.

I note also that vayama did answer the phone and did work with you. Most other third party issues we read here you can't even get through to them on the phone.

I

Nannup, Australia
posts: 3,598
reviews: 24
4. Re: Do not EVER book tickets through Vayama!!!

While I sympathise, the construct of flying from Canada to Thailand on Chinese and Sri Lankan airlines via a 3rd party booking agency was a disaster just waiting to happen - as many others in similar situations who post here AFTER they've booked have attested.

Vancouver, Canada
Destination Expert
for Vancouver
posts: 30,481
reviews: 38
5. Re: Do not EVER book tickets through Vayama!!!

Another traveller who from now on won't "jump at the chance" to book "a deal we found on a website." And who would be wise to ask BEFORE the trip rather than report this kind of thing AFTER it.

London, United...
posts: 14,841
reviews: 22
6. Re: Do not EVER book tickets through Vayama!!!

I think one thing I have learned on this forum, is how complex people can make air travel.

For me, it was always relatively simple, possibly as I am risk averse. Book with the airline, trusting a random on line company never appealed to me, book with an airline I either know or have researched, understand they key terms and conditions before booking, particularly changes and cancellations, understand the full and potential costs. Then look up the visa requirements and health risks of fhe country i am visiting and ensuring I am prepared. Keep checking my detpaeture time, and checknin on line where ever possible, make sure I get to the airport in plenty of time before departure and have a plan b.

It still surprises me, how many people make it so very, very complicated, due simply to failing to take the time to prepare or even understand in advance what they are doing and what is required of them, or even research the full or potential costs or requirements associated with their trip. Saving a few bucks becomes not just the higher priority, it becomes the one and only priority and everything else is someone else's responsibility.

It's totally crazy,

Las Vegas, Nevada
posts: 36
reviews: 25
7. Re: Do not EVER book tickets through Vayama!!!

wow

Houston, Texas
Destination Expert
for Air Travel, Business Travel
posts: 6,935
reviews: 77
8. Re: Do not EVER book tickets through Vayama!!!

"I was informed if we were to spend 24 hours or more in China, whether in the airport or in the country, we would require a transit visa and it would take at least 48 hours to process at a cost of $400."

Oh, it would have been so easy to figure out that this info was wrong. In less than a minute on the Chinese Consulate website, you can figure out what the price for a tourist visa is for a Canadian ($40 if I remember correctly). Furthermore, you should always consider obtaining a visa when you are making a significant connection in a country where you would need one as a visitor. And as others pointed out, you can spend 48 hours in Shanghai without a visa. Your co-worker was also wrong.

I don't see this as a Vayama issue either. You should have been checking flight times all the way along. Airlines change them all the time and it is YOUR responsibility to make sure that they stay viable. The options they gave you were the only options you had; put up with whatever seating was still available (everybody else had already switched flights apparently) or get a refund. While I don't recommend using any 3rd party site, Vayama has shown that they are one of the more reputable ones. You still have to know what you are doing though.

"It still surprises me, how many people make it so very, very complicated, due simply to failing to take the time to prepare or even understand in advance what they are doing and what is required of them..."

+1

Edited: 9:00 am, December 07, 2012
Houston, Texas
Destination Expert
for Solo Travel
posts: 9,766
reviews: 182
9. Re: Do not EVER book tickets through Vayama!!!

These posts remind me of the Taylor Swift song: "We are never ever ever getting back together......But we are never ever ever ever getting back together..Like ever..."

Seattle, Washington
posts: 6,664
reviews: 85
10. Re: Do not EVER book tickets through Vayama!!!

^^^^^^^^

Yes, discussed on this thread:

tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g1-i10702-k5916440…