• Report: #995154

Complaint Review: Viator Travel

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  • Submitted: Fri, January 11, 2013
  • Updated: Wed, February 06, 2013

  • Reported By: Steven — Littleton Colorado USA
Viator Travel
Internet United States of America

Viator Travel Sold Tickets to Show That Didn't Exist. No Offer to Make Things Right. Internet

*Author of original report: Update: Over One Month Later

*Author of original report: Update: Almost a Month Later

*Author of original report: Follow Up

*UPDATE Employee: From Viator Support

*Author of original report: Update

*UPDATE Employee: From Viator Support

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Booked two tickets through Viator to a Las Vegas show, one my wife had been wanting to see for over a year. We flew out there, showed up, and guess what? The show was dark. For two weeks, in fact. And this was not a surprise to the ticket counter. Viator travel just never bothered to verify the show dates when they sold me the tickets. It was wrong on their website, too. But mistakes like this can happen, right? Surely they would make things right. Perhaps comp me tickets to a different show. 

Wrong. It only got worse. 

First, the kind gentleman at the ticket counter told me that had I purchased the tickets directly through them, I could have chosen almost any show in Las Vegas that night. But because I purchased through a third party (Viator), I would have to seek my solution through the third party. Great! Just a simple phone call to Viator and all should be well, right? 
Wrong. It only got worse. I contacted the local Vegas Viator rep and she told me there was nothing she could do. She said she was sorry but quickly reminded me she didn't make the mistake, it was Viator.  I had no other show options and she would email Viator to get a refund request started.

Started? Email? Oh no. It was about to get even worse.

I could not reach Viator by phone so sent a support request to their email account. But a day later, still received no response. So I tweeted about my experience on Twitter. THEN I got a response. But not a good one. Said they would spend up to 36 hours to investigate my situation. Investigate? Seriously? You mean then still didn't know the show schedule? Couldn't they just look up my account, see that I paid for tickets to a show that wasn't even supposed to be sold to me in the first place, then refund the money? 

No. And you guessed it, only got worse. 

Still no one called. No one apologized. And still no refund. Finally, six days later, the refund arrived along with a somewhat snarky email. It basically said, we've decided to grant your request for a refund for a show that did not run. Grant? You took money from me that you never should have taken in the first place! Saying you "granted" me a refund is a little like me robbing a guy on the subway, then later returning his money. And expecting him to be really happy about it. 

And "a show that did not run?" That's almost accurate. But it was never even scheduled to run. And Viator could have and should have known this. After all, that's the business they're in. So what's the point of all of this? 

Four things stand out to me. 

1. All companies make mistakes. But not all care when the do. And even fewer still are those that sincerely try to make amends afterwards. And as a business school teacher once told me, you can tell how remorseful a company truly is for making a mistake by how they treat you after making it. When they simply offer pat comments, glib apologies, and a simple refund, they're not really sorry. They just want you to walk away.

2. It's not about the money, it's about the experience. Getting the money back was fine. And obviously, expected. But they took from two people an experience that can never be replaced. A long-anticipated show trip that was not to be. Had we been given accurate information, we would have gone and seen another show. Or if Viator would have responded with a similar offer that night, all would have been well. But they didn't. 

3. It is about connection. You'll find study after study that shows when people feel connected to a person or business, they are less likely to be bothered by any mistakes. This simple truth, in fact, is the largest determining factor in whether patients sue their doctors when they otherwise would have every right to do so. Connection. Viator kept the "people" side of their business as far away from me as possible, hiding behind Twitter, 3rd Party Vendors, and email contact request forms. This had the affect of ensuring there was absolutely no connection with the customer whatsoever. And it really made the whole thing worse. 

4. So the question becomes, what would a good company do in a situation like this? I've considered what I would do if I owned Viator and we did a couple wrong like this. Since I can't go back and redo that evening, I would try to set them up to enjoy a similar evening at some point in the future. In their home town. "Sir/Ma'am, I apologize for the mistake that ruined your evening. Please have a better evening - on us - in the future. Enclosed you will find a $xxx voucher to show tickets in your area. We hope you will give us another chance in the future." There. Simple as that. But that is above and beyond and not too many companies will step up to that level. 

Viator has not offered to make things right, outside of the refund. They have apparently moved on and written me off. No connection, no apology, no ownership, and no responsibility. I will not use them again. But you can help others from making the same mistake by sharing this experience. I certainly plan to do so. 

This report was posted on Ripoff Report on 01/11/2013 11:09 AM and is a permanent record located here: http://www.ripoffreport.com/r/Viator-Travel/internet/Viator-Travel-Sold-Tickets-to-Show-That-Didnt-Exist-No-Offer-to-Make-Things-Right-Inte-995154. The posting time indicated is Arizona local time. Arizona does not observe daylight savings so the post time may be Mountain or Pacific depending on the time of year.

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REBUTTALS & REPLIES:
4Author 2Consumer 0Employee/Owner
Updates & Rebuttals

#1 Author of original report

Update: Over One Month Later

AUTHOR: Steven - (USA)

Just a quick update since several have inquired regarding the status: 

1. Still no offer from Viator to compensate us for the loss. 

2. Viator mentioned on this site they sent us a $50 gift card. That is false. To date, they have not sent anything at all. It's just as well because the amount is so low we could never buy show tickets for two with it anyway. But I wanted to highlight the fact that they have made false statements regarding the gift card. 

3. Preparing now to file with the Better Business Bureau, State Attorney General's office, Office of Consumer Affairs, and several travel blogs. Once all of that is done, the next and only remaining option is small claims court.

But in the end, we will get it resolved. If every consumer pursued matters like this until the end, companies would treat their customers so much better! Never give up. Never get tired. Press on all the way and you make life much easier for the next person.

So sad that a simple offer to do the right thing from the company could have averted this ongoing saga ended it early. I will update you as things progress. 
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#2 Author of original report

Update: Almost a Month Later

AUTHOR: Steven - (USA)

It's been nearly a month since this incident and Viator has still not offered to try to make the situation right. Our 21 year anniversary evening was a bust due to Viator's error - which they acknowledge was purely their own - but still no offer to make things right. 

Viator did offer us $50 to go see another Las Vegas show. That's $25 each. To put this into perspective, La Reve (a typical Cirque show) starts at $155 per ticket. So I'm not sure what kind of show we can see on the Strip for $25, but Viator tells us that is "fair compensation" for our loss.

Another interesting note: I learned about Viator from a Las Vegas podcast. And on this podcast, Viator recently awarded a $200 gift card during a contest to see who could make the funniest 60 second song. $200. For a song. But a ruined anniversary evening, no show, and 50% of our two-night trip wasted? That's worth $50. 

Of course, it is purely within their discretion to try to put us in the position we would have been in but for the mistake. But they have decided not to do so. And it appears I've exhausted all chances of resolving this by dealing directly with Viator. 
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#3 Author of original report

Follow Up

AUTHOR: Steven - (USA)

I think I'm beginning to see (perhaps) the cause of the communication breakdown. You mentioned several times that the Box Office did not notify you that the show was scheduled to be dark that week. I'm not sure I would necessarily expect a Box Office to call Viator with their unchanged schedule. 

If Viator's practice is to wait for calls, I think you could have a long wait (as was evidenced in this case). I would suggest someone from Viator keep in regular contact with the ticket office to verify show dates. Even if you did this only once per month, you would have caught the error in this matter. 

And regarding the $50 gift card, whether that is fair compensation really depends upon which end you're on. If you're the one paying, it can probably be rationalized as fair. But if you're receiving, you know better. It just isn't right. And if you're completely honest with yourself and this had happened to you, I'm completely confident you'd have a different outlook.

In conclusion, I'm a little disappointed in the two different tones of responses I'm getting from Viator. Just two days ago, I received a deeply apologetic message from a Viator Quality Assurance Manager. It assumed full responsibility and offered no excuses. But the response on this site takes a very different, defensive tone. It says "we were not notified" and $50 is "fair compensation," etc. 

I can't see how you can even begin to defend what happened.
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#4 UPDATE Employee

From Viator Support

AUTHOR: Viator Support - (United States of America)

Hello,

Please know that Viator understands how frustrating this situation was for you. We do believe we offered fair compensation of a $50 Viator gift card, which can be used in any of our destinations.

We are still looking into the break in communication between ourselves and the Box Office. We are not implying that the show was cancelled on the day of your travel, however we were not notified of the show being dark by the Box Office, and we want to make sure that such lack of notification does not happen again, for the sake of future travelers.

All the Best,
Loryanna M.
Viator Customer Support
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#5 Author of original report

Update

AUTHOR: Steven - (USA)

I confirmed with the ticket office that this show was always scheduled to be dark during the time we were there. It was not a change or last-minute cancellation. But Viator did not verify show dates when listing them on their site. And charging customers for tickets for dark show dates.

My wife and I were only in town for two nights. Therefore, this was half our trip's entertainment lost. While the $50 gift certificate is a gesture, I'm not sure two people can recreate the lost night on fifty bucks. But I guess Viator believes we can. 

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#6 UPDATE Employee

From Viator Support

AUTHOR: Viator Support - (United States of America)

Hello,

Thank you for bringing this matter to our attention. We're never happy to hear that our customers were unable to attend a tour or show that they were looking forward to seeing. We do apologize for any inconvenience with your having missed this show, on account of it being Dark on the date you traveled.

I do show that we have given you a full refund, as well as sending over a $50 Gift Card for you to use in any of the cities that we offer. And we do hope that you had an excellent rest of your trip to Las Vegas, in spite of this unfortunate circumstance.

We are following up with our Show Operator for this Show to find out where the disconnect in communication was, and to ensure that we have the rest of the show dates on our website up to date for future travelers.

Again we apologize for any inconvenience in your experience. Please let us know if you have any further questions or concerns.

All the Best,
Loryanna M.
Viator Customer Support
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