This past summer my family and I embarked on a fabulous European adventure to England and France. I’ve blogged about it here, elsewhere and it was probably clear from my writing that we had a wonderful time.
What I neglected to write about was an unusual and unfortunate experience that occurred while we were in London. We were hoping to talk to the company involved to see if we could at least get a an apology for the inconvenience caused, but we haven’t been able to. We’ve emailed them a few times and not received a response, not one attempt of contact. So I am opening up the door here and sharing it with you now.
My husband and I are digital natives. We’re both iPhone users and we love our apps. I work for a company that actually creates apps, and he works in IT. Together, we’re always exploring new apps that makes our lives easier. We’re also pretty diligent travel planners and try to provide as much ease as possible when traveling with our kids. My husband put a lot of work and care into the planning of this particular trip. We did a lot of traveling between the two countries in 2-1/2 weeks, and he was trip planning for several months before this trip actually happened.
Ever since my husband discovered TripIt, he’s been a huge fan. He loves no longer having to print out all our travel documents and inputting all of our ticket information and itineraries into this app that claims to “organize your travel”. TripIt claims that you: “Simply forward confirmation emails to firstname.lastname@example.org and TripIt will automatically build an itinerary for your trip that you can access anytime, either online or from a mobile device.”
Well, I hate to tell you, but if you are trusting TripIt to organize your travel plans, you may want to think twice.
Here is the letter that my husband recently wrote TripIt about our experience that set us back 7 hours of travel time with two young children and $800. And a lot of frustration and angst, and again, while traveling with children:
Tripit incorrectly interpreted the email, and confused the departure from Lille of 12:55, with the departure time from London St Pancras. I’ve included a photo of my tripit screen, with incorrect times together will the original Eurostar confirmation email below.
As a consequence I missed the Eurostar London St Pancras to Avignon TGV Train and was forced to purchase a new ticket for the 2 Adult and 2 Child passengers for 500 GBP ($808.18).
These unfortunate circumstances caused my family and I considerable distress at the commencement of our vacation, which was a direct consequence of the failure of the Tripit application to correctly interpret the train times correctly.
So, you may be wondering why I’m writing this post today? For one thing, I want TripIt to know how much stress they caused us. Here we were, in a foreign country with our kids, and we had a schedule that we had to follow. We were visiting family and friends and our plans were made very carefully to ensure that everything went smoothly. Like I said, we have contacted them several times on the contact information directed on their web site and not heard a peep.
Another reason is so that you don’t make the same mistake that we made on your next vacation. When we got to London Pancreas Train Station and realized we had missed our train, we tried to talk to the people working at Eurostar to see if they could help us get to Avignon without breaking the bank. It was impossible. They said that our tickets were non-returnable and that we had no choice other than to buy completely new tickets for a train leaving in 20 minutes. We had no time to think, but my husband decided that we had to move on. We had friends waiting for us in Avignon and no where to stay in London. Plus, we already had the rest of our tickets – from Avignon to Paris and back to London booked. So, we got our new tickets, ran through customs and passport control and started our long trip to Avignon. I nearly had a fight with the attendant who took our tickets going to the train. I was just so upset. We got to Avignon much later than planned, around 8:30, rented a car and proceeded to get completely lost driving to our destination as it was completely dark and we were shattered. Our children were starving when we arrived at our friends around 11pm as they’d not had a proper meal all day.
TripIt claims that they automatically create itineraries and that you can access your itinerary any time online. What sense does it make if it’s inaccurate? They have plans that cost money, the TripIt Pro plan and the TripIt Business plan. I would hope that if I were to pay for a plan like this that the information would be accurate. We didn’t purchase a plan, we were using the free tool.
In any case, we learned that you can’t completely trust technology. Unfortunately, the experience we had at London Pancreas was at the beginning of our trip, and the experience weighed on our mind heavily during the entire trip. The TripIt fiasco caused an unexpected expense that felt quite unfair. We were using a trusted app that appeared to be rock solid.
How about you? What travel disaster have you experienced lately?