Wednesday, May 18, 2011

(UN) - Picking your pockets with a smile

Cleartrip- On the way down, it is clear

Even though I had a not very good experience once with Cleartrip, I still try and use their airline ticket booking facilities.
Today, an interesting thing happened. I was trying to book four return tickets Chennai Kolkata. It is a tedious process and after filling in the names of passengers etc I was on the way to make the payment through the internet gateway through net banking.
Just at that moment, my mobile phone rang. It was someone from Cleartrip. He asked me if I was ok and whether there are any hitches in the payment mechanism or the site etc.. I asked him if he expected me to have one, since he butted in before I could complete the process. Then he said that instead of paying through debit to my account, I should try and use the HDFC bank credit card. And he said that it would give me a 50% discount on the ‘base’ fare.
I got angry, because in the space of talking to me, he had already delayed my payment and the site said that I would have to enter all over again. And secondly, I knew from past that the base fares were as close to zero as possible.
I asked the person to quantify the discount. He put me on hold and came back saying that if I had not used the card for a Cleartrip discount in the month, I would be entitled to a grand discount of eight rupees! It was one rupee per ticket!! This got me really pissed off and I asked him about why he did this to me, without even bothering to check the fact that whilst 50% sounds great, the real amount is small. And he virtually stopped me half way and screwed up my efforts.
Eventually, I used the details from Cleartrip and went direct to the airlines web site and completed my bookings. In the bargain, I got a total lower fare of around Rs.800/- as opposed to the total fare I was on the way to pay Cleartrip.
And another piss off that these guys (including some airlines) is that they load on a travel insurance option by default. You have to be careful to exclude it. Otherwise they add it as a default and pick your pockets almost without consent! This is unethical and unlawful, though they will get away with the fine print.
Take care whilst dealing with these kind of internet brokers and make sure that you do your homework. Whilst one is willing to pay them for a service, these kind of experiences leave a bad taste in the mouth.

R. Balakrishnan
May 18th, 2011-05-18

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