Beware of budgetair.ca / vayama

I use skyscanner.com to book all my flights – it’s a flight aggregator that shows semi real-time fares.  You can even specify blank source or destination locations and have skyscanner show you where you can fly to or from – showing there may be another cheap route to get to your destination.

When booking my flight to Reykjavik last near, skyscanner showed a flight with budgetair.ca through Seattle that was about a $400 savings over the next nearest flight that was over $1100.   Too good to pass up!  A quick Google search showed budgetair was legit, so away I went to enter my details and credit card info.  When clicking Accept at the final step, the site said there was an unexpected transaction error.  Since this was after all my details were entered, I didn’t even know if the purchase succeeded and I would be billed.

I phoned their support number and was connected to a call center in India.  I told the woman of my issue and they said “No problem sir, I can help you book your flight.”  Her English was fine and the phone connection was very audible.  She then asked me all the details that would normally get entered on the website – I sighed as I just entered all this in on the website 2 minutes ago.  I asked what the error meant on the website and she avoided the question.

When she would read back any of the answers to my questions, what she read back was wrong 90% of the time.  I had to spell out phonetically everything from my name to my billing address.   “B as in bravo, A as in alpha, R as in…” you get the idea.  Even after this, what she noted kept being incorrect.  My patience was quickly wearing thin as I was reaching what had to be at least 30 minutes on the phone thinking of words for all the letters “Y as in…  Yellow?”.  I almost gave up several times and told her to forget it, it was taking too long – “Sir we are almost finished.”  Finally they had all my details and had validated my credit card.  She said to expect a confirmation email in the next 24 hours.  I wanted to buy a ticket to Bangalore and strangle her.

I waited patiently for the email to verify the details.  Surprise – my phone number and address were wrong.  At this point I started to do a bit of internet detective work to find out more about this company.  Turns out the site is just a canadian skin of vayama.  Googling “vayama review” gave some scary results:

vayamareviews

 

 

 

 

 

 

To summarize the reviews out there, they do give cheap flights, but if you want to change anything they charge you fees of $200+ (granted, this is stated in the T&C), and sometimes after booking they will call you and tell you the flight is no longer available – but they can rebook this other flight on another date or time that happens to be more expensive.  You have connecting flights?  Sorry, too bad.  You want to cancel your flight and get a refund?  Let us refer you to our refund department, where you should expect to see money sometime between two weeks and never.

It took 3 back and forth exchanges over email to make sure my details were correct – info that was correct in one email suddenly became incorrect in the next.  I don’t know what the plan was here – just incompetence, or trying to get me to call in to change my flight and charge me?

There was still the matter of the transaction error on my original booking – is vayama going to bill me twice?  The charge hadn’t appeared on my credit card yet.  I check back the next day and boom, there was two vayama charges back-to-back.  My $400 savings was now a $300 increase.

Another phone call to India – the CSR actually confirmed seeing the mistaken double-transaction and said that it would be removed.  It was, fortunately.  Would they call me up the day before my flight telling me it was no longer available?  I was dreading a phone call from them leading up to my departure, but that didn’t happen.

No wonder vayama rebrands itself in different countries.  Googling “budgetair.ca scam” shows positive results:

budgetairreviews

 

 

 

 

 

How was it possible a site that’s just a rebranded skin of vayama have so many good reviews?  When something is too good to be true, it probably is.  If it were Yelp, the page would be full of No-Face 1 Review people.  Read for yourself on trustpilot.

Signs trustpilot is full of fake reviews for budgetair:

– A lot of reviews read like commercials

– 0 of the reviews are validated through Facebook connect, they are all a “Review by confirmed purchaser” – I’m guessing BudgetAir allows users to post reviews directly bypassing the normal interface

– Large groups of reviews appear in batches of specific dates instead of across a normal date distribution

There’s no way to tell if bad reviews are removed.  I just posted my story and I’ll see if it stays.  I don’t believe that trustpilot itself posts these reviews – more likely vayama or marketing companies hired by vayama.  To the consumer, it’s not really relevant where they come from either way since trustpilot appears second in Google and isn’t giving users “good” information.

I’m not the first one to doubt trustpilot’s authenticity:

http://www.frustratedcustomers.co.uk/complaints_detail.php?SETparam=aWQ9d2U1c25xa2drYmh3aXo3MHV0ZmN0

But it seems investors love trustpilot – it just got an investment of $13M back in December.

http://techcrunch.com/2012/12/11/with-nearly-7m-reviews-of-100k-sites-trustpilot-raises-13m-from-index-and-more-to-build-out-a-yelp-for-the-world-of-e-commerce/

Sorry trustpilot, you’ve got a long way to be as trusted as Yelp.

 (Update 1/5/2014)

This page is getting a few hits from search sites and I want to respond to the feedback left by budgetair over the email they sent.  They’ve apparently stopped using that call center in India (thank god).

They probably have good deals for some specific fares, but I would really not recommend them (or any budget fare dealer) if there is any chance whatsoever you’ll need to cancel or change your booking.  That’s hard enough when doing it directly through an airline.

12 thoughts on “Beware of budgetair.ca / vayama

  1. Dear Barry,

    I apologize for the frustrations and inconvenience caused working with BudgetAir. We value our customer’s feedback and regret you’ve had a negative experience working with us.

    Can you please email feedbackca@budgetair.ca, including your Trip ID (confirmation number) so we can further review your reservation.

    Thank you,

    Brittany

    • Hi Brittany:

      Unfortunately I don’t have my Trip ID anymore in my gmail – it’s been awhile since my booking (it was last Oct) and I’ve cleaned out my mailboxes for that part of my trip since I no longer need anything from that time.
      It should still be searchable in your databases by my name and email.
      The erroneous billing was corrected on my credit card. But I don’t think I’ll be using budget air again.

    • They are still using the call centre in India, with reference to date: 24/04/2016. Very difficult to understand what they are saying on the phone. A woman kept me on the phone for ages, at least 15 minutes. They wanted to charge an exorbitant fee to change my flight date, it was almost as much as the initial flight cost. I decided to cancel in the end as it was much cheaper and much less aggravation. I only wanted to transfer my outgoing flight date and not buy part of the aircraft. I will be avoiding this company like the plague. BTW, I was informed my refund will take 7 to 12 weeks. I am certain UK legislation comes into this somewhere but if Budgetair think I am going to forget about my £204 refund be aware, my brother is a solicitor. Extremely unimpressed and I believe I may have a case for unfair contract, we shall see,

  2. I recently had a bogus charge to my credit card made through Budgetair.fr. I called them and they STILL have their call centre in India, full of totally rude and condescending customer service (and I use that term loosely) representatives, who can’t speak English properly. I wouldn’t use this company no matter how cheap the tickets are.

  3. Dear Sir or Madam,

    Budgetair.com put me in a flight that does not exist.

    This company sold me a ticket to Caracas from London trough Madrid with Iberia for the 10th of November 2014.

    Iberia cancelled the flight and budgedair.com did not let me know. Even worse they decided to put me on a flight Madrid Caracas on the 11th keeping the flight London Madrid on the 10th at 7:30am. Meaning to spend all day and night in Madrid for the 12:00pm flight on the 12th.

    I send a complain letter to budgedair complaining and the response was that they did notified me with two emails which isn’t true. No emails were sent apart of one in July where all flights were still on the same day. And even if they did so they never got my confirmation for that unrealistic change.

    I was that morning at Heathrow airport when the airline told me what budgedair had done.

    I lost my flight connection to my hometown and hotel reservation in caracas on the night of the 10th. Also lost a day with my mother and an unpaid leave day of work.

    You should also know that they have caused me terrible stress as the reason of my flight is to visit my mother in Venezuela who has terminal cancer. What budgedair have done to me is unacceptable and terribly unprofessional.

    Jorge Khaoim Khawam
    Reservation No 5FKVV7

  4. I have booked 3 tickets for travel in july 1 month back. Now i have sent budgetair a requesting them to cancel my ticket and give me refund. I have also taken their insurance of returning fares. But now nobody is responding from their end to my emails !!! Can anyone give me their telep no. The one which i have is an indian number which is not working. pls help

  5. I’m having a similar issue with Budgetair, booking a flight within Canada, the return date was wrong (my fault I guess, but I can’t believe how this happened). Within 12 hours I called:
    – the Canada customer support number (an Ottawa area code) which said “welcome to budget air” and then rang for 20 minutes with no hold message or expectations of wait time.
    – the “Emergency” line from the ticket email which was a Netherlands number (country code 31) and was given the customer support number for the UK office (country code 44). The emergency line person wasn’t able to help me any further.
    – I called Visa to see if they could cancel the transaction, but it hadn’t been posted yet, so they couldn’t do anything and suggested I call Budget air.
    – I called the airline (Westjet) but they were not able to change the reservation and said I had to call Budget air.
    – I called the UK number and the rep said that he could cancel the reservation for $70CAD, and if I rebooked the same day, that $70 would be refunded. I asked if the ticket could be cancelled since it had been less than 24 hours since the booking. He said the ticket has already been sent out. I agreed to this option since it seemed like I could either pay $70 or separately book another one way return ticket. I asked if I could call that rep back directly, and he said no, anyone can help you because it’s been noted on the booking, and he sent me an email confirming what he said.
    – I called the UK number back an hour later before actually rebooking. After being on hold for 15-20 minutes, the call got dropped before I could talk to anyone. THREE times.
    – The fourth time I got through after being on hold for another 25 minutes. By fluke, I got the same representative. He confirmed that the refund would happen, and asked for the booking number for the new flight. Since I had him on the phone I booked it and gave him the number. He said he initiated a request for the refund (which is apparently through some other market so he couldn’t do it himself). I asked for a confirmation email but he couldn’t provide one, saying the last email he sent regarding cancellation would suffice. He confirmed I would be getting a refund for the initial flight and the $70, in about 5 business days.
    Let’s hope that happens.

  6. BUDGETAIR IS THE BIGGEST SCAM EVER , AVOID !!!!!!!

    i booked my trip with them , they take your credit cards details and not issuing fly tickets , not answering emails , BEWARE !!!

  7. Our booked flight has been cancelled by airline due to weather conditions.
    I have emailed BudgetAir right away after we got the flight cancellation notification asking for our options. Got no response at all.

    Called the next day AirLine first (they told that BudgetAir should make the change and confirmed that there are some options for the change), then I called to BudgetAir.

    I have repeated this procedure about 20 times each time I had to wait about ~30 min to get an agent on the line and then had 30 min conversation with an agent.

    Everytime I call there was a different “excuse” and finally they were asking me to call AirLine to confirm or vise versa. Basically they just wanted to get rid of me repeating the same phrases all over again. BudgetAir agents HANG UP during the conversation 3 TIMES.

    Most of the BudgetAir agents are Indians with little understanding of the “process” they are doing so we had a 2 conference calls with AirChina and BudgetAir during which we are supposed to complete the booking, but agents ended up blaming each other without going to any technical details…

    Travel agent should help with the flight change in case of the flight cancellation and the passenger should NOT SPEND 18 HOURS on the long distance calls while at the foreign country (we are from Canada and were stranded at New York waiting for the “process” for 3 days. It’s clearly agent’s job to do it and to update customers by email or calling back with the status updates. I have asked several times to copy agents requests to the airline to me and never got an email or call back despite several promises from different agents to “send it right away” or “we will call back very soon”….

    Although, one agent did send a copy of the cancelled tickets saying “everything is ok and you can go to the airport to fly, everything is confirmed and you don’t need the tickets, just show the passports at the check in”…. Turned out that it was the cancelled flight details and we could not flight with these “tickets”…

    Another agent advised us to go to the airport so they definately will complete the change there… Visited two airports (EWR & JFK) just to be given the same AirChina phone number to make the rebooking (they can’t do anything there even at the AirChina Ticketing department at the airport because we booked using Travel agent so we need to contact AirChina over the phone and then our agent….)

    The last option was provided by the AirLine to go at the airport and to wait there while they confirm the change of the rebooking for the flight which was in about 6 hours. So we agreed on that and called BudgetAir to confirm that they will be ready to issue the tickets once the change will be confirmed by the airline. In the response I was told that now I have only one option to get the refund for the flight and if I will not confirm the refund request NOW I will not be able to get the refund (what was not true I guess)… So I had to agree on the refund. After one hour I got the call from the airline saying that they were in the process of the issing the tickets but got the cancellation request and now can’t do anything about it…

    So all our prebooked non-refundable flights and hotels for 10-day stay inside the Thailand and Cambodia are now gone (which cost us more than the flight to Thailand). We have also stayed 3 days in New York and had 3-day full time “jobs” as an travel agents and 18 hours of long distance calls to pay… all because we choose to book the flight with the BudgetAir and not directly with the airline…

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