Scarlet read one or two of these blog posts and noticed that they do not detail everything. According to her it’s just “stories and lies”. Fair enough Scarlet, there are lies by omission and there may have been some embellishments to provide for a more engaging read. I would characterize the posts more as itinerary and complaints. We tend to leave out some of the uncomfortable aspects of our trip, getting lost, miscommunications, kids misbehaving…what? you thought the Grand Canyon was the only time? We try to give the impression that everything is fantastic and runs like clock work, so today, the topic is when something went horrifically wrong. Wait, full disclosure, when I did something very wrong.
Here is how the story ends, we have reasonably priced, round trip tickets to Budapest our of Chicago.
We researched how to get around Europe and found a round trip ticket and a Eurail pass would fit our budget and desire for flexibility. Through a friend who likes to travel, and the Kayak travel site, we learned Budapest is one of the cheapest cities for flights. Of course we want a deal on the tickets. With the luxury of time, we decided to low bid for tickets through Priceline. You never know what can happen. Flights out of Chicago were more reasonable than Indianapolis but we toggled between the two. Every day we entered different combinations and prices to see if we could get a steep discount on the off chance no one was really paying attention and the bidding station. It was tedious entering the information over and over – but a deal was to be had.
Finally it happened, William Shatner stared at me from the screen and let me know that we had a deal. Anyone not familiar with Priceline should know that there is a blood oath taken when bidding and when they say a deal is done, it is completely irrevocable. Wow. We were going to Europe, no turning back. I copied down every little bit about flight information because this is the kind of stuff I can easily lose track. I was pleasantly surprised to find the trip departed from Indianapolis – I had just been going through the motions of iterations of flight permutations, and thought I’d put in Chicago.
Some part of me engaged before my head fully comprehended – my insides started to collapse, I remembered entering Chicago – I checked – I had entered Chicago – as the destination city. Someone at Delta Airlines was dancing the jig because a schmuk (me) had offered to pay over $4,000 dollars for 6 round trip tickets from Indianapolis to Chicago. Oh no, oh no, no no no no. The feelings of dread and stupidity coursed through me and I began searching for the “undo” clause of the agreement. I even began evaluating which child should be sacrificed to fix everything.
I called some number and simultaneously started chatting on-line with the help desk. I am shocked that either operator could make sense of my blubbering and hysterical appeal to UNDO my ridiculous agreement. “Rey” and “Lydia” quickly realized I was on a ledge of some sort and were kind enough to keep their professionalism. They each reminded me that I had agreed about 5 times that my offer was totally legit and I was of sound mind. I appreciated them highlighting my stupidity and making me acknowledge that indeed I had agreed to the offer. Although my head was buzzing they communicated to me that there was an escape clause, the tickets could be canceled for a $200 fee. OK I will pay a $200 stupid tax. Nope, I misunderstood, $200 for EACH ticket! That is over $1,000!!! better than FOUR thousand but still – we were people who agonized over a $10 toll fee.
At this point Brent noticed that I was apoplectic and talking in tongues to someone on the phone. To his credit he never got upset with me or berated me for my blunder. In fact he was angry that Priceline would not have a control in place to prevent dumb people for bidding three times the going rate for a flight. Most likely he found the entire event highly entertaining.
I continued to plead my case with incoherent sentences delivered in that wavering voice one gets when tears and frustration are at the brink. Eventually there was a ray of hope. The cancelation fee could be used as a credit IF I was telling the truth. Essentially, if we bought tickets through Priceline using the same parameters with just a change to the city, everything would be right with the world. That is what we did. There were still some transaction fees that were sacrificed, however that is completely reasonable considering I had been careless. It is the stupid tax.
Stupid tax should be a line item in the budget.