worldclocksThis past summer my family and I embarked on a fabulous European adventure to England and France. I’ve blogged about it here. It was truly a fabulous trip, fulll of memories for all of us. Going to the top of the Eiffel Tower was on the top of our bucket list. My kids still haven’t stopped talking about it since.

What I neglected to write about was an unusual and unfortunate experience that occurred while we were in London. It involved an app called TripIt. I’m sure you’ve heard of it. You’ve probably all used it.

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 β€œorganize your travel”. TripIt claims that you: ”Simply forward confirmation emails to plans@tripit.com and TripIt will automatically build an itinerary for your trip that you can access anytime, either online or from a mobile device.”

I have bad news. If you are trusting TripIt to organize your travel plans, you may want to think twice. Or at least plan to bring back up information – print outs – along with the app if you choose to use it.

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. We never heard back.

On 5th July 2011, I planned to travel from London St Pancras to Avignon France via Lille France, and had used the Tripit application (on my iPhone) to prepare my schedule, along with car rental, and accomodation for my vacation.

 

Unfortunately, Tripit failed to interpret the Eurostar email ticket confirmation and displayed the departure time of 12:55 London St Pancras, rather than correct time of 8:27am.

tripit-tmomTripit 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. (For this article, I”m just including a picture of the incorrect information.)

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 to no avail. I was hoping for an apology or acknowledgement.

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, but it should have been equally as accurate as a paid version. It was clearly a glitch but one that caused immense stress.

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.

How about you? What travel disaster have you experienced lately?