Disappointed In Universal Orlando

Disappointed in Universal Orlando

Let me preface this post by saying that I’m disappointed in Universal Orlando, and we have not even went there yet.

With that being said, let me tell you my story of what has happened so far.  I booked our trip in April.  Our plan is to stay at Disney for 4 days, and then finish up the last 5 days of our trip at Universal.  Disney’s website and customer service was spectacular, easy to use and really straightforward. I thought Universal’s was just as simple, easy to use, etc.  So this weekend, I set out on the goal of printing all of our travel documents and itinerary items.  I print out the Universal ticket and reservation confirmations and what do I see?

Our park tickets expire 2 days into our 5 day stay at Universal! What in the world?! I’m paying for a 5 day ticket, that won’t be good for more than half of the vacation we have scheduled to be there.

Disappointed in Universal Orlando

I figure, no problem.  Right?  Every other resort at every other vacation destination we’ve ever been to have been super helpful and accommodating.  I’ll just call them, and we’ll get it taken care of because I don’t want to wait until we’re there to sort this mess out.  After a lengthy hold time on the phone, I talk to a customer service representative.  She informs me that, yep, they do indeed expire, and it’s my fault so they’ll sell me a LESSER ticket, but it’s going to cost me more money.  You’ve got to be kidding me, right?  Nope, they want another 50-ish dollars total for 4-day tickets.  Well, I’m automatically salty about this, and tell the girl that I’m already spending well in excess of $2000, and I’m not spending another dime.  (The girl was actually very nice, I have no complaint there.) So, she puts me on hold to get a floor manager or something of the sort to try to help with the problem.  I spend the next 28 minutes on hold.  As if I weren’t already annoyed enough….28 minutes!

So, the floor manager gets on the phone, says yep, you screwed up and your tickets expire.  We can give you 3-day tickets (see, we bought 5 day tickets, the first girl offered 4 day tickets, and now we’re down to 3 day tickets) for an additional fee, but we are in no way, shape, or form, going to try to match the package you bought.  Fine, what’s the fee for cancelling the whole thing?  Because I’m thinking screw it, we will just extend our trip at Disney because “Fuck these people.”  I’m not in the business of giving away hard earned money to companies with no sense of customer appreciation.  So at this point, I take a deep breath, because Charlotte really, REALLY wants to go to the Harry Potter attractions.  My mind is searching through all the scenarios in which I can cancel the vacation package, and just buy a cheap 2 day ticket and not have to deal with this woman any longer.  This woman proceeds to tell me that this is my own fault because it’s CLEARLY stated that it expires. (Which it’s not, by the way.  You have to click on the actual ticket, THEN you have to click on “highlights” and that’s the only place it says a word about an expiration date at all, and it’s NOT listed under policies or any other place.  The point is that without some real sleuth work, it’s absolutely NOT clear that there is any expiration on the ticket at all! Really disappointed in Universal Orlando’s website.)  So, my view is that it’s a failure on their part–both because I clearly entered the dates for my vacation package before choosing tickets to purchase, and because it’s not clearly marked that it expires, and furthermore not once during the entire process did it warn me that the tickets were not good for the full length of our stay.  I was calm while I explained that to her, I was trying to be nice because it’s not like she personally designed the website or something.  It’s not her fault.  Well, she gets super nasty and yells at me that I shouldn’t have ordered online and that if I had called in to make the reservation someone would’ve told me that it expired, and that she wasn’t going to do anything else to try to fix the problem.  I just asked to speak to her manager because if I had to talk to this woman for another minute I was definitely going to cancel the entire Universal portion of the vacation in it’s entirety.  Being disappointed in Universal Orlando customer service took on a whole new meaning once this woman got on the phone.  I went from disappointed to completely pissed off!

So, manager #2 gets on the phone after a very brief hold, and she was very nice.  I, again, explain what happened.  I explain how I feel that this was not fully my fault (though I can admit that some small part of it was my fault) because the website threw up no red flags to warn me of the ticket conflict before my purchase and also that it’s not clearly marked. (Even when printing all the stuff out the expiration is buried in the fine print, again, not being clearly marked.) She offers season passes for a small additional fee, good for a year from the first use.  We live way too far away to even think about going again in the next year.  I tell her pointedly that I’m not trying to get something for free, I’m merely trying to get what I paid for already, and that I do not appreciate how the customer service floor manager was so fucking rude to me that I nearly cancelled the whole stay at Universal. In the end, this manager comped the $10 up charge for season passes.

I’m happy with the fact that I’m getting what I paid for, which is to be able to go to the parks all 5 days that we’re there.  I’m still salty and put-off by the whole situation, the bitchy customer service manager, the poor way it was handled, and the hour of my life I spent on the phone trying to get it sorted out. I am, so far, disappointed in Universal Orlando, and I haven’t even visited yet.  For that reason, do they think I’ll spend more or less money in the park while I’m there? Do they think I’m more or less likely to recommend their vacation packages?

To be fair, when I called, I expected them to upsell me on the ticket re-purchasing.  I probably even would’ve been fine with paying the upcharge if they’d tried to throw in some “bonus” for my trouble.  It wouldn’t even have had to be an expensive bonus.  Like I pay them $50 dollars for these other tickets, and we’ll give you a $20 credit to use at one of the gift shops or something.  Instead, they nearly lost out on $2300 vacation that I booked and paid for in full in April.  Yes, that’s for 3 people, so that’s roughly $450 per day of our stay!  How is that good business practice?! How many other customers and vacation packages have they lost that way?

And to really top it all off, here I am writing about how disappointed in Universal Orlando I am, instead of writing about how awesome their customer service is.  I’d really much rather blog about the good and best things I experience instead of warning my readers to be wary of a company or service.  And frankly, it irritates me that I’m going to go to Universal with this in the back of my mind instead of going in with an open mind and a happy heart.  I’ve already told Chris that, in light of this experience, I will likely never book another package at Universal. I find that sad because I haven’t even visited there yet, and there is still some part of me that’s considering cancelling and just staying the full 9 days at Disney instead of splitting it up between the two.

Anyone else have good or bad experiences with Universal Orlando?  I’d love to hear them all, either restore my faith in the company or help me make the choice to cancel.

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