Expensing Expedia

When you book a package on Expedia, there is no way to get an itemized receipt. A package is where you book a flight, hotel, car, or any combination. As a consultant / contractor, I have to expenses these, with valid receipts to get them paid by the client.

Expedia gives you a total amount, with tax. There is no way on the interface to get what each flight cost, what the hotel cost a night, etc. I’ve emailed Expedia, and they responded pretty quickly explaining that moving to paperless billing has made it so they can’t deliver receipts. WTF? Getting text to paper is easy; print it. The email did, however, hint that because they give special rates (sometimes) that they cannot divulge the exact amount.

Both hotels I have stayed at have been giving me different answers at different weeks. I believe that you can only get a receipt from them if you book with them directly, them being the hotel. I’ve had 2 occasions where I’ve done Expedia late at night, before next days’ travel. Thus, the hotel hasn’t always had me confirmed, in which case they check me in, right there at the check-in desk. My guess is, at those times, I somehow slip between the rules because I’ve actually gotten receipts from the hotels on those occasions that actually list itemized room rates, with applicable taxes.

…or maybe I’m just lucky and/or delirious. In any case, there is one thing I can confirm; it’s my money via my bank card. Via my bank card, I get a record of the transaction through my bank’s website. It doesn’t really go into a lot of detail about the transaction, but it does list the amount, separately.

In the past, I’ve had to guess at the exact amount, and then do the subtraction based on past room + flight costs. I can’t lie on expense reports, but without exact expense amounts, I can only base the amounts on past rates adjusted for flight costs. It’s really frustrating. At least now I know I can get exact amounts via my bank. They can hide it in their website, and they can hide it on the receipts, but they can’t hide it from my bank.

Still, it’s ridiculous. 60% of air travel is by business travelers. You’d think these g00bs would tailor their services to those customers they are serving. I respect the fact they don’t want to show their rates; this would give away too much of how much a customer is saving or losing with clarity. They can’t, however, hide the amounts from my clients who need exact amounts. It’s all bs anyway, as the prices I’ve seen are never exact. Some days I’ll get better rates booking directly through Delta’s website, and others Expedia. Same goes for the hotels. Expedia DOES make it easier to manage it all, but it’d be nice to know what I am paying for that service.

For now, I have to use deductive investigation via my bank records to arrive at an exact expense sheet. It takes up most of my Sunday’s now. Expedia’s retarding my ability to get things done. I’m better off booking each separately, and keeping track myself, punting Expedia in the process.

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