Update: Westin Casuarina Refunds Extra Charges, Apologizes To Customers

Last week’s news that the Westin Casuarina hotel in Las Vegas was surreptitiously charging conference attendees for the organizer’s unpaid bill generated enough bad press that the Westin did an about-face this week, and sent out letters on Tuesday telling affected customers it is reversing the extra charges. A Westin spokesman said, “We’ve decided as a matter of customer relations to issue the refunds while continuing to pursue payment from The Coaching Center” in Austin, Texas. The Westin also says the refunds are an “effort to show our good faith,” which we assume means “please don’t sue us.”

This is great news for the customers who were surprised to find charges from $600 to $1200 on their credit cards after they’d already paid to attend the conference back in October, but the customer who first brought it to the media’s attention thinks Westin should do more:

Dible, however, is not totally satisfied with the hotel’s solution and said the company should provide some extra compensation for attendees who had to deal with the hassle of The Westin’s decision.

Dible, who first alerted the media to the dispute and has been in contact with many of the other attendees, said some people thought they were victims of identity theft and canceled credit cards or disputed charges.

“When you look at how many people were involved, hundreds of hours have been expended needlessly as a result of the unilateral actions of The Westin,” Dible said.

Of course, the Coaching Center should also be apologizing for putting its customers in this position in the first place. “I had part of the money saved and thought I would have the rest, but then the market got the best of me,” the president of the event organizing company told the Review-Journal.

“Hotel plans to issue refunds” [ReviewJournal] (Thanks to Kelly!)
(Photo: Starwood Hotels)

Comments

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  1. humphrmi says:

    As a frequent IT conference attendee, her’s my “how to attend a conference”:

    1. Make your own hotel reservations. Even if it’s the same hotel that the conference is at, don’t let them (the conference organizers) arrange your accommodations. Even if they offer a “deal”. It’s almost never worth it, and you can probably get the same “deal” on your own with the hotel directly. Don’t pay conference organizers for rooms. Get your own.

    2. Register for the conference (only) with a credit card. I didn’t say “a piece of plastic with a number on it” (i.e. Debit card), use a credit card. Then, when and if shenanigans ensue, you’re not liable to pay for any of it while it gets resolved.

    3. If there are any untoward charges, don’t wait for someone else to step up and fix it. Charge-back early and be done with it.

  2. ColoradoShark says:

    “I had part of the money saved and thought I would have the rest, but then the market got the best of me”

    As in, I played double or nothing with the fees and got the nothing. Remember, this is Vegas.

  3. Mollyg says:

    @ColoradoShark: I think that is is more likely that the event organizers did not get the attendance that they budgeted for and/or that some of their base costs went up between the budgeting and the event.

  4. laserjobs says:

    Coaching pshaw!!! Try McDonalds for a real job

  5. Buran says:

    Good faith would have been NOT ripping people off in the first place.

  6. TPK says:

    Hmm, perhaps like the Wal-mart subjugation story, this is a case where “legal” and “in the contract” don’t stand up to the light of public scrutiny.

    Yay for “light”.

  7. Crazytree says:

    all this bs about all the “hours” expended is just a way to set up damages for the lawsuit.

  8. smwalker81 says:

    Dang straight they should be coughing up more.. What about overdrafts?? Not everyone keeps an extra 1200 laying around in the bank “just in case”.

  9. Yay I got my deus ex machina! Thanks for the graphic!

  10. EricaKane says:

    I say, still sue them. I’m guessing that a deliberate, intentional charge on your account like that is a violation of the FCRA or other federal law. They had no reasonable basis for making that charge and I hope they get their butts sued back into the stone age.

  11. President Beeblebrox says:

    @TPK: I think you meant “subrogation.” Although subrogation sure seems like subjugation at times. :)