Help, Expedia Sicked Debt Collectors On Me After Botching My Hotel Reservation!

Poor Victoria, all she wanted was a queen sized bed. Expedia told her she had one, but when she arrived at the Mosser Hotel, what she found was a double bed and a moldy room. After both Expedia and the Mosser refused to issue either a credit or an apology, Victoria called American Express, which quickly issued a full refund. Now, Expedia has decided to get their money back by sicking debt collectors on Victoria.

Victoria writes:

In September, I booked a room at The Mosser Hotel for a couple of nights. My Expedia reservations explicitly states that I get a room with a queen bed. Unfortunately, as we can all guess, that didn’t happen. Upon checking in, we were told that we booked a room with a double bed. I argued and argued and showed them that my reservation states “queen bed.” They kept telling me that I’d have to pay more for a queen bed and didn’t accept the mistake. So I ended up accepting the room with a double bed. While in the room’s bathroom, I noticed something that looks like black mold on the ceiling. I mentioned it to one of the guys at the front desk and he acted completely non-challant about it, didn’t even offer to come up to look at it.

After my stay, I contacted Expedia to see if there is anything I can do about getting reimbursed for my awful experience. Their reply was pretty much a “NO.” I emailed American Express (my card of choice and the card I used to pay for the hotel) about my stay. Basically, they said that they will email Expedia and Expedia has a certain amount of days to dispute the claim. Expedia didn’t and American Express gave me a full credit.*

Fast forward 6 months and I receive a letter from a collections agency that was hired by Expedia to collect the debt for the full amount of the stay. Shouldn’t Expedia deal with American Express? Is there anything I can do other than write more letters to the collections agency?

*I never requested a full credit from AmEx, I simply asked if there is any sort of a credit I can get. AmEx immediately issued me a full credit.

The first step when dealing with debt collectors is always to dispute the debt. Even if it’s legitimate, make them eat the time and expense of sending you the paperwork for your files. If they respond, send them a copy of AmEx’s decision. And if that doesn’t get them to back off, offer to charge the debt to your AmEx card.

Comments

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  1. Commenter24 says:

    The biggest problem I see is that you went ahead and stayed in the room anyway. You owe them, at a minimum, *some* money for the stay. This is also perfect evidence of the fact that the chargeback, the Excalibur of many commenters on here, does have it’s limits; specifically, the fact that the credit card company, after your dispute, decides not to pay the merchant does NOT discharge the underlying debt.

    • crashfrog says:

      The hotel got “some money” for the stay when they sold the debt to the collection agency. I don’t see that the OP has any moral responsibility to the collection agency and she’s certainly not obligated to pay the full price for services that were not delivered as arranged.

      She should dispute the debt and offer to settle for a lot less. I’d offer 30% of the debt.

      • crashfrog says:

        Ah, you know, I forgot how this worked even though I worked at a hotel for a year – the hotel was paid by Expedia, paid in full, so they have no claim on the OP. Expedia failed to deliver the services the OP paid for, so they have no claim on the OP either.

        She should go ahead and dispute the debt; she’s under no moral obligation to pay.

        • Commenter24 says:

          Moral obligation != legal obligation.

          She likely absolutely has a legal obligation to pay *something* for her stay. She made a contract with Expedia for a hotel room; Expedia contracted with the hotel to provide said room. The room did not perfectly conform to the contract, but she accepted it anyway. She didn’t pay Expedia for the service (due to chargeback), so Expedia (likely) assigned it’s rights in the contract to the collection agency. The collection agency now stands in Expedia’s shoes and has every right to collect. She may have a defense in that Expedia breached the contract, thus entitling her to damages, which would in-turn reduce the amount she owes Expedia for the room.

          • Jay911 says:

            You keep arguing that *she* has an obligation to pay for it. Since American Express was the one that took matters into its hands and canceled the purchase, don’t you think it’s on their shoulders instead?

            • Commenter24 says:

              Not at all. Amex is essentially her agent, one whom she has assigned the duty of payment. Amex initially made payment on her behalf, and then at her request withdrew said payment. Amex has absolutely no responsibility here. Again, it’s no different than stopping payment on a check. If you stop-pay a check and the bank properly refuses to pay on it, is it the bank’s problem when the person you paid comes after you?

            • partofme says:

              Who exactly has a claim on who… and what the proper venue is… is probably spelled out in detail in AmEx’s merchant and cardholder agreements. Likely, they say something along the lines of “once we rule on the chargeback, you guys can fight anything else out in court.” Though it’s entirely possible that chargeback arbitration is mandatory and binding. Wouldn’t that irony be delicious?

              • Commenter24 says:

                The contract between Amex and Expedia, the merchant agreement, isn’t binding on the consumer. The contract between the consumer and Amex, the cardholder agreement, isn’t binding on Expedia. There is likely no contract directly between Expedia and the consumer that would give Amex any actual power to adjudicate this dispute. Even if the Amex merchant agreement says that Expedia won’t go after the consumer, the consumer probably can’t enforce that agreement against Expedia (maybe as a 3rd party beneficiary). So even if going after the customer post-chargeback is a violation of the merchant agreement, the only party that can (probably) enforce that agreement is Amex, not the consumer. Thus, Expedia is probably free to sue/send to collections any consumer that does a chargeback and the only “remedy” is for Amex to sue for breach of contract and seek damages.

                • partofme says:

                  You point out likely details, yes. However, the picture now painted is very different from the picture you’re painting elsewhere in the comments about how it’s just like stopping a check. The point is, there very well may be a reason for AmEx to be involved. Neither one of us knows, because neither of us has presented the relevant portions of the AmEx agreements. If it’s spelled out in the merchant agreement, the OP should contact AmEx, provide them the collections notice, and request that they enforce their agreement. If it’s not spelled out the in merchant agreement, the OP should prepare for the standard collections process.

                  • Commenter24 says:

                    I think you’re missing the point of my comment. Amex has absolutely no involvement here. Amex was acting as a payment agent; it paid, then withdrew, at the customers insistence. The dispute is between the customer and Expedia; there is no contract between Expedia and the consumer that says if Amex approves a chargeback that Expedia won’t go after the consumer. It’s absolutely no different than a stopped check.

                    If Amex’s agreement DOES say that the merchant won’t go after the consumer, that won’t actually stop the merchant from doing so. Amex will be able to sue for breach of contract and seek damages, but won’t be able to obtain an injunction stopping any collection efforts by Expedia (or its collection agency or successor in interest). Amex could get money damages or seek termination of the contract, but it can’t interfere with the collection between Expedia and consumer.

                    • partofme says:

                      I understand what you’re saying. Expedia can certainly continue collections against the OP. However, if AmEx says, “Knock it off or we’ll hurt you more than you can hurt them”… what do you think Expedia is going to do? I’m not saying that AmEx can force a stop of collections with litigation, but they can certainly put the screws to Expedia. Your post says that you know it too. There is a huge difference between this and a stopped check: the merchant agreement. AmEx has limits to what they can do, but you can’t seriously say they’re useless (if, of course, it’s in the merchant agreement. Which, again, neither of us knows.)

                    • Commenter24 says:

                      My point is that Amex is legally useless; any leverage it might be able to otherwise exert is simply collateral.

                    • partofme says:

                      My point is that a smart consumerist knows that any leverage, collateral or direct, can be a powerful tool before we get to any legal proceedings. Do you think the best course of action is to ignore this potential tool and just give it a go with the collections process?

                    • Randell says:

                      Who do you think AMEX will side with in that case? This woman who travels, or a hotel no longer accepting AMEX as payment. Amex will not do that for its cardholder, trust me on that one.

                    • partofme says:

                      I think it’s a possibility worth spending a little time pursuing. Talking to AmEx isn’t going to hurt, so why not see if some stressed out paper-pusher who is coming off his summer ‘roid cycle decides to go after some company for treating the merch agreement like toilet paper? You absolutely never know what you’re going to get with huge companies. And if there’s nothing bad they can do, why not try?! Why the attitude ‘aww, these big companies are just dicks’ without giving them a chance? Sure, they might end up being dicks, but you’re advocating being a lazy victim.

          • newfenoix says:

            No, she has NO LEGAL or MORAL obligation to pay anything to anyone. Expedia failed to live up to their portion of the contract. I had a similar situation with Sprint. In a four month period, I had 21 days of actual service. Customer service stated that it was because of “equipment issues” in my area and they could not and would not credit my account. My future wife put me on her AT&T account. I refused to pay the ETF fee and after getting no help from their “executive resolution team” I contacted the Arkansas AG office and guess what, they sided with me and stated that Sprint voided the contract when they FAILED to provide the services that they were contracted to provide.

            • Commenter24 says:

              You are simply wrong. And an AG is not an adjudicative body.

              • newfenoix says:

                No I am not wrong.

                • bwcbwc says:

                  Obviously none of you are lawyers. Neither am I. It seems pretty obvious that after disputing the debt, her next step needs to be to talk to an attorney to understand her obligations under law and to AmEx to understand how the chargeback process is supposed to work, and whether Expedia is violating their merchant agreement here.

                  • Commenter24 says:

                    Some of us aren’t lawyers (yet), but have more than enough legal education to understand basic contract law. You’re right about the fact that the OP should talk to an attorney licensed in her jurisdiction, the issues here are contract law 101.

      • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

        From the letter, it’s unclear if the debt was sold or if the debt collector is working on their behalf.

    • spazztastic says:

      No, she doesn’t. She was not delivered the product she had paid for, and they refused to compensate or refund any difference, or even attempt to make a goodwill gesture. It’s a defective product at that point.

      • Commenter24 says:

        In many/most (all?) states, you’re simply wrong. YOU may not *think* she owes them any money, but I’d almost guarantee that the law of the states involved will say she does. She accepted the “product” and she is obligated to pay. The fact that the hotel delivered, and she accepted, “non-conforming goods” doesn’t discharge her obligation to pay under the contract. Her remedy is/was to sue for damages, the measure being the difference in value between the room she reserved and the room she got.

        • leoneomeo says:

          No sorry to me it looks like bait and switch, regardless of who’s at fault, so in any case she did what she should have done.

      • fantomesq says:

        That MIGHT have been true if she was purchasing a product. She wasn’t. She purchased a service and services do not require a mirror-image rule… This is arguably theft of services… The OP really thinks the hotel is entitled to NOTHING after providing her with a room for the night?!?

        • crashfrog says:

          The hotel was paid by Expedia; she doesn’t owe the hotel anything. Expedia, on the other hand, was contracted to provide a certain service, which they did not do. She doesn’t owe them anything.

          24 is right that the chargeback wouldn’t obviate the debt, but what obviates the debt is that Expedia didn’t fulfill their end of the contract.

          • fantomesq says:

            True, the hotel has been taken care of. Expedia paid for the hotel. The OP contracted with Expedia to secure her a hotel room, which they DID do. If they failed to secure a Queen bed rather than the double bed then perhaps the OP is entitled to a setoff for the diminished services she received but from what we are told she didn’t even notify Expedia of the discrepancy until after her stay was completed and Expedia was only notified when she processed a chargeback.

            At minimum, Expedia is entitled to the reasonable value of the services which the OP, otherwise wrongfully, received. If she had a problem with the accommodations, she had a responsibility to notify Expedia before she accepted them.

            • Commenter24 says:

              I agree. Expedia substantially performed, thus her obligation to pay is not excused. She must pay expedia the contract price and sue for damages.

              • BigBoat2 says:

                I remember when I was a 1L and wanted the world to know it.

                • Commenter24 says:

                  Not a 1L (or a 2L or a 3L) . And I’m right. I used the language I did because it was concise and I was responding to a commenter who obviously has a legal education.

              • crashfrog says:

                Expedia already sold the debt, so they’ve been paid. She no longer owes Expedia anything at all – if she ever did.

                At each level of remove her obligation to pay gets smaller and smaller. The hotel provided the service – they were paid. Expedia provided a different service than they were contracted for – but they were also paid when they sold the debt. The current debt holder owns a debt that cannot be described as entirely legitimate, since it was in dispute when they bought it.

                Frankly they’re not owed anything at all. She should negotiate the smallest possible payment given that it’s a debt for services Expedia did not actually provide.

    • Pax says:

      This is absolutely right.

      She SHOULD have refused to accept the room, and IMMEDIATELY called American Express to request a chargeback – and then gone and found a different room, in a different hotel.

      But the moment she accepted, and spent the night … the debt was legitimate, and HER responsibility.

      If AmEx had known she spent the night there, I’m pretty sure they would not have run the chargeback. So, I’m pretty sure she “um, forgot” to mention that particular detail when she called them.

    • newfenoix says:

      Who else on here thinks that Commenter 24 works for a collection agency?

      • Commenter24 says:

        I absolutely do not work for a collection agency, nor have I ever. The fact that I actually understand contract law doesn’t make me a debt collector.

        • greggen says:

          Can you use your deep understanding of contract law and explain how much ‘some’ money is?

          My contract understanding is weak, I thought promising something, say a queen-sized bed, and not delivering is violating the contract, and a contract not honored is not enforceable. Silly me.

          Now thanks to you, I see that not honoring the contract merely means that the you still have to pay, not full price, but the low low price of ‘some’

          And I bet the debt collector is going for full price (and then ‘some’ fees)

    • smo0 says:

      Hello… hookers…

      L2R

      *I never requested a full credit from AmEx, I simply asked if there is any sort of a credit I can get. AmEx immediately issued me a full credit.

      YEAH ABOUT THAT…

      either way she did deserve a full credit.. she made attempts WHILE STAYING there to remedy the issue…

      It’s the same for paying for half-assed service…. I saw charge backs that were 100% shady while working for CitiCards… we had to ask a series of questions… some people bought stuff… weren’t happy – did a charge back.. if they met the criteria, they could keep whatever they bought…

      EXPEDIA DID NOT REPLY TO AMEX….

      You know that responding to something is half the battle?

  2. anime_runs_my_life says:

    The time to have disputed and gotten the problem fixed was while you were at the hotel, not after. Choosing to stay at the hotel while there are problems basically says that you accept what you were given.

    I’ve used Expedia a few times and I’ve had some issues that were quickly resolved by calling them and getting the issue fixed. Yeah, I’ve gotten the wrong type of bed, but they were able to fix it within an hour or two. Next time, if you ever use Expedia or one of the other companies (like Travelocity), call them when the problem occurs, not after the fact.

    • jiubreyn says:

      “The time to have disputed and gotten the problem fixed was while you were at the hotel, not after. Choosing to stay at the hotel while there are problems basically says that you accept what you were given.”

      +1 to this. I was just going to comment the same thing but you summed it up perfectly.

  3. tedyc03 says:

    How is this even legal for Expedia to do? Aren’t chargebacks governed by Federal law and/or the rules of the merchant agreement?

    • Randell says:

      The chargeback has NOTHING to do with the underlying debt. You can chargeback everything you have ever purchased. If it is an actual debt, the person you owe the money to can go after it. To make it simple for you, AMEX does not get to play judge and jury about the legitimacy of a debt. Just because they say, so does not make it so.

      • Beeker26 says:

        THIS. People think chargebacks are some kind of magic bullet that can fix anything. They’re NOT. There can be serious repercussions from doing a chargeback and most people don’t find out about it till it’s too late.

        Since the OP did actually stay in the hotel despite the issue, I’d say to contact the collections agency, explain the problem, and offer a settlement amount. You should have to pay at least something.

        And as others have already said, the time to contact Expedia is at the desk on check-in. It’s much easier to get things worked out BEFORE you accept your reservation rather than after.

    • Commenter24 says:

      This is a common misconception on here. The chargeback absolutely does NOT determine the validity of the underlying debt. All a chargeback does is allow the CC company to withdraw or refuse the payment that the card holder directed the CC company to make when he or she swiped her card. It has the same practical effect as stop-paying a check. In both situations, you are left in a position where you have simply not paid for the goods/services you received. Generally, the only way to have a debt truly declared invalid is through the courts.

    • Ihaveasmartpuppy says:

      Years ago my CC # was stolen and used to buy AOL access, among other things. After everything was taken care of by CITI I received a collections letter from AOL demanding payment. It was unbelievably hard to get rid of and I must say the guy I had to talk to at AOL was the worst crud of a person I ever spoke with, but in the end I won. But no, a chargeback doesn’t forgive a debt.

  4. bdcw says:

    That’s why I no longer use Expedia. I ALWAYS BOOK WITH THE HOTEL DIRECT!

    If you reserve a room directly with the hotel, you can always walk away with little or no risk, at worst the cost one night’s stay. If you book via a service like Expedia, you are on the hook for the cost of the entire stay.

    Having traveled extensively all over the world, I have landed and real dives on occasion. Being able to walk away and find another hotel has saved many of my meandering, impulsive road trips (especially in Europe). And, I have found that the price difference is negligible. Often I get much better deals booking directly with the hotel.

    • Beeker26 says:

      It goes both ways tho. If you book at the hotel, sure you don’t have to pay in advance, but if they screw something up and want to charge you more (or give you less) you really don’t have any recourse other than to leave and find another hotel — which is really not a good option.

      At least with places like Orbitz, Expedia, Travelocity, etc., you have some kind of advocate to get issues worked out. The OP’s mistake is that she didn’t call Expedia at the time of check-in. After you’ve accepted the room and stayed the full term of the reservation there isn’t much they can do about it.

      • bdcw says:

        It has been my experience that hotels are more interested in making you happy when the money is still in your hand, not theirs. If a hotel is a dive, Expedia is not going to fix it. Expedia isn’t going to get them to move the hotel if it’s in a horrible neighborhood. Expedia isn’t going to get them to fix the pool that has a big hole in the bottom. Expedia isn’t going to get them to fix the mold problem which usually takes ripping out the walls. And, Expedia does not want to give back your money because they’ve already bought the room (in bulk).

        In other words, if the hotel you picked is so horrible that it is unbearable and there is nothing that will fix it, Expedia is not your friend.

    • Randell says:

      If you have traveled as much as you say, most hotels require you guarantee the room for a night. If you decide to leave you would still have to pay. There are also many times a “city” may be in the mdist of a sold out situation for reasonably priced rooms that a company like Expedia has access to with their negotiated rates.
      The true issue here is between the OP and the hotel. Expedia reserved a room for her that was a queen. The third party did not supply it. Why didn’t she call Expedia immediately to have them fix it? The mold problem is COMPLETELY out of the hands of Expedia. It has nothing to do with anything. It is simply between her and the hotel at that point.

      • bdcw says:

        As I said, you only risk the first night by booking directly with the hotel. And, remember, they want your business. If you decide to leave, they can’t charge you for more nights.

        If you book with Expedia then the hotel has Expedia’s business for the duration of your stay. With Expedia, you have already paid for your entire stay.

        Basically, it’s the difference between talking to the hotel manager face to face, a guy who wants to get more of your money, or to some phone robot in India who works for Expedia and doesn’t want to give you back your money.

        btw, you can always fall back on Expedia. I was staying at the K&K hotel in Prague and decided to extend my stay by a few days. The hotel was booked full so I went back to my room and booked my same room with Expedia for a few more nights. Instead of paying night-to-night with a reservation, I paid for 3 more nights in full… but that was OK because I already liked the K&K.

      • bdcw says:

        btw,again: I booked a hotel for 8 days in Rome last year (don’t remember the name) based on TripAdvisor.com 5 star rating. I got there at dusk. The place was a dump (former apartment building) on a dead end street in a gang-infested slum miles from the tourist bus connections. The next morning, back on line with my laptop, I found another hotel more centrally located near the Pantheon (but with only 3 stars from Tripadvisor). I called the Albergo del Senato hotel directly and the manager booked me in a SUITE with a BALCONY overlooking the Piazza della Rotonda directly in the front of the Pantheon for the SAME MONEY! I packed my bags, went downstairs, paid for one night and checked out. The manager squawked a bit but couldn’t have been nicer hoping I might come back some day.

        Goes to show, you can’t always rely on the reviews on Trip Advisor, let alone Expedia. Turns out the Albergo del Senato hotel was one of the best I ever stayed at in Europe.
        http://www.tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Review-g187791-d191099-Reviews-Albergo_del_Senato-Rome_Lazio.html

        • DoubleBaconVeggieBurger says:

          I think you’re confusing Tripadvisor’s reviews with the hotel class. The Albergo del Senato is in the 3-star hotel class based on amenities it offers – the hotel class is not given by Tripadvisor, but by a third-party source. Albergo del Senato is “rated” extremely highly, as you can see from the link you posted. It is the #8 rated hotel in Rome, one of the very most recommended. The 5-star dump you stayed in was probably reviewed very unfavorably on Tripadvisor, but it offered more amenities than the Senato so it was in a higher class. Your story actually shows that you CAN trust the reviews on Tripadvisor, especially in large cities at hotels that have garnered many reviews.

    • TasteyCat says:

      After showing up at a hotel once and finding out that they did not have a reservation for me (and no vacancies), I learned my lesson about using these third party booking sites.

    • sweaterhogans says:

      Except sometimes people like to save money so they can’t book with the hotel directly. I’ve only booked hotels through sites like these, even some no name sites. Luckily, I’ve never had a problem. But, I always do tons of research for reviews and photos, and I do always call the hotel ahead of time to make sure there are no issues and to verify that they got the reservation at all.

  5. Abradax says:

    You stayed in the room, you pay for the room. If it was unacceptable, you should have went somewhere else. Calling Amex for a credit before exhausting all of your other avenues was premature. You bascially did a chargeback, but used the services of the hotel, of course they are sending you to collection. Poor customer service does not excuse theft.

    • crashfrog says:

      But the hotel was paid for the room – by Expedia. Expedia, however, did not fulfill the terms of their contract. That’s a legitimate basis for saying “no, I’m not going to pay you.”

  6. jason in boston says:

    Victoria spent the night in the room. Pay off the bill and take this as a lesson learned.

    Pro tip: hotels will match most any price found online. I use Kayak to find the best rate. Then I go to the hotel website. If they aren’t’ the lowest, then call the hotel. 100% of the time, I have received a better rate than even the lowest price on Kayak.

  7. Megalomania says:

    While AmEx does not get to play judge and jury regarding whether or not you owe Expedia money at all (we have actual judges and juries for that) the chargeback is not absolute proof that you don’t owe expedia money. Someone else may know if the merchant agreement prohibits this sort of action. That Expedia did not dispute the chargeback however may play in your favor. At any rate, stall for time with the debt collectors and then escalate with Expedia as far as you can. If they actually sold the debt already, then they might just not care, but it’s worth a shot. Do not be surprised if you end up having to pay anyway, because you did stay in the room and so at the very least you do owe the hotel.

    Also, I was going to say that the past tense of sic is sicced, but since Firefox doesn’t recognize it was a word, it looks like the english languaeg has passed me by…

    • TTFK says:

      “While AmEx does not get to play judge and jury regarding whether or not you owe Expedia money at all (we have actual judges and juries for that) the chargeback is not absolute proof that you don’t owe expedia money.”

      Actually it IS absolute proof under their contract.

      One of the little details of Merchant Agreements that merchants hate is that if a consumer files a chargeback and the credit card company finds in their favor, the Merchant is PROHIBITED from engaging in any collection activity.

      • Commenter24 says:

        The fact the contract between merchant and Amex says that merchant cant go after consumer cant be used to actually stop the merchant; Amex can only get damages if merchant breaches.

  8. Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

    You spent the night, so there is some responsibility for the debt. The problem should have been resolved at the time of the incident.

    The course of action I recommend.

    1. Check your credit reports and dispute the delinquencies (if any).
    2. Write to the debt collector. Explicitly state that you don’t acknowledge the legitimacy of the debt but offer a Pay For Delete (PFD), where you settle the debt for less than what they’re collecting.
    3. Wait and see what happens.

  9. tundey says:

    It’s sicced not sicked. Pls correct the title.

  10. Kishi says:

    I used to work in hotels, and I gotta side with the OP here. Didn’t get the room they ordered, didn’t look into complaints that were brought to the attention of the front desk, especially when the was a potential health concern- the hotel basically gave up their opportunity to fix this, and Expedia passed on their chance afterward.

    (Also: as a former hotel employee, from the hotel-side, I’ve never had a good experience with Expedia or any other company like that. I always recommend- call the hotel directly.)

  11. shepd says:

    sic/sicced

    Just saying…

  12. ericfate says:

    If you are still within the 30 day window that started at the point that the agency first contacted you, Always dispute the charges. If you feel the debt is invalid (which it may be), you are within your rights to make the agency VALIDATE THE DEBT. At this point, all collection actions must cease until the collector is able to send you proof that you owe the money. If the action was resolved through outside intervention, their research will show this.

    “Section 809(b) [15 USC 1692g] If the consumer notifies the debt collector in writing within the thirty-day period described in subsection (a) that the debt, or any portion thereof, is disputed, or that the consumer requests the name and address of the original creditor, the debt collector shall cease collection of the debt, or any disputed portion thereof, until the debt collector obtains verification of the debt or any copy of a judgment, or the name and address of the original creditor, and a copy of such verification or judgment, or name and address of the original creditor, is mailed to the consumer by the debt collector.”

    If they cannot validate the debt, they will either drop it, or they will sell the debt to another agency. If so, rinse and repeat. Always send your dispute by certified/return receipt, and always keep your receipt so you can prove that you responded within 30 days of receiving the notice.

    Keep in mind, this only covers you if the trip was non-commercial (personal, family, or household purposes). If this was a business expense, all bets are off.

    • l3 says:

      Yes ericfate, you are very right, “certified/return receipt” is a MUST and only cost less than five dollar…well, the last time I used it, years ago.

      Sounds like you been though the hoops or perhaps works for the collection agency, humm? haha j/k.

  13. Awesome McAwesomeness says:

    As long as you accepted the room, I say you have to pay for it. If there was a problem, you should have immediately contacted Expedia and refused to check in until it was resolved.

    In my experience, it is far better to book with the hotel directly. They are more likely to give upgrades and cooperate with requests. I also tend to get about the same deals.

  14. erinpac says:

    Why would Expedia deal with AmEx? You were the customer, not AmEx. They don’t really care how you pay. AmEx also isn’t likely to pay again and not take the money from you.

    It seems like you used the hotel’s services, then afterwards complained and expect one middle man company or the other to eat the cost, though your problem is with the hotel. They may be able to act as your advocate when the problem is happening, but there’s not really much they can do after the stay. Next time, do not accept the room that you won’t pay for and call each company right then.

    AmEx will issue a charge back on many things that are perfectly legitimate debts. It says nothing about whether it is justified or legal or not your debt. All it says is you aren’t paying.

  15. MrsLopsided says:

    The OP can’t get a couple of nights in downtown San Fransisco free – and did expect a discount not a free room for the inconvenience. Offer to settle at a discount – what is having a double not a queen size worth to you. $100 off?

  16. Oranges w/ Cheese says:

    I’ve been to the Mosser and had no issues, the staff was helpful. Did she let them know there were problems?

    The mosser is kind of not like your average hotel – its more like a Hostel, with communal baths & toilet and very very small rooms. We got a double bed but it was probably one of my most pleasant hotel stays.

    • oldwiz65 says:

      “communal baths”? Sounds very kinky to me. Why are they even calling it a hotel? A hostel and hotel are very far apart in price and safety and what to expect.

      • Oranges w/ Cheese says:

        They have both types of rooms. And by communal, I mean that there are two tub rooms and two toilet rooms on each floor. They’re private (one person in at a time) but “communal” as in everyone on the floor must use them.

        They have separate single rooms though, which it sounds like the OP was trying to get.

        It’s a great hotel, cheap, and I highly suggest it. The maids came by every 3 hours or so and clean the tubs / toilets so it was always clean!

        My boyfriend and I did the shared bath room, and one of our friends did a single. After comparing what we paid to their bill, they wished they had gone with the shared. Especially after seeing they were semi-private and not “communal” as I think you were thinking.

      • sonneillon says:

        Because you get your own room and chances are you will not be robbed.

  17. tracyonbarstow says:

    One time my husband and I were staying at a hotel in San Francisco that we booked through Expedia. We booked a queen size bed, the hotel gave us a room with a double. When we complained, the hotel manager said that Expedia bookings are ‘recommendations’ and that the hotel can basically put you in whatever room you want. When I continued to complain, the manager said they had a special Expedia room that they put people in who book through Expedia – the room with the worst view, above the noisy part of the street, with the smallest square feet. Since then, I’ve only booked with the hotel directly.

    • erratapage says:

      Hunh? That’s bizarre. Why on earth penalize anyone who books at your hotel? I mean… when I travel, I like to use the same hotel that I’ve used before with positive experiences.

    • Commenter24 says:

      Some hotels do this with Priceline customers. I use Priceline frequently when we travel, and a lot of the hotels don’t treat me any differently and are willing to accommodate various requests, but others take a very firm, almost rude, stance towards Priceline customers. Refusal to accommodate ANY requests, etc. I have found that the ones that are to be anti-priceline tend to be the boutique-esq hotels, especially boutiques in NYC.

  18. Worstdaysinceyesterday says:

    I think that if you ever do “settle” and use a service or product that you feel was less than desired or agreed upon, send an email to customer service or a manager. You will have a time stamped record of your objections. In the email it may be a wise idea to explain why you accepted the product or service…lack of time, too much effort to find something else, etc. You may choose to not ask for any ‘consideration’, but now you have your written record – and any response or apology that may be sent in reply (save that too). It’s a CYA move that can come in andy for many types of situations.

  19. maztec says:

    I am sorry, but I seem to be missing something. You stayed in the room anyway? So, at the last, you owe them something for that stay. You should have gone to a similar hotel and room identical to what you wanted, then requested Expedia or The Mosser to pay the difference based between what you expected to pay and what you ended up paying.

    Here, you do not appear to have attempted to mitigate your damages and instead ratified the deal by accepting the lesser deal. While you may be able to argue you were damaged in some manner – loss of expectation – you are not going to get much more than that. However, I would seriously doubt that you could get

    Then again, IANALY. Even though the damages are minimal here, if you really want to contest them, you should get the opinion of a lawyer to see what damages you might be able to claim. :

  20. DanRydell says:

    As bad as collection agencies are, disputing a debt even if it’s legitimate is abusing the system and lowering yourself to their level.

    • mikec041 says:

      “DanRydell” I’m hoping that your posting isn’t what you mean. Disputing a n attempt to collect an invalid debt is far from abusing the system.
      If you really believe what you wrote please send me a couple of grand in cash as i’m trying to collect a debt from you……

      • DanRydell says:

        Where did you get the idea that I have an issue with disputing invalid debts? I meant exactly what I wrote – “… disputing a debt even if it’s legitimate…”

        I wrote that because it was suggested in the article – even for legitimate debts:

        “The first step when dealing with debt collectors is always to dispute the debt. Even if it’s legitimate, make them eat the time and expense of sending you the paperwork for your files.”

  21. Sandstar says:

    Sicced, not sicked.

  22. Erich says:

    “sicced”, not “sicked”

  23. JuanHunt says:

    This is not a transaction for a room anymore. This is a dispute between AMEX and an AMEX merchant. Expedia ignored the provisions of their merchant agreement with AMEX, and now the cardholder(OP) owes NOTHING. Thats how AMEX rolls. It’s why I use AMEX any time a transaction seems sketchy.

    • Commenter24 says:

      Incorrect.

      • JuanHunt says:

        Exactly correct. AMEX notified the merchant of a disputed charge, the merchant, Expedia did not respond in the required timeframe, so dispute is assumed by AMEX to be valid, and the chargeback is issued. The remaining dispute, between the hotel and Expdedia, is yet to be resolved.

        • Commenter24 says:

          Amex’s determination has no legal effect on the underlying debt.

          • JuanHunt says:

            What debt? The hotel is not asking for any monies. The OP gave the merchant(Expedia) the opportunity to resolve the transaction dispute and they declined. Expedia violated their merchant agreement. Expedia still has recourse against the hotel for not supplying what they were being paid to offer. My AMEX merchant contract says that if I dont respond to chargebacks within 10 days, I forfeit any claims on the transaction.

            • Commenter24 says:

              You clearly don’t understand contract law, thus there is little point in continuing this debate.

              • indiegeek says:

                Hey! Did Commenter24 mention he’s going to be a lawyer yet? Obviously, as he hasn’t passed the bar yet, he’s fully qualified to answer any and all questions of law infallibly! Also, has he mentioned that he’s in LAW SCHOOL? I think I may have heard somewhere that Commenter24 is IN LAW SCHOOL!

  24. sheriadoc says:

    Slightly off topic, but how very lovely that American Express actually took the hotel charge off! I ended up with an awful hotel in Maui, left after 3 hours, got only a 2/3 refund from the hotel, and BoA wouldn’t refund the rest after I wrote them a letter. Too bad I didn’t know about the Consumerist at the time…

  25. crazydave333 says:

    No hotel I know of guarantees room types for 3rd party internet reservation sites like Expedia, Hotwire, Priceline etc. Those sites have a contracted number of rooms, but they don’t see the hotel’s actual inventory. Let’s say someone books a king room on Expedia, but the hotel is actually out of king rooms for that day. Expedia will book you into whatever is available, no matter what preference you check, because, hey, it’s not their problem.

    Now, if you get to the hotel and you’ve been booked into the wrong type of room, you can ask if you can get something different. Depending on their availability, the hotel may be able to grant your every wish, but be warned. Internet reservations are usually first to be switched in situations where a room type has been overbooked. If a hotel is full, then it’s the internet reservations that have to take the rooms by the elevators. The reasoning behind this is it makes little sense to bend over backward to accomodate guests who may be paying a fraction of what other guests are paying. This is especially true when you use sites like Hotwire, or Priceline, known as opaques, where you put in the price and don’t know exactly which hotel you are booking for until you finish the sale.

    So, let’s say you’ve booked through a 3rd party site and you need a specific type of room configuration; you’re travelling with your whole family and a single queen bed isn’t gonna cut it. The best thing to do is call the hotel in advance and ask exactly what type of room the site booked for you (because, as I’ve said, they take your money and book whatever they can because at that point, it’s the hotel’s problem). If they’ve booked you into something different than what you need, ask if you can change it then, or at least put a notation that you need a specific type of room. If the hotel knows your family of four is going to stay there, they’ll probably try their best not to switch your room type to say a single queen bed.

    However, if a slew of Pinnacle card members or whatever the hotel’s travel club is show up, you still may be switched. If you simply cannot use the room (or, like the lady in the above, seem to care a whole lot that you didn’t get a huge bed), and want to cancel right there, talk to the manager and let them know it won’t work out for you. If they are cool (or, in a situation where they’re overbooked, happy they won’t need to walk someone) they may allow you to cancel, but the rub is that it isn’t the hotel that charged you. It is the travel site that did, and they won’t be willing to cancel the reservation unless they’re sure the hotel won’t charge them for the room anyway. If you can get each side to agree not to charge each other, then you will be less likely to get charged yourself.

    There are some deals when you book through those sites, but basically it is another layer of bureaucracy you have to navigate if you want to do something as easy as change your arrival day. You can ask the hotel about price matching. Generally, something like the price quoted in Expedia is something a hotel will be more willing to match. However, let’s say you booked a room through an opaque site like Hotwire or Priceline, the deal can be much better, but the hotels will not match those prices.

  26. iamvika says:

    Hi Guys, I’m the OP. Here’s the deal – I never ever requested a full refund. I just asked AmEx to see if there is any sort of a credit we can get since I paid for a room with a Queen bed, at least that’s what reservation said, and got a room with a Double bed.

    Also, we got a private room with a private bath.

    Regarding the comments about not staying in the hotel and finding another one – we were there for a wedding, for a short time and very unfamiliar with downtown San Francisco.This was end of September and we had trouble finding another available, cheap-er hotel weeks in advance. So finding one on the day of would’ve probably been impossible.

    • fantomesq says:

      Yeah but if AmEx awarded you a full refund REGARDLESS of whether you asked for it, don’t you think that you owe the Mosser something for the room that you agreed to stay in? You got the room and at this point you have paid them nothing, so yes they are entitled to be paid and sic collections on you if you won’t.

      I’ve stayed at the Mosser… Its not bad but I’m not a big fan of European style hotels and the street noise/lack of noise insulation left something to be desired… I’d recommend the Powell at the cablecar turnaround.

      • iamvika says:

        That’s the thing – I’m willing to setting and pay a discounted rate. But that option has not been provided to me. I’m afraid that if I settle with a debt collector my stellar credit score will be tarnished.

    • msbask says:

      I thought that Expedia (or the hotel itself) usually stated that bed types cannot be guaranteed.

  27. cf27 says:

    To all the “And you stayed there anyway?!” people — recognize that this is not like buying a candy bar; you show up at hotel with your baggage, expecting to stay the night. It may be late at night, and your ability to find alternate accommodations is very limited. They have you over a barrel — you either take what they’re giving you, or you’re out on the street, late at night without any place to stay. Maybe there’s a park bench nearby.

  28. Hardwired says:

    Expedia.scam
    People will learn. Someday.

  29. Difdi says:

    I see her mistake. She stayed at The Mosser. That wasn’t mold, it was moss!

  30. newfenoix says:

    Hey Ben, is there a way to keep collectors off of here?

  31. l3 says:

    The make everyone happy way:
    Ask the debt collector nicely to pay what ever you feel reasonable, which usually they will settle. Just make sure you explain to them the situation about the charge back AmEx and Expedia.

    Your not at fault way:
    Technically, it is both you and Expedia’s fault, but Expedia at a greater fault. The ball was in their court and AmEx gave them time to respond. Expedia did not respond in time (or from the sound of it, not at all), and drop the ball. They should not have sent the bill to a collection agency.

    So, technically you don’t have to pay a cent. Fight the collection agency with your old bill stating you paid Expedia. If that does not work, get a letter from AmEx stating what happen and tell collection agency that the bill/debt is not valid. If the agency do not remove you from the debt or record, you are will take legal actions. If you have a friend who is a lawyer, ask them if they can send the letter for you in their envelope and paper, which means your talking business and not screwing around.

    You can always go to the your local Attorney General’s office and see if they are willing to review your case and be on your side. They are not to be trifled with, and many company will back off when AG is breathing down their neck.

    Just make sure they dont mess with your credit, which might of been mess with already. Take care of that after you sort this out, but let them know you just found out and in the middle of a dispute.

  32. pot_roast says:

    Sue Expedia and the debt collector in small claims court. Bring documentation. Let a judge settle it.

    Depending on the amount, that’s the best way to handle it. Or, just pay the entire bill and then write negative (but truthful) reviews of the hotel all over the place.

    • jadenton says:

      Whatever else you do write negative reviews of Expedia all over the place. Put leave the hotel out of it. They may be a crummy hotel, but they aren’t the one who sent the customer to the debt collector. They sold the room to Expedia, and Expedia then misrepresented it to the next buyer.

  33. jadenton says:

    Despite what other commenters are saying, the customer owes the hotel nothing. The hotel has been paid by Expedia. This should be evidence by the fact that it is Expedia, rather than the hotel which has sent the customer to debt collection.

    The hotel sold (rented) the room to Expedia. Expedia then sold the room under false pretenses to the customer. Any merchant who makes such a fraudulent sale should expect the charge back, period. They could have disputed the charge back or otherwise offered to settle for an amount more appropriate to what they actually sold. They didn’t.

    Sellers of travel are so notoriously bad that the state of California Attorney Generals office has a special division in consumer affairs just for them. Expedia is headquartered in Washington, so whatever else you do check with the Attorney General of that state and file a complaint there.

  34. kate708 says:

    So sorry to hear about this awful experience. We are looking into this immediately and are attempting to contact the customer. The Expedia PR team.