Fairmont Hotel Cancels Reservations After Receiving $13,000 Deposit

UPDATE: Looks like this situation has been resolved.
—————–
128 students at Washington University in St. Louis are more than a little peeved after finding out their reservations at a Fairmont hotel in downtown Chicago had been canceled, even after the hotel had received their $13,000 deposit.

According to a report, the students’ contract with the Fairmont Millennium was canceled only five days before check-in due to overbooking.

Fairmont’s attempt at making good on the mistake was to place the displaced students at the Sheraton Chicago O’Hare, which as you might have guessed by the name, is 15 miles away… and next to one of the world’s busiest airports.

“We put this money [down] to guarantee that we were coming this weekend, and on their end they were supposed to make sure they were going to have these rooms,” said the Class Council treasurer.

Aggravating the matter further, the students feel they were misled by Fairmont into thinking the Sheraton was a good deal:

[The Fairmont salesperson] claimed to have negotiated a special deal that included free shuttle buses to public transportation, Wi-Fi and breakfast.

After checking hotels.com, the class council quickly found that these amenities were included in the Sheraton’s standard package.

Luckily for the remaining 144 students on the Washington University trip, their rooms were booked at the Congress Plaza Hotel in downtown Chicago, so they won’t have to make the trek in from the airport to enjoy the Windy City.

When reached for comment a rep for Fairmont released the following statement to Consumerist:

From the onset, please be assured that the need to relocate any guest is one that we take very seriously and every opportunity to avoid this type of situation is explored, prior to making this difficult decision.

To help clarify how this could have happened, I can confirm that convention hotels – such as Fairmont Chicago Millenium Park – often have meeting planners request a block of rooms a year or more out for their group. Typically, as the date of the event nears the number of delegates will firm up and drop off, at which time the guestrooms are released. For that reason, convention hotels will often initially oversell their space with the expectation that the drop in group numbers will allow them to accommodate their individual travelers and smaller groups.

In this particular instance, the group numbers did not decrease and our hotel was caught in an over-sold situation. As soon as this was known, our Director of Sales & Marketing began contacting his peers at 13 other downtown Chicago hotels in order to place his guests at centrally located properties. Unfortunately, they were in the same oversold situation and were also beginning to relocate guests.

Once it was known that the Washington University students (along with 3 other groups) would need to be placed in alternative hotels, the search to find a quality brand within reasonable proximity was begun and the group organizer was immediately notified.

I understand our Director of Sales & Marketing for Fairmont Chicago Millenium Park has also offered assistance in offsetting incremental costs to the group and is awaiting a response from the organizer.

While we certainly acknowledge that this disappointing turn of events would be frustrating for all groups involved, I’m hopeful that the hotel’s offer to assist will be considered in a bid to redeem what should be a special visit to Chicago for these students.

Hotel cancels senior trip reservation [StudLife.com]

Comments

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  1. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    The correct way to fix this is to find another hotel in the immediate vicinity that is of equal or greater quality, and either charge nothing more than you were going to charge, or also offer a partial refund for the obvious inconvenience.

    Anything less is wrong.

    • william says:

      i once got my reservation canceled 1 wk before I was to arrive in Tokyo. I was very pissed off as I was already in the middle of the trip and it’s a hassle to re-arrange hotel.

      The offending hotel end up offering me to stay at Hayatt Regency Shinjuku or Continental Tokyo Bay. In the end I choose Hayatt since it’s close to where I was booked to stay. So I basically get to stay at a freakin’ Hayatt Regency with 1/4th of the regular price, for 5 nights.

      In addition to this, they offered me two nights free at their own hotel afterwards if I visit again within the year.

      Yeah, accommodation in Tokyo is outrageously expensive, but they do make up in service if they screwed up.

      • Tallanvor says:

        The US is one of the few developed countries that doesn’t have laws preventing hotels and airlines from screwing customers over with little to no option for recourse besides suing. It’s just one of the very many reasons I’ve chosen to continue living in Europe rather than accepting offers that would force me to move back to the US.

    • MeowMaximus says:

      Actually the way to fix this is to make it ILLEGAL to oversell rooms (or airline seats). It’s fraud, plain and simple. Whoever at the hotel who was responsible for this situation should have been arrested, and charged with fraud – they were selling something they did not have.

      • jiubreyn says:

        Unfortunately, these types of situations are common among hotels. I used to work for Quality Suites here in Austin for about a year. Overbook, then overcharge for the few remaining rooms. Why? Because we can.

        I no longer work there and have found a job that I absolutely adore.

      • DanRydell says:

        And then we’d be seeing articles on consumerist about customers being forced to pay for a week in a hotel that they weren’t able to use because their grandmother died, even though they cancelled the stay 3 days in advance. Being able to be bumped is the consequence of being able to cancel your reservation. Calling it fraud is beyond idiotic.

        • Marshmelly says:

          So whats worse? Overbooking and not being able to provide people with the room they were promised and PAID for already, or some hypothetical that the room reservation might be cancelled. First one sounds worse to me. I see nothing wrong with having a period of time in which someone can cancel a reservation (and judging by some comments here, it seems to be something that many hotels will allow). The only person benefiting from overbooking is the company…the consumer (whether it be for airline tickets or hotel rooms) always gets screwed. Guess thats okay though to some people. I find it to be terrible customer service.

        • MeowMaximus says:

          Lets say I run a store selling, say, Plasma TV’s. I advertise that I am selling a particular brand & model of radio in a special sale for $500 – but there are only 50 available – and you have to pre-pay for them on my website if you want to guarantee you will get one. So, far, so good. You decide to take me up on this, and pre-pay. You show up at my store, and discover that I am already sold out of those TVs – but I will happily sell you another model for more money, or a different model for the same price. Furthermore you discover that I never had 50 TVs of that model.

          What I have just done is a form of fraud called “bait & switch”, mad more heinous by the fact that I already have your money. If I did this, I could be arrested, fined, and prosecuted.

          But somehow, it’s okay if a hotel or airline does the exact same thing? No. It’s fraud, and it should be severely punished.

          • SolidSquid says:

            Except that the hotel didn’t charge them the full amount, just the deposit. It would be more like pre-ordering something which hey! can end up with you not getting something if they don’t have enough in stock!

  2. Darrone says:

    “Free linens too? I’m still on the fence…. HOT showers you say?”

  3. ARP says:

    Yep, their efforts are poor. At the very least, they could have booked them at another downtown hotel (or a few of them).

    It’s like booking someone in Newark after you cancel your reservation in Midtown Manhattan.

    • Bohemian says:

      The Sheraton is certainly a step down from the Fairmont but being stuck out at O’Hare and considering that a fair trade is just a joke. They practically give away hotel rooms out by the airport in Chicago compared to downtown. $120 on some place like Hotwire is a bargain on a room downtown at a decent hotel. You can get rooms in the 4 star hotels by O’Hare for $65 a night. Not to mention getting into downtown from O’Hare is a total pain in the butt. The Fairmont failed, epically.

    • veritybrown says:

      Did you read the story? There were apparently no other downtown hotels with rooms available!

      • Earl42 says:

        I wager there were not comparable hotels available. God forbid they actually lose money when they gamble on overbooking.

      • common_sense84 says:

        Somehow I doubt that. And I would not believe these idiots for a second.

        If they had to pay for more expensive rooms, so be it. They took the deposit, they need to find them room. They should have rented extended stay and business traveler apartments if they could not find pricier rooms at other hotels.

        The hotel should have been prepared to lose a couple thousand bucks. They are the ones who over booked it. They have to fix it at expense to themselves.

      • zekebullseye says:

        I bet the other downtown hotels were told it was a college group (read: rowdy) and the other hotels said “no thanks.” That’s why we can’t have nice things, kids.

        • MsAnthrope says:

          Actually, it was the Chicago marathon last weekend, so it’s very likely that hotels downtown were booked. Not excusing the Fairmont at all, btw.

  4. AngryK9 says:

    Good thing that all of those students didn’t decide to send out an EECB. Though I personally would have found that exceedingly amusing, I doubt the recipients would have been overly excited.

  5. mcs328 says:

    It’s like the Seinfeld rent a car episode. They know how to take a reservation but not keep it.

    • Gulliver says:

      No, rental car reservations are not paid in advance. I could make them at every rental car place and not be billed, so i make my decision last minute (same thing for restaurants). This hotel took MONEY. They have not only a moral, but legal duty to put you up in similar location and type hotel. They are not doing that in this case. I would request a refund of the money since it was paid up front. That makes it a GUARANTEED reservation. Blocking rooms is not that hard with guaranteed reservations. Once the money was received, those rooms should be out of inventory. You pay whether you show up or not, so the hotel has no risk. The only time this can be tricky is the person who says they are staying for 3 nights, ends up staying for a 4th, or a weather situation (very common in Chicago winters) causes somebody who may be a high level of reward customer to take the room. The hotel would still need to refund or find comparable accomodations

  6. GrayMatter says:

    “shuttle buses to public transportation”

    So, then you get to take a long, $3 ride on the CTA “L” plus a transfer to a bus to get to your destination. So, they are also getting the benefit that they get to learn the vageries of a public transit system that they have not seen before.

    Oh, well, at least they were from St. Louis so big city transit should not be too much of a shock. And, I hope that they are not returning too late; the scenery inside the “L” gets more interesting the later it gets.

    • GrayMatter says:

      Oh, yes. I looked them up on Google Maps. It is as I recalled. The hotel is directly in line with the longest runway at O’Hare, and not far from the boundary of the airport. All those St. Louis Plane Spotters will have a ball all night watching those heavies landing or taking off.

    • dadelus says:

      Oh, well, at least they were from St. Louis so big city transit should not be too much of a shock.

      – Heh, you’re obviously not from StL. The MetroLink system is a hell of a lot better then it was a decade ago, but it’s still in no way comparable to navigating the “L”

      Map of StL Metrolink
      http://www.visitingdc.com/airports/st-louis-metrolink-map.asp

      Map of Chicago “L” System:
      http://www.transitchicago.com/assets/1/maps/ctatrainmap.png

      You’ll note that in St Louis it’s pretty much a straight line going back and forth except for one fork if you want to get to the airport. It’s pretty brainless to navigate compared to Chicagos system.

      • Nighthawke says:

        That is because they bungled developing it out any further than it is now. Money and politics have played the role of screwing around with the expansion of the routes. They have had plans on the back burner since 1989 and have yet to move on them.

        • dadelus says:

          Not to mention outright pregedous. I grew up in the Saint Louis area. I remember in the late 90’s when they were talking about expanding MetroLink into West County. I was listening to a radio program where they were discussing the pros and cons of the plan and some unrepentant caller got in and started talking about how he didn’t want it built out that far because he didn’t want “THEM” to have such easy access to his neighborhoods. When pressed he would only hem and haw and wouldn’t come right out and say who “THEY” were but he made it pretty clear.

          • MSUHitman says:

            Yeah I live in St. Louis and if you don’t live in the actual city, the public transit system is worthless. It only does Belleville/Fairview Heights east of the river then the city and North County. If you live in South County, West County, or St. Charles County, it doesn’t go out there.

            In fact they had to close 1/2 of the bus routes down a few years back, got them going again because of the stimulus package, then go on an all-out ad blitz to get a .5% sales tax pushed through this spring to keep the bus routes going.

            After seeing Seattle’s public transit when I went to PAX Prime 09 and Boston for PAX East 2010 gaming conventions, it’s pathetic how behind the times St. Louis is.

            Of course it’s better than having toll roads every 10 miles and the roads are still in horrible shape like in Chicago.

            • HogwartsProfessor says:

              My mom used to live in South County. It is the home of the best antique mall EVAH. She is no longer there (although still nearby) and when I visit I make her take me.

              I also bribe people to take me to Culpeppers. There are drugs in their chicken wings, I swear.

    • Jasen says:

      o_0
      Which cul-de-sac of Bumblefuck Egypt do you live in to think St Louis has “big city transit”?

  7. Bunnies Attack! says:

    Weird… out of curiosity, why weren’t these businesses redacted?

    • Anathema777 says:

      It seems like the names get redacted when the blog’s source is a letter, and left in when they have an outside source.

    • Why is this on Consumerist? says:

      Why would they be?

      • Hoss says:

        To avoid a lawsuit in the event that the story was untrue

        • JustLurking says:

          Websites with consumer-provided content, aka forums, are pretty much indemnified against such lawsuits.

          Redaction on this web site is bullshit.

          There is no reason for it whatsoever.

    • nakkypoo says:

      Why should they be redacted? Knowing the names of these business is somewhat important to the story, as it explains the differences between the hotel they paid for and the hotel they got.

      It seems to me that the only time Consumerist redacts a business name or location is when an employee’s personal identity might be revealed.

      • Bunnies Attack! says:

        Well sometimes the name is redacted, sometimes the location, sometimes none. Just wondering why nothing was redacted this time.

        • Merricat says:

          Because the hotel in question responded. You redact not because you want to protect a crumby business, you retract because you only have one side of the story and it could just as easily be a hatchet job than a real complaint, so to protect the reputation and your legal standing, you don’t provide the details.

    • ShruggingGalt says:

      Students from the {redacted} college paid $13,000 for a block of hotel rooms from {hotel redacted} located in downtown {redacted}. Hotel was overbooked so a week before their reservation, the hotel contacted the students and offered them rooms at the {hotel redacted}, located 15 miles away next to the {redacted} airport.

      Next time you book a room from {redacted} and pay a deposit in advance, know that your reservation isn’t guaranteed, and it may take 3-5 business days for your refund to show on your account!

  8. Sword_Chucks says:

    It sounds like the Fairmont should book the students in the Peninsula or Elysian for no extra charge…

  9. MarkSweat says:

    And that 15 miles can take over an hour each direction, depending on the time of day, number of other travelers, and delays in public transportation.

    • Illusio26 says:

      I live in the chicago area and this is spot on. Travel to and from the city is almost never a quick trip.

    • common_sense84 says:

      I don’t get how other people were not bumped. These are students walking the city all day and night. Their trip makes no sense if they are not put up downtown. The business people should have been moved, since those people just go to a conference.

      The hotel made the choice to move the people most harmed. I hope the college sues their ass off.

    • dg says:

      That 15 miles is HELL during rush hour, crap during the day, and lousy during the off-hours when traffic actually moves. It’s a PITA to get from the O’Hare Sheraton to downtown. If they were booked downtown, they should get rooms at the hotel they booked at. Let the hotel move some other block of ‘reservations’ that go up/down to other hotels.

      This whole thing stinks of “oh shit! Who rented all those rooms to those college kids?! Crap, they’re going to trash the hotel… better split them up quick…”…

      Too bad college kids don’t conduct ‘sit ins’ any longer… Just take over the lobby, elevators, etc. Pack into other rooms… Drive everyone completely insane until they relent…

  10. Paladin_11 says:

    The Congress Plaza is no saving grace. That place is a dump. Centrally located, but a dump nonetheless. The Fairmont needs to step up here. They just didn’t want a bunch of college kids in their hotel. If they think that won’t matter to their other customers (i.e. me) they are wrong.

    • Brunette Bookworm says:

      Yep, they are. They also have bed bugs, which I failed to mention in my post on the strike.

      http://bedbugregistry.com/hotel/IL/Chicago/Congress-Plaza-Hotel

    • backinpgh says:

      I was just about to say the same thing. That place was awful when we stayed there. Then they wanted $20 a day to use their frickin internet!

    • Wireless Joe says:

      Came to chime in on the Congress Plaza. I feel really bad for the students staying there. Not only has the staff been on strike for over six years (!?!), but the conditions documented at the site are horrible, including reports of unsafe and unsanitary conditions! I’d volunteer to put up some kids in my basement before I’d let them stay there.

      • TurdFerguson says:

        The can second your feeling on the Congress…. it’s a dump. The ONLY thing it has going for it is it’s proximity to MoFA and Mil Park. I stayed in late July of this year and had zero hot water and no A/C. I am from TX so 90 degree Chicago heat isn’t much but does get quite stuffy in a highrise building w/o opening windows. I complained about A/C in middle of the night… moved room to a 2 window unit a/c room… a 4 inch battery operated fan could blow more air.

        FYI: Stay at the Silversmith a few blocks away in the Jewelry District… great clean room, fantastic value for $$, free i-net, very close to EL, nice staff. The downside… small place that books fast, no kinda “view” from rooms.

  11. Brunette Bookworm says:

    Yeah, they’ll just have to get through the union strikers outside the Congress…that have been there for years. Wonder why the Congress had enough free rooms on a weekend, especially since they are right on Michigan Avenue.

  12. Incredulous1 says:

    This is not even close! In Rush hour traffic it can take you over an hour to get into the city. Plus you are landlocked by the airport.

    The whole point of going to Chicago is to stay in Chicago – not the airport hotel!

  13. FatLynn says:

    Why would they have had to put a deposit down on a hotel room? That makes the whole thing even fishier on Fairmont’s part.

  14. Hoss says:

    This smells like Fairmont bumped the college kids for a more desirable group booking. I hope they file a BBB report

    • dantsea says:

      BBB isn’t a government agency. It’s just a membership group collecting fees and ensuring businesses follow the policies that the businesses themselves have put into place. It’s beyond worthless.

      • kursk says:

        Here here! The BBB has been effectively shaking merchants down for years now and they are NOTHING different than an old fashioned Angie’s List. It’s amazing that they have managed to convince people and retain that air of power when they themselves can do bupkis about problems.
        Again, all they are is a clearing house for complaints that takes paid memberships from the companies they “police”. I wish people would realize they can’t really do anything.

  15. JuanHunt says:

    Its time to make overbooking illegal, or make the penalty for doing so much more painful than an “I’m sorry”. 100% refund and free stay for the contractually agreed length of stay might be sufficient.

    • Commenter24 says:

      In order to make overbooking illegal and have businesses that do it (airlines, hotels) remain in business it would likely be necessary to make reservations non-refundable, or at the very least charge a steep fee for canceling.

      • BuyerOfGoods3 says:

        Name one Hotel (not motel) that isn’t this way ALREADY: ..”it would likely be necessary to make reservations non-refundable, or at the very least charge a steep fee for canceling. “

        • Commenter24 says:

          Virtually any hotel if you reserve directly with the hotel will let you cancel up until (at minimum) the day before. Unless of course you are specifically buying non-refundable rooms (which, depending on the hotel, aren’t usually that great of a deal). And when I say virtually any, I mean Hilton, Hyatt, Startwood brands (W, Sheraton, etc.).

        • backinpgh says:

          I just got home from my job, at a hotel. When I came in at 1pm we were oversold by two rooms. When I left, we had 2 rooms available. If we didn’t oversell today, we would have hand a bunch of empty rooms. Guests have until 6pm the day of arrival to cancel, and a handful usually do. If you simply don’t show up, you get charged for the room. Our highest level loyalty club members are guaranteed if they book at least two days in advance, no matter how oversold we are. Sorry, but if you stay with us 200 nights a year we care more about your business than some guy staying one night, so some guy will get moved to another hotel.

          Of course, we would never think of overselling by HUNDREDS of rooms. That’s ridiculous.

          • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

            yep, when i was in the business we once had to put a late night platinum guest in the living room of the presidential suite on a rollaway after being oversold. for a man nearly 7 feet tall he was really gracious about it but he stayed with us weekly for years so we had a lot of chances to make it up to him.

          • StoicLion says:

            EXACTLY why airlines and hotels overbook/oversell. With the way these businesses count revenue, this makes logical sense. Making deposits non-refundable goes a long way to ensure a customer arrives but since some people whine (loudly) about paying for something they wouldn’t use, this is an unlikely scenario.

        • sleze69 says:

          I can cancel my Marriott reservations up to 6pm the DAY OF TRAVEL without any penalty.

  16. Hoot says:

    So the students paid well in advance and then the hotel overbooked LATER because group numbers typically are less than is reserved at first? And because of that the students had to move and not the later overbooked guests? What?

    I skimmed, maybe I’m missing something. Please don’t make me RTFA.

    • parliboy says:

      Block booked rooms are discounted. See airline seat bumping rules for a parallel.

      • Hoot says:

        Ah. Makes a bit more sense but quite greedy and underhanded. If they weren’t sold out, they would have LOVED the group revenue, but because the rooms are in demand, discounts can go elsewhere.

  17. Power Imbalance says:

    128 students can write a lot of bad reviews….

    • wrjohnston91283 says:

      So can 128 people who aren’t students.

      However, the 128 students can act together as a group – all posting a bad review at tripadvisor in the same week’s going to look bad. 128 independent people can’t work together as a group – at best a few of them are going to post bad reviews, and probably not at the same website.

      • zekebullseye says:

        They can each write bad reviews each week for weeks and weeks, basically until they’re bored of doing it. Sweet! Revenge is awesome. A few years ago I was kicked out of a restaurant’s front patio because I was wearing a t-shirt and shorts (excuse me, I had been traveling all day; sue me). The owner did it loudly and I was humiliated. So I booked bogus reservations for large groups for months. I’m still mad about it. Hey, I think I’ll be making a phone call to a restaurant in Seattle today.

        • Shield Ramrod says:

          Er, what was the name of that restaurant in my home town again? I’d love to know. That kind of BS is unacceptable.

    • nosense22 says:

      EECB time.

    • cosby says:

      Thats my thought as well. I’d get together as a group and figure out every site they can write a bad review for. Hammer the place with bad reviews. Let others know what they did.

  18. pitchblack1138 says:

    I’m in school for Hotel Management. We’ve just been talking about situations like this, and while I think it’s really stupid of hotels to overbook, they all do it anyway. The reason is that generally when reservations are made very far in advance, there are always people that cancel. The hotel wants to bring in as much revenue as possible, so they are always trying to get the hotel to be at 100% capacity.

    This group was probably bumped off the books because the other people/groups the hotel had were repeat business or were guaranteed to spend more money in the hotel than the student group. If the hotel is filling up and they are presented the option between a new group of students, who will be stingy with their money, and a group that has been there before and will spend money at the hotel restaurant or other services, the hotel is most certainly going with the repeat group.

    As unfortunate as it is, a hotel’s only purpose is to make money.

    • NeverLetMeDown says:

      “I’m in school for Hotel Management…while I think it’s really stupid of hotels to overbook”

      Clearly, you’re not actually learning much in school.

  19. TBGBoodler says:

    Holding a block of rooms and dropping $13K in a deposit are two different things, aren’t they?

  20. Kibit says:

    The Fairmont should have taken those rooms off of their available rooms list as soon as they received the $13,000 deposit. If the students had canceled their trip they wouldn’t have gotten their money back so why is it the Fairmont can overbook even though they had received the money?

    The article says that they have 3 other groups other than the students that they had to relocate. If this is the case then they have know for a while that they may have to relocate people and yet they let the students know five days before their trip.

    I agree with the other posters that trying to relocate them to a hotel 15 miles away and right next to the airport is not acceptable. That is one heck of a long trip in Chicago and I can’t imagine that the hotel has a lot of shuttle buses so how many trips will they have to take to get all 128 students to public transportation on time? There will most likely be a few trips, which means they won’t be able to travel together than there will be a lot of waiting around to meet up. The overbooking and staying at a hotel 15 miles away could potentially cost them about 2 hours in time each way. Unacceptable!

  21. oldwiz65 says:

    Great hotel; they accept a $13K deposit then say no we have no room. I thought the expensive hotels would do better than that. Maybe they really don’t want a bunch of university students trashing their rooms. Dumping students 15 miles away sounds about right for “classy” hotels. At least they won’t have to worry about obnoxious students in their precious hotel. Remind me not to consider Fairmont next time I visit Chicago.

  22. psm321 says:

    Overbooking anything should be illegal if you’re taking money up-front from the customer that would be non-refundable if they don’t live up to their side of the bargain.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YMZpPLQ0qJM

  23. Portlandia says:

    That’s a bunch of bull shit. You know what a pain in the ass it is to get from Ohare to Downtown Chicago on a GOOD DAY?

    They should demand a room close to the hotel they booked even if it’s more expensive.

    They need to contact Chris Elliott!

  24. rdking says:

    i’d recommend some people visit tripadvisor.com and warn people what the fairmont can and will do…..

  25. psm321 says:

    Sorry, my wallet is overbooked. As you know, the prices of goods and services is often quoted higher and then comes down over time. In order to maximize the use of their money, consumers will regularly “overbook” their money in the expectation that prices will come down. Unfortunately that did not happen in this case. As soon as I found out, I tried to find other customers for you. Unfortunately, they have also overbooked their budgets and are only able to spend a fraction of what I promised you. While I certainly acknowledge that this disappointing turn of events would be frustrating for all involved, I’m hopeful that my offer to assist in finding lower-paying customers will redeem me in your eyes.

    What, you expected me to keep my word and were relying on my expected business to keep you afloat, and rejected other customers in the meantime so you could serve me? Well sorry, these things happen…

  26. bite back says:

    At least the rep for the Fairmont said they were taking it “very seriously.”

    • Fafaflunkie Plays His World's Smallest Violin For You says:

      Or translated from weasel-speak to English: “We got caught duping these kids out of their $15K deposit and offering them to sleep to the roar of jet engines 15 miles from downtown in a city that’s well known for traffic jams and poor public transit, so we better make it look like we’re serious about it.”

      I’d also like to hear the conversation between the Fairmont Hotel’s manager and, let’s say, the Hyatt’s:

      FM: “We overbooked and got to find rooms for 144 college kids from St. Louis. Got any?”
      Hyatt: “HAHAHAHAHA!”
      FM: “Hey, we had to ask.”

  27. DanKelley98 says:

    So Fairmont, even with a deposit, a reservation isn’t worth sh*t, eh? So Fairmont, you’re basically saying “don’t depend on us”.

  28. buckeyegoose says:

    Corporate Taking Head Translation:

    We gave your rooms to higer paying and/or bring repete business to our hotel. So we tried to find you the cheapest hotel so that we could pocket some of the 13,000 you have allready paid us.This is proven by saying we arranged you a special deal at the Airport Shithole Express, when in reality is part of that lower class hotel’s desperate attmempt to attract customers.

    Sincerly Go F Yourselfs,

    Mr Ican C areless

  29. Scoobatz says:

    I would be curious to know if other guests were booked at higher room rates.

  30. Nick says:

    Shuttle buses to public transportation? That would be the blue line; Chicago’s creakiest, loudest and most miserable L train. Just like the ride, their choice of hotels is indeed poor. O’Hare? Unbelievable. I bet they didn’t contact the Trump or the Intercontinental which would have been in the vicinity. Final grade on the Fairmont’s effort: FAIL. I’ll remember which hotel to steer people away from when they come to Chicago. Charlotte Swig would be ashamed!

  31. aboxoflogic says:

    I was a Rev Manager and left the industry for this kind of un-ethical behavior which is, by the way, worded properly and legally in the contracts that these groups sign.

  32. JollyJumjuck says:

    It’s probably a standard procedure for students that is written in their manual. “When booking students, cheerfully accept money with the reservation. Since students are undesirables when it comes to other hotel patrons, ensure they are sloughed off to other hotels at the last minute. Make the students understand how lucky they are in getting said new rooms, and advertise included amenities as ‘special.'”

  33. describe_one says:

    The Fairmont is way nicer than the Sheraton at O’Hare. Beyond just giving them rooms that are of lessor value pricewise, they are also taking away several hours each day they could be exploring in the city. There is next to nothing to do at night by O’Hare, and as someone said, taking the Blue Line late at night is quite undesirable. There are lots of clubs, bars, and late night eateries that they could be exploring instead of taking the train or shuttle back to O’Hare. They are totally getting the shaft because someone at the Fairmont couldn’t properly manage their inventory. I hope they get their money back, and get help booking somewhere else. I also hope everyone here keeps in mind the crappy rebooking policy at the Fairmont when shopping among the multitude of downtown Chicago hotels.

  34. CaesarBach says:

    I don’t know how the hell the Fairmount Hotel didn’t see this coming. The freaking Chicago Marathon was on Sunday, and they know that date at least a year in advance!!!

    • nybiker says:

      I don’t know if your marathon (I’m assuming you live in the Windy City) has a corporate john or not, but ours here in NYC does and it’s the same day every year (that is, the first Sunday in November, which as of 2007, IIRC, is now the return to Standard Time). (Sorry about that – the corporate john name has no bearing on this discussion, I just like to point out I don’t like ‘em). Anyway, so we here have 2 things to help us remember when the marathon race/charity run takes place. And as an extra bonus this year, our good folks in our transit authority have decided to wreak havoc on the railroads that weekend, so runners and spectators looking to ride the rails are going to have to get up very, very early to ensure they arrive at the starting point / viewing areas on time.
      I wonder if any of the hotels in town are overbooking that weekend? I guess we’ll hear about it on Monday, Nov 8.

      • CaesarBach says:

        Yes we do, and it’s good ol’ Bank of America!!! Same as us. On the Friday and Saturday before the race people riding the Metra where their marathon swag, so you know something’s up. I use to run the marathon every year, but now it’s gotten a little too expensive that I would rather save my money and run other marathons, plus I don’t have to pay to run in Chicago anyways.

  35. MSUHitman says:

    Here’s another thing Fairmont screwed up. if you went to Wash U in STL, 9 chances out of 10 you went for pre-med or pre-law. Last thing I would want to do as a fancy hotel is piss off a bunch of future rich customers who will tell all of their rich friends not to stay there when the Cardinals/Rams/Blues, etc. are in Chicago and they’re planning a trip there.

  36. sopmodm14 says:

    i’d like to find out if these were the block of rooms for the convention or standard rooms

    if it was overbooked, they should’ve refunded them at once, not when they were there in person to check in

    • common_sense84 says:

      I’d say the hotel should refund the money and cover all cancellation fees the group incurs.

      These students really should have just cancelled and redid the trip for another weekend in the spring.

  37. common_sense84 says:

    The only way this can work is if the hotel gave them a steep discount and rented 3 greyhounds for the weekend for them to use 24 hours of each day they are there.

    They already took the deposit, they have to be prepared to essentially pay to accommodate them and refund the extra.

  38. purecajn says:

    Sounds like a version of bait-and-switch to me. See if the managers get a kickback of any kind from the these “other hotels” which these overbooked customers are referred to.

  39. LightningUsagi says:

    Geez, they really oversold the rooms. They had to boot out 120 people from this group, not to mention 3 other groups. Sounds like this hotel needs to relook at their booking policies.

  40. jimmyhl says:

    Send the Fairmont an email to share your opinion. I did. chicago@fairmont.com

  41. Kahn Soomer says:

    Beware any time management of any company starts out with “we take this very seriously”. Every hotel management company overbooks and “walks” guests, even those who have “guaranteed” their reservations with a credit card. In this case, there seems to be grounds for a lawsuit, since the rooms had been paid for, in advance. Fairmont corporate should be ashamed. Used to be a top-notch outfit before it was sold to Canadian Pacific.

    • Shield Ramrod says:

      Wait a minute – you’re saying that the independent hotels that I used and loved, that were later assimilated into the Fairmont collective, now below to Canadian Pacific?

  42. Incident8 says:

    So, in short, we take money for reservations up to a year in advance. We hold this money in our bank for the time of the reservation, in this case $13,000 for this one group (there were three others that also needed to be relocated and we can only guess how much they put down on rooms). This entire time we accrue interest on all the monies received but we expect people to be overshooting the mark of how many people will be coming. Mind you, we charge them the reservation fee for all that are coming but don’t really reserve anything other than the right to change your plans at the last moment. Thank you for choosing the Fairmont hotel in downtown Chicago.

  43. loueloui says:

    Good. We’ll take our deposit back, and you can issue us walking papers for our 128 free rooms. Get cracking.