Hotel Gives Away My Room, Hotels.com Won't Give Me My Money Back

For all the confirmation e-mails and reservation numbers you receive when booking a room through Hotels.com — and most third-party discount reservation sites — there is still a slim chance that you’ll arrive at your destination only to find out your room has been sold off to someone willing to pay more.

Over at travel writer Christopher Elliott’s blog, he has the story of a reader who had used Hotels.com to book a suite for her and traveling party at a hotel in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. When the group arrived at the hotel, they got some bad news: the hotel had been overbooked and someone else had gotten the suite.

The manager promised to find the travelers two rooms to make up for the error, but shortly after they had gotten to their rooms, it was more bad news: they could only have one of the two rooms.

This time the manager promised to find the ousted half of the group a room in another hotel nearby, though he couldn’t say how long this would take or where this second hotel might be. This is when the guests decided they’d had enough:

At that point I told him if he could not give me what I had been promised by my reservation I no longer wanted to stay in the hotel. The whole point of getting a suite was for everyone to be together, not in two separate hotels.

The group left the hotel and claim that the hotel manager promised there would be no charge because of the mix-up.

And yet, Hotels.com charged her $281 for the entire three-night stay in a suite the hotel was never able to provide.

“I contacted both Hotels.com and my Discover card and they both denied me a refund without giving any explanation,” she tells Elliott, who received zero response from Hotels.com when he attempted to intervene on the reader’s behalf.

He writes:

It appears that Hotels.com didn’t take the time to review [the customer's] complaint. If it had, it would know that she didn’t get what she paid for. Then again, it also appears Hotels.com didn’t take the time to review my email to it, either. Maybe everyone is still on summer vacation?

As for her credit card, which I don’t mind naming — it’s Discover — I don’t have anything nice to say about its dispute department. Had it even taken a minute to look at her issue, then it would have reversed the charge. Sure, the Fair Credit Billing Act doesn’t probably require it to do anything. But whatever happened to good customer service?

Stories like this always remind us of the failed rental car reservation from Seinfeld:

Can this trip be saved? Charged $281 for three nights I never used [Elliott.org]