UPDATE: Matt tells Consumerist that after we put him in contact with a rep for Hotels.com, he was able to get a full refund. What we still don’t know — and can’t get an answer from Hotels.com on — is whether this hotel still exists.
Time to put on your imagination caps and pretend you and your new spouse are jetting off for your honeymoon and after 22 hours on the plane you arrive at your first destination: Croatia. But when you get to your hotel — wait, what the &*^(*% happened to the hotel?
At this point you could just take off your imagination cap and get back to surfing the Internet, but that wasn’t an option for Consumerist reader Matt and his husband, who found themselves standing outside a building in Split, Croatia, that was most definitely not the hotel they had booked on Hotels.com.
“There was no hotel there,” writes Matt. “No sign, no front desk, nothing. So we called the phone number listed on the reservation to get help/directions, but the number was disconnected.”
By this point, it was around 11:30 at night, so not knowing what else to do, Matt pulled out his cellphone and called Hotels.com.
“They were clueless,” he tells Consumerist. “The agent put me on hold trying to call the hotel, came back and said the number was disconnected, and then said he was going to put me on hold for 4-5 minutes. I responded that this call was VERY expensive and asked if he could call me back. He assured me that the call was free and not to worry.”
As you can probably guess that “4-5 minutes” turned out to actually be 20 minutes on hold. Knowing that the Hotels.com was blowing smoke up his rear about the call being free — and that there is no way the CSR would have magically made the building before him into a functioning hotel — Matt hung up and found a hostel for the night.
The next morning the couple was on their way to the next location, where we assume the hotel was not a figment of anyone’s imagination.
When they got back from their honeymoon — and would be able to make genuinely toll-free calls to Hotels.com — Matt called up the site to get back the very real $96 that had gone to a fictional hotel. He also wanted to be reimbursed the $56 he’d been billed for the 20 minutes he spent waiting for no one to help him out.
“After almost an hour on the phone, the agent this time said that he didn’t know what to do, but that I would be contacted in 48 hours with a resolution,” writes Matt.
Of course, no one called him back within those two days, so Matt reached out once again. This time, he was placed on hold for 30 minutes before he had to hang up because there is only so much time during your work day you can waste not talking to someone on the phone.
Resolved to resolve things, Matt made one final call that took up two hours of his time. The Hotels.com rep, who apparently believes in unicorns and trolls, made multiple attempts to reach the non-existent hotel. In a development shocking to no one, the CSR was unsuccessful.
“After pulling teeth he agreed to refund the room cost, but not the $55.72 phone charge,” says Matt. “I offered to provide a copy of my bill, but he said it would not help.”
Matt eventually spoke to a manager, who he says was very rude to him and insisted — in spite of all evidence to the contrary — that the hotel exists and that he would not be reimbursed for his phone call even though the original CSR had insisted it would be free and then left him on hold for 20 minutes.
“She explained that they could not refund a fee that was not theirs,” recalls Matt, “at which point I explained that I would not have had to call if the hotel had existed like the website says.”
In fact, the hotel in question is still currently being offered on Hotels.com. It’s possible the place does exist and the information is wrong, but that is something the first CSR should have been able to resolve instead of putting Matt on hold while making an international call. And honestly, if a hotel isn’t answering its phone for guests or Hotels.com, it’s probably a small blessing that they didn’t end up staying there.
We’ve shared Matt’s story with a rep at Hotels.com, but given the company’s track record, we are not holding our breath waiting for anyone there to respond with any helpful information.