Hotels.com Books Me Into Non-Existent Hotel, Doesn’t Really See It As A Problem

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.

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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.

Comments

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  1. gman863 says:

    If I were the OP, I’d write a very real letter to his very real State Attorney General outlining how Hotels.com likes to book people in nonexistant hotels halfway across the globe, demanding damages for the phone charges and the difference to book into a more expensive hotel.

    Be sure and print out the page showing the imaginary hotel as a listing and include it with the letter.

  2. framitz says:

    You must BELIEVE in the hotel, it is there, it has to be there. Go ahead, check in.

    Like folks that trust GPS enough to drive into water, it has to be there.

    ;)

  3. TheOnlyBob says:

    I doubt the OP will get money for the phone call. Even if it was Hotels.com’s fault.

  4. Harry Greek says:

    I worked at the front desk of a hotel for 5 years. And, hotels.com was usually a problem.

    They constantly misrepresented the property I worked at. When you would reach out to them, it was damn near impossible to get anything, ever, resolved. 9 times out of 10, it was best to just eat the cost of whatever they botched and have our manager deal with the back end billing.

    • Auron says:

      But how do you go about having the (non-existent) manager of a non-existent hotel help with the bill?

  5. Ashman says:

    and nobody has said it yet.. CHARGEBACK!

    • Marlin says:

      Chargeback what? They are refunding the hotel cost but not the phone call. The phone call is not billed by hotels.com.

  6. Marlin says:

    So whats the name of this Hotel?

  7. deathbecomesme says:

    Sounds like a good small claims case. Include the court cost in your amount.

    • Jacob says:

      Probably an easy case to win in small claims court and if the OP has already spent that much time trying to get money out of Hotels.com, the couple of hours it would take to sue is probably worth it for him.

  8. milkcake says:

    First, can we know what the hotel’s name is? Also wondering if it’s listed in other sites like Expedia. Then we can figure out,
    1) See if the info was wrong such as phone# or address
    2) if above is true, then it might be that all travel sites share some kind of information and they are all having problems, not just hotels.com.
    3) if above is true, I’ll be doing due diligence on my part thoroughly more than before traveling. i.e. call the hotel, restaurant too see if it exists and they are expecting me and have rooms available for me.

  9. Cat says:

    I don’t care WHO you get the room from, call to confirm.

    I have 5 reservations I made a month ago, and I have Emails confirming them, but I will still call each one directly to confirm.

  10. winstonthorne says:

    Just clap your hands kids, and the hotel will appear…

  11. AuntySemantic says:

    Anybody who books on one of those third party sites and doesn’t first verify the existence of the hotel by looking up its own website is asking for trouble. And always reconfirm reservations before you leave home.

  12. invisibelle says:

    Not OP-blaming at all (in fact, I kinda agree with small-claims commenter above), but I learned some similar hard travel lessons at the beginning of this year.

    I think because I travel so much I started getting really lax about getting airtight organized confirmed info about exactly where I’m staying, phone numbers for hotels & transport, etc, and we ran into a couple of suspenseful situations because of it. I had to eat some humble pie & realize that even pro travelers can’t just fly by the seat of their pants all the time, especially in countries where you don’t speak the language.

  13. vastrightwing says:

    Sounds to me as if Hotels.com is the Sears of reservation hell.

  14. jerry101 says:

    I blame the op. he clearly made the rookie American consumer mistake of believing that a big business actually has any interest in delivering a product or service in exchange for your money. Businesses just want your money. What on earth could have caused the op to believe, just because he gave hotels.com his money and made a ‘reservation’, that an actual hotel would be operating in the location he was told to look for it?

    Capitalism means never having to deliver on your promises (for big companies, at least. For the rest of us, it means having to make good on our promises no matter what, even if we didn’t make a promise to begin with).

    Perhaps the op will learn from ths experience and not assume that companies will deliver on their promises in the future. It’s a good lesson to learn.

  15. Hotscot says:

    But, but, some people have FAITH in things that clearly don’t exist.

    There’s your problem.

  16. Princess Beech loves a warm cup of treason every morning says:

    It looks like…

    [puts on sunglasses]

    The hotel in Croatia has split.

  17. zibby says:

    There was a hotel there, but it Split!

  18. atomoverride says:

    hotels DOT gone…..

  19. deadandy says:

    I bet the hotel exists but they were either in the wrong place or Hotels.com gave them the wrong location. Look at a Google map of Split, Croatia–looks like a freaking nightmare to navigate. And look at all those diacritics!

  20. Nyxalinth says:

    Time for some hot customer on EECB action, I’d say. That will get something done.

  21. Murph1908 says:

    Wouldn’t be surprised if their system was just incorrect on where the hotel actually was.

    My one experience with Hotels.com was my last. Their map system told me the hotel I selected was within walking distance of certain city landmarks, less than 10 blocks from X Y and Z. I booked it. When I put in the address to print out the directions from the airport to the hotel, I found the hotel was on the opposite side of town.

    I called them back less than 15 minutes after booking, and they were fighting me about fixing it. I wasn’t asking for a refund, just to move the reservation to a hotel closer to where I needed to be. They were giving me the ‘all reservations are final’ line, despite the issue being with their system. They finally agreed to move my reservation, but I never went back.

  22. bkdlays says:

    One time I needed a room on short notice. I checked the hotel, in fact every hotel in Boston and found nothing with 2 beds. I went to Hotels.com and they have the room I wanted So i booked it.

    Fast forward 3 hours to when we arrive and they hotel is sold out of those room types. Call Hotel.com and they agree to rebook elsewhere. Took an hour and I had to find the hotel and recommend it to them eventually.

    Almost missed the concert we were going to. Transportation cost quite a bit more from South Boston. Hotels.com said they would send a certificate for a future room. 3 Months later they finally sent a letter that said I can book ANOTHER room at full price and then they will send me a certificate good for money off a THIRD booking.

    Ya right Hotels.com Every hotel I have talked to said they are accustomed to customers being left hanging with them. Always book with the hotel directly if you can. Even priceline has never left me hanging. Hotels.com is garbage and their customer support or lack of it sucks as well.

    • Bob says:

      I use Hotels.com only to compare prices. Then I call the hotel directly. If it is a small motel and/or a mom-and-pop motel I can usually get an upgrade for the same price or not much more than what Hotels.com says.

  23. kella says:

    Great, I just made reservations through Hotels.com, not knowing their reputation. I’ll have to make sure I don’t do that again, and have backup plans for the trip I made.

    • msbask says:

      I wouldn’t get too concerned. I’ve used them a half dozen times without issue. I do recommend that you ALWAYS confirm the reservation directly with the hotel, but other than that, no problems for me.

  24. Fubish says: I don't know anything about it, but it seems to me... says:

    As a side note, who the hell would want to go to Split, Croatia for a honeymoon?

  25. Claybird says:

    Sure it’s not located in Nowhere Land, home of the Nowhere Man? ;)