Readers Brandon and Eleanor made reservations back in November for their wedding this June, but in May found out that the Doubletree Hotel had only reserved a small fraction of the rooms they requested. This started off a chain of bad service that included weddings guests not able to book their rooms at the quoted rate, unauthorized charges to Eleanor’s credit card, and unexpected fees for handing out gift bags. What a headache.
Brandon and Eleanor write, to Doubletree/Hilton:
I am writing to you because of an extremely unpleasant interaction and stay that my husband and I had at the Doubletree Hotel Chicago-North Shore in Skokie, Illinois. I had blocked 50 rooms at the hotel for our wedding weekend June 27-June 29, 2008. I cannot even begin to express the frustration that I had dealing with the hotel and reservations staff, which I will outline for you later in this email.
I travel approximately six weeks a year in my position as [redacted] I usually enjoy staying at Doubletree Hotels (and other Hilton Hotels), but I do not believe I will stay again after all of the hassles and excess charges that my husband and I endured.
Here is an account of our experience: I blocked the rooms in November, 2007. Since we live out of town, as do many of our guests, I made sure that 50 rooms were blocked. I even remember asking if that high number was possible to block. I was told it would be fine.
On May 10, 2008, I received a phone call from one of my guests, telling me the block was full. I was shocked to hear this, and immediately called the hotel. They told me in a very curt manner that the block was indeed full and that 13 rooms had been booked. Of course, I told them that we had 50 rooms blocked, so this must be a mistake. They informed me that only 10 rooms had been reserved.
After much discussion and debate, they said they could open five more rooms ONLY. I was furious that seven weeks before my wedding, I had to book another block of rooms at another hotel, without even an “I’m sorry” from the Doubletree staff, who tried on two occasions to blame the error on me.
After blocking the rooms at two hotels, I called about 10 days before the wedding to ask how many rooms were blocked so that we could hand out gift bags to our guests. Imagine my surprise to find that 35 rooms were booked at the Doubletree. Obviously, there was enough room to expand out the block. This was quite aggravating!
When we went to give the gift bags to the front desk for delivery to each of our guests, I was again dismayed. We were told that there would be a charge of $1.50 per bag to simply hand the bag to each guest. I agreed to the $54 charge because I had no other option. I asked some of my recently married friends if the hotels that they had blocked for their wedding charged them for the same service. They had not been charged and were also shocked to hear of this fee, especially because we had filled 35 rooms of the hotel. Additionally, my in-laws had paid for breakfast for nearly 40 guests on June 29, 2008! This made the nickel-and-dime charge even more offensive.
Just yesterday, I was about to pay my credit card bill when I realized that another charge of $75 from the Doubletree Hotel was billed to my account on June 29, 2008. Again, I called the hotel. I was told that the charge was for transportation of 18 people to the reception site a mile and half away. I told the accounting department that I had NEVER authorized such a charge. I do not know if my guests used the hotel’s transportation, but my husband and I never booked the transportation, never rode on the transportation ourselves, nor authorized such a charge.
The hotel has since reversed this charge because of my complaint, but it is just another example of our unsatisfactory experience. Additionally, our guests who blocked rooms early were told that the shuttle was free. Only closer to the wedding did the shuttle begin to charge a fare. I only discovered this myself and was never contacted by the Doubletree staff, nor were my guests.
Finally, when my Mother-in-law booked her room, she was told that she would have to pay a higher rate for the Thursday night she planned to stay. When she told the staff that she was under the impression that the wedding rate was valid Thursday through Monday, she was again met with a discourteous and unhelpful rebuttal. I was surprised to learn of this just a few days before the wedding because I was also told that the rate was valid Thursday through Monday. She and several guests mentioned that they were unable to book anything online. The rate was apparently only accessible by phone, contrary to what my husband and I were led to believe.
We were even given an online booking code to give our guests, but they could not receive the rate using it. My husband and I are embarrassed and irritated that our block was handled so unprofessionally. I have advised a close friend who is getting married in the area not to block rooms at that particular Doubletree Hotel, and I have advised my other friends not to block rooms for their weddings at Hilton or Doubletree Hotels because of our bad experience. I am dismayed that the Hilton Family of Hotels, a company that I so highly regarded, disappointed us so much on the biggest weekend of our lives. A reply would be much appreciated.