Kate and her friend Crystal recently tried to book a weekend getaway to New York City. They found cheap airfare on JetBlue and a customer service rep at Hotels.com was nice enough to book their hotel room for them over the phone. All was going well until the women needed to cancel their trip. That’s when Hotels.com finally told them what they should have been told in the first place — that their hotel did not offer refunds.
The refund/cancellation on Hotels.com states, “we never charge a change or cancellation fee, as part of our Risk-Free Booking policy. However, each hotel has its own change and cancellation policy which we are required to pass on.”
If the travelers had booked online, they could have scanned to the bottom of that hotel’s page and seen that it does not offer refunds. But they claim that the CSR who booked the room for them over the phone never made mention of this hotel’s policy.
The site also states that “You can also find the change and cancellation policy… in your email confirmation.” However, we’ve seen the travelers’ confirmation e-mail and there is no mention of any refund policy on the e-mail.
And when it looked like they were going to have to cancel the trip, they called Hotels.com to make sure they could get a refund. They say the CSR told them yes. So after canceling their JetBlue tickets, they called Hotels.com once more and were finally told the bad news.
Only after Consumerist reached out — twice — to Hotels.com regarding this matter did the women get any response. Unfortunately, this was what they received:
When booking over the phone, our sales representatives are required to review the details of the product and the rules and restrictions they set forth. Through research, our records show that the representative who assisted with the cancellation was the only representative who accessed your booking; therefore, we are unable to determine whether or not you were misinformed of the non-refundable rule. As you agreed to the cancellation processed, we are unable to honor your refund request.
As our representatives did not go as far as expected at the time of your call by advocating on your behalf to inquire possible options, we have sent you $100.00 in Hotel Bucks for future use towards a Hotels.com valid for one year from the date of issue. Please allow 4-6 weeks to receive this coupon via mail.
Kate and Crystal have told Hotels.com that its offer is unacceptable, given that they were never informed of the no-refund policy and that one CSR actually mistakenly told them they would be able to get a refund.
Regardless, this should be a lesson to anyone booking travel online or over the phone: Know the refund and cancellation policies for your airfare, hotel and everything else before you hand over your credit card number.