Update: Hotels.com Finally Issues Refund To Misinformed Customers

You may remember the story from just after Christmas of the two Consumerist readers who weren’t told their reservation on Hotels.com was non-refundable until after they’d requested a refund. After the story appeared here, it looks like the site saw the error of its ways and has refunded the money.

For those not familiar with the story: Kate had called Hotels.com’s 1-800 number for guidance on booking a hotel room in NYC. The helpful CSR not only helped her select a hotel, but also did the booking over the phone. He did not, however, at any time mention that this hotel does not offer refunds on rooms booked through Hotels.com, nor was this fact mentioned in the e-mail receipt sent to Kate.

Making matters worse, when it looked like she was going to have to cancel her reservation, Kate first called Hotels.com to confirm she could get a refund. A CSR told her yes, so she called JetBlue and canceled the flight reservations. It wasn’t until after calling back to actually cancel her room that Hotels.com pointed out the no-refund policy.

After several e-mails with Hotels.com, the company offered Kate and her fellow travelers a $100 coupon for future use on the site. The travelers replied that this was unacceptable and continued to fight. Ultimately, Hotels.com says it was able to contact the hotel and “advocate for a refund for your cancelled [sic] reservation,” which means Kate will get her full refund.

While we love happy endings (Get your mind out of the gutter!), Kate’s story should also be a lesson to anyone booking travel online or over the phone, especially through third-parties. Be 100% sure you are aware of the refund/change/cancellation policies for your airline and hotel before handing over that credit card number.


Edit Your Comment

  1. Gandalf the Grey says:

    Question is, how can you be 100% sure when the company is telling you the room is refundable up until the point where you request the refund?

  2. Browncoat says:

    If you make the reservations online and print out the cancellation policy, you have some protection, over the phone, not so much.

    • Jen says:

      I used hotels.com and had a printout of the cancellation policy, and when I called to cancel one of the nights, was told I couldn’t get a refund, as they had mistakenly put up the wrong cancellation policy and oops, sorry. It took six phone calls with hotels.com (and two with the hotel itself, since their CS was so useless) before I could get my money back, and I had to explain my ENTIRE story with each phone call. It’s a horrible company, and I’ll never use it again.

  3. evilpete says:

    What about priceline policy to upgrade you to resorts that carry hidden fees.

  4. Brunette Bookworm says:

    Why the [sic] after “cancelled”? It’s spelled correctly. Both one l and two ls are allowed.


    • 67alecto says:


    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      The reservation was totally sick, off the hook amazing, dude!!

    • shepd says:

      Because you speak American, and the rest of the world speaks English. In American, there’s only 1 l in cancelled. Since my browser is American, it underlines cancelled to remind me to speak American.

  5. Clyde Barrow says:

    I wonder if Hotels.com is going to refund me the cash that I spend with my then fiancee on a room near Central Park, NYC. The room smelled like year old piss, roach powder lined up the entire perimeter of every room, and dirty beds and sheets. All for only $120.00 a night.

    • TurdFerguson says:

      Sadly $120 for near central park is a deal! Consider the roaches and piss smell an complementary amenity.

      • Clyde Barrow says:

        When my fiancee and I entered the room, the stench was so bad, it actually hurt my nose. After about 10 minutes, it was tolerable. We slept on top of the beddings and never took our clothes off either but it was a fun experience just the same.

        I had never gotten sea sick in my life until we took one of those ferry boats to the Statue of Liberty and on our way back a gust of strong wind came through the harbor and man, that boat was going up and down so much my legs felt like rubber.

    • NeverLetMeDown says:

      For $120 a night near Central Park (assuming this wasn’t way uptown), you should be pleased that there wasn’t somebody actually pissing on you while you slept.

      • Beeker26 says:

        This. I wouldn’t go anywhere near a hotel in Manhattan for $120 a night. $250 is about as low as I’ll go.

      • Clyde Barrow says:

        lol,,I got a good laugh out of that one. Thanks! And probably very true because that was my first time in NYC.

        But the price that I paid was back in 2005. Not sure what it is today.

  6. careycat says:

    I had an incident last year with Hotels.com that was also a customer service fiasco – I saw a room online that was xx% off if you booked 3 or more nights, so I did that – over the phone – only to find out that the price displayed was already discounted so the price for booking 1 night or 2 nights was the SAME if you booked 3 or more. I pointed that out to hotels.com and they acknowledged it was a programming error. They refused at first to refund the money even though they admitted it was their programming error but eventually Western Unioned the difference to me while I was still at the hotel, it was a fairly significant amount. I don’t trust Hotels.com as far as I can throw them…

  7. chaelyc says:

    I booked a hotel with them when I was about 19 or 20, so this was at least 6 years ago. Nothing said anywhere that I had to be 21 to make the reservation or actually sign for the room upon arrival until I received the confirmation email & it was in bold print.

    So I get in touch with Hotels.com & try to cancel the room, which I can’t because it’s less than 48 hours before the reservation date (or I can but they’ll keep all my $). They offer to cancel the room for a FEE which I decline. They suggest I bring a parent with me to sign for the room (!?) since I’ll be using it after all. I tell them “yeah ok I’ll do that” just to keep them from taking the liberty of cancelling the now non-refundable room.

    I call the hotel myself & ask if it’s ok that I’m only 19 but it’s reserved in my name & going on my credit card. They say “sure, no problem! Why wouldn’t it be ok? You’re an adult” (don’t get me wrong, they were nice about it but it sounds bizarre so I get it).

    2 days later I arrive at the hotel & there’s no reservation in my name. Hotels.com never submitted the reservation to them in the first place, charged me for the room & then tried to charge me another fee to cancel a room that they never bothered to book in the first place.

    The guy at the desk had rooms available so he took pity on me & gave me a “free” room, stating that he would sort it out with hotels.com since I had brought the email confirmation as proof that I had paid someone for it.

    Basically they caused a ton of headache over absolutely nothing & it was only by the grace of some friendly hotel worker that my friends & I didn’t sleep in a car that night. I can’t even imagine the nightmare that hotel had to go through later to be reimbursed by hotels.com for the room I stayed in. I’m just glad it wasn’t my problem at that point.

  8. JEB says:

    Not so happy ending…
    We fell for the no refund trick. We booked a room with hotels.com. The room was way over priced, did not provide the advertised amenities, had bugs and a bad smell. We were promised by Hotels.com we’d have free on site parking. Upon arrivival we were directed by the hotel attendent to park on a very busy street that turned out to be a “no parking” spot. After we discovered our rental car had a door ding that was not there when we parked it and I saw bugs run across my pillow we opted to leave, hoping we would be refunded for three remaining nights of our stay. (over $800)

    Our credit card company said we had reason to dispute the amount if the hotel had advertised falsely (which they had). Hotels.com said they’d refund our money if the manager agreed. The rude, foreign manager refused to give us a refund, nor a receipt.

    We have contacted an attorney who said sue in small claims court. We will unless Hotels.com refunds our money.