When Tropical Storm Threatens Tropical Paradise, Hotel Won't Let Me Cancel

William’s dilemma with Priceline and Westin is what we’re guessing will be the first of very many travel problems caused by what is now Tropical Storm Isaac. William used to live in New Orleans, and knows better than to be anywhere near the projected path of a hurricane if he doesn’t have to. He had plans to travel to a vacation spot in Florida right in Isaac’s predicted path this weekend, and was probably supposed to be in the air right now. He was able to cancel his normally non-refundable AirTran flight, but the hotel, a Westin, won’t budge. He paid through Priceline, which has a no-refunds policy. That’s common knowledge. The problem is that Westin wouldn’t cancel his reservation anyway until an actual evacuation order is issued for the area.

He writes:

I recently booked a name your own price deal through Priceline to [redacted] at the Westin [redacted]. I had originally scheduled my stay from 8/23 to 8/27; however, TS/Soon to be Hurricane Isaac is scheduled to hit around Sunday/Monday. So I am trying to cancel the reservation for a refund and Priceline is hiding behind their no/refund policy and calls into the hotel to see if they can do anything. The hotel tells us that they can’t do anything until an evacuation order is issued. I can accept paying for a night or two of the stay, but this is the kind of situation where my safety is at risk and then being stuck in the Keys for several days which could potentially risk my job. So I honestly do not want to go down at all. I already got a full refund on my non-refundable AirTran ticket as they understand that there will be delays/cancellations. I have also issued a chargeback, but would rather just have the merchant waive the charge. I imagine that the hotel is getting cancellations left and right, but is losing a customer of both Priceline and the Westin hotels worth about $1000 because they refuse to work with me on a situation such as this…?

I’m also a former resident of New Orleans and know better than to mess with Hurricanes.

Even if the chargeback isn’t successful and there ultimately is no evacuation order, William could think of the money paid to the hotel as a fee paid to the universe for the privilege of not being in the path of a storm. The problem is that it’s not going to “the universe” in a broad sense: he’s giving money to Priceline and to Westin and not getting anything for it. If he gets tired of waiting around hoping for that evacuation order, could try using customer service ninja methods to reach someone higher up within Westin.

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