Travel Troubleshooter: Does traveler still have to pay for hotel if travel agent flubbed?

Q: I made a reservation for two rooms at Cedar Breaks Lodge in Brian Head, Utah, for our family vacation during Christmas break. I made the booking by phone through Hotels.com.

I received a confirmation e-mail, but I didn’t check the dates. I failed to notice the reservation was for November, not December. Today I received an e-mail from Hotels.com asking about my “recent” stay at Cedar Breaks. Suspecting an error has been made, I checked my e-mails and realized I did not catch the mistake. I called Hotels.com and requested the recording of our phone conversation, and they declined.

I also called Cedar Breaks Lodge, and since my reservation was made on Hotels.com website, they said they could not refund me, either. I am going to lose $980.

Can you give me advice on how to get a full or partial refund? Getting charged for four nights for two rooms is excessive.

 

A: You’re right, that’s pretty excessive for a “no show.” Hotels.com should have reviewed the recordings, and when it refused, you were right to contact me.

A miscommunication like this is easy to avoid. If you’re booking by phone, ask the representative to repeat the dates. Then check the dates on your confirmation, and if they don’t match your itinerary, contact the online agency immediately.

Crossed wires can happen easily when you’re dealing with an offshore call center, so my recommendation is to use the computer to make your booking. After all, a site like Hotels.com is optimized for Internet bookings, and I’m sure if it could avoid having a call center, it would.

Getting a form letter rejecting your request isn’t the end. You can appeal to Hotels.com through its website or directly to the property and failing that, you can dispute the charges on your credit card. Fortunately, none of that will be necessary.

I contacted Hotels.com on your behalf. It investigated your case and found it made “an error on our side.” Hotels.com changed your reservation, so you’ll be able to stay at Cedar Breaks for Christmas, after all.

Happy holidays.

 

Christopher Elliott is the ombudsman for National Geographic Traveler magazine. Read more tips on his blog, elliott.org or e-mail him at chris@elliott.org.

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