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Travel Troubleshooter: Dells water park was closed midweek

  • Article by: CHRISTOPHER ELLIOTT
  • October 6, 2012 - 2:47 PM

Q I thought I would try to see if you could resolve a problem we had with Hotels.com. My husband searched for hotels in the Wisconsin Dells with indoor water parks for our son, who is in college, and friends for their spring break.

My husband found the Polynesian Water Park Resort and called what he thought was its number. He didn't know he had been redirected to Hotels.com and booked the room.

My son and his friends checked in and discovered the water park is open only on the weekends in the off-season. They checked out and found another hotel with an open water park. I called the hotel to see if it would refund their money. The Polynesian refused and said if we had booked directly with the hotel, we would have known the park was closed. I called Hotels.com and it agreed to pull up the recording of our call, and if its rep did not tell us the park was closed, it would give us a refund. But it hasn't. I've called six times. Can you help?

A When an amenity like a hotel pool or exercise room is closed, that's usually not a reason to check out of a hotel and ask for a refund. But for the Polynesian, I'm willing to make an exception. The water park is a central part of this property. Take the waterslides and pools away, and it's not the same experience.

Complicating matters is that your husband was connected to Hotels.com when he called what he thought was the Polynesian. The representative he spoke with should have clearly identified himself or herself as being with Hotels.com.

I think your husband could have done some additional due diligence. Did he ask the representative if the pool was open midweek, or did he assume it would be? A look at the Polynesian's website would have shown schedules for its water facilities.

None of that changes the fact that if he'd called the hotel, it might have said something about the pool closures. I think Hotels.com should have pulled up its call transcripts as promised. Instead, it apparently did nothing. I contacted Hotels.com on your behalf, and got more or less the same response. A month later, I asked again, and this time it refunded the $167 your son spent.

Christopher Elliott is ombudsman for National Geographic Traveler magazine. You can read more travel tips on his blog at www.elliott.org, or e-mail him at chris@elliott.org.

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