Q: A few months ago, my family and I booked a hotel and flights through Expedia for a trip from Cleveland to St. Lucia. We had a reservation for a three-bedroom villa at Cotton Bay Village.
Earlier this week, I called the hotel to set up a few tours and was told that the property was closed for renovations and that they had notified Expedia almost a month ago.
We have called Expedia six different times, and it hasn't been able to find a comparable property. Each time we call, we get a different agent and supervisor, review the entire history and try — and fail — to find another property.
We still have no rental for the vacation. I would like someone who is further up the chain of command to help us. I need someone who can stay on the line, give his or her first and last name and contact information, and has the authority to approve the villa. With every day wasted, there are fewer properties available. Any assistance would be appreciated.
A: Expedia should have notified you of the property closing as soon as possible, not waited for you to find out by chance. Cotton Bay Village was nice enough to furnish you with a copy of the e-mail it sent to Expedia, letting it know about the closing. There's no excuse for the omission.
When you told Expedia about the closing — which you shouldn't have had to do — it should have jumped on the problem and fixed it without you having to call back six times.
You asked for the name of someone with the authority to fix this. I publish the names on my site: www.elliott.org/company-contacts. I'd recommend sending one of Expedia's executive contacts a brief, polite e-mail asking him or her to find you a suitable replacement. Oh, and try to stay off the phone. Why? There's no way to prove a conversation happened, apart from the notes a representative might take during the call.
Bottom line: Expedia needed to make this its problem, not yours. Instead, it kept putting you off and giving you nonanswers until you were finally out of patience.
This case made its way through our help forums on my site before coming to my desk. You can get answers to any consumer question on my forums (www.elliott.org/forum).
I contacted Expedia on your behalf. Your husband found another villa and called Expedia with the reservation information. Several hours later, Expedia agreed to book your villa at the same rate.
Christopher Elliott is the ombudsman for National Geographic Traveler magazine. Read more tips on his blog, elliott.org or e-mail him at email@example.com.