Hotels.com reneges on refund deal with Guadalajara hotel

By | September 8th, 2016

It was bad enough that Francisco Castanos had such a miserable stay at the Hotel del Parque in Guadalajara, Mexico, that he had to flee in search of another hotel. But his online travel agent, Hotels.com, made things worse by not honoring its own deal with the hotel for a partial refund.

After Hotels.com made an agreement with the Hotel del Parque to partially reimburse Castanos for the cost of his stay, its agent coldly informed Castanos that he had made and paid for a reservation at the hotel, and “that was it.” There would be no refund to Castanos — in any amount.

Our advocates read a lot of horror stories and often think they’ve seen it all. Then along comes a situation like Castanos’, which causes us to ask: When a hotel is so far below the standards advertised by an online travel agent, does that agent have any responsibility whatsoever to take whatever steps are necessary to make that customer whole?

Castanos had booked and prepaid for a reservation at the Hotel del Parque for nine nights. When he checked in at the hotel, he was told that no rooms were available. Castanos then informed the desk clerk that he had previously booked and prepaid for a room. The desk clerk then offered Castanos a room that was being fumigated, asking whether Castanos minded the fumes. When Castanos responded that this was not acceptable, he was offered an “interim room” that would be changed to another room as soon as one became available.

But the “interim room” was in such poor condition that Castanos gave up on the Hotel del Parque. Here’s what he found:

  • A lamp with a broken light bulb
  • A bathroom sink that backed up
  • A recently replaced tile in the bathroom floor that rose about an inch higher than the rest of the floor
  • A door that needed repainting around a replaced latch
  • An uncovered TV cable wall connection
  • A window that was not secure in the frame and banged open
  • A ceiling fan on a single, too-fast speed
Related story:   Hotels.com charged me for a canceled reservation

Although most of these problems weren’t serious, the backed-up sink and the malfunctioning window made the room unusable, especially because the weather in Guadalajara was “hot and humid.”

Because it was late at night, Castanos spent that night in that room, but decided to leave the Hotel del Parque the next day. The next morning he asked the desk clerk what the procedure was for securing a refund of his hotel payment. The desk clerk told Castanos that as he had booked the room through Hotels.com, he would have to ask Hotels.com for a refund. He asked the desk clerk to check him out and to give him documentation indicating that he was leaving the hotel that day, but the clerk refused.


Castanos was unable to call Hotels.com’s 1-800 number, so he contacted his wife, Allison Castanos, who contacted Hotels.com on his behalf. She called him back six hours later, stating that Hotels.com contacted the Hotel del Parque and made an arrangement with the hotel to refund Castanos for six nights of the reservation.

But the desk clerk never received a call from Hotels.com. He could not locate the manager who might have received the call. After two hours on the phone with his wife and the desk clerk, Castanos decided to leave the hotel and sort out the situation later. The desk clerk told him to give him the remote control for the TV in his room. When Castanos told him that it was still in the room, the desk clerk ordered him to return to the room and retrieve it. Castanos told him no.

Related story:   "How can they leave you stranded in a foreign country like that?"

Castanos later learned that Hotels.com had reneged on the deal with the Hotel del Parque and refused to issue him any reimbursement for his stay. Although Castanos might have used the executive contacts for Expedia, the parent company of Hotels.com, to escalate his complaint, he contacted us for assistance in getting the promised refund.

As with many other online travel companies, Hotels.com’s terms and conditions disclaim any liability arising out of problems between its customers and the hotels it sells on its site, noting that the properties on its site are “independent contractors and not agents or employees of the Hotels.com companies, or the Hotels.com affiliates.”

But that’s no excuse for reneging on a deal it made with a customer whom it booked into a hotel that didn’t have a room available for him when he arrived on the reserved date, put him in an unusable room with a broken sink and window, and whose clerk made an inappropriate demand when he decided to leave.

Our advocates reached out to Hotels.com on Castanos’ behalf, and received the following response:

We have contacted Mr. Castanos and advised him that we have refunded a portion of his stay. When we researched the hotel further, we noticed the guest reviews were poor for this property. Our recommendation for travelers who are unsure about the quality of hotels is to check the guest reviews, and especially verified guest reviews, like those on Hotels.com.

Hotels.com has a lot to learn about customer service, including not blaming customers for not checking the reviews – which include a rating of 4.5 stars for the Hotel del Parque on its own site.

Related story:   I canceled my reservation so why did the hotel still charge me?

In the meantime, we’re wondering what criteria inspired the 4.5 star rating for the Hotel del Parque on Hotel.com’s site – and waiting to find out if Castanos has received the refund.



  • Chris Johnson

    Just curious, how does the room’s remote control for the TV factor into this? Is the hotel or hotels.com going to claim the OP stole it and use it as an excuse not to give him a refund?

  • Jeff W.

    So it looks like the hotel was overbooked and the front desk clerk initially refused to check him in and found a room that probably wasn’t meant to be occupied when the guest complained. When you book with an OTA, you tend to be on the top of the list when it comes to being bumped in oversold situations.

    Now I get it that the room was optimal and I would be upset too. Nowhere in the narrative is there a discussion about securing a standard room for the second day and beyond. Most of the complaints about the room are indeed trivial. A few are proper, but these get drowned out when combined with complaints about missing wall plates.

    He had a prepaid reservation and should have been provided a room not classified as “interim”. But I wonder if he walked too soon.

  • Chris_In_NC

    To hotel.com, you wrote “…When we researched the hotel further, we noticed the guest reviews were poor for this property…”

    So my question to you is, WHY do you still list this property?

  • sirwired

    The discrepancy between the reviews and the “star rating” can be explained by the simple fact that nearly every travel-booking agency assigns “stars” solely by looking at the amenities the hotel says they offer. I’m not aware of any that will adjust it based on reader reviews of the hotel; the aggregate reader reviews are usually (always?) a separate score. I know Hotels.com certainly lists the hotels this way.

    The “interim room” does seem to have a couple serious issues; was any attempt made to have maintenance come and fix them? And some of the complaints just told me it was an old room; not something I’d leave in disgust for… a door in need of some paint? An exposed cable TV connection? Okay, it’s not the Ritz, but that isn’t exactly full-refund material there.) It seems to be a really cheap hotel; I’m not sure I would have expected anything better.

    I’m not sure what to make of the comment about the remote; is that something that was handed over the counter at check-in? If so, it seems odd, but reasonable, to ask that it be returned on check-out; certainly not something worth getting into a fight over.

    All that said, if Hotels.com said they had secured a refund, then it should have been provided promptly without quibbling.

    (NOTE: Did the “star rating” for this hotel change? Because when I clicked on the link in the article, it was listed as three stars.)

  • MarkKelling

    You shouldn’t confuse a hotel’s star rating with consumer reviews. They mostly have no connection. Hotels are assigned stars based on what amenities they have (i.e. a hotel with a pool will usually have more stars than one without, a 24 hour desk clerk will rate higher than a similar hotel that does not have an overnight desk clerk). I have seen 5 star hotels that got one star guest reviews.

    Yes, he should’ve read the reviews before booking, but Hotels.com should remove any hotel from its listings when it gets too many low reviews or complaints.

  • whatup12

    i just read is as indicative of how he was being treated–ie, insult to injury…

  • AAGK

    Why bother. This guy had access to the terrible reviews and still thought it was a great place to book.

  • AAGK

    Bc the OP sees the horrible reviews and wants to give it business anyway. To each his own.

  • Castanos’ best chance at getting someone’s attention is to give a full one-star review, being careful not to make anything up, of his experience. And not just on the Hotels.com site, but on Yelp and Tripadvisor also.

  • Michael__K

    According to what hotels.com displays on their site, the Guest Reviews (48 of them) are “Good.”

    https://www.hotels.com/ho456447/hotel-del-parque-guadalajara-mexico/

  • Michael__K

    The 48 consumer reviews posted on Hotels.com have an average rating of 3.3 our of 5, which Hotels.com reports as “Good”, which of course contradicts the assertion in their response that the reviews were “Poor.”

    https://www.hotels.com/ho456447/hotel-del-parque-guadalajara-mexico/

  • Michael__K

    “I wonder if he walked too soon”

    When a customer stays and tries unsuccessfully to work out the problems, then predictably the critics will hammer the customer for asking for a refund after they used the room. (If it was so bad, they should have left promptly the critics will say…)

    When a customer leaves because the problems are untenable and are not promptly resolved, then predictably the customer will be criticized for not giving the business enough opportunity to resolve all the issues…

    Monday morning quarterbacking is fun…

  • Harvey-6-3.5

    For some, it is a price versus quality tradeoff (and horrible reviews may make me run away or, when written by a clearly whiny needy unreasonable writer, have little effect) (I should note that I am not referring to anyone here as unreasonable, but in reading reviews of a hotel I recently considered, a person was upset for reasons I didn’t find at all meaningful).

  • joycexyz

    The reviews were 4.5. Is that poor? And as far as listing the property…they’ll list anything.

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