Can this trip be saved? Charged $281 for three nights I never used

By | August 22nd, 2011

When Carol Pulido tried to check in to the Puerto De Luna Hotel in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, a few months ago, she got some bad news.

The suite she’d reserved and paid for through Hotels.com wasn’t available.

“They said they were overbooked and no longer had any suites, but they could give us two rooms,” she says. “I wasn’t very happy with the arrangement because we wanted to keep our party together. But we went along with it.”

And then, more bad news.

About 45 minutes after we were in our rooms, the manager came by again and said the hotel was overbooked and he could only give us one room, but he would find another room somewhere else in the city. He was not sure where on when this would be accomplished.

At that point I told him if he could not give me what I had been promised by my reservation I no longer wanted to stay in the hotel. The whole point of getting a suite was for everyone to be together, not in two separate hotels.

Seems like a reasonable position.

Not to Hotels.com or her credit card.

Pulido says the Puerto De Luna Hotel’s policy is that if a guests cancel a reservation up to three days before their stay, they’re only responsible for one night and a cancellation fee. A manager from the Puerto De Luna assured her she wouldn’t be charged anything, and he “seemed desperate to get rid of my party.”

Instead, Hotels.com charged her $281 for three nights of a suite she never used.

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“I contacted both Hotels.com and my Discover card and they both denied me a refund without giving any explanation,” she says.

When Pulido contacted me, I sent her case to Hotels.com. It hasn’t responded to my query, either.

So now what?

Clearly, the Puerto De Luna Hotel should have honored the reservation she made through Hotels.com. If it had, then this wouldn’t be a problem. But reservations made through discount sites are often assigned a low priority, so that in the event of an overbooking, they’re the first to be “walked” to another property. Splitting up a party, though, is highly unusual.

It appears that Hotels.com didn’t take the time to review Pulido’s complaint. If it had, it would know that she didn’t get what she paid for. Then again, it also appears Hotels.com didn’t take the time to review my email to it, either. Maybe everyone is still on summer vacation?

As for her credit card, which I don’t mind naming — it’s Discover — I don’t have anything nice to say about its dispute department. Had it even taken a minute to look at her issue, then it would have reversed the charge. Sure, the Fair Credit Billing Act doesn’t probably require it to do anything. But whatever happened to good customer service?

Here’s where I’m a little confused, and could use your help.

I need to get Pulido a refund — a full refund — no question about it. But who should I go after? Should I contact the overbooking Puerto De Luna Hotel? The “no-comment” Hotels.com? Or the customer-service challenged Discover card?

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Update (Aug. 29): I contacted Hotels.com again and just heard from Pulido. Her room has been refunded.

(Photo: brianj matis/Flickr)



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