“Misunderstanding” leads to partial hotel refund after volcano

And the volcano stories just keep on coming. Earlier this week, we heard from a couple stranded in Portugal. Today let’s turn to a hotel guest.

Elliot Williams had planned a trip to England during the ash cloud incident. The trouble started when he couldn’t fly.

Our flight was canceled due to the Icelandic volcano. Ryanair is processing our refunds and Hertz refunded our rental car. I contacted Priceline immediately to ask about our hotel rooms.

The customer service people I spoke with hadn’t heard about the grounding of the flights and I told them that it was all over the news. I was told that I would have to wait until a travel advisory was posted through the TSA.

I later sent an email asking for a refund from both hotel reservations. The first night, the 15th, was refunded. I asked about the remaining three days and was told that since the hotel in Bristol refused a refund that they would not be able to refund us.

I fully understand their policy and know that it is an uphill battle, but I feel that if they were willing and able to refund the first night, there is little reason to not refund the rest of the stay.

Although hotels booked through Priceline’s “name your own price” service are totally nonrefundable, exceptions are sometimes made for big natural disasters. Williams’ first night at a Holiday Inn was refunded — why not the next three at a Marriott?

Williams showed me his correspondence with Priceline, but he might have also contacted Marriott to see if something could be worked out. I got in touch with Marriott to see what was going on.

I received an email from Marriott explaining the misunderstanding between Priceline and the hotel. I also received an email from Priceline saying that I should be receiving my full refund.

I want to thank you for your help in sorting all of this out. I’ve certainly learned a few things that I can apply to future bookings, namely insurance can be your friend and booking directly through companies can certainly be to your advantage.

He’s right — insurance might have helped him during the ash cloud incident.

(Photo: plasmastik/Flickr Creative Commons)

Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is an author, journalist and consumer advocate. You can read more about him on his personal website or contact him at chris@elliott.org. Got a question or comment? You can post it on our help forum.

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