“The hotel manager hung up on us”

By | January 18th, 2010

Gary Benedik was driving through Memphis recently when he decided to stop for the night. He made a reservation at a Holiday Inn, but discovered a short while later that the hotel was too far out of the way. But by then it was too late: he’d already been charged for the room.

Shouldn’t Holiday Inn cut him a little slack?

Here’s what happened:

At 5:57 p.m., I called the 800-number for Holiday Inn, and was told told of a Southaven Holiday Inn Express with “plenty of availability.”

I punched in the address on my GPS. By that time our GPS indicated we were well beyond this location. I called the 800-number to then find out one must call the exact location directly to cancel a reservation.

The Southaven Holiday Inn Express desk clerk said if a reservation is canceled after 6 p.m., there are no refunds. The phone calls/cancellation time frame totaled 30 to 40 minutes.

Subsequent requests to both the hotel and Holiday Inn proved equally frustrating. The general manager indicated he had the authority to refund $106 but held to their rigid cancellation policy.

This is an interesting case. Benedik made his reservation just before the cut-off time for refunds, yet there is no evidence he was advised that he’d be billed, regardless. A Holiday Inn reservations agent should have disclosed that. However, Benedik should have also advised the agent that he was enroute, that he was unsure of the hotel’s location, and that he’d need to double-check with his GPS before confirming.

In other words, plenty of blame to go around.

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Benedik sent a brief, polite email to Holiday Inn. Here’s how it responded:

I have reconsidered all of the information available regarding the situation, including the details of your booking. In addition, I have contacted the hotel management on your behalf for consideration of a goodwill credit. Unfortunately, as your reservation was cancelled past the 6 pm deadline, the hotel has advised that the charge will stand. If you need further information or have any questions, please contact the hotel management directly. The telephone number to the hotel is 662-393-2881.

He tried to phone the hotel to plead his case, but “the hotel manager hung up on us,” he says.

I thought I’d give it a try, so I contacted InterContinental Hotels, Holiday Inn’s parent company.

I discussed with our executive guest relations team, and after further review, they still agree with the decision made by the hotel. The credit card is placed on PCR profiles to guarantee the reservations. The guest tried to cancel outside of the cancellation deadline and so the hotel declined to issue credit. If he was lost or needed directions, our agents could have assisted at anytime and would have been more than happy to do so, to ensure he made it to his destination for the evening. Unfortunately, there really is no criteria here to offer a goodwill credit in this particular case.

Sorry to not have better news, but please let me know if you have any additional questions in the meantime.