Next time you cancel a hotel room, get a number. Otherwise you might have to pay for your reservation, whether you show up or not.
Cancellation numbers, like reservation numbers, are verifications of a transaction. They’re useful not only for the hotel, but also for your credit card company in the event of a dispute.
And what if you don’t have one? Then you end up like Pat Aldridge:
I am completely at my wits end. I don’t know what to do and I don’t want to scream.
I reserved a hotel room at the Holiday Inn Express Mcdonough, Ga., for a June 11th check in. I called two weeks later and canceled the room because I would be staying with relatives.
I remember the male representative trying to convince me to keep the reservation but I declined. I hung up with no doubt that he had canceled the reservation. But I did not get a cancellation number.
Bad mistake. They charged my credit card $147 on June 15th.
I have made numerous calls to guest relations, to the hotel. I have spoke with the manager at the hotel, who says without the cancellation number they will not reverse the charge. I sent an email to corporate, which forwarded my message to the manager and the owner of the hotel. She said I should receive a response in 48 hours. Of course, nothing occurred. I expected nothing less.
This feels like a scam. You make a reservation. You think you cancel. They keep your money.
Even my bank has said I can’t get the money back without a cancellation number. I am so frustrated. In this economy I cant afford to just walk away from $150 especially when I did everything I was supposed to do to ensure this reservation was canceled.
I contacted Holiday Inn on Aldridge’s behalf. Here’s what a spokeswoman told me.
After reviewing the case in its entirety, guest relations determined it was handled correctly based on our policy. The reservation was not cancelled, and the guest has no cancellation number, so there is no criteria to over turn the denial for credit without that information.
So, no cancellation number, no refund. End of story.
Well, not exactly. When a guest calls to cancel a room, a well-trained employee will cancel and issue a number without pushing back. We’re left with two possibilities.
1. Aldridge dealt with a rogue employee or someone who was under orders to stop any cancellations from being transacted. Given the rough economy, it’s possible that hotel employees are being rewarded for preventing cancellations.
2. Aldridge never called Holiday Inn to cancel and made up the entire story. Also a possibility. But it’s unusual for travelers to enlist an ombudsman to their cause when they’ve misrepresented the truth.
I believe Aldridge phoned Holiday Inn, but that the cancellation was never made. Corporate Holiday Inn has no proof of this, so its hands are tied.
Not an ideal outcome, but a lesson learned: Next time, either get a cancellation number, or work with a travel agent.