Smoked out of the Days Inn

no smokingQuestion: I have a concern that I tried addressing with a specific Days Inn and with Wyndham, which owns Days Inn, but have not received a response. I recently stayed at the Days Inn in Fernandina Beach, Fla. I made a reservation for a non-smoking room and was given a smoking room when I checked it.

I spoke with a manager, who told me he was sorry he couldn’t offer me a non-smoking room. The only rooms the hotel had left to sell were smoking rooms.

So, my question to Wyndham is: Is it their policy to accept a reservation for a non-smoking room when no such room exists? I wrote to Wyndham, but after several emails, it stopped answering.
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Hotwire drops Days Inn hotel after “crazy lady” incident

Gerald Besses did not have a good stay at the Days Inn in Point Richmond, Calif. To put it mildly.

His visit featured a confrontation with a “crazy” employee, a substandard room and a run-in with police topped off by an early and involuntary departure. His online travel agency, Hotwire, agreed to refund his room, but Besses wants more. He believes Hotwire should blacklist the property.

If nothing else, his account reinforces what readers of this blog already know: Some trips just can’t be saved. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

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A canceled room, but no refund

Question: I recently made a reservation on the Days Inn Web site for six nights at the Days Inn Barnwell, SC. My American Express card was charged $415.

Because of a death in my family that required me to travel to Oklahoma to attend the funeral, I called Days Inn and requested that my reservation be canceled. I was informed that online reservations could not be canceled and that my credit card would be charged — the reason for the cancellation request notwithstanding.

I sent an email to the corporate office using the Web site’s “Contact Us” feature, requesting a review. My Amex card was charged a few days later, and I received a call from a Days Inn customer service agent shortly after that, who informed me that nothing could be done to reverse the charge. Can you help me get a refund? — Art Wallace, Miami Beach, Fla.

Answer: Days Inn should have given you a refund, or at least allowed you to apply your $415 credit toward a future stay. But its “take-it-or-leave-it” attitude just doesn’t work for me.
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Tied up in a chain: hotel denies transfer, pockets guest’s money

daysCharles McGovern clicked on the wrong Days Inn property when he booked a room to attend his grandson’s high school graduation in Richmond, Va. He assumed the hotel chain would transfer his reservation to the right hotel.

He assumed wrong.

Instead, the company kept his money for the first nonrefundable reservation and made him pay for a second stay, only a few miles away. Can Days Inn keep McGovern’s money?
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A hotel bait-and-switch — how a $29 rate became $180

I’ve taken a considerable amount of flak for pointing out the obvious fact that the rate you’re quoted when you’re booking a trip should be the price you actually pay. My industry critics foolishly insist that’s not how it works — not when you’re dealing with a “highly dynamic” pricing system.

I’m not going to debate the misguided airline apologists here, except to point out yet another obvious fact: Bait-and-switch isn’t limited to air fares.

Consider what happened when Stacey Blakemore booked a $29 suite at the Days Inn and Suites in Auburn, Ala., through Travelocity, but ended up being charged $180 a night.

When I arrived at the hotel, they informed me that the room had been canceled. First, the desk clerk tried to tell me that I canceled the room. When I assured her that I had not, she said Travelocity had canceled it. When I told her that I had contacted Travelocity recently to confirm the room and that I had a confirmation code from Travelocity, she finally admitted that the hotel had canceled my room per the owner’s request.

The owner simply did not want to honor the rate because it was a busy weekend and he or she felt that the hotel could rent the room for more. No one ever contacted me to warn me that my room had been canceled.

Blakemore phoned Travelocity, which tried to persuade the Days Inn to honor the original rate. The hotel refused. And there were no other hotel rooms available in town.

A hotel representative told me there were two rooms left, and that I could book either one of them for $180 per night. Each room had two double beds. So, instead of the suite for $28.99 per night, I was offered a room with two double beds for $180 per night. I felt I had no choice but to book the room.

Days Inn refused to refund the difference between the original rate and the new rate after Blakemore contacted it at the corporate level. What ensued, as far as I can tell, was a blame game — with Days Inn trying to fault Travelocity for the problems, and Travelocity unable to negotiate an acceptable settlement.

Blakemore, for her part, was furious.

I feel this was a bait-and-switch. The hotel advertised a rate of $28.99 on multiple Web sites. The hotel allowed the room to be booked. Then, just days before my scheduled arrival, the hotel canceled my reservation and no one notified me.

I contacted Travelocity, and it refunded the difference between the original rate and the new rate.

Lesson learned? Don’t just phone your online travel agent to confirm a hotel reservation. Call the hotel directly.

And one more thing: Airlines aren’t the only ones that play the bait-and-switch game.