Case dismissed: The valet service damaged our rental, but we got the bill

Car rental damage cases are usually disputes between two parties — the renter and the agency. But not always.

Ron Goldstein recently rented a car from Thrifty in Los Angeles. He left the car with a parking valet at the DoubleTree by Hilton Guest Suites Santa Monica. It’s a decent hotel about a block from where the 10 freeway ends, and street parking isn’t really an option.

And then things took a turn for the worse.
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Can this trip be saved? “Come to the room, I have an emergency”

Erica Lara and her boyfriend, Patrick, checked into the Hilton Key Largo Grande Resort & Beach Club last Saturday for a wedding, but they didn’t stay long.

Patrick suffered an unfortunate, and extremely painful mishap, and was sent to the hospital. Details on his condition in a moment (warning: if you are in any way squeamish, click away now). The couple want their money back because they didn’t get to use the room.
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Here’s an unconventional way to cut your room rate

Hotel room rates are about to resume their climb. The latest forecast calls for average daily room rates to get a modest 3.5 percent bump in 2011, which means we’ll all pay a little more for our accommodations next year.

Unless you’re Kevin McGonagle and you’re staying at the Hilton Sydney. McGonagle thought the AU$359 was out of his price range for a six-night stay in November, so he did something unconventional: He asked the hotel to lower its price. He asked politely.

And what did the hotel say? I’ll get to that in just a moment.
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“They have declined to honor the discounted rate”

Question: We were offered a special rate of $199 a night at the Hilton New York, as part of a package deal by the organizers of a trade show. Although we specifically requested this rate at the time of booking, the reservation agent reported that she could not find it on Hilton’s system. We were denied this rate and instead booked at $239 a night rate for three nights for two rooms, resulting in a $250 overcharge.

We took up the matter with the organizers of the trade show, who later informed us that there was some kind of glitch in the reservation system and that we should get the special rate. When we checked the hotel Web site, we saw that they were indeed offering this special rate — though it was not offered to us.

I have spoken with the reservation agent and also emailed the hotel but they have declined to honor the discounted rate without offering any reason other than saying that the erroneous bookings made by them are nonrefundable. I would appreciate it if you can resolve this. — Joy Valentine, Chapel Hill, NC

Answer: If you were offered a $199 a night rate, you should get it.

A review of the email correspondence between you and Hilton — which I’m sparing my readers because of its length — shows you repeatedly asking the hotel to fix the rate error, and hotel representatives repeatedly refused your request.
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What’s with the duck?

If you stay at enough Homewood Suites properties, you’ll eventually wonder about the duck.

Images of waterfowl are everywhere: on the signage, on guest directories, even the napkins. I haven’t seen a hotel this branded since I stayed at Disneyworld.
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Sorry, your room is non-refundable — did we neglect to mention that?

Norman and Mary Lou Vitrano are by their own admission not Internet-savvy, which is why they phoned the Doubletree Beach Resort Tampa Bay/North Redington Beach to make their room reservations last August. When the couple’s plans changed and they tried to cancel their reservation, a hotel representative informed them their room was completely non-refundable.

There’s just one little problem: No one had told the Vitranos that the room was non-refundable. “We wouldn’t have made the reservations under those conditions,” says Norman Vitrano.

And here’s where the story takes a strange twist.
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