It has been one of the most unquestioned pieces of travel advice since the first WiFi hotspot flickered to life in an unnamed hotel more than a decade ago: If you want to stay connected while you’re on vacation, you can save a bundle by skipping a pricey cellular roaming plan and using a wireless Internet connection instead. Continue reading…
Ifti Qadir’s case against the Royal San Marco & Suites Hotel and Orbitz seemed like a slam-dunk when it crossed my desk recently. He’d paid $1,307 for two rooms, for a total of three nights.
“When we arrived at the hotel, we were told they don’t have any room available for us,” he says.
Qadir contacted Orbitz, the website through which he booked the rooms, and a representative told him to book another hotel and promised him a refund within five days, he says. But the money never came.
“Finally, we were told that it is not possible, because Orbitz had already paid the hotel,” he says.
Huh? At this point, my blood pressure has gone up by a few points. They can’t just keep Qadir’s money — can they? Continue reading…
After her hotel closes for renovations, Amber Sharma’s vacation package seems to fall apart. Now the online agency she bought it with won’t help her fix it.
Question: I recently booked a vacation package in Cozumel, Mexico, through Priceline. I called the hotel’s customer service line yesterday to ask a question, at which point I was informed that the hotel was closed for construction and would remain closed until next year. Continue reading…
If you have a gripe with a company — and let’s face it, at some point, everyone has a gripe with a company — here’s a cautionary tale about complaining.
It comes to us by way of Tracey Phillips. She had a problem with a hotel’s change policy. Specifically, every time she changed the date of her stay, the hotel insisted on charging her a fee, which is an increasingly common problem.
Instead of the grassroots approach to problem-solving, which I always recommend — in other words, starting with a real-time resolution at the lowest level, and working your way up — Tracey went straight to the top. She wrote an impassioned letter to the CEO, asking for a one-time exception to the hotel’s rules.
Even though the Doubletree San Juan isn’t really a resort, it still charged Cheryl Nygaard an 18% per night resort fee on her recent visit to Puerto Rico.
Worse, the $15-a-night “service” charge, which covered her Internet connection, beach chairs and towels, an in-room DVD player, and water and pool amenities, was added to her bill at the end of her stay.
“I didn’t know about the fees until I checked out,” she says. Nygaard, a corporate trainer from Dallas, who had booked the room through her travel agent, asked if the charge could be waived. She was in San Juan on business and didn’t use the pool, beach chairs or DVD player.
If you’re staying at a hotel, your rights are spelled out in your state’s lodging laws and in the property’s terms and conditions. But don’t lean on those for better customer service. I explain what to do.
Tami Alloway needs to cancel her hotel stay because of “extenuating” personal circumstances. Just one problem: the reservations are non-refundable.
Question: I recently reserved a hotel room at the Hawthorn Suites in Charleston, SC, through Priceline for a family trip with my mother. A few days later, my sister’s children were removed from their home and taken into state custody. I was awarded foster care for all three of them and they have been with me since then.
The older children, prior to removal, were homeschooled, so the dates of the trip were not an issue. With them being in my care, they are now in public schooling. The children range in age from 22 months through 9 years of age.
When we realized that the time frame would mean I would still have the children with me in March (and not during spring break, so they would miss a week of school), I called to cancel the reservation and was told there is no refund, even in extreme situations. Continue reading…