Do you think a refund is in the cards?

Bev Eberly’s discount hotel card doesn’t work. How can she get the $50 she’s been promised?

Question: We recently stayed at a Best Western hotel in Seaside, Ore. We made the reservation through Priceline and took advantage of a promotion run by the Hotel Card. The card promises we will receive $50 back as a refund from our stay. It’s been four months since our stay, and we still haven’t received a refund.

Numerous attempts at emails and phone calls to the number on the website have been to no avail. Calls to the number listed on their website have not been returned, and you can never get a live person. Can you help? — Bev Eberly, Portland, Ore.

Answer: If the Hotel Card offers a $50 refund, then you should have received one shortly after your stay. But a review of the card’s terms online suggests that’s not exactly how it works.

The Hotel Card, which was a Priceline partner at the time of your stay, is a discount card that allows you to “save” $50 off the price of a hotel. Once you enter your Hotel Card number in the designated place during the booking process, $50 will be subtracted from the lowest price. That $50, it promises, will show up as an “instant” credit.

I’m not a big fan of discount programs like this, precisely because so much can go wrong. Running a promotion through any coupon or card automatically reduces the redemption rates, which means that customers like you end up holding worthless scrip.

Now, to be clear, I’m not calling the Hotel Card worthless, but you have to jump through a few hoops to collect the discount, and that hassle means some customers will fail to take advantage of their cards. In fact, after four months of waiting, it looks like you might be ready to give up. (I’m usually the last person someone contacts before throwing in the towel.)

The Hotel Card should have credited you right away, as it promised. But if it didn’t, you still had two other avenues of appeal: Priceline and Best Western. Failing that, you could have disputed part of your credit card bill, which would have been a lengthy process that may or may not have worked.

By the way, you can reach a Priceline executive through my website. Here are a few names.

A brief, polite email to a Priceline executive might have convinced the company to pressure Hotel Card to review your case. It’s possible that, because of heavy demand, the Hotel Card was overwhelmed by requests from consumers. Rest assured, it’s unlikely the Hotel Card would have also ignored questions from Priceline.

I contacted Priceline on your behalf. It got in touch with The Hotel Card (unlike you and me, it has a working number for the card) and someone from the card contacted you in person and offered either a credit or a check.

You asked for — and received — a check.

Was Bev Eberly's offer too hard to redeem?

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Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is an author, journalist and consumer advocate. You can read more about him on his personal website or contact him at Got a question or comment? You can post it on the new forum.

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  • jpp42

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    (7 items)

  • emanon256

    I am always wary of these third party discount sites that don’t really do anything but promise to provide a discount. I am glad Chris was able to help, but I will stay away from The Hotel Card.

  • Joe_D_Messina

    Lousy poll question for the OP…. There’s zero indication she did anything wrong yet one of the poll choices is “She just needed to follow the instructions”?

  • emanon256

    Actually I just went to the website for The Hotel Card, and it says you have to book through “The Hotel Card” agency and enter a code at checkout, to get the discount. Since the OP booked through PriceLine, it sounds based on the current info on The Hotel Card, that they would not have been eligible.

    ETA: I stand corrected, I just re-read and CE stated that The Hotel Card was a partner with PriceLine at that time. Apparently they are no longer a partner.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    Not directly on point, but this is a terrible deal. One more travel promoter to avoid.

    The reservations are all non-refundable;
    Tax Recovery Charges and Service Fees;
    Lost cards are not replaced
    Need a card to even see the inventory so you can’t comparison shop beforehand
    Members received a fixed (yet undisclosed) percentage off each stay
    Unused value is forfeit.
    One card per reservation
    and the list goes on.

    I’m still waiting for a travel club that is worth the membership fee and hassle.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    I got a different reading. You obtain the card in whatever way then the redemption must happen on the site. But she never got in the first place. But I might be wrong.

  • emanon256

    I couldn’t even find out how to get the card from their site. It was bad! And sounds like a horrible deal.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    Me neither. And the website looked homemade.

    Plus the claim that it has 100,000 hotels is dubious. STR Global estimates that there are about 187,000 hotels worldwide, using the standard of rented nightly and 20 rooms or more in the US only and 10 rooms and more throughout the rest of the world.

    I’m very risk averse about travel. Ten years ago, I made a simple decision; Book directly with the travel provider and join the loyalty program. No Priceline/hotwire, no Expedia, no discount clubs. Done.

  • emanon256

    You chose wisely :)

  • Annie M

    Why don’t people read everything before signing up for these things? If it seems too good to be true, it usually is.

  • Joe_D_Messina

    But $50 back really isn’t too good to be believed. And from what I can tell, she did read everything that was pertinent to her. She wasn’t shopping for this Hotel Card thing, she was booking a stay on Priceline and they offered her $50 back via this method. Even if I’d done all the homework on the Hotel Card and determined it was a horrible deal (which it sounds like it is) I still would have assumed that if Priceline was offering it I’d at least be able to redeem the measly $50 they’d promised. She never even got the card after multiple efforts.

  • Justin

    Rebates are lucrative and borderline on scams. Companies pay rebate companies X amount. Rebate companies bank on consumers being lazy, failing to fill out claim forms properly, or forgetting to mail in the paperwork.

    You’ll often get companies who “lose” paperwork or refuse payment when too many customers respond. I.E. 10 million was given for a program to cover 1 million, 10 dollar rebates. If over 1 million customers take advantage, the bankroll begins to cease.

    The rebate companies lose money.