Help! My vacation package is missing a hotel

By | March 21st, 2014

Stuart Miles/Shutterstock
Stuart Miles/Shutterstock

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.

I called Priceline today to get a full refund for the package. They said they couldn’t confirm the hotel closure because no one was answering the hotel telephone — because, well, they’re closed — and even so, would be able to offer a refund for only the hotel. The best they could do was maybe a credit with the airline for the ticket cost.

I tried to politely tell them that I booked a package, not a flight and hotel separately, and that there would be no point in my going there if I could not stay where I needed. The hotel I’d booked is all-inclusive and has good prices. It also caters to scuba divers by having a private pier with boat pickups, etc. I am also, as a young woman, traveling alone and on a budget, and only felt comfortable at that hotel because I have stayed there in the past.


Please help me. I would really appreciate anything you can do. — Amber Sharma, Washington

Answer: Priceline should have contacted you when the hotel announced it was closing for renovations and offered you a comparable package. But ultimately, since Priceline sold you the package, it’s responsible for ensuring you can actually use all the components of the trip as advertised.

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It’s not clear why that didn’t happen, but to be fair to Priceline, it has to track tens of thousands of hotels in its system and then match each hotel to a reservation. Maybe your hotel didn’t notify Priceline about the temporary closure. Maybe it did, but Priceline failed to find your reservation and then contact you.

As I review your file, I notice that you tried to resolve this problem by phone. That would have been the right way to fix this if you’d landed in Cozumel and found yourself hotel-less (thank goodness it didn’t come to that) but when you still have a little time before your vacation, sending an email works best. Also, Priceline’s records suggest you gave the company only two hours between contacting it and writing to me. I might have given the company a little more time.

Remember, there’s no record of a phone conversation, but you can keep an email thread and forward it to a supervisor — or to me. Priceline’s email addresses follow the format firstname.lastname@priceline.com and you can find a list of its managers online.

I also list the names of Priceline’s executives on my site.

Fortunately, none of that was necessary. In fact, apparently neither was I. By the time I contacted the company on your behalf, it had already agreed to process a full refund.

When you book a tour, who should be responsible for a refund if a hotel closes?

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