No oceanview room – and no refund

Jeff Kinsey/Shutterstock
Jeff Kinsey/Shutterstock
Question: I recently booked a hotel room for a three-night stay at the DoubleTree Beach Resort by Hilton Hotel Tampa Bay – North Redington Beach through Expedia. I opted to pay the higher rate of $239 a night to guarantee a beachfront room. The lower rate of $199 was refundable but would not guarantee the oceanview room.

My husband and I decided it was worth the risk of losing our $800 so that we can have the oceanview. This was risky since we have four small children and anything could have happened to force us to cancel our reservation.

When we arrived at the hotel on Friday, March 2nd, they gave me a landview room and told me that Expedia booked me a landview room. I thought once I called Expedia, the issue would be resolved but after an hour on the phone with a supervisor who was extremely rude, I had no such luck.

When I went back to read my confirmation from Expedia, it said nothing about the oceanview room — only that I was guaranteed a king bed. This is false advertising and a scam as when I booked the room, Expedia’s website clearly stated that I was booking a guaranteed oceanview room. The hotel was completely booked all weekend and couldn’t do anything for us.

They told me that this happens every weekend with at least 4 reservations coming in telling them the same thing. Expedia clearly is pocketing the extra money and booking the landview rooms for the customers who paid the higher rate to have an oceanview room. We never would have stayed at this hotel if oceanview rooms were not available or guaranteed.

When I came home from my trip I called Expedia one last time and spoke with a supervisor, who offered me a $50 voucher to use with Expedia and that’s the best he said he could do. I told him I was not interested in taking a $50 voucher for Expedia to have them take my money and make false promises. Can you help? — Mary Fahy, Chicago

Answer: If Expedia sold you an oceanview room, then you should have received an oceanview room or a refund of the difference between an oceanview and a standard room.

Is having an oceanview room a big deal? In your case, yes. You specifically asked for it, you paid extra for it, and you gave up your right to a refund. Definitely worth it, by the way; the views of the ocean are spectacular on Florida’ west coast, and well worth paying a little extra to see.

But if an oceanview room was so important, why not check your confirmation to make sure it’s there? You just spent a lot of extra money for an amenity, but didn’t check your receipt to make sure you received it. If you had, you could have phoned Expedia and fixed this long before you checked in.

Once you checked into the hotel, Expedia wasn’t the only higher power to which you could appeal. You could have also phoned Hilton corporate to ask it to upgrade your room after the hotel turned you down.

I asked Expedia about your case. Its records show you booked your room through a phone agent. It reviewed its call records and determined that the agent incorrectly guaranteed ocean view accommodations at the time of purchase. The company has refunded the $120 rate difference and offered you a $50 travel coupon which can be used for a future purchase.

Did Expedia do enough for Mary Fahy?

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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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  • TonyA_says

    Just went to the hotel’s own website. There is such a room and you can easily book it.
    Why do people even bother with Expedia?
    I voted NO. Too many vacations been ruined by that outfit.

  • sirwired

    I don’t think a $50 coupon and the rate difference is enough for all the hassle. If she had gotten it resolved on the first try, sure, $50 + rate difference would be fair. But not after a marathon phone session, a rude supervisor, and having to escalate to you.

    I don’t see what Hilton Corporate could have done; if the hotel was booked solid, it was booked solid. And the problem wasn’t their fault anyways…

  • jmtabb

    Just because you can book the same room on the hotel’s own website, doesn’t mean you’ll avoid a similar problem. It just makes the route to getting it resolved more direct.

    A few years back my parents reserved an “Ocean Front” room at a hotel in Maui. I don’t remember now if it was the Mariott or the Sheraton or something else. It doesn’t really matter. What does matter is that the room they were given was not “Ocean Front”. It was a garden view room with the tiniest peekaboo view of the water past the parking lot and through the trees.

    My parents had their reservation confirmation and right on the printout it said “Ocean Front”. They had paid quite a bit extra to have the view. The hotel claimed that the reservation was for “Ocean View” and that the room they were given was just that. When my parents continued to complain they switched their excuse to say they were full and that “there was nothing they could do”. So they asked to speak with a manager they were told that they were already speaking to the manager and still “there is nothing the hotel can do”.

    So my father called the corporate headquarters and left a complaint on their voice mail. The next day, they got moved to an Ocean Front room, got credit for the one night they didn’t have the ocean front room, a $200 credit to use during their stay, and phone calls both from the hotel manager and a VP at corporate to make sure they were happy with the (late) resolution.

    The hotel wouldn’t have done anything without the complaint further up the chain. They got caught trying to push off a garden view on my parents who had paid a lot of money for “Ocean Front”.

    The only difference is that my parents had proof that the hotel was pulling a fast one on them, and that they knew that the final word didn’t stop with the manager on site.

  • Phoenix Justice

    I am confused by what the OP truly thought they had reserved. In the first paragraph, they mention both an “Ocean Front” and an “Ocean View” room. Those are two very different things, in my view. And as we all well know, an “Ocean View” can mean a lot of different things to different people whereas “Ocean Front” is pretty specific.

    Even when I am booking through Expedia (which I have used for over 13 years with confidence), I also check the hotel’s website to see if what is on Expedia is how they describe it on the hotel’s website. A few extra minutes upfront saves a lot of possible trouble down the road.

  • $16635417

    Agree. I see oceanview, oceanfront and beachfront being used interchangeably in the story.

    Seems like the complaints always involve OTA’s as well.

  • y_p_w

    Occasionally there are sales. However, my first option is to book directly with the corporate website. There’s less that can go wrong. It’s far less likely that they “lose” the reservation somewhere.

  • BillCCC

    Eventually they did the right thing. Why didn’t their records show that the agent had made a mistake when the customer called? It should not take a third party to make them look at their records. I guess this is what keeps Chris in business.

  • Fly, Icarus, Fly

    If Expedia was the same rate or even slightly less than the hotel’s best rate, then yes, I’d agree to always book directly with the hotel. The one time I used Expedia for a hotel, they were giving away a $150 MasterCard giftcard for any 5 night stay. I was staying in a mid-range hotel in Athens which was only $60 to start with, so I got it effectively for $30 a night. Score!

  • Guest

    “Those are two very different things, in my view.”

    But your view really doesn’t matter when it gets down to it. It’s what the hotel thinks they mean. Like you said, check the hotel’s website, but check it for the definition of those meanings. And while you are there, book on the hotel’s website and skip the Expedia problems.

  • mbods

    Expedia did enough AFTER you got involved, Chris. That’s a shame!

  • Phoenix Justice

    As I mentioned, “Ocean Front” is very specific whereas “Ocean View” is much more general.

  • Guest

    And even with those very “specific” terms, they can still have their own definitions for them. That is why you have to check the hotel’s website for their definition.

  • Guest

    Basically, neither term has much meaning to describe what the view from your room will be.

  • TonyA_says

    If all you want is that cheap Expedia or Priceline room, sure.
    But this woman was willing to pay extra or good money for that perfect room.
    These room types with a view are clearly listed in the hotel’s inventory.
    I cannot see why any agency cannot do it correctly.
    Another Expedia Fail.

  • $16635417

    The hotel’s website describes them as “Gulf” view…so if she was expecting an ocean she was either on the wrong coast…or on a very high floor facing east! :)

  • Alan Kardoff

    After reading this, I am more reluctant to deal with Expedia on anything except air fares and car rentals. Expedia met its requirement but the travelers might have taken another option, had they realized that its exposure was limited. Ocean View, as another notes, is very general.

  • George_T.

    Do not even use Expedia for those because they will mess you up.

    They have zero customer service and would not do anything unless someone with authority got involved.

    They are rude and misrepresent things on their site.

    Stay away!!!

  • TonyA_says

    Actually only the OFFICIAL (then one made by the Hotel) Room Description is relevant.
    This particular property clearly describes all their room inventory as either GULF VIEW -or- INLAND VIEW.

    1 King Bed With Balcony-Gulf View-Nonsmoking
    1 King Bed-Balcony-Inland View-Nonsmoking

    2 Queen Beds-Balcony-Gulf View-Nonsmoking
    2 Queen Beds-Balcony-Inland View-Nonsmoking

    1 King Bed Jr Suite-Balcony-Gulf View-Nonsmkg

    If the OP actually talked to a reservation agent, then all the person had to do is READ and RECITE what they see on the display screen.
    Clearly this is an Expedia Fail.

  • TonyA_says

    Did you read yesterday’s case? That was a car rental in Israel by Expedia.
    Another Fail.

  • TonyA_says

    Well if you live on Lake Michigan, what’s the difference between Ocean, Sea, Gulf, etc? Is there any other body of water Tampa is facing? C’mon folks we all know she did not get what she paid for.

  • sign buyer

    Not nearly enough compensation. They are only doing what they should have done at check in. Her time is worth more that $50 voucher. The only way to stop this bad behavior is to hit them in the bottom line and have them lose the profit they make on this bad behavior. Nothing short of comping the entire stay. If this is happening every week they are pocketing thousands in undeserved profit.

  • TonyA_says

    Here’s why. Beachfront and Gulf View is pretty much the same for this property.

  • Charles

    I have booked several vacations with Expedia over the years and never had a problem. Booking a hotel or airfare alone through Expedia or any other OTA is rarely going to result in any savings at all. But, if you book a vacation, there can be significant savings. We went to Jamaica last December and the savings for booking air and hotel together was nearly $400 or about 15% on the trip. The air and hotel rates were not any better elsewhere (pretty much identical in fact), but only the package resulted in that big discount. We’re doing a trip in May (Travelocity this time) and again the discount was about the price of one of the airline tickets. We have never had any problems with Expedia at all.

  • Charles

    I cannot recall any time in years where the Expedia air fare was any cheaper than booking with the airline directly. We have booked rental cars at times with a better price. The main advantage of Expedia and other other OTA’s is buying packages where you have the air and hotel combined. That opens up contractual options that allow them to discount more. The OP made a lot of mistakes here so I’m not sympathetic. Don’t make an OTA reservation on the phone. It’s an ONLINE travel agency. Why on earth do people call them on the phone to make reservations? Then they didn’t read their receipt. They could have fixed the problem right away. Here’s a simple rule for OTA’s: print the receipt and take it with you. Then you can show it to someone and say: “this is what we are supposed to get”. They didn’t read their receipt, so they could not follow that rule.

  • TonyA_says

    Except this woman (the OP) was not trying to save money. She wanted a particular room with a view.
    She was willing to pay good money for it. She’s not like you.

  • Stereoknob

    I think Expedia did right by refunding the money but what’s disappointing is that it took Chris getting involved to have Expedia do their due diligence and find out it was their mistake. It seems to be a common story and that overall seems to be where the real failure is.

  • Londoner1936

    Yes, why do people bother with Expedia; I ask myself that every time one of these complaints comes in … but there are but a few of us who read blogs like this. And the same goes for booking directly with the airline, etc.

  • Judy Serie Nagy

    I’ve often wondered what would happen if I arrived and was denied the room I had paid extra for, especially if the hotel was full. Chris is right, gotta check this stuff thoroughly when the confirm is generated. I always book hotels directly, I don’t know why anyone would use an OTA to book a hotel, it just adds another level of frustration when things go wrong. I happen to love this particular hotel and it’s a shame Mary didn’t get what she paid for, the ocean view rooms are spectacular.

  • TonyA_says

    The answer to your question is that some people want a cut of Expedia’s Wholesale Discount from the hotel. So in exchange for a small discount, they are willing to prepay Expedia. Problem is the OTAs offer poor service, usually outsourced to foreigners who themselves cannot afford to travel and hence get professional travel experience. Unless you are willing to DIY even the most basic things like accurate info, and get involved in a three way argument, you are better off dealing with the source.

  • LadyLightTravel

    I’m bothered that the hotel supposedly stated to the OP that it “happens every weekend with at least 4 reservations coming in telling them the same thing”. If the hotel knows this, why don’t they try to rectify it with Expedia? It has to be a hassle for the hotel to deal with it. And if this is true, we have a real pattern of bait-and-switch here, and it should be elvated to the Florida Attorney General.

  • Christopher Elliott

    Wow, excellent sleuthing. Nice.

  • Tim Smith

    While I can understand the desire to research, book and do all travel prep yourself, and the apparent cost-savings…the best answer going forward to any one is, NEVER, ever book with Expedia or any of it’s affiliated booking sites. Deal directly with the Hotel itself, or a Travel Agent. In the end Expedia is BAD for the Traveler and BAD for the Hotel. A Goliath like Expedia (and it’s countless subsidiaries) can even make a town’s entire range hotel rooms disappear for years (Sorry, no availability: TRY HERE – Bait, and switch), if you try to take them on!

    Is using Expedia worth saving a few bucks?

  • Bill___A

    The $120 rate difference is no compensation, it is just a refund of goods not delivered.

    All of the hours of grief are not worth only $50. If Expedia is doing this four times every weekend, it is apparently not a lesson they have learned yet. When hotels do not come up with a room, they let you stay the first night free in another hotel. I think Expedia should refund the difference and also one night of the accommodation as a bare minimum. The compensation should be sufficient to persuade Expedia to alter their practices and $50 clearly is not. It should be noted that I am taking a trip shortly and although the flight happened to be booked on Expedia, the hotel and care are NOT.

  • TonyA_says

    What do you mean by do not make reservations over the phone? If the lady had questions and wanted to make the correct booking, then why not call? I fail to see your point. Is a vending machine better than a human in this case? Expedia advertises that it has a call center. Why not use it to be sure?

  • cahdot

    bad pr for expedia go to the source the hotel itself–it is better

  • TonyA_says

    jmtabb, this lady (the OP) looked at the (expedia) website and called them to book the correct room; or at least she thought. Note that Expedia provides the address info for this property:

    DoubleTree Beach Resort by Hilton Tampa Bay-North Redington
    17120 Gulf Blvd, North Redington Beach, FL Expedia Hotel Expert: 1-855-809-351

    If you call the supposed Expedia Hotel Expert then you expect to be talking to an expert.
    You will believe you are better off talking to an expert rather than clicking buttons online. Correct?
    You would not expect to get the wrong room.
    The problem is Expedia BOOKED THE WRONG ROOM.
    The hotel did not pull a fast one by interchanging an inside view for a gulf view room.
    The booking was wrong from the get go. But why did Expedia charge the higher price intended for the gulf-view room? Pretty bad, huh?

  • Christopher Elliott

    Well folks, it looks like Disqus is finally working for everyone on this site. So we should expect to see comments from some new people who previously couldn’t access the discussion.

  • William_Leeper

    I fail to see what the receipt has to do with anything. They clearly said that the receipt didn’t show the ocean view room.

  • TonyA_says

    I did read both of the links you posted. Thanks.

    I found the part about incorrect room descriptions (could be) quite scary.

    “That’s Not the Room we Reserved!”

    Almost immediately we began to have trouble with our new “partners.” As requested, we provided Expedia with a long, detailed list describing our rooms, amenities and property to use on their website. Yet that list was completely ignored by Expedia when putting together a profile of our hotel. Many of the descriptions of our hotel and rooms Expedia posted were completely wrong. We repeatedly emailed the “content department,” which was in charge of the website details, asking them to make the changes necessary to correct the problems. However the response to our emails was almost non-existent.

    I did compare how Expedia described the rooms at DoubleTree Beach Resort by Hilton Hotel Tampa Bay – North Redington Beach with that of the hotel’s (itself).

    For example this is Expedia’s description:

    Boulevard King

    Includes: Free Parking, Free Wireless Internet
    1 king bed. Triple sheeting. Balcony. Desk. Satellite TV with complimentary movie channels. Cordless, multi-line phone with voice mail. MP3 docking station. Refrigerator. Coffee/tea maker. Bathrobes. Hair dryer. Iron/ironing board. Complimentary newspaper (M-F). Air conditioning. Nonsmoking.

    Here is the hotel’s own description:


    Air Conditioning. Balcony. Bathrobe. Clock Radio w/ MP3 Connection. Doubletree Eat Right Menu. Ergonomic Desk Chair. Non-Smoking. Sweet Dreams Sleep Experience. TV – 40 Inch Flat Panel HD.

    Braille room numbers. Coffee Maker. Complimentary Remote Printing. Hairdryer. High Speed Internet Access. Iron. Iron/Ironing Board. Mini Refrigerator. Newspaper (M-F). PrinterOn Remote Printing. Rubber shower mats.

    I don’t understand why Expedia removes the hotel’s INLAND VIEW description.
    What the heck does Boulevard mean? Where did they get that name?
    Why not simply use the hotel’s own description?

  • jmtabb

    My message had 3 points:

    1. You can still think you are getting one kind of room and end up with another, even when you book through the corporate website. Even if you have written confirmation of one type of room and they assign you to another.

    2. Double checking what your reservation says makes a difference, and (I think) makes a difference in what kind of resolution to the complaint you will get. Part of the problem here is that the confirmation didn’t say “Ocean View” room. My parent’s confirmation did say, and I think it made all the difference in getting it resolved to their satisfaction, during their stay.

    3. Complaining higher up (to corporate for a larger hotel chain, for example) works. This OP didn’t do that, and maybe should have.

    It doesn’t matter whether it was Expedia booking the wrong room and pocketing the money, or the hotel assigning the wrong room and pocketing the money. The customer is still not getting what they paid for. I was pointing out how slightly different circumstances ended up with a much happier resolution.

  • TonyA_says

    I hope you see the difference. If your folks made the correct reservation with Expedia and the hotel gave them a wrong room, they would have to argue with Expedia and Expedia will argue with the hotel. But since your folks made the correct reservation with the hotel directly and the hotel screwed them, then they could take it up with hotel’s own corporate department. If you buy from Expedia, you are not the “real” customer of the hotel. Expedia is. I wonder if you can take anything up to Expedia corporate while you are still mad at the hotel.

  • JimW

    Even more disturbing is Expedia’s attempt to obtainmoney by deception. The customer complained, and they still attempted to keep the money and fob her off with a voucher., even though they had the evidence that their customer had been misled. They only acted when bad publicity loomed. When does this type of corporate greed rise to the level of criminality?

  • TonyA_says

    Re: I opted to pay the higher rate of $239 a night to guarantee a beachfront room. The lower rate of $199 was refundable but would not guarantee the oceanview room.

    Chris, I feel for the Mary Fahys out there.
    Did she really believe that by pre-paying Expedia, she was being guaranteed a specific room type?

    Pre-paying or Post-paying is merely a payment option (or requirement).
    This hotel (itself) does not require pre-payment but just a credit card guarantee to book a room. It also has a 4 day cancellation policy. She is prepaying Expedia and not the hotel.
    Whether one will actually get the room they reserved is dependent on the willingness of the hotel management to give you that room and the availability of rooms during your stay. There are no guarantees.
    People, please do NOT PREPAY if you do not have to. And, always check and confirm your booking with the hotel directly.

  • jmtabb

    While I see your point, in reality the hotels know that their “customer” is a grey area. Expedia may have paid them, but Expedia isn’t the one staying in the room and telling all of their friends what a great (or awful) time they had there. It’s still in the best interests of the hotel to consider the people that are actually staying there to be “real customers” whether they are direct or indirect customers.

    That’s why this article suggests contacting Hilton Corporate, even though the rooms were purchased through Expedia. It’s a decent suggestion, and may have resulted in a more satisfactory resolution (such as a move to an ocean front room when one opened up) sooner. Contacting Expedia Corporate is a possibility too :). Certainly any kind of refund/credit is complicated by buying through Expedia, but the solution the OP wanted was the ocean front room, and that’s within the authority of the hotel to grant (once available) without involving Expedia at all.

  • Thomas Dembie

    I recently had a poor experience booking through Expedia. I think it’s great that they were able to refund the difference and give a credit, but in my opinion it’s not enough. In a situation like this they have an opportunity to win you back as a customer, and keep you loyal to their brand. They did the bare minimum.

  • Daddydo

    Self appointed travel agents deserve what they get. They are too much in a hurry, too concerned about the fact that they may or not have saved big $$$ by booking online, and for to untrained to use the online technology. A real travel agent would have had the problem solved in minutes. I have moved clients that were unhappy, I have spoken directly to the hotel manager for upgrade status, things that a real live travel agent would do, unlike the “INTERNET” not giving a rip until pushed by an advocate.
    Learn to use ASTA travel agents. We are snart, we are accurate, we are accountable, we are real travel agents.

  • Guest

    “We are snart, we are accurate” We just can’t spell.

  • mszabo

    I’m going with no here. In reality all they offered was the $50 voucher. Refunding the $120 seems like just giving back the money they attempted to steal. I’ve never cared for vouchers as a form of atonement. It only offers something if they go for repeat business. Even then they still probably make a profit on that repeat business just less of one.

  • LipglossandaBackpack

    Last year I was backpacking in Mexico and decided to spend a night in a nice hotel, so I booked on through Expedia. It advertises “deep soaking bathtub”, “turndown service” and most importantly “complimentary continental breakfast”. Of course, my room (a suite!) didn’t have a bathtub and I didn’t get turndown service; the next morning I asked for my included breakfast, was told I wasn’t entitled to it, and had to pay for breakfast. I went to the hotel desk and said my Expedia booking confirmed that my rate included breakfast, but they wouldn’t budge. I bought the cheapest breakfast, went to an internet cafe, printed my Expedia confirmation and returned to the desk- they then tried to argue that my breakfast (the cheapest on the menu!) cost more than the continental breakfast buffet, and spent thirty minutes pretending they were unable to refund me. Whatever. My complaint was with Expedia, so I emailed them when I got home. I didn’t want compensation, but I wanted the website to reflect the actual hotel facilities. I got this email: ” We apologize for the inconvenience you experienced at “Hotel XYZ”. As you may know, acts as an independent agent for reservations for airlines, car rental companies, and hotels. However, if an member has an unsatisfactory experience with travel booked through, we want to take appropriate action to ensure another member does not have a similar experience. Kindly be informed that we have made several attempts to contact the hotel to investigate your issue without success. Customers’ feedbacks and suggestions are important to us for progress, so thanks for taking the time to write to us. You may add comments about any hotel that you have stayed at and even provide your own rating.”

    Needless to say, one year later the hotel still has inaccurate information on its Expedia listing. So apparently it’s my job to write a rating and inform users of the fact that the listing is inaccurate, even if Expedia themselves cannot reach the hotel to confirm the advertised services? If they want me to start being their fact-checker they’ll have to start paying me!

  • Linda

    I voted no because Expedia did NOT do enough until Chris got involved – CHRIS was the one who did enough to reimburse the customer. In fact, even after the refund and the voucher I’m not sure it was enough – the customer never did get their hotel stay with ocean view, which is what they thought they were paying for in the first place. These 3rd party services just get worse and worse, people should stop using them.

  • James Penrose

    If you want/need something specific, I’d always book directly with the hotel or chain. In fact, I’d probably call them rather than going online for those kind of specifics as the reservation agents have a lot of control over your booking.

    Then, *always* check your confirmation to make sure it matches what you think you paid for! If it doesn’t, get it corrected before your trip as the person at the front desk is less likely to do anything about it if what is shown on the confirmation is not what you expected.

    And even then, there’s no 100% guarantee: Someone higher up the food chain/status chain may call and want that type of room or a conference books a block of rooms etc.

    Join every hotel loyalty program there is for any hotel you book at. Sometimes even belonging makes a difference in how they resolve things.

  • James Penrose

    Florida has probably the worst record of all the states for consumer protection. Haven’t you ever wondered why so many travel/real estate/marketing scams are based in Florida?

  • Hotel le president

    Some sales guys sometimes give false commitments.You should take this issue to the higher authority. They should be penalized.

  • James Parks

    I used to book all my travel through Expedia, but I’ve stopped using them for anything more than quickly comparing airfares or findng out which airlines go where I want. Then I book directly on the airline’s website.

    Why? Because whenever I’ve had a problem, Expedia has been terrible to work with, and I’ve always ended up having to work things out for myself with the airline or hotel. So why pay them a booking fee and then have to work through them instead of going straight to the service provider?