The Travel Troubleshooter: Two extra kids equals a 200-euro surcharge? By Christopher Elliott | May 20, 2011 FacebookTwitterGoogle+Pinterest Question: I need your help to resolve a situation that I encountered recently when my family and I stayed at the Brussels Marriott. I generally book directly on the hotel’s website. So in this case, I went to Marriott.com and entered the number of guests — my wife, two young children, and me. My reservation was for three nights. When we tried to check in, the clerk said that the room had a king bed and could not accommodate us. I mentioned that my kids are quite young and can easily share the bed, as we do this often when staying at Marriott properties in the United States. I was told that the only option I had was to upgrade to a larger suite, pay for an additional room, or walk away. I asked for the manager, who told me the same thing. I pointed out that there was no way I could stay in two separate rooms, as I would be separated from my family. I also pointed out that I have a child who is autistic, who cannot be separated from us, but they firmly held their ground. They said that the only thing they could do was to upgrade me to a suite for an additional cost of 300 Euros. Eventually, the hotel agreed to lower its surcharge to 200 Euros for a three-night stay. We had a miserable time in Brussels and had to cut short our sightseeing activities to somehow compensate for this extra expense. In short, they ruined my vacation. Can you please help us? — Hari Doraisamy, Newtown Square, Pa. Answer: The hotel shouldn’t have forced you to upgrade. I reviewed your correspondence, and it appears that you did almost everything you could to alert Marriott that you were traveling with your family. Something may have gotten lost in the translation. Many hotels — and this is particularly true in Europe — only allow two people per room. Maximum occupancy is often set by fire codes, not the property. It’s unlikely the Brussels Marriott was trying to pull a fast one. Rather, it wanted to ensure you and your family were in a room that met government requirements. What got lost in the translation? I blame the Marriott.com website. When you made the initial reservation, you tried to choose four guests but the system would only accept two. You inquired about the problem, and were left with the impression that it was a glitch in the system. So you chose two guests, believing that the site was asking for the number of adults — not the total number of people in the room. In the States, when a room is listed as “double occupancy” it often means you’re getting two beds. And hotels don’t mind having a few extra kids in the room or wheeling a crib in for a baby. But when you’re traveling overseas, hotels sometimes see things differently. Either they want to monetize every guest or local fire codes prohibit them from allowing more than two people from occupying the room. Someone should have alerted you to that. You followed all the right steps to get this resolved, appealing your case in writing to Marriott. I do think you may have overlooked one thing, and that was trying to get this fixed when you checked in. You asked a manager to review your request, but you might have also made a quick call to Marriott. I notice that you’re an elite-level frequent guest with Marriott, and it seems to me someone should have been able to help you. Once you agreed to pay the 200-Euro upgrade, your options for getting this fixed were limited … but not without hope. I contacted Marriott on your behalf, and it agreed to a full refund of the upgrade charge, plus 10,000 points by way of an apology. (Photo: lew ishamd reamer/Flickr Creative Commons) FacebookTwitterGoogle+Pinterest Christopher ElliottChristopher Elliott is an author, journalist and consumer advocate. You can read more about him on his personal website or contact him at email@example.com. Got a question or comment? You can post it on our help forum.More Posts - Website - Twitter - Facebook - LinkedIn - Google Plus Tom Reminds me of the guy last week when the “computer” wouldn’t let him schedule connecting flights close together, but he worked around the computer and lost. Here the “computer” wouldn’t let him book four people in one bed. A computer glich, he figured. That other countries might have different laws and customs is an inconvenience. He should read Mark Twain’s book “Innocents Abroad.” Thanks for getting him a refund. Meg How great of you to intervene on behalf of this family! Based on what was presented I too believe that the Mariott was at fault for this mix up. You cannot expect any parent to let their child under the age of 10 stay in a separate room on a trip away from home, it would be irresponsible. And the fact that their child also has autism adds to the need for him to be with his parents and feel safe in a strange place. Shame on Mariott for not fixing this during their trip! Kudos to you Chris for standing up and making Mariott responsible! Monica If the website wouldn’t allow him to book the whole family in one room, that should have raised some flags. I never would assume it was just a glitch. In my experience, it’s usually the operators, not the programs, that are the problem. When he had a problem, he should have called Marriott directly to book his rooms. I can’t blame him for not knowing foreign occupancy rules. I certainly wouldn’t have thought they were different. But if the hotel’s website wouldn’t let me book a room with the three of us, then I would have probably looked somewhere else. Absherlock I have to agree. Making an assumption in a case like this (travelling overseas with an autistic child) is just asking for problems. If there’s ever any doubt, call (and make sure you get the name of the person you spoke to). MikeZ He properly put in the number of adult guests, which was 2. The fact that there wasn’t an option for kids could have just been an oversight on the booking tool and not an indication that the max occupancy was 2 people per room. So this means in Europe a couple with one child is expected to get two rooms? It would seem to me that the OP booked what he thought was a correct room but that the hotel itself for some reason charges extra for a room with two beds. I also find troubling that for someone travelling to Europe with a family that $300 would cause such a problem that they could not complete their planned activities. If you are that cash tight, perhaps Europe shouldn’t be the #1 travel destination. Pauletteb If he’s an elite-level traveler, he should know how to book a room! It’s nice that you got him a refund (and Marriott gave him a bonus), but I think you spent your time and effort on someone who was less than deserving of it. As travelers, The onus is on us to know the rules, especially outside the U.S. If he’s that naive about European travel, he should have used a TA. This guy would be a perfect example for that “Odd Couple” episode about “assume.” Arizona Road Warrior “I blame the Marriott.com website. When you made the initial reservation, you tried to choose four guests but the system would only accept two.” – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – I went to the Marriott.com website and entered four guests for various hotels in Europe this morning including the one that the OP stayed at. I received a message of “The hotels available on your dates cannot accommodate 4 guests per room.” I called the reservation number for Marriott Platinum members and was told that the room was limited to two guests. When I have traveled to Europe and Asia with my family, it has been common with hotels (i.e. Holiday Inn, Marriott, Radisson, SPG, etc.) that rooms are limited to two guests. “You inquired about the problem, and were left with the impression that it was a glitch in the system. So you chose two guests, believing that the site was asking for the number of adults — not the total number of people in the room.” – – – – – – – – – – – – – – This piece of information was NOT disclosed in the OP side of the story. Who did he spoke with? Marriott website support department? Marriott general hotel reservation line? Marriott elite line? It seems to me that the problem was he spoke with someone that didn’t look at the room limitations at the hotel NOT a problem with the website. As a Marriott Platinum Reward member for several years (have stayed over 1,000 nights in the past ten years), their website is very clear about the number of guests (i.e. the total number of people in the room). For years, the Marriott website has disclosed the number of guests allowed in a room (i.e. 4 guests; 6 guests in a room at a Residence Inn; etc.). Again, the problem is NOT with the website but with someone (which wasn’t disclosed in the article) that was too lazy to look up the room rate or etc. The bottom line is that Marriott did refund the difference back to the OP which is NOT the typical service that most hotels would have done in this situation. Arizona Road Warrior Before you throw Marriott in front of the bus, we didn’t receive the whole story. In the OP side of the story, nothing was mentioned that he contacted Marriott when he received a message that the he couldn’t booked a room for four guests…we only read it in Chris response to the OP. I have been staying at Marriott brand hotels since the 90s and they have already treated me right and when I had encountered a problem (which have been only a few), I have always been compensated to my requests, satisfacation, etc. phil Actually Hari did not do all that could have been done to ensure he/she had the proper room. When the Marriott web site would not book the two adults and two children, he/she could have picked up the phone and called the Marriott 800 number, given the reservation agent the correct number of people staying in the room and in turn would have received the correct room rate and the correct information for the number of people staying in the room. Here’s another case of someone who does thinks he/she knows it all when using the internet for bookings. Arizona Road Warrior “He properly put in the number of adult guests, which was 2.” – – – – – – – – – – For several years, the Marriott website has NEVER asked for adult guests…it has always asked for the number of guests for a room. I have booked over 1,000 nights at the Marriott website in the past ten years and it has been clear about the number of guests for a room. I agree with you that if a traveler is that cash tight that perhaps Europe shouldn’t be the # 1 travel destination. Dsimundson Here is an example of yesterday’s column in action where elite level customers get the rules bent/broken for them. (Which I belive is justified.) The OP tried to pull a fast one (knowingly or unknowingly) by inputing 2 guests on the Marriott reservation website and expected to be accomodated when he showed up with four. It clearly requests total number of guests, not adults. Granted, other hotel chains make a distinction, but when I have put in 2 adults and 2 children on other chains sites, king bedded room availability is not displayed. The local hotel management did the correct thing and Marriott customer service did an admirable job as well. He could have also contacted Marriott customer service while standing at the desk. The OP should be aware that even though he was in the wrong, Marriott went above and beyond. I hope they have won his continued business. I could have done without the references to autistic children and how $300 out of their budget ruined their vaction. I don’t belive either reference supported his plea. (Not that I don’t feel for anyone with autistic children!) Mark K Lesson (maybe) learned. If the website will not let you do something, don’t assume you can do it by fooling the system. I looked on the Marriott website just now and selecting Brussels with one room and 4 guests gave the option of choosing a hotel called “Marriott Apartments” and nothing else. Reducing the number of guests per room to 3 gave me 4 hotel options including the hotel the OP stayed which includes a rollaway in the room for an extra 15 Euro per night. The reservation site does not ask for adults and children as separate counts. I don’t think this could be any clearer that what the OP wanted was not available or allowed. So when he entered 2 as the total number of guests, the room assigned to him was designed for a total of TWO guests, not two adults plus two children. I think he was lucky to get the refund. Arizona Road Warrior “Granted, other hotel chains make a distinction, but when I have put in 2 adults and 2 children on other chains sites, king bedded room availability is not displayed.” – – – – – – – – – – – – When I put in 3 guests (i.e. when my wife and son travels with me on business or a family vacation) on the Marriott website, it only shows rooms that can accomodate three guests like 1) king bed with a sofa bed; 2) queen bed with a sofa bed; 3) two gueens; etc. Arizona Road Warrior It amazes me when travelers travel outside of the US and expect that everything will be like the US. It is like first-time travelers that travels to Europe and discovered that the hotel rooms are much smaller than the hotel rooms in the US; there are no A/C in the hotel room; beverages are served warm; etc. If travelers do research (i.e. Internet, reading travel guides, etc.) and/or deal with a competent travel agent, they can have the proper expectations when traveling abroad. Linda I’m not sure why the choice of using two rooms would have required children staying alone – why couldn’t mom stay with one and dad with the other? If the rooms were adjoining or even nearby, seems like it would have worked pretty well. Of course it still would have been an additional cost, which was obviously what the OP was hoping to avoid. Tom 40 years ago, some motel chains in the United States began advertising that kids stay free in the parents room. That offering caught on and is now available at most hotels in the United States. It’s so commonly offerred that it is seldom advertised. That does not mean, however, that hotels outside the United States allow kids to stay free in their parents room. It’s like how they charge extra for coffee with milk in Europe, but the milk is provided at no additional cost in the US. Waterqween You need to read better. As Chris mentions, “You inquired about the problem, and were left with the impression that it was a glitch in the system.” So no, the OP did not ASSUME anything – he ASKED about the problem. But then, you’re one of those “business is always right” types. Nancy Marine Dickinson Okay, it seems we’re getting bogged down with the minutiae. No, the OP didn’t say he checked into it and was led to believe it was a glitch – Chris did. Having been the center of one of his postings, there is a lot of back and forth between Chris and the person who contacted him. Just because the OP doesn’t say it, and Chris does, this doesn’t mean it wasn’t discussed or done. It just means Chris, in the interest of preserving space, is (basically) telling the story as an abridged version. I’m perfectly fine with Chris doing that and I understand his doing so. Why do readers demand all writers write a soliloquy when the Reader’s Digest version should suffice? This, IMHO, is a continuation of Chris’s column from the other day about frequent flyer programs and perks. There’s a reason the hotels make this distinction now with regard to their elite programs. They want their most frequent users to keep coming back. My husband spends about 200 nights a year with the Marriott chain. We used some of his points when our son and his family were coming to visit us for Christmas just before they were PCSing to S. Korea. They got to the San Antonio Riverwalk hotel and were told they had to pay $25 a day for parking. My husband called the Marriott Platinum line, discussed it with them and the charges were removed. End of story. People get so bogged down in details the original message is lost to them with these postings sometimes. The point of the story wasn’t that the poster was told it was a glitch, it’s that the OP did what he thought was his due diligence and it wasn’t enough. He asked Chris for help and it worked. Also, as far as getting rooms in Europe with a crib, roller bed or sofa bed in them – uh, apparently the person posting that doesn’t travel to Europe often. I’ve never been in a hotel room in Europe that had a sofa bed, nor do they offer roller beds as a norm – cribs (called cots) are not as uncommon, usually with an additional fee. However, rooms in Europe tend towards the smaller side when compared to US hotels. Sofa beds just aren’t that common there. In the event of a fire, people would be stumbling over beds set up all over the place and someone could get hurt or worse. I feel the only mistake the OP made was not calling Marriott’s customer service line when he had problems making the reservation he wanted, especially since he’s an elite member. My husband is Platinum with Marriott, their highest level, and he uses the Platinum toll-free line for both making reservations and resolving problems. Platinum members have a dedicated line. The CSRs on these elite member lines are trained to basically bend over backwards to keep these members happy. Always use the dedicated toll-free numbers if you’re above the level of the average traveler. Brooklyn I agree with your general comment, but I’ve travelled extensively all over the world and never knew about the 2-to-a-room rule. You can’t possibly imagine every single thing that might be different in the country you’re planning to visit! If international hotel chains want foreign visitors, they should include in their web sites a prominent display of this kind of thing – for example, the fact the room has no A/C or that local law doesn’t allow more than two people to a room. Americans account for a large percentage of international travellers and while there are far too many “ugly Americans” abroad, hotels should make an effort to explain policies that might reasonably be unknown to a large percentage of their potential clients. Wrona Why would you assume they were only asking the number of adults in the room? The only time I would assume that is if there was a separate option to enter the number of kids. Even in the US, most sites ask for the total number of people in the room so you can get the correct number of beds. Even in the US there are hotel rooms that can only accommodate two people – it’s not a foreign thing. thebadgers8 This is Europe, not the US. Things are very different there. It is not allowed to bring in an extra bed or have extra people sleep in the room if it is licensed for 2. As said before, do your homework before you go. Know how things work, and if you can’t afford to take two little kids with you, then don’t. Europe is expensive. A couple hundred Euro shouldn’t ruin your whole vacation, or you shouldn’t have gone in the first place. Marriott didn’t need to give that refund, another hotel chain wouldn’t have because they were right. Wrona Tom, even in the US, you still have to input all the number of guests, if only to get the correct number of beds in the room, even if the price doesn’t change. Asiansm Dan Nothing to do the case but… I have a California friend who visited Venice in Italy and he was very disappointed and felt cheated then said :”Why Venice in Italy don’t look like the Venice in Las Vegas?” Asiansm Dan Traveling in Europe is a stressful experience (specially pricey Brussels) but traveling with in Europe with an autistic child is a total hardship (I know it because I have autistic nephew). Plus another child, the OP are very brave and loving parents and Marriott should accomodate them on first account because the suite is available. I truly believe they partly ruin the OP family vacation. I felt the 10000 points is not enough compensation for an Elite member. A total refund or a future free stay would be more appropriate. bodega Double Occupancy does not mean two beds, it means two people in a room. At this hotel, when you put in for 4 people, as others have stated, it clearly states that this hotel does not allow 4 in a room. When you put in for 3 people, it provides rate information and the bedding states, one king or two singles, which raises a red flag to me, but from this you would assume 3 are allowed, yet I never went through with a reservation to know if it catches it in the final booking process on the website. Usually, smaller European hotels are more limiting, but we are finding more and more European hotels to accommodate more than 2, even in some of their smaller rooms. Sheraton, Hyatt, Holiday Inn, Marriott, etc are ones that normally are more accommodating for families. but it does vary. Crissy Maybe the OP did try to go around the system by only saying 2 people. But from the abreviated story told by Chris, that’s not what happened. If there was a miscommunication then Marriott should refund their money. But I would agree that if $300 is going to make or break your trip, then you probably shouldn’t take the trip. Travelers should always have a buffer of money incase something happens. JJWeldon Cut your trip short due to a larger room (albeit at a price)??? I’ve seen some stupid things in my life and this one is right up there. Christopher Elliott Thanks for all the comments and additional sleuthing. This is precisely why I have features like “Can this trip be saved” et al — so that you can tell me whether or not to mediate a case. But on Troubleshooter, I’ve already made the decision to help. Can’t go back and un-mediate. DonnaE You say “In the States, when a room is listed as “double occupancy” it often means you’re getting two beds.” I’ve been booking hotels for clients for 30 years and in hotel parlance, double occupancy means 2 people; it doesn’t address the number of beds. That is a separate issue. People need to realize that computers are not programmed for every possible situation and sometimes you have to pick up a phone for a person to person contact. While sympathetic to how the unexpected costs and how that might have impacted the budget, when he says ” We had a miserable time in Brussels…” I’m not sympathetic. He chose to have a miserable time rather than making the best of a situation he couldn’t control. Guest who goes to a travel agent to book a hotel in a major city? I sure as heck wouldn’t. The posting says he inquired WITH Marriott why he couldn’t put 4 people on the booking, they told him the number was just adults. Floppy Regardless of what OP was told, a rule is a rule (especially when it is for fire code or the like). Americans can be such fegs when it comes to expecting everything to be like in Amerika or feeling that they should be exempt from fees like this. and @facebook-540957879:disqus , that’s a total win! Guest The story says that Chris reviewed, “your correspondence, and it appears that you did almost everything you could to alert Marriott that you were traveling with your family”. It also says that, “When you made the initial reservation, you tried to choose four guests but the system would only accept two. You inquired about the problem, and were left with the impression that it was a glitch in the system”. The OP is NOT the issue here. Guest based upon my reading of the story when the OP couldn’t enter in more than 2 people he called Marriott to ask about it. The story says, “When you made the initial reservation, you tried to choose four guests but the system would only accept two. You inquired about the problem, and were left with the impression that it was a glitch in the system”. He had an issue and he CALLED to ask about it. Guest The bit about the inquiry is in where Chris reviewed the correspondence between the OP and Marriott. It’s all VERY clear in the story. Chris in NC What troubles me is that there is a run of cases where the OP tried to book something by the Internet, encountered a problem, ASSUMED there wasn’t a problem, then encountered a problem. Perhaps the lesson should be, if you encounter a problem while attempting an Internet booking, STOP, call a live agent or a competent travel agent. While I do the majority of my bookings online, there are instances where I still need to speak with a real live person. AARGH! The “200-euro surcharge” in the title is extremely misleading. The OP was NOT charged a surcharge, he had to upgrade the room because the room was the wrong type and could not legally accommodate the number of registered guests. Additionally, this was for 3 nights, so to upgrade from a room with 1 king bed to a “suite” with 2 sets of beds for only 66 Euros a night is a bargain in my opinion. BTW, this situation is NOT unique to Europe. There are Marriott properties in the US where the room type is 1 king bed. If you have 3 guests listed, it will NOT show you these room types as available for booking. These room types CLEARLY state “cannot accommodate roll-away bed, maximum 2 guests per room” Finally, not all reservations can be booked on-line. AZ Road Warrior, correct me if I’m wrong, but I have not been able to find a way to book Marriott MegaBonus certificates online. I’ve always had to call and have a sales rep book it. Carver What’s stupid about that? The OP had a budget which appeared to be somewhat limited and rigid. Accordingly he had to cut the trip short to stay within budget. Carver Arizona I take a different perspective. I don’t think it is at all unreasonable for someone to be mistaken as to adults v. all guests. Particularly for Americans. I don’t know any major American chain that doesn’t accomodate at least 2 parents and 2 minor children as the norm. Every American chain I’ve stayed at, the pricing is based upon the number of adults in the room. Minors, babies, etc. are almost non-entities. Carver Are you saying that there are hotels in the US that can accomodate 2 adults but not a child sharing the bed. Must be very very rare. Carver I just re-read Chris’ column. It seems that many of us, including myself, must have skimmed the article and not read it thoroughly as the comments seem to suggest that the OP either tried to game the system or was stupid. Yet the column clearly states that the OP called and was left with the impression that it was a glitch. IF that is true AND the OPs impression was reasonable, then case closed, Marriott is wrong for misleading him. After calling (I assume Marriott) and being assured that room could accomodate 2 adults and 2 children, what else should the OP? badbadwebbis 300 EUROS, which is around $500-600.00. And presumably, since he had made the travel arrangements in advance, they were traveling on a pre-determined budget. If I got hit with a $600.00 additional fee while in Europe, it would certainly make me change some of my plans. Mark K I made the comment about rollaway being available because it is offered on the Mariott website for the exact hotel the OP stayed at and is a selectable option for a stated charge of 15 Euro a night. Whether such a thing is actually available or not I don’t know as I have never stayed in that hotel. I do know that the hotel I did stay in in Brussels, right across the street from that Marriott, did provide rollaways in several of the rooms the group I traveled with occupied last year. Each room in that hotel was a different size and shape and many of those rooms could not accomodate an additional bed. I know that is the norm in most European hotels (no rollaways) because most simply do not have the extra floor space. Even so, I have been in Prague, Berlin, Vienna, London, and Amsterdam where the small privately owned non-chain hotels I stayed in did have rooms where they provided rollaways to accomodate more than 2 in a room. Still doesn’t give the OP enough beds for his 4 in a single room. Bill I don’t blame Marriott for this at all, and especially not the website. I put the blame squarely on the person making the booking. Ususally, when I travel, it is 2 people in a room. Sometimes, it is 5. In the USA and Europe, the website has always (whenever I’ve tried it) come up with answers like “There are no rooms available that can accommodate 5 persons”. It may well be frustrating that the hotel has mostly two person rooms, but they are built a certain way, and fire codes don’t change for “special needs” children. In fact, that’s one reason they are there. I strongly, strongly advice travelling with more than a 200 euro buffer for possible problems on a trip to Europe, particularly when travelling with kids. What if someone had been put in the hospital and they had to stay an extra week?? Carver My bad, OP actually is asking too much when I read this again. Marriott is well within their rights and OP is being naive and unreasonable. Arizona Road Warrior Carver, there have been several articles (i.e. the guy with 6 kids that squeezes the whole family into a single room) on this blog and its sister site, Consumer Traveler, over the years about people complaining about hotels in the US that the rates goes higher when there are three guests in the room, four guests in the room, etc. I know that most if not all Marriott brand hotels in the US charge the same rate if there are one guest, two guests, three guests and four guests…there are a lot of hotels that charges more when there are two guests. I went to six hotels websites: Marriott: # of guests Hilton: # of adults and # of children SPG: # of adults Holiday Inn: # of adults and # of children Choice Hotels: # of adults and # of children Best Western: # of guests that are 18 YO or older and # of guests that are 17 YO and younger I know that you book rooms with SPG based upon past comments that you have posted but the rest of these hotel chains goes either by the # of guests or the # of adults and # of children. Arizona Road Warrior The issue is safety and wear and tear of the room. During spring break, the hotels in Florida want to make sure that only four individuals are in the room because of safety (what if there was a fire and someone couldn’t get out because of too many people in the room) as well as excessive wear and tear. What if someone put too many people in the room and there was a fire and someone die because they couldn’t get out due to the number of people. I am sure that their estate will be the one of the first to file a lawsuit. Arizona Road Warrior “The point of the story wasn’t that the poster was told it was a glitch…” – – – – – – – – – – – If that was the point of the story…then who told him that it was a glitch? Was it the Marriott Web Support Department? Was it the Marriott General Reservation line? Was it the Marriott Elite line? Chris wrote “I blame the Marriott.com website.” which is totally incorrect. The Marriott website was correct. The person to blame is the person (which was never disclosed in the article) that told the OP that it was a glitch. Since the identity (i.e. web support, general reservation, elite reservation, etc.) of the person who allegedly told the OP that it was a glitch wasn’t disclosed in the article, it raised a red flag for some of the readers of this blog including me. Something like “I called the elite reservation line and was told that it was a glitch” won’t have added that much additional space to the story. Until the person who told the OP that it was a glitch is disclosed then I will have doubts. If that was the case that the OP called the elite reservation line, my next question would have been why the OP didn’t made the reservation with the elite reservation line CSR when he was on the phone with them? There is no cost to do that. If the Marriott elite reservation line CSR tried to make the reservation with their in-house reservation system with four guests, it would have returned the same error that appeared on their online website. My main complaint with Chris is that he takes everything from the travelers that are requesting his assistance as the gospel and doesn’t do enough ‘research’ on their statementsclaimseventsetc. As a long-time reader of this blog, I have read articles where the traveler in aid stated that the airline website doesn’t show the expiration of their FF miles which Chris took as gospel only to read several comments from readers stating that the website shows the expiration date of the FF miles. Less than a minute on the airline website would have revealed this information. I doubt that Chris ever went to the Marriott website to check it out. As a long-time Marriott customer, I think that they did the right thing with the refund and the points. cjr001 “he/she could have picked up the phone and called the Marriott 800 number” Based on what Chris said in the story, that was in fact done. Josh I’m a big fan of researching and booking online, and generally not a big believer in using third party agents (partially because I find I’m more likely to get inaccurate information from them). However, you have to be willing to do *all* the research, and follow up on things not answered there. If you go to the Marriott site for this hotel, the only normal rooms are listed as “1 King or 2 Twin/Single Beds”, and 291 square feet, which would tell me right away that it doesn’t have space for a rollaway. It sounds like the family was planning to have all 4 share a king bed, which many families do at home. And many hotels don’t really ask many questions, probably depending on how strict their local code/fire authorities are with them. However, since it’s not considered a “standard” occupancy, the OP really needed to clearly ask the hotel itself, preferably with a written followup, to confirm that 2 adults + 2 children would be allowed to stay in that room. Arizona Road Warrior Last September, we went to China to visit the World Expo. I made a reservation at a SPG hotel where the occupancy was limited to two guests. I called SPG, e-mailed SPG as well as sent an e-mail to the general manager of the hotel stating that there will be three of us (one being our then 4-YO son) and please confirm if that was going to be a problem. I didn’t want to show up and have a problem. There is nothing wrong with the Marriott website and it was correct. If you enter the correct number of guests, it will tell you which rooms are available based upon the number of guests. It wasn’t disclosed in the article who told the OP that the problem was a glich which raises a red flag for me…why wasn’t it disclosed? That was the person that made the mistake. We have a cousin that is confined to a wheelchair. They (his wife, his parents and his three adult children) went on a cruise to Alaska and everyone had a blast. They decided to take another cruise…this time to the Caribbean. He didn’t like it because most of the ports and islands that they visited were not wheelchair friendly. If they dealt with a travel agent and/or done some research, they would have discovered that there are countries don’t have the same wheelchair access laws like the US. It is my opinion that if you are traveling outside of the US, you have special needs, you are traveling with young children, etc, consult with a travel agent and/or do some research on your own before going. Arizona Road Warrior When traveling outside of the US, it is my recommendation to use a travel agent or consult with a travel agent. Furthermore, if you (or a party in your group) have a special need; you are traveling with young children; you have a medical condition; etc., I think that it is prudent to use a travel agent especially one that specializes with travelers with special needs, etc. In regards to the OP contacting Marriott, nothing was disclosed in the article on WHO he contacted. The only thing that I saw was Chris slamming the Marriott website for being wrong which it wasn’t. Until the ‘name’ (i.e. Marriott web support; Marriott general reservation; Marriott elite) is disclosed, I have doubts that we are getting the whole story. If he contacted Marriott, why didn’t he made the reservation with the person who told him incorrectly that the website has a glich and that CSR could have entered four guests instead of going back to the website and book the reservation for two guests? There is no extra fee to book a reservation with a Marriott CSR. Arizona Road Warrior If he contacted Marriott, why didn’t he made the reservation with the person who told him incorrectly that the website has a glich and that CSR could have entered four guests in order to have a correct reservation instead of going back to the website and book the reservation for two guests? There is no extra fee to book a reservation with a Marriott CSR. Until the ‘name’ (i.e. Marriott web support; Marriott general reservation; Marriott elite) is disclosed, I have doubts that we are getting the whole story. I am NOT one of those “business is always right” types. I have been a long time reader of this blog and have read several articles where the travelers didn’t disclosed the whole story…only their side of the story to get their refund, change their reservation, etc. Arizona Road Warrior Did he contact the general manager of the hotel where he was staying? When I travel, I will send an e-mail (or fax) to the general manager of the hotel where I or we will be staying especially if we are staying outside of the US; requesting special things like a room on the first floor, a mini-refrigerator, etc; etc. Regardless if he contacted the GM of the hotel before his visit, IF he contacted Marriott, why didn’t he made the reservation with the person who told him incorrectly that the website has a glich and that CSR could have entered four guests in order to have a correct reservation instead of going back to the website and book the reservation for two guests? There is no extra fee to book a reservation with a Marriott CSR. I have doubts that we are getting the whole story until the ‘name’ (i.e. Marriott web support; Marriott general reservation; Marriott elite) is disclosed. I think that there was an incompetent CSR who told the OP incorrectly information as well as I think it is a possibility that the OP could have been tyring to scam the system…without the facts, it is hard to judge…we can only speculate. Arizona Road Warrior I agree with you. I went to six hotels websites:Marriott: # of guestsHilton: # of adults and # of childrenSPG: # of adultsHoliday Inn: # of adults and # of childrenChoice Hotels: # of adults and # of childrenBest Western: # of guests that are 18 YO or older and # of guests that are 17 YO and younger Arizona Road Warrior We don’t know who the OP spoke with. IF the OP contacted Marriott, why didn’t he made the reservation with the person who told him incorrectly that the website has a glich and that CSR could have entered four guests in order to have a correct reservation instead of going back to the website and book the reservation for two guests? There is no extra fee to book a reservation with a Marriott CSR. There could have been an incompetent Marriott CSR that told the OP the incorrect information. I wish that the hotel chains record their conversations with guests and e-mail that conversation to the guest. This will show incompetent CSRs as well as guest who didn’t listen to what they were told. It will eliminate a lot of these he saidshe said situations. Arizona Road Warrior Who did the OP spoke with a Marriott that told him the website has a glich? That wasn’t disclosed. Also, it was disclosed in the article if he booked the reservation after he spoke with the Marriott CSR. Why didn’t he made the reservation with the person who told him incorrectly that the website has a glich and that CSR could have entered four guests in order to have a correct reservation instead of going back to the website and book the reservation for two guests or keeping the online reservation with the incorrect number of guests if it was already booked? There is no extra fee to book a reservation with a Marriott CSR. It is my guess that the OP spoke with an incompetent Marriott CSR not that the website had a bugerrorfaultetc. as Chris wrote in the article. However, without having the whole story, it gives me doubts. Arizona Road Warrior He didn’t cut the trip (in regards to the number of days)…they reduced their sightseeing activities. SickMomma My assumption here is that the family probably co-sleeps and assumed that since they feel they fit in a king-size bed at home, it didn’t really seem like a big deal when they couldn’t get the website to accept the actual number of people. I think it’s a HUGE difference when you’re talking about young kids who sleep in the same bed as their parents and (as one commenter did) college students cramming as many bodies into a Fort Lauderdale motel room as can physically fit in the room. I fudged that number several times in the U.S. for hotel reservations on the web when we were co-sleeping with an infant or toddler. Why should I pay for a crib or rollaway bed that I’m not going to use? But it also was never an issue when I showed up with the child; I guess that’s a difference between the U.S. and different rules in Europe. It never would have occurred to me that it would have been an issue in Europe, but I also would have been surprised to find a king-size bed there. :) (Clearly, the places I’ve stayed in Europe are NOT as nice as a Marriott, although I stay in Marriott regularly in the U.S.) I do know that you can find “family rooms” in European hotels, although possibly not in American-based chains like Marriott, that have multiple beds. I once ended up in one rather crowded room with one queen bed, one double and two twin beds. andrelot I’m currently living in The Netherlands as an expat. I second to the info Christ wrote: in many countries, Belgium and Netherlands included, there are very strict laws in regard to firing codes and maximum occupancy of a whole property, some of them with tax and licensing implications. It is a different approach than the one take by most US cities, where they give more leeway to properties, which can face sky-high lawsuits if they fail or do any harm. So, while I agree there was some misunderstanding about the allowed occupancy and so on, and that Marriot should have burnt the costs of the upgrade from start, I don’t think this was any “switch and bait” scenario. skoc50 I find it hard to believe that someone who claims to have traveled extensively all over the world has never heard of the limit of 2 to a room. It is VERY common across the world, especially in Europe. Maybe you have never had the need to have more than 2 to a room and therefore have not encountered it personally. But trust me, it is definitely common. I also find it hard to believe that the extra 200 euros somehow “ruined” the OP’s vacation. While I admit the extra 200 euros is an annoyance, if it makes that much difference, maybe they shouldn’t be traveling somewhere where they have to cut corners that closely. skoc50 The exchange rate is about 1.427 which equals about $285 not $600. You’ve exaggerated this a bit. He was hit was a 200 euro additional cost not 300.