Where’s the refund for my nonrefundable hotel room?

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When Russell Regentine cancels his hotel reservation on Expedia, he expects a full refund. So why isn’t he getting it?

Question: I made a reservation through Expedia for five nights at the Palms Resort in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. When I booked the room, Expedia claimed that there was no cancellation fee if canceled prior to Sept. 17. I canceled in July.

I called Expedia, and a representative told me that she would try to negotiate a refund of my $133 deposit. I was put on hold. She came back on the line and said the person she spoke with at the Palms could not give me a refund.

She said she would have a manager call the Palms and try to negotiate a refund, and then let me know the outcome. I have heard nothing for the past two days. I am concerned that Expedia will do nothing and the refund deadline will pass.

I feel that Expedia should disclose its partner’s cancellation fees. Please let me know if there is any action I can take to get my refund. — Russell Regentine, Orlando, Florida

Answer: Neither the Palms nor Expedia should have charged a cancellation fee for your room.

When I went looking for the Palms’ cancellation terms on Expedia, I had a little trouble locating them. As a matter of fact, I found the entire experience to be a little frustrating. Expedia promised “no surprises!” but quoted a price for the Palms that was unavailable. Turns out that on the second screen, Expedia added a mandatory $10-per-night resort fee. (But it had the audacity to claim that both parking and Internet were “free.”)

On the next screen, I learned that my actual rate wasn’t $59 per night, as originally promised, but $87, once all required fees and taxes had been added in.

No surprises. Right.

Tracking down the cancellation terms was even harder. You have to scroll to the bottom of the page and click on a separate link to find out that cancellations or changes made after 6 p.m. (EDT) the day before check-in “are subject to a hotel fee equal to 100% of the total amount paid for the reservation.”

Am I the only one who thinks these booking displays are less than honest? I mean, how many people actually click on the “Rules & Restrictions” link at the very bottom of the page to find out whether their room is refundable?

Come on, Expedia.

Your online agency should have phoned you back promptly with good news. You could have given them a little nudge by writing to one of Expedia’s corporate contacts: http://elliott.org/company-contacts/expedia/. Keeping a good paper trail is always preferable to calling.

I asked Expedia to review your case. It found that your cancellation happened well within the allowable window for — I bite my tongue as I write this — “free” cancellations. “We regret any inconvenience,” a representative told you.

Expedia said your credit card would not be charged the $133.

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 chris@elliott.org. Got a question or comment? You can post it on our help forum.

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  • KanExplore

    Cancellation policies need to be displayed clearly, and the real room cost needs to be displayed clearly. These so-called “resort fees” should be banned unless the consumer can decline the services, which doesn’t seem to be the case here or in most situations.

  • MarkKelling

    Where does it say this reservation was “non refundable”?

  • KanExplore

    Actually the reverse seemed to be true, didn’t it? It was supposed to be refundable and the customer booked it with that assurance in mind. The fact the refund that was promised did NOT happen was what provoked the controversy. I think the practice at this site that the same person who writes the articles doesn’t write the headlines generates some mismatches.