What to do if your hotel doesn’t exist

Darren Bradley/Shutterstock
Darren Bradley/Shutterstock
For just $89 a night, the all-suite hotel in Killeen, Tex., promised Steven Hoybook and his family “European-style luxury” – an offer that seemed too good to pass up.

But Hoybook wishes that he had. When he and his family arrived, they found the hotel’s windows and doors shuttered. “They were out of business,” says Hoybook, who lives in Minneapolis. He couldn’t reach Orbitz, the site through which he’d booked the room, so the family found accommodations at a nearby Marriott, paying $111 a night for a smaller room.

When Hoybook finally reached the online travel agency by phone the next day, a representative “seemed sympathetic, leading us to believe that they would reverse the charge for the closed hotel,” he recalls. But after months of back-and-forth, during which the Hoybooks formally disputed the credit card charge for their first hotel, Orbitz referred their bill to a collection agency.
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Hey, where did my Sprint discount go?

When Denise Mendoza “upgrades” her Sprint account, the discount she had for years is gone. Is there any way to get it back?

Question: I’ve been a Sprint customer since 2003. We’ve had our ups and downs, but I was always able to resolve my issues with them. Until now.

I have had a discount with them since 2005. This May, I responded to an offer to upgrade my account at a lower rate.

When I called, they said the offer was for new customers only.

“What about old customers?” I asked. “Shouldn’t you give someone who’s been loyal to you that price?”

A representative agreed to waive the rule and I signed a new two-year contract. The sales manager told me nothing would change on my account, except the rate.
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Should my airline compensate me for a lost cruise?

Andrew Gentry/Shutterstock
Andrew Gentry/Shutterstock

It started with a simple misunderstanding.

Christine Lagasse and her companions had checked in for their early morning US Airways flight from Manchester, NH, to Philadelphia, enroute to a Caribbean cruise. They walked to the gate indicated on the boarding passes they’d printed at the airline counter.

Or so they thought.

“Our boarding passes showed that our gate was number 9,” she says. “We were all sitting there wondering why there weren’t many people around and when it got to be 4:50 a.m., we didn’t see anyone at the podium.”

That’s because their gate had been moved, minus any announcements. By the time they discovered the change, it was too late.
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Here are a few insider tips for finding what you lost this summer

Stuart Miles/Shutterstock
Stuart Miles/Shutterstock
Don’t lose it this summer. At least not the way Jennifer and Pat Mangold did when they stayed in the Florida Keys last August.

In their hurry to avoid holiday traffic, Mangold left her $680 in cash in their room at the Hampton Inn & Suites Islamorada.

“I didn’t realize this until we were 70 miles away in Key West, on a busy Labor Day weekend,” says Mangold, a nurse practitioner from Philadelphia. “I immediately took my phone out to call the Hampton Inn. I looked at my missed calls and found that they were trying to reach me.”

Turns out, a housekeeper had found the cash. The hotel overnighted it to Key West at no charge.

“We were more than grateful,” says Mangold.
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Is this discount airline ticket a lost cause?

Carole Brown’s airline ticket — or lack of a ticket — is probably a lost cause. But this being Monday, when I present a borderline case, I’m not 100 percent certain of it.
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Do you trust GPS directions?

If you have a driver’s license, chances are that you also have an amusing story about GPS directions.

Here’s mine: A few weeks ago, my family and I were driving from Cayucos, Calif., to Prescott, Ariz., when I noticed that the needle on the fuel gauge was pointing to “empty.” Not a problem, I thought. There must be plenty of service stations between here and Bakersfield.
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Does Sandals owe me anything for deleting my wedding photos?

This is one of the strangest cases I’ve come across in my two decades of fielding consumer complaints. It involves a honeymooning couple’s missing wedding photos, me, and another me.

Rachel Patrick’s destination wedding at Sandals La Toc Golf Resort & Spa in St. Lucia was flawless, except for one little item: her wedding photos, which were taken by a hotel photographer, were missing in action.
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Case dismissed: “American Airlines completely destroyed our stroller”

Like many new parents, Marissa Maland travels with a stroller. Or, should I say traveled with one.

On a recent American Airlines flight from Dallas to Telluride, Colo., with her husband and 17-month-old son, she took every precaution to make sure the $700 stroller would be safe, including spending an extra $90 for a protective case.

It did her no good.
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Can this trip be saved? They lost my great-grandmother’s luggage, and I want it back

Adelle Gloger’s luggage claim may be the strangest case that’s crossed my desk. Ever.

Not only does it involve a railroad (I don’t think I’ve ever gotten a lost-luggage complaint from Amtrak). This one is also more than a century old.

That’s right. One hundred years.

The victim: her great-grandmother, Ida Strakofsky.
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