Michael Donato has a Travel Up problem — and it’s bringing him down. He booked a nonrefundable hotel room in Florida through the site. Then a spring storm blew up his vacation plans. Can he still get a refund?
I recently booked a hotel room at the Sheraton Sand Key in Clearwater Beach, Fla., through a company called Travel Up via Trivago. A Nor’easter prevented me from traveling to Tampa from Philadelphia.
I called Sheraton immediately after my flight cancellation. Sheraton canceled the room and said it would charge me for one day plus an administrative fee, for a total of $389. Travel Up customer service was responsive initially but now has fallen silent. I understand the administrative fee, but charging me for a day seems unethical. Can you help? — Michael Donato, Wildwood Crest, N.J.
I can see how this Travel Up problem would bring you down.
Unfortunately, these types of cancellation charges are common. From a hotel’s perspective, they make sense. They’re not getting the revenue they expected. From a customer’s perspective, not so much — especially if they can’t check in for reasons beyond their control, like a Nor’easter.
Typically, a hotel will waive its cancellation fees after a storm in a place like Florida. But not always.
What’s up with this Travel Up problem?
But the answer to your Travel Up problem was with Travel Up. When our advocate, Michelle Couch-Friedman, contacted the company, even it didn’t know who charged the fee. Four different parties handled your reservation, including the hotel, an online agency, a reseller, and a tour operator. Whew!
What’s the benefit of all these intermediaries? I can’t really think of any — except, maybe, to the intermediaries.
If there’s a takeaway from your case, it’s this: Never assume the company taking your reservation controls it. Like a mortgage, it seems it can be transferred all over the place. Buyer beware.
I find this confusion as maddening as you. If you’re doing business with one company, it should take responsibility for the product. Full stop. Instead, you have to go on a fact-finding mission to discover who actually has your reservation, and who charged you a fee.
In the end, Travel Up found your reservation. A Spanish tour operator called Jumbo Tours had it. Travel Up spoke with the company on your behalf, and Jumbo issued a full refund.