Dispute w/Chase Resolved in Favor of Hotels.com - - Fair?

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Dec 19, 2017
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#1
On 9/8/17 I was helping my adult daughter comply with a mandatory evacuation order as she lives in southeast Georgia, directly in the path of what was then Hurricane Irma. As we drove north, we used the hotels.com app on my phone to book a hotel reservation, which were difficult to secure due to the emergency. Finally we booked at a LaQuinta Inn in what we thought was Columbus, Georgia. When we arrived, we were told they had no rooms available and it was then that we realized we'd mistakenly booked for a LaQuinta in Columbus, Ohio. When we finally did find a hotel, approximately 3 hours after the initial reservation was made, I called the hotel in Columbus, Ohio to explain the mistake and was told they would not process the charge as they didn't even have my credit card information. I then sent an e-mail to hotels.com, explained the mistake, and requested that they not process the charge. When I eventually did return to my home some 10 days later, I called hotels.com when I did not see the credit post to my Chase Visa account. An automated message said that the credit would go through but would take 3 or 4 days to process. On 9/23/17, when the credit still had not posted, I managed to speak with a live representative at hotels.com and her supervisor, both of whom told me they had no record of me canceling the reservation and therefore I was being charged the "no show" fee of $135.56, essentially the price of the hotel room. I disputed the charge with Chase who provided me a temporary credit. I faxed, e-mailed and sent paper copies of all of the documentation I had compiled, including a copy of the phone call I'd made to Ohio and a copy of the e-mail I'd sent to hotels.com, approximately 3 hours after the error was made. Last week Chase advised me that because the merchant "has no record of you canceling the request within policy guidelines" the charge would be re-instated on my account. This despite the fact that I actually PROVIDED the so-called investigator the proof that I'd canceled the reservation via telephone and e-mail. I have since filed a complaint with the CFPB and the FTC. I have also sent a certified letter to Chase card member services requesting that they re-open the dispute and re-evaluated their decision.

In my mind, this goes beyond poor customer service; I provided evidence to the Chase investigation team that I had contacted both the hotel (in Ohio) and hotels.com via e-mail. I don't understand how they could conclude that the "merchant had no proof that I'd canceled the reservation" when I provided it to them through e-mail, fax and their card services membership P.O. Box.

I would appreciate any input, advice, opinions regarding this issue. I am only asking that the $135.56 I was charged for a hotel room I reserved in error, be credited to my Visa account. I have two credit cards through Chase because I was always impressed with how their team advocated for the consumer, provided the evidence substantiated the claim. I am wondering now if the bank deserves my business and my recommendation.
 

Patina

Verified Member
Dec 22, 2015
1,175
1,957
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#2
My guess is you called the hotel directly to cancel but did not call hotels.com, your travel agent? If that is the case then Chase is correct in its assessment, per the terms of your agreement with hotels.com, you owe the money.

But! You may have a little luck if you write a polite, professional but brief email to the execs of hotels.com and request a credit for a future stay. Your chances of some accommodation to your situation are enhanced when you do not ask for a refund. The email addresses of the execs can be found in the link at the top of the forum page titled Company Contacts. Write to only one at a time waiting one week or more for a reply before moving to the next name on the list.

Good luck!
 
Dec 19, 2017
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#3
Thank you for your help, Patina. Yes, did call the hotel in Columbus, Ohio to tell them the reservation was made in error but I also e-mailed hotels.com shortly thereafter. I sent the e-mail to "confirmation@mail.hotels.com" which is the only e-mail address accessible on their site. So, within 3 hours of having made the mistaken reservation, hotels.com knew it was made in error.

I read on this site that it isn't prudent to e-mail the corporate heads until you've exhausted all other avenues. So, that's what I'm trying to do, in asking Chase to re-open the dispute and by filing complaints with government agencies.

I appreciate the support!
 
R

Realitoes

Guest
#4
I faxed, e-mailed and sent paper copies of all of the documentation I had compiled, including a copy of the phone call I'd made to Ohio and a copy of the e-mail I'd sent to hotels.com, approximately 3 hours after the error was made. Last week Chase advised me that because the merchant "has no record of you canceling the request within policy guidelines" the charge would be re-instated on my account. This despite the fact that I actually PROVIDED the so-called investigator the proof that I'd canceled the reservation via telephone and e-mail. I have since filed a complaint with the CFPB and the FTC. I have also sent a certified letter to Chase card member services requesting that they re-open the dispute and re-evaluated their decision.

In my mind, this goes beyond poor customer service; I provided evidence to the Chase investigation team that I had contacted both the hotel (in Ohio) and hotels.com via e-mail. I don't understand how they could conclude that the "merchant had no proof that I'd canceled the reservation" when I provided it to them through e-mail, fax and their card services membership P.O. Box.
What was the cancellation policy for the booking? If it was a same day booking, since you used Hotels.com, chances are you were already within the cancellation period.
 
Likes: jsn55
Dec 19, 2017
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#5
Thank you for that question, Realitoes. I don't know what the actual window is, with regard to canceling a reservation; I'm assuming if it's done with a reasonable amount of time (in this case 3 hours) and for a legitimate reason (again, my mistake due to a Category 4 hurricane bearing down on the east coast) it should be honored. Where is the human factor in all of this?
That's what is truly appalling about this entire situation. It would seem to me that common decency, if nothing else, would prevail here. We were literally driving out of the path of a hurricane and booked in Columbus, Ohio, instead of Columbus, Georgia. SMH. Does Expedia think it's legitimate to make money from someone's mistake, made in such a desperate situation?
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
11,665
12,004
113
New York
www.promalvacations.com
#6
I am betting that when you booked, if it was a same day reservation, you were already in the cancellation period when you booked it OR you booked a non refundable rate. What does your confirmation say?. Many hotels require you to cancel a reservation 48 - 72 hours before arriving. If that's the case, this is why they aren't refunding you.

I actually just went into hotels.com and tried to do a same day booking for all the La Quintas - the only rates I got were all non refundable rates. I am willing to bet that yours were as well.
 
Likes: jsn55
Sep 19, 2015
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#7
I am not sure that sending an email to the confirmation email is a proper way to cancel. Those are usually outgoing only emails that are generated when a room is booked.

The process to cancel is listed below.


Cancel your hotel booking


To cancel your hotel booking
  1. Sign in to your Hotels.com account.
  2. Go to Manage your bookings.
  3. Choose the booking you wish to cancel.
  4. Select Cancel Room.
If you booked without a Hotels.com account
  1. Fill out the Find your bookings form and submit.
  2. Select the Cancel Room link for the booking you wish to cancel.
Good to know
  • If you don't see the Cancel Room option or need assistance cancelling your booking, contact Hotels.com for help.
  • Secret Prices are subject to the same cancellation policies as any other booking.
  • Hotels.com doesn't charge for cancellations, but the hotel may charge you a cancellation fee. Before you cancel your booking, check the hotel's change and cancellation policy in your confirmation email.
  • We process refunds within 24 hours. For additional details, see Refunds on hotel bookings.
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
11,665
12,004
113
New York
www.promalvacations.com
#8
I am not sure that sending an email to the confirmation email is a proper way to cancel. Those are usually outgoing only emails that are generated when a room is booked.

The process to cancel is listed below.


Cancel your hotel booking


To cancel your hotel booking
  1. Sign in to your Hotels.com account.
  2. Go to Manage your bookings.
  3. Choose the booking you wish to cancel.
  4. Select Cancel Room.
If you booked without a Hotels.com account
  1. Fill out the Find your bookings form and submit.
  2. Select the Cancel Room link for the booking you wish to cancel.
Good to know
  • If you don't see the Cancel Room option or need assistance cancelling your booking, contact Hotels.com for help.
  • Secret Prices are subject to the same cancellation policies as any other booking.
  • Hotels.com doesn't charge for cancellations, but the hotel may charge you a cancellation fee. Before you cancel your booking, check the hotel's change and cancellation policy in your confirmation email.
  • We process refunds within 24 hours. For additional details, see Refunds on hotel bookings.
Very good information!
 
Dec 19, 2017
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#10
You may be correct, Neil; thank you for your feedback. I think a lot of the rates on hotels.com are 'non-refundable' because they do charge your card when you make the reservation. Perhaps that constitutes a 'non-refundable' reservation, at least according to hotels.com. And yes, it was definitely a same day reservation, so if there was any sort of cancellation window, maybe I wasn't eligible because I did book 3 hours before I e-mailed them reporting my error.

It just astounds me that given the circumstances, the fact that I notified both the hotel and hotels.com of my error, within 3 hours of having made the mistake, provided all documentation to Chase, the bank determined that the charge was valid because "the merchant wasn't notified" of the cancelation as per their policy.
Well, if hotels.com's policy is not to read e-mails, not to have an accessible phone number on the site where a consumer can speak with a live human being, then how exactly does one contact them to abide by the cancelation policy?

Unless, that's their objective.
 
R

Realitoes

Guest
#11
Thank you for that question, Realitoes. I don't know what the actual window is, with regard to canceling a reservation; I'm assuming if it's done with a reasonable amount of time (in this case 3 hours) and for a legitimate reason (again, my mistake due to a Category 4 hurricane bearing down on the east coast) it should be honored. Where is the human factor in all of this?
That's what is truly appalling about this entire situation. It would seem to me that common decency, if nothing else, would prevail here. We were literally driving out of the path of a hurricane and booked in Columbus, Ohio, instead of Columbus, Georgia. SMH. Does Expedia think it's legitimate to make money from someone's mistake, made in such a desperate situation?
If you agreed to the non-refundable booking at time of purchase, it is not easy getting the company to provide a refund. As far as they are concerned, you had an opportunity to review the terms of the booking and the property information at the time of purchase. This is especially true when booking through a 3rd party, as it adds another layer to the mix. Any request of refund will need to go through the 3rd party to the hotel for approval. Since the hotel isn't dealing directly with you, it is much easier for them to disapprove any refund!

A credit card dispute rarely works in this type of case, as it is not considered a billing error on the part of the company. It is unfortunate, but these companies hear sad stories (The Deck of Misfortune) all the time that it rarely moves them to help.

Your best path is to follow the advice by Patina, and write the company executives a short and polite note asking for an exception in your case or for a possible a credit to be used in the future. Some on this site have called this "artful begging", which has been successful in the past.

Good Luck!
 
Dec 19, 2017
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#12
Thank you, Christina, that really is valuable information. I wish I'd had it a couple of months ago! You would think that sort of information would be available on the site. I searched the hotels.com site to find a link to 'cancel' and found none. That's why I sent the e-mail to the e-mail address that had sent me my confirmation. There was no 800 phone # or any link on the site providing information regarding how to cancel a reservation, that was, apparently, 'non-refundable', as soon as I made it.
 
Dec 19, 2017
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#13
Realitoes, it is not LaQuinta that posted the charge on my Visa. They were very understanding when I called them, and assured me they would not charge me for the mistake. It is that 3rd party, hotels.com, that is refusing to reverse the charge.

Yes, I definitely learned a lesson about using a 3rd party to book a hotel room. But as I said, we were driving out of the path of a storm and it was the easiest way to find a hotel room in a state that had been booked solid. (In fact, we ended up in Alabama, I believe, because there were no rooms available in Georgia.) I didn't realize that using an app to find the nearest available hotel room would result in having to pay $135 for what literally amounted to a mistake between Columbus, Georgia and Columbus, Ohio.
 
Sep 19, 2015
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#14
Realitoes, it is not LaQuinta that posted the charge on my Visa. They were very understanding when I called them, and assured me they would not charge me for the mistake. It is that 3rd party, hotels.com, that is refusing to reverse the charge.

Yes, I definitely learned a lesson about using a 3rd party to book a hotel room. But as I said, we were driving out of the path of a storm and it was the easiest way to find a hotel room in a state that had been booked solid. (In fact, we ended up in Alabama, I believe, because there were no rooms available in Georgia.) I didn't realize that using an app to find the nearest available hotel room would result in having to pay $135 for what literally amounted to a mistake between Columbus, Georgia and Columbus, Ohio.
The problem is compounded by not calling hotels.com about the cancellation -- they are the one that the booking was made with. From their point of view the room was not cancelled. Showing a call to the hotel and not to hotels.com is the problem.

I do think a nice polite letter may help, and take responsibility for the error, which was from the panic and stress.
 
R

Realitoes

Guest
#15
Realitoes, it is not LaQuinta that posted the charge on my Visa. They were very understanding when I called them, and assured me they would not charge me for the mistake. It is that 3rd party, hotels.com, that is refusing to reverse the charge.

Yes, I definitely learned a lesson about using a 3rd party to book a hotel room. But as I said, we were driving out of the path of a storm and it was the easiest way to find a hotel room in a state that had been booked solid. (In fact, we ended up in Alabama, I believe, because there were no rooms available in Georgia.) I didn't realize that using an app to find the nearest available hotel room would result in having to pay $135 for what literally amounted to a mistake between Columbus, Georgia and Columbus, Ohio.
If the charge was from Hotels.com, that would mean it was a contracted rate (definitely nonrefundable). That means any refund would be out of Hotels.com pocket, as they would still be required to pay the hotel their contract rate (which would be less than you paid). This will definitely lessen your chances at a refund. Still they may give you some or all as a future credit with a polite email.
 
Dec 19, 2017
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#17
The problem is compounded by not calling hotels.com about the cancellation -- they are the one that the booking was made with. From their point of view the room was not cancelled. Showing a call to the hotel and not to hotels.com is the problem.

I do think a nice polite letter may help, and take responsibility for the error, which was from the panic and stress.
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
11,665
12,004
113
New York
www.promalvacations.com
#18
You may be correct, Neil; thank you for your feedback. I think a lot of the rates on hotels.com are 'non-refundable' because they do charge your card when you make the reservation. Perhaps that constitutes a 'non-refundable' reservation, at least according to hotels.com. And yes, it was definitely a same day reservation, so if there was any sort of cancellation window, maybe I wasn't eligible because I did book 3 hours before I e-mailed them reporting my error.

It just astounds me that given the circumstances, the fact that I notified both the hotel and hotels.com of my error, within 3 hours of having made the mistake, provided all documentation to Chase, the bank determined that the charge was valid because "the merchant wasn't notified" of the cancelation as per their policy.
Well, if hotels.com's policy is not to read e-mails, not to have an accessible phone number on the site where a consumer can speak with a live human being, then how exactly does one contact them to abide by the cancelation policy?

Unless, that's their objective.
No. Non refundable rates are usually cheaper and come up first on a choice. When you are booking the same day you are most likely already booking within the cancellation period and that’s why they show nonrefundable.

It is important to read carefully the terms you book under because nonrefundable is just that- no refunds period.

And hotels.com has a process for canceling which you need to follow that Christina posted. So you really had 3 problems- you booked the wrong city, you booked a nonrefundable rate and you didn’t follow Hotels.coms procedure to cancel.

It’s a shame you used a third party because if you had simply booked directly you probably wouldn’t have had this problem.
 
Dec 19, 2017
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#19
You're right, Christina, a letter would probably help my cause. But I want to be clear - I did send hotels.com an e-mail within 3 hours of having made the mistake. In my mind, I did everything a responsible person should do. I called the hotel in Ohio and explained the mistake - they were very understanding and assured me I wouldn't be charged. Then I e-mailed hotels.com using the only e-mail available to me - a response to the e-mail they'd sent me.
I thought I'd covered all my bases. 10 days later, when I contacted hotels.com by phone and typed in my confirmation number, the automated message stated that my credit was going through, it just hadn't been processed yet. It wasn't until 15 days after the incident that I finally found a number for hotels.com where I was able to speak with an actual person. That was a complete waste of time; even speaking wth the representative's supervisor was futile. I got the distinct impression there was no way they were going to credit me for the mistaken reservation.

So, if my letter to Chase does not re-open the dispute, (and after reading The Deck of Misfortune, I have no delusions; I'm learning so much on this site) I will craft a civil letter to the CEO's listed on the page referenced earlier. The lesson I have learned from this experience is worth much more than the money I've lost.
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
11,665
12,004
113
New York
www.promalvacations.com
#20
The letter most likely will not re-open this. Chase will most likely tell you that they have already made their decision and cannot change it.

They really have no reason to because you booked a nonrefundable rate and your confirmation says that. Plus you did not use the directions Hotels.com has posted about canceling.