Kyoto Tower Hotel - refund for non-refundable reservation

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Apr 25, 2018
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#1
My friend and I took her mother to Japan to celebrate her 80th birthday in March 23-30 2018. Our original itinerary was to spend the first three nights in Tokyo, then the rest of the trip in Kyoto. Unfortunately on our second day in Tokyo, her mother needed an emergency surgery in a Tokyo hospital and resulted in being hospitalized for 11 days.

We immediately made the necessary changes to our flight and existing hotel stay and both companies were extremely understanding. Our dilemma is that we booked a non-refundable hotel for Kyoto on Expedia. Once we knew that we had to stay in longer in Tokyo, we called Expedia to cancel our Kyoto hotel and try to get a refund. The Expedia representative contacted the Kyoto hotel and tried to advocate on our behalf for a refund, but to no avail. When we arrived back home, we contacted the Kyoto hotel directly to explain our situation in hopes of getting a refund or a credit for a future stay. Again, they denied the refund and the credit.

The cost of the property was a little over $1,300 and we would greatly appreciate any guidance you may provide to assist us in getting a refund.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

Neil Maley

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#2
Did you have Travel insurance? That’s what you need for refunds on nonrefundable travel.

You booked through Expedia and it appears Expedia has done their job trying to get the hotel to refund you but they can’t force the hospital to refund you unfortunately.

If you did not buy insurance, call the credit card company you used to purchase the trip and see if they offer any travel insurance. If they do you might be able to file a claim through the credit card.
 

jsn55

Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
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#4
What a lovely gesture to take her on this special trip. Even tho she was so sick, she will never forget your kindness and generosity. I hope your credit card can help ... booking non-ref anything is always a mistake without travel insurance. One of the reasons I prize my Chase Sapphire cards is the built-in travel coverage, it's a major perk for a frequent traveller.
 
Apr 25, 2018
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#5
Hi jsn55,

Thank you for your suggestion. We are exploring the credit card company travel insurance policies and are now more cautious with non-ref bookings.
 

Neil Maley

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Dec 27, 2014
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#6
Consider travel insurance going forward. One caveat to determine if you need it- if you can’t afford to lose everything you’ve paid for a trip if you can’t go or you are traveling outside the
U.S. and your health insurance doesn’t cover you if you should become sick while traveling (most don’t) you need to consider buying travel insurance.

Here is information that might be helpful:
http://forum.elliott.org/threads/the-right-travel-insurance.1283/
 

jsn55

Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
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#10
Luckily my friend's mom has a good health insurance through her state retirement, Blue Cross blue shield.
I'm glad she has good health insurance. This is just a little warning about making a claim: they will ask for things one by one ... they will drag out the process as long as possible. When we were waiting for BS to reimburse us for a Paris hospital bill, they would literally ask for the same doc 6 times over a period of weeks. Once they acknowledged that they had received this doc, then they started in with a different request. It was quite maddening.

One of our colleagues just had a health claim for medical and she went through the same process as I did ... finally she called, got a supervisor, and instructed her to request every single thing they wanted to process the claim; she was not going to be dealing with this claim twice a week for 6 months. She was very polite (like we're taught here) and got the reimbursement a short time later.

You can advise your friend helping her mom that dealing with medical insurance for an issue abroad can be frustrating, or she can make it into a game to see who wins ... will they reimburse her before she loses interest and wanders off?
 
Apr 25, 2018
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#11
Hi jsn55,

I'll definitely let my friend know what to expect based on you and your colleague's experiences and hopefully the insurance will be upfront about so required documents.

Thank you so much for all your insight.
 

Neil Maley

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Dec 27, 2014
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#12
Hi jsn55,

I'll definitely let my friend know what to expect based on you and your colleague's experiences and hopefully the insurance will be upfront about so required documents.

Thank you so much for all your insight.

They are if you call them as soon as someone has to go to the hospital. The first call someone should make is to their insurance company becaus the insurance companies will tell them
exactly what they need.

She is lucky she had health insurance that covers her out of the country. The majority of Americans don’t. Travel insurance gives them what the need.
 
Apr 25, 2018
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#13
First of all, a big thank you to Neil and jsn55 for taking the time to provide guidance on this situation as well as helpful tips for future travels.

We called the credit card company and the travel/trip interruption insurance only covers transportation. We're now exploring chargeback on the credit card based on several articles written by Chris Elliott.
 
Sep 19, 2015
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#14
We called the credit card company and the travel/trip interruption insurance only covers transportation. We're now exploring chargeback on the credit card based on several articles written by Chris Elliott.
I cannot think of a Chris Elliott article where he has advocated doing a charge back for canceling a non refundable room reservation.

His Washington post article mentioned a refund not being given when an airline ticket was canceled within 24 hours or a bogus smoking charge for a hotel as being legitimate reasons.

Elliott mentioned something called friendly fraud which is chargeback in bad faith. Read about the repercussions which include banks canceling the card; he mentioned that in his article.

The fact is that a non refundable rate was booked. 2 days before check in the room was canceled. It is sad that it was a medical reason that caused the cancellation but that is why insurance and refundable hotel room rates exist. The hotel did not refuse to provide the room; the hotel did not do anything that you did not agree to when agreeing to book a non refundable rate.

I used to make non refundable hotel bookings and it was fine until it was not, and I lost money. Never did I think of doing a chargeback — I learned and now only have flexible bookings.

Chargebacks are for very specific circumstances— goods service not delivered; wrong item delivered; wrong price; substandard goods or services; or fraud—you would lose on those.

Considering the hotel and Expedia have correspondence asking for a refund and credit on a non refundable room it seems pretty certain that the hotel will be able to prove that this was a legitimate charge.

Not being sympathetic is not a valid reason for a chargeback.

I would urge you to think about this.
 

Neil Maley

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#16
Susan what you are doing if you do a dispute is called friendly fraud. We have never advocated doing this. This was a legitimate charge- you chose that rate and now have buyers remorse because you chose a non refundable rate and canceled. The credit card company will really sent this and chances are very good the credit card company won’t fund in your favor.

I don’t suggest you do this. This is an expensive lesson to learn about buying travel insurance or not using non refundable rates. They are exactly what they say- nonrefundable.
 
Apr 25, 2018
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#17
Hi Neil,

Thank you for all your suggestions throughout this post. Yes this has truly been a good lesson learned and an expensive one at that. We just need to be very careful moving forward and calculate all associated risks.

We hope our situation will help others.

Mahalo!