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Plans Changed Due To Terrorism, Trying To Get Hostel Refund

Discussion in 'Hotels' started by Michael Wenzel, Dec 7, 2017.

  1. Michael Wenzel

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    Hoping for some help with some issues that arose when we changed travel plans doe to the recent terrorist attacks in Spain.


    Myself and 3 other traveling companions were on our European vacation and we were in Barcelona on August 17, 2017 when the terrorist attack occurred. Our itinerary which we reserved a month ahead of traveling, was to take a train from Barcelona to San Sebastian on Friday August 18th and spend 3 nights in a hostel in San Sebastian and then return on Monday August 21st on a train from San Sebastian to Barcelona and spend 1 night in a hostel in Barcelona and then fly out of Barcelona on Tuesday August 22nd to our next destination Edinburgh Scotland.


    We had reserved and paid for this part of our European vacation a month prior to these dates. All charges for all four of us were paid on charge card.


    The roundtrip train to and from Barcelona/San Sebastian was booked and reserved through GoEuro, the train line was Renfe. The hostel in San Sebastian was booked and reserved through HostelWorld.


    After the terrorist attack on August 17th we thought it best to proceed with the first part of our itinerary and get out of Barcelona, so we took our reserved train from Barcelona to San Sebastian on Friday August 18th. We checked into our hostel on August 18th. There was continued news of other terrorist attacks or warnings and indications that resort towns on the coast like San Sebastian were targets. We then decided that for our own peace of mind and to feel safe that we would leave Spain earlier than our itinerary had us scheduled. In doing so we fully expected to pay some additional fees for changing existing reservations, but we also thought we could cancel some of the travel reservations and receive some partial refunds.


    We were able to change our flight out of Barcelona from Tuesday August 22nd to Sunday August 20th. In order to return to Barcelona in time to make the Sunday morning flight, we then attempted to change our return train from San Sebastian to Barcelona from Monday August 21st to Saturday August 19th, but we were informed that the return train on Saturday August 19th was booked up and full. We decided we would instead take a bus on Saturday August 19th from San Sebastian to Barcelona and at that time that we tried to cancel our Monday August 21st return train tickets from San Sebastian to Barcelona. We thought that we could receive either full or at least some partial refund of the cost of the return train tickets from San Sebastian to Barcelona for the 4 of us. On the 19th I tried several times on both the websites for GoEuro and for Renfe and their customer service links and I was unable to obtain any response or assistance from either sites with regards to the issue of cancelling our August 19th return train tickets and any possible refund.


    The other issue which is more frustrating is that when we advised the hostel in San Sebastian that we would be staying only one night and leaving Saturday August 19th instead of three and leaving Monday August 21st, they insisted that they must still charge us for the 3 nights. Again we were more than willing to pay for the one night and perhaps some fee for having to cancel the remaining two nights, but we feel it is totally unfair and certainly shows a lack of compassion at a scary time in the country. Having tried to deal with the hostel in person while we were there and them not changing their stance that the full 3 nights was owed, I tried to contact customer service on the Hostel World website for assistance but also have not received any response.


    The hostel in San Sebastian booked through Hostel World. San Fermin Hostel. Was charged US $112.24 deposit when reservation was done for the 4 of us for 3 nights and then when at the San Fermin hostel they made me pay on credit card remaining balance of US $584.38.

    Hostel cost 584,00 Euros, paid US $112.24 deposit and reservation indicated 496,40 Euros balance due at check in. So total paid for hostel was US $696.62.



    Hostel World website indicates if you have checked in and then decide to change your reservation and check out early, you will lose the deposit amount you have paid for the remaining nights. It does not state that you must pay the full amount for the remaining nights if you check out early.



    After several days I was finally able to contact Hostel World and they indicated any additional cancellation policy requiring full payment would be the policy of the individual hostel and Hostel World could not help and they instructed that I contact the hostel. I did try to contact the hostel several times and received no response to my emails.



    San Fermin
    Calle Fermin Calbeton 23

    San Sebastian
    Spain


    p. +34943425491
    f. +34943425491
    email: dormirendonosti@hotmail.com




    These are the 4 train tickets I tried to cancel prior to the August 20th departure. 4 Train tickets departure August 20th, San Sebastian to Barcelona, purchased on GoEuro.

    The tickets cost 45,30 Euros per person one way, total one way for 4 persons 181,20 Euros. Credit card was charged US $224.90.


    On the GoEuro website it indicates the Renfe cancellation policy is outward and return journey may be cancelled individually, at a cost of 40% of the price of the ticket cancelled. So if we cancelled our August 21st return we should receive some partial refund. The tickets cost 45,30 Euros per person one way, total one way for 4 persons 181,20 Euros. Credit card was charged US $224.90. I am trying to get some refund Euros converted to US dollars for the train tickets.


    Trying to get some refund or credit for the 2 nights we did not stay at the San Sebastian hostel and some refund and credit on the return train tickets San Sebastian to Barcelona we did not use. Hoping any refund or credit is in the form of Euros converted to US dollars.
     
    #1
  2. Neil

    Neil Moderator
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    Did you buy travel insurance? Most policies have coverage if a terrorst attack occurs within 30 days of the time you travel or has emergency evacuation to help you get out. You can put a claim in for this.
     
    #2
  3. Michael Wenzel

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    Unfortunately did not buy travel insurance. Guess I was just hoping for more understanding by the hostel and not charging us for the 2 nights we did not stay there because of the circumstances of wanting to get out of the country due to terrorist attacks.
     
    #3
  4. Its Not Me

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    Hello - here are the words explaining why you will not get a refund:

    We then decided that for our own peace of mind and to feel safe that we would leave Spain earlier than our itinerary had us scheduled.

    It was your choice. You have to understand that those folks had to live in the area affected or threatened to be affected by future terror attacks. They stayed. They lived there. Nothing happened.

    What you do for your own peace of mind - and however you want to feel - is sadly not the concern of the travel provider.

    While they 'should' have offered you other times - when you felt safer - well - they didn't have to. And they didn't.

    The terrorists cost you money. They cost all of us money at some level.
     
    #4
  5. Neil

    Neil Moderator
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    I have to agree. You “assumed” instead of asked. The rest of Spain was not affected so why shouldn’t they have expected you to stay there?
     
    #5
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  6. jsn55

    Staff Member Advocate

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    The reason for your change in plans is really not an issue. If you're worried about anything, it will color your experience negatively, so it was probably a good idea to depart. You seem to have a good handle on the cancellation policies of each entity. That's something many travellers just ignore.

    For example, the San Sebastian hostel should not have charged you more than your deposit per the booking agenciy's rules you stated. But often there's a great divide between front desk clerks and official rules. Did the hostel tell you that their policy was to keep all your money if you left early?

    We will need to come up for some contacts that you can contact via email. Bear in mind that refunds like this sometimes take months, and often you aren't notified at all ... the money just pops up on the credit card. You should review every item on your statement(s) to be sure you haven't already been refunded. And don't worry about the currency - refunds will be applied in the same form as they were paid out originally.
     
    #6
  7. Neil

    Neil Moderator
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    The cancellation policy listed on the HostelWorld site for this hostel is
    48 hour cancellation policy

    That means you needed to cancel the entire res 48 hours before you arrived. You didn't do that - you arrived and spent the first night and wanted to leave - and there was nothing wrong with the accommodations which is why I think that you are being charged for the full price.

    In Hostel Worlds terms:
    2.3 Your non-arrival by the agreed check-in time may result in the cancellation of your entire booking. Any amendments to your booking must be notified to and agreed with the travel services provider directly (but no refund of all or any part of the deposit will be made). Please note it is not possible to amend Non-Refundable Bookings. In making a booking, it shall be your responsibility to disclose to the travel services provider any requirements or special facilities that you or a member of your party may need as a result of any medical conditions.

    Their booking guarantee policy doesn't fall into why you canceled - there was nothing wrong with the hostel, correct? Their guarantee says if there is a problem whereby the property reception agent has no record of your reservation under your name or Hostelworld.com Reference Number or your confirmation email; we will credit your account on Hostelworld.com with the deposit amount you paid to secure the reservation.Y ou were just worried about terrorism that wasn't happening in the San Sebastian area - so the hostel understandably lost the money on your rooms if you chose to leave early. This is what their booking guarantee covers:

    https://www.hostelworld.com/guarantee/ter
    ms

    Their policy further down also states:
    (g) In the event of a no-show without cancellation (or where insufficient notice is given of a cancellation in accordance with these and/or the travel services provider's terms and conditions) all deposits, including deposits paid through the Standard Flexible Booking option, will be non-refundable and the travel services provider will have the right to charge your credit card on the basis set out in clause 2.2. (above).

    I can't find anything on Hostel Worlds policy that says you can cancel once you arrive so perhaps you can point it out on the website.

    Also - travel insurance would not have covered your rooms because there was no terrorism in San Sebastian.

    They do have a link for you to file an online dispute resolution - https://ec.europa.eu/consumers/odr/main/index.cfm?event=main.home.chooseLang
     
    #7
  8. Neil

    Neil Moderator
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    That is not necessarily correct about the GoEUro website for Renfre - the cancellation policy depends on the class of tickets you bought. If you bought the Non Flexible or Semi Flexible - there is a cancellation fee. You choose the class you want. If you chose the cheapest tickets - they are the non flexible, not refundable and not amendable. It sounds like that might be what you bought. If you only paid 45 Euros you might not have chosen a refundable rate. upload_2017-12-7_21-5-10.png
    Exchange and Cancellation
    • Non-flexible
      Ticket is not refundable and not amendable.
    • Semi-flexible
      20% amendment fee, 30% cancellation fee.
      + €6.50
    • Round-trip
      40% cancellation fee, outward and return journey may be cancelled or changed individually.
    Which ticket did you choose? The cheapest are the non flexible. There seems to be a difference between booking on the GoEuro website vs. if you booked directly on Renfre from the rules I have found on both websites.

    Have you tried contacting them here?

    https://www.spainrailtravel.com/contact-us/

    18779574722

    The phone number might help.
     
    #8
  9. Christina H

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    Did the OP actually cancel the RENFRE trip or were they a no show? If cancellation could not be made online, did anyone go to the station?
     
    #9
  10. Neil

    Neil Moderator
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    We don’t know- Michael hasn’t been back to answer questions. But Renfre website said tickets purchased online can’t be changed at a station- there is a link in the confirmation (if purchased directly from Renfre) that can be used up to 15 minutes before the train is to leave. I don’t know if it’s the same booking through GoEuro,

    Here is more information on canceling from Renfre directly:

    If the fare allows it.

    In the ticket email there is a link to cancel your ticket, you can cancel the ticket up to 15 min before the departure. However, the tickets bought online cannot be canceled at the stations and must be change with us directltly.

    Please verify our business hours and let us know if you don’t get the email with the cancelation link.

    Try calling them at the US number I posted earlier. You might just not be using the right info to contact them
     
    #10
  11. Christina H

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    I do understand that everyone has a different comfort level with terrorist attacks and proximity. But San Senastian is over 500 km away from Barcelona -- (around 300 miles) and that may be the reason that the hostel does not see the situation the same.

    Also once they checked in and paid they were past the 48 hour cancellation time.
     
    #11
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  12. Michael Wenzel

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    Hostel World referred me to the actual Hostel San Fermin for any further discussions and my attempts to contact them through their email have been unsuccessful.
    email: dormirendonosti@hotmail.com
    I understand the Hostel World and Renfre cancellation policies.
    Thanks for your comments and input.

     
    #12
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  13. Neil

    Neil Moderator
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    I wonder if your emails are going into spam. Hotmail is a terrible email to have. You might have to actually call.

    One question I don’t understand- when you were told st the hostel you had to pay for the remaining days- weren’t you dealing with the owner?
     
    #13
  14. Christina H

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    Neil in many of these small places one pays the balance when checking in -- this happens a lot in Europe. I think they checked in, paid, and then decided to leave.

    Michael Wenzel did you have any conversations about a refund with the staff before leaving?
     
    #14
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  15. Neil

    Neil Moderator
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    He had paid a deposit before he checked in and was due to pay the balance when they got there. He was surprised when they insisted on full payment- so he dealt with someone there which I would assume was the owner or manager. They thought it was unfair.

    My question is who is “they”? It should be the hostel owner?

    The other issue which is more frustrating is that when we advised the hostel in San Sebastian that we would be staying only one night and leaving Saturday August 19th instead of three and leaving Monday August 21st, they insisted that they must still charge us for the 3 nights. Again we were more than willing to payfor the one night and perhaps some fee for having to cancel the remaining two nights, but we feel it is totally unfair and certainly shows a lack of compassion at a scary time in thecountry. Having tried to deal with the ho
     
    #15
  16. Christina H

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    Neil I admit to being fuzzy on the chronology.

    They take a train out of Barcelona on the 18th. See continued news of attack and decide to leave on the 19th. when was that decision made and when was it communicated to the hostel? When did they advise, before check or after check in and paying and watching the news for a few hours? It seems that after leaving Barcelona on the 18th the flight out of Barcelona was changed from 22nd to 20th -- necessitating the trip back to Barcelona on the 19th and an overnight stay in the city which had the terror attacks.
     
    #16
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  17. jsn55

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    Michael, it might be helpful if you made a list of the facts. I'm getting confused. You state that you know the cancellation penalties, yet after arrival at the hostel you expected a refund for the last two nights of a 3-night res?

    European trains are notoriously difficult to deal with when issues like this come up. They know you've gone home, so they don't give complaints much attention. If you are able to answer our questions about the type of tix purchased, perhaps we can help with the train part.
     
    #17
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  18. Christina H

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    I am in europe and just cancelled a train ticket. I had booked directly with the company and a flexible fare. My train fare allowed cancellation up to a few hours before departure and I have an email confirmation.

    I am noticing more and more restrictions and different types of train fares like air fares. Sigh.
     
    #18
  19. jsn55

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    Extra fees go right to the bottom line ... if the airlines and hotels can do it so successfully, why not trains? It's quite disgusting.
     
    #19
  20. Neil

    Neil Moderator
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    It’s not really when you have a choice of buying a nonrefundable or refundable ticket or hotel room. You make the choice.
     
    #20
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