American Express/Hotels.com

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May 31, 2018
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#1
Hi all!
Hope you can help me with this issue.

This is a portion of a letter I wrote to American Express:

On 8/2/17 I booked a room at the Aqualuz Hotel in Lagos Portugal through the Hotels.com website in the amount of $956.28 using my American Express card. Upon checking into the hotel on 9/5/17 the room that I received was not the room that I had booked. This room was not the “Premium Apartment” as described on the Hotels.com website. When I tried to remedy this issue with a hotel staff member, I was told that this was the room I booked and the hotel was fully booked at this time.

After my conversation with the hotel staff member I then attempted to contact customer service at Hotels.com via my cell phone. With a wait time of 40 minutes in a foreign country, I proceeded to contact them through their website. After no response or guidance from Hotels.com on how to proceed, I contacted American Express customer care to make them aware of the situation and see what my options might be. When speaking to a customer care staff member I was advised to submit a merchant dispute and to check out of the hotel. On the advice of American Express I checked out of the hotel, not staying the night and checked into a new hotel (Dom Manuel), which I booked on my American Express card.

Over the last eight months I have attempted to dispute the Hotels.com charge of $956.28 through American Express. During this time period I have spoken with more then fifteen American Express customer care advisors. With each time having to explain my situation over and over again to someone new and re-disputing the charge. Over this time period Hotels.com turned down my disputes through American Express, always for a different reason. First, due to lack of evidence in which I was prompted for photos. So, I presented photos of the hotel room and a screen shot of my attempt to communicate with Hotels.com. Next, I was then turned down due to their “policy”. Sometimes I was even asked to re-upload evidence that I had already presented to American Express more than once. It was clear to me that American Express was siding with the merchant and not representing me, a card member of nineteen years and a Gold member over the last ten.

On 3/19/18 I called American Express to request that my phone conversation with a customer care member on 9/5/17 be pulled as on that phone conversation I was advised to check out of the hotel and put my dispute in. I was told that the request would be put in and in 24 to 48 hours and I would receive a call back regarding my request and dispute by a supervisor. Unfortunately 48 hours came and went with no response from American Express. I called again on 3/21 and spoke with another customer care member (Ayush) explaining my whole situation again and asking for the recording of my phone conversation from 9/5/17 to be pulled. Again I was told that the request would be put in and in 24 to 48 hours I would receive a call back regarding my request and dispute by a supervisor. Again 48 hours passed with no follow up from American Express and I had to call again on 3/24 (this time I spoke with Kay and Preeti). Once again I was told that the request would be put in and in 24 to 48 hours I would receive a call back regarding my request and dispute by a supervisor. This never happened. During the months of April and May I also reached out again via phone and the online chat. In both instances I was told a manager would get back to me in 24 to 48 hours but never heard back.

American Express is very diligent when it comes to sending me letters in the mail about not being able to handle my dispute, but when it comes o following up with costumers requests, they fail and fail miserably. The amount of hours I have put in to try to get information that I have the right to is unacceptable and is no way any company who values their costumers should handle situations such as this. Not only was I advised by American Express to check out of the hotel and left stuck with the charge, but its customer service representatives and managers have failed me during this process. As a card member for almost twenty years I would think I would have received far better treatment.

Most recently I was able to have Hotels.com stop their pursuit of trying to charge me the full $956.28, however they are charging me for the first night $239.07. I feel that American Express should pay the remaining $239.07 since a customer care member advised me to check out of the hotel on 9/5/17. In additional I would like my yearly membership fee of $195.00 to be waived this year as American Express was unable to service me in my time of need.
 
May 31, 2018
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#3
Did you call hotels.com at the time you got the wrong room and told them to fix it? They should have been the ones you called, not Amex. You didn’t allow them to fix it while you were at the hotel.
Yes I contacted Hotels.com right after we checked in. It was a 40 minute wait and since we were in Portugal I wasn't going to incur international charges for a wait that long. I then reached out to Hotels.com through their website on an online chat and informed them of the situation and asked them to contact me back and left a phone number so they could reach me. I never received a phone call back from them and that's when I reached out to Amex to ask their advise on next steps and that's when I was advised by Amex to dispute the charge through Amex and check out of the hotel.
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
13,379
13,047
113
New York
www.promalvacations.com
#4
Ok- that makes sense.

So you formally filed a dispute, correct? Once you do that a dispute should take place and be settled within 90 days. Did Amex honor the dispute after they gave hotels.com the opportunity to respond?

I’m not sure why this is still going on- you must file a written dispute and by law there is a time frame it has the be researched and a final decision made. You are given a provisional credit while the dispute is underway.

When did you receive the provisional credit?
 
May 31, 2018
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#5
Yes I have formally filed multiple disputes with Amex over the last 8 months and my disputes were turned down by Hotels.com multiple times for an array of different reasons each time. In February I decided to act on my behalf (since Amex completely bumbled the dispute) and contacted Hotels.com directly to dispute the charge. On 3/27/18 Hotels.com decided to not charge me the full amount of $956.28, instead they only charged me $239.07 for the first night stay, even though we never spent the night at the hotel.

Since I couldn't get Hotels.com to refund the full amount I feel it is the responsibility of Amex to cover the other $239.07 since I checked out of the hotel as per the direction of the customer care agent at Amex. I shouldn't be held accountable for the poor advise and false assurance Amex gave me. If I knew I would have had to pay for the first night, I would not have checked out of the hotel.

The issue isn't with Hotels.com anymore it is with Amex as they directed me to check out of the hotel, which now I'm responsible for paying a portion of the original charge.
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
13,379
13,047
113
New York
www.promalvacations.com
#6
This is not how a dispute works. Are you saying Amex have you a provisional credit and then charged it back after Hotels.com responded.

I think you do owe the first night. You could and should have stayed the first night and allowed the hotel to give you the correct room the next day when someone checked out. You didn’t give them a chance.

So all you are claiming is the first night?
 
Sep 19, 2015
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#7
May I ask who do you think made the original mistake? Hotels.com or the hotel? Was there no premium room available or did hotels.com not identify it correctly?
 
Likes: Neil Maley
May 31, 2018
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#8
I explained the situation to the hotel staff, however I was told there was nothing they could do to remedy the situation.

Shortly after checking in I spoke with the front desk person and hotel manager and informed them that the room we were given was not the room we booked. I was told the hotel was fully booked, there was no other available rooms during our stay and that the room we were given was the room we booked. This was not the case as the room we were given was not the room that was advertised on the Hotels.com website. As evidence I have pictures of the room as advertsied on the Hotels.com website and pictures of the room we were given.

As Hotels.com is only charging me for the one night stay ($239.07), Amex is only charging me $239.07. However once again we would not have checked out of the hotel if we knew we would have been charged. And since Amex directed us to dispute the charge and check out of the hotel, it should be their responsibility to cover the one night stay fee of $239.07.

I'm a bit confused, why should I have to pay the price for the fact that Amex advised me to take action on their poor advise and their false assurance? Shouldn't Amex be held accountable for this and not me, the consumer?
 
May 31, 2018
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#9
May I ask who do you think made the original mistake? Hotels.com or the hotel? Was there no premium room available or did hotels.com not identify it correctly?
I'm not quite sure if it was Hotels.com or the hotel that made the original mistake, it's hard to tell. The real issue at this point is I'm being charged for the first nights stay becuase I was directed by Amex to check out. If I would have known I would have been charged, I would not have check out of the hotel. Amex should be held accountable for the direction they gave me, not me.
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
13,379
13,047
113
New York
www.promalvacations.com
#10
I still don’t understand why you didn’t win the credit card dispute. What date did Amex give you the provisional credit after you filed your dispute and what date did they take it away?

It almost sounds like you didn’t file a formal written dispute if you don’t have that information.
 
May 31, 2018
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#11
I don't understand either that's why I'm seeking help from Elliott.

When you say "provisional credit", what do you mean?

The charge of $956.28 with Hotels.com has been on hold with Amex since my first conversation with them on 9/5/17 when I originally was directed to put the dispute in with them against Hotels.com. As I mentioned earlier (in conversation #5 of this forum) "In February I decided to act on my behalf (since Amex completely bumbled the dispute) and contacted Hotels.com directly to dispute the charge." On 3/27/18 Hotels.com decided to not charge me the full amount of $956.28, instead they only charged me $239.07 for the first night stay, even though we never spent the night at the hotel."

Over the last 8 months I've been getting the run-around from Amex, asking me for the same information, photos, etc. I probably have multiple disupute reference numbers from Amex (which I can supply) and they either got rejected or never got resolved because I was being sent in circles with them. For this reason, I went straight to Hotels.com and was eventually refunded every night but the first.

I'm now trying to just dispute the first night ($239.07) with Amex since they were the ones who directed me to dispute the charge, told me to check out of the hotel and assured me they would resolve this dispute due to Hotels.com and the hotel not providing the service as advertised. However once again I'm getting the run around from Amex.

Advice is greatly appreciate as I'm at a loss as there is no customer care person assigned to this and each time I contact Amex I speak with a different customer care representative, and don't receive call backs when I am told that a supervisor will contact me within 24 to 48 hours.
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
13,379
13,047
113
New York
www.promalvacations.com
#12
When you file a formal dispute, the credit card company put the money back into your account pending a response from the company that charged you. That’s alleged a provisional credit.

The company has a time frame to answer the dispute. When the time frame is up they have to respomd to, Amex makes a decision on what is right or wrong. If they find in your favor, they leave the money they credited you with in your account. If they find the merchant proved their case, then take the provisional credit back
from your account.

If this wasn’t done, you didn’t file an actual
dispute.

Did you file a dispute?
 
May 31, 2018
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#13
Yes I filed a dispute through Amex (the first one being on 9/5/17). As I mentioned earlier (in conversation #11 of this forum) "I probably have multiple disupute reference numbers from Amex (which I can supply) and they either got rejected or never got resolved because I was being sent in circles with them."

What do you suggest? What are the next steps?

Thanks
 

jsn55

Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
6,856
6,781
113
San Francisco
#14
This is outrageous. AmEx should have taken care of this immediately. As my colleagues have suggested, it's important to ascertain who made the original error in booking ... you booked one room, you got a different one. Who's at fault here?

I have been a loyal AmEx customer since 1972. Their customer service and loyalty plan perks have gone steadily downhill for years. I now use Chase cards almost exclusively. I still have hope for AmEx but the last straw was removing the ability to communicate with them through their website; now you have to call and most of their reps are not very good. Who wants to explain your problem to 5 different agents? I now rarely use the card.

I remember the last issue I had with them, it was simple but had many components. I went through 3 customer service reps to find one who actually listened to me and understood the problem. That was about the time Chase came out with their Sapphire visas ... a human being answers the phone, you can communicate on their secure website ... the travel perks are outstanding. I frankly don't know what's going on with AmEx' management, they were the gold standard for years. Your story is a great example of how to lose customers.
 
Sep 19, 2015
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#15
The reason I asked if hotels.com misrepresented is that I thought they should refund the charge if they had a description of a room that did not exist.

But I have to say that I am perplexed as to why an AmEx representative advised you to check out and contest the bill. Certainly if you pay for a room with a view or larger (whatever makes it premium) that is what you should get.
 
Likes: Neil Maley

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
13,379
13,047
113
New York
www.promalvacations.com
#16
I honestly think Amex made a huge mistake telling you to leave. The simple solution was to be refunded through Hotels.com for the difference I what you paid vs. what you got.

This is also a lesson in what happens when you book through a third party online discounter. If the room type is oversold, the guest who is going do get that room is the one who paid the most- this the OTA client is going to be the one inconvenienced. This is a well known industry tip.
So stop using the discounters going forward.

We have company contacts for Amex. Read the company contacts information and then start writing. You need the get the Executives involved in this mess because the Amex agent that told you to leave blew it.
 
May 31, 2018
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#17
This is outrageous. AmEx should have taken care of this immediately. As my colleagues have suggested, it's important to ascertain who made the original error in booking ... you booked one room, you got a different one. Who's at fault here?

I have been a loyal AmEx customer since 1972. Their customer service and loyalty plan perks have gone steadily downhill for years. I now use Chase cards almost exclusively. I still have hope for AmEx but the last straw was removing the ability to communicate with them through their website; now you have to call and most of their reps are not very good. Who wants to explain your problem to 5 different agents? I now rarely use the card.

I remember the last issue I had with them, it was simple but had many components. I went through 3 customer service reps to find one who actually listened to me and understood the problem. That was about the time Chase came out with their Sapphire visas ... a human being answers the phone, you can communicate on their secure website ... the travel perks are outstanding. I frankly don't know what's going on with AmEx' management, they were the gold standard for years. Your story is a great example of how to lose customers.
This whole situation is so bizarre to me. No one from the hotel, to Hotels.com to Amex really wants to take responsibility for this. I've never had a problem with Amex in the past, but this one is a total disaster.

I really feel like I'm on my own on this one. If I have to, I'll dispute the remaining charge of $239.07 with Amex till the day I'm no longer on this earth. Their card member services representatives have been completely incompetent throughout this whole process. Every now and again when I call them I get a good customer service rep, but mostly I'm dealing with someone in India who has no idea what they are doing.

I'm really at a lose here and don't know what to do. I think my next step is to start writing letters and emails to top executives at Amex. I doubt any of them will read my letters and emails or respond to them, but I really don't know what else to do at this point.

It is not my responsibility as a consumer to be liable for payment on a product/service that the hotel and Hotels.com did not deliver upon. This is in breach of contract and as a consumer I am not held to the terms and conditions of either the hotel or Hotels.com if neither provided the service that was advertised and paid for. And as Amex directed me to dispute the charge and check out of the hotel they should be held liable for the remaining balance of $239.07.

Am I incorrect to think this?
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
13,379
13,047
113
New York
www.promalvacations.com
#18
If you have not used our company contacts and gone up the Executive chain as we advise you to, please do so. The Amex agent gave you bad info and they should be eating this.

You are not on your own- if you use our contacts and go all the way up the chain and they don’t fix it- then come back and we’ll tell you what else you can do.

Your letter should focus on the Amex agent giving you bad advice.
 
Likes: jsn55
May 31, 2018
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#19
The reason I asked if hotels.com misrepresented is that I thought they should refund the charge if they had a description of a room that did not exist.

But I have to say that I am perplexed as to why an AmEx representative advised you to check out and contest the bill. Certainly if you pay for a room with a view or larger (whatever makes it premium) that is what you should get.
I'm perplexed as well and feel as if I'm being taken advantage of. I will not rest until this wrong is made right.

In fact I've requested that Amex pull the original phone conversation recording (on 9/15/17) I had with their customer care rep (where I was advised to check out of the hotel) three times and those requests have not been fulfilled. I've been told multiple times that a supervisor/manager would call me back within 24-48 hours to discuss my request and no one has.

Why is no one calling me back? Why are my requests to pull the original phone conversation recording not being fulfilled? Seems awfully suspicious to me.
 
May 31, 2018
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#20
If you have not used our company contacts and gone up the Executive chain as we advise you to, please do so. The Amex agent gave you bad info and they should be eating this.

You are not on your own- if you use our contacts and go all the way up the chain and they don’t fix it- then come back and we’ll tell you what else you can do.

Your letter should focus on the Amex agent giving you bad advice.
Thank you for the advise, I will do so. And I will keep you posted on how it goes.

Thanks again!