Are there any reservations that are just that--reservations that are not charges several days ahead?

  • Hi Guest, welcome to the help forum. You can get fast answers to your customer service questions here. We have a dedicated team of advocates who are ready to help. Just go to the section that matches your question and ask us!
  • If you've posted a question or issue for our advocates to assist with, please be sure to check back frequently for responses and requests for clarification.
  • Did you know you can get email notifications when something new posts to your favorite forum? It's easy. Just click the "watch" link right next to the "post new thread" button at the top of your favorite forum. The rest is easy. Now you'll never miss another conversation.
  • Want to become an expert user? Drop by the How to use this forum section and all will be revealed. We'll show you how to make the most of your experience.
Status
Not open for further replies.
May 16, 2018
76
39
18
55
#1
Hello, For many years I have had the choice of booking a hotel room in two ways:
I could get a very low rate and pre-pay the non-refundable fees
or
I could pay a higher rate and just reserve knowing my credit card would not be charged as long as I canceled by 5 or 6 pm on the day of arrival. I would only be charged if I were a no-show.

This always seemed reasonable to me. If I wanted flexibility, I paid more for the room. If I wanted to save money, I lost the ability to cancel, and took my chances.

Now, I am having trouble finding any rooms anywhere, even at expensive hotels, that allow that flexibility. All of them will charge you for the first night (and sometimes more) if you don't cancel at least 2 days before. Booking.com and the hotels' own websites actually have the gall to say the reservation is fully refundable and can be canceled, but clicking on the rate rules shows that this is not the case. I wonder how many people click on those rules.

My only recourse to protect myself is travel insurance, which may seem silly if you are in a motel, but one night in an expensive city (no other option for an upcoming trip) is upwards of $350 a night. I wouldn't like to lose that just because there were a snowstorm, flights were grounded and I couldn't get into the city. Weather is just one reason why I don't like to pre-pay for rooms. There are many others. Going forward, however, it seems I should pre-pay and get the cheaper rate, since I clearly need travel insurance to protect myself anyway.

So....why are the hotels and agencies allowed to falsely advertise that the rooms can be canceled when they cannot?

Please refrain from explaining that I have more time before I am charged! Yes, I know that I have longer, but it is still false advertising. One reservations rep said that I would be charged even if the governor of the hotel's own state prohibited travel. I have no problem with hotels setting their terms. I have a problem with a hotel or agency advertising a rate as cancelable when a pre-pay will in fact be forced 2 or more days before arrival.

Thoughts welcome.
 

AMA

Verified Member
Dec 11, 2014
1,054
1,313
113
#3
Sometimes the hotel's branded credit card/loyalty program will reduce the cancellation period to 24 hours prior rather than 48. If there's a brand you stay at most of the time, look into what they offer. Also, you should be making reservations on the hotel's main website rather than third-party booking engines.
 

weihlac

Verified Member
Jun 30, 2017
1,309
1,276
113
Maui Hawaii
#4
Hello, For many years I have had the choice of booking a hotel room in two ways:
I could get a very low rate and pre-pay the non-refundable fees
or
I could pay a higher rate and just reserve knowing my credit card would not be charged as long as I canceled by 5 or 6 pm on the day of arrival. I would only be charged if I were a no-show.

This always seemed reasonable to me. If I wanted flexibility, I paid more for the room. If I wanted to save money, I lost the ability to cancel, and took my chances.

Now, I am having trouble finding any rooms anywhere, even at expensive hotels, that allow that flexibility. All of them will charge you for the first night (and sometimes more) if you don't cancel at least 2 days before. Booking.com and the hotels' own websites actually have the gall to say the reservation is fully refundable and can be canceled, but clicking on the rate rules shows that this is not the case. I wonder how many people click on those rules.

My only recourse to protect myself is travel insurance, which may seem silly if you are in a motel, but one night in an expensive city (no other option for an upcoming trip) is upwards of $350 a night. I wouldn't like to lose that just because there were a snowstorm, flights were grounded and I couldn't get into the city. Weather is just one reason why I don't like to pre-pay for rooms. There are many others. Going forward, however, it seems I should pre-pay and get the cheaper rate, since I clearly need travel insurance to protect myself anyway.

So....why are the hotels and agencies allowed to falsely advertise that the rooms can be canceled when they cannot?

Please refrain from explaining that I have more time before I am charged! Yes, I know that I have longer, but it is still false advertising. One reservations rep said that I would be charged even if the governor of the hotel's own state prohibited travel. I have no problem with hotels setting their terms. I have a problem with a hotel or agency advertising a rate as cancelable when a pre-pay will in fact be forced 2 or more days before arrival.

Thoughts welcome.
Virtually all of the major hotel chains have gone from free cancelation up until the day/eve of arrival to cancellation without penalty only 48-72 hours prior to the start of the resevation.

Things have changed in the hotel industry. Book directly with the hotel and look at the terms and conditions. They are all spelled out for revirew.
 
May 16, 2018
76
39
18
55
#5
Are you actually seeing ads, or are you inputting preferences and receiving a list of offered rooms and rates?
Imputting preferences on Booking.com or, on the hotel's own website, I'm offered a rate that is supposed to be cancelable but actually is not.
 
May 16, 2018
76
39
18
55
#6
Virtually all of the major hotel chains have gone from free cancelation up until the day/eve of arrival to cancellation without penalty only 48-72 hours prior to the start of the resevation.

Things have changed in the hotel industry. Book directly with the hotel and look at the terms and conditions. They are all spelled out for revirew.
Yes, they are spelled out in the small print, after clicking to the booking screen, and then only after clicking on the terms button. It is first falsely advertised. And yes, it seems you are right that they have all started imposing non-refundable penalties on cancelations--even ones that are completely out of my control, according to one reservations rep
 

weihlac

Verified Member
Jun 30, 2017
1,309
1,276
113
Maui Hawaii
#7
Yes, they are spelled out in the small print, after clicking to the booking screen, and then only after clicking on the terms button. It is first falsely advertised. And yes, it seems you are right that they have all started imposing non-refundable penalties on cancelations--even ones that are completely out of my control, according to one reservations rep
The rates are not falsely advertised. They ARE cancellable, just not at the last minute, as opposed to rates that are prepaid and can not be canceled. And this is all spelled out prior to booking and agreeing to pay. Again, things have changed and you need to look at the "fine print" as you are entering into a contract.

Hotels were tired of last-minute cancellations and then being unable to rent the rooms. I was always surprised that they used to allow cancellations up until 6 PM on the day of rental. Now they do not allow this.

Car rentals still allow no shows/cancellations without penalty but that will likely change as well.
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
16,716
15,330
113
New York
www.promalvacations.com
#8
Imputting preferences on Booking.com or, on the hotel's own website, I'm offered a rate that is supposed to be cancelable but actually is not.
There are refundable rates when you go through booking- they are not the first rates shown. Go down to the higher rates- that’s where you will find the refundable. But they still are only refundable up to a certain point - most are now 2 -4 days before.

But before you use an OTA please read the complaints we have about them and what happens when you make a mistake or the hotel is oversold. In an oversold situation the first rooms canceled are those made with the OTA.
 
Likes: jsmithw
Feb 3, 2017
146
201
43
45
#9
In talking to some people who work in hotels in various cities, I asked about the now much higher rates for rooms that are cancelable vs. non-refundable because I've seen some large differences in prices between the two in just the past couple of years.

Basically, in the age of booking online, a lot of people book numerous places, all of which have a period of time in which one can cancel without penalty and they wait it out until last minute, canceling one, two, three places before that deadline after deciding which one they want to keep - in essence keeping quite a lot of rooms unavailable for booking, in some cases for months.

I get why hotels got fed up with it and increased rates; I only ever book a room I can cancel so am keenly aware of how the difference in the prices have changed. I figured that was the primary reason.

Old days: you would call, reserve and sometimes not even have to leave a credit card but if you did, most people I know booked just one place - not 3, 4 or 5. Even when the internet made online bookings possible, it seemed to take quite a long while before people began using this (rather selfish, I think) strategy.

Internet has changed travel in every aspect. But, terms and conditions should be read for more than just cancellation policies, only takes about one minute to read them - can't imagine booking anything without reading those.
 
Likes: Neil Maley
Nov 20, 2015
139
259
63
#10
Imputting preferences on Booking.com or, on the hotel's own website, I'm offered a rate that is supposed to be cancelable but actually is not.
Since you are not referring to any sort of advertising, you can't claim that this is false advertising. You are already in the store looking at prices and finding out what you get for your money.
 
Likes: AMA

jsn55

Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
7,822
7,662
113
San Francisco
#11
I'm not sure I totally understand your point. Hotels have quietly increased the time allowed for no-penalty cancellations. Moving from "one day" to "two days" doesn't seem to be a major issue, but maybe I'm missing something here. As for non-ref rates being far lower than regular (24+ hours), I haven't seen more than a few dollars difference. But I mainly book Hilton and InterContinental properties so I may be woefully ignorant.

LeeM is so right ... in the beginning, hotels bent over backwards to coax people into booking online. Why? So they could reduce call center overhead of course. But the public took such advantage of lax cancellation rules that the hotels finally realized how much revenue they were losing. In my eyes, it's cheating to book several hotels and cancel at the last minute. "Following the rates down" is another thing ... cancelling and rebooking until a month before your stay is just savvy thinking. As I always urge everyone, read the cancellation penalty of a room you are booking every single time, even if you have top status and book 35 Hilton rooms a year ... just take a minute to read the policy.
 
May 16, 2018
76
39
18
55
#12
There are refundable rates when you go through booking- they are not the first rates shown. Go down to the higher rates- that’s where you will find the refundable. But they still are only refundable up to a certain point - most are now 2 -4 days before.

But before you use an OTA please read the complaints we have about them and what happens when you make a mistake or the hotel is oversold. In an oversold situation the first rooms canceled are those made with the OTA.
Yes, of course you are right--that's why I always book directly with the hotel.....but lately, literally in the last year, I have found that the hotels allocate a large number of their rooms to the OTAs and they will not book those rooms directly.

Recently, with a hotel in NY, there were no suitable rooms (we needed a room with 2 beds) available through the hotel website or by calling them. Both the hotel website and reservations rep could only offer a room with a single king bed. When I went to Booking.com, there was plenty of availability in that hotel for a room with 2 beds. It turns out that the hotel had given that specific 2-bed inventory to Booking.com and so it wasn't possible to get a 2-bed room booking directly. This happened to me with a hotel in Europe last summer as well.

So....you and I may not want to use OTAs, but so many other people do that the hotels are giving a larger and larger chunk of their inventory to the OTAs.

As for OTA reservations being the first canceled, I guess my travel insurance will protect me there. If the hotel could not provide the specific type of room that I booked, I would assume that the hotel or booking.com would need to refund the money in that case, but if they refused, there is the travel insurance.
 
May 16, 2018
76
39
18
55
#13
Since you are not referring to any sort of advertising, you can't claim that this is false advertising. You are already in the store looking at prices and finding out what you get for your money.
If you are in the store, and a sale is advertised or a regular price is advertised with a sign over the item, but then the price changes when you go to the cash register, it is indeed considered false advertising. There are many states with laws that prohibit that and force the store to honor the posted price.
 
May 16, 2018
76
39
18
55
#14
In talking to some people who work in hotels in various cities, I asked about the now much higher rates for rooms that are cancelable vs. non-refundable because I've seen some large differences in prices between the two in just the past couple of years.

Basically, in the age of booking online, a lot of people book numerous places, all of which have a period of time in which one can cancel without penalty and they wait it out until last minute, canceling one, two, three places before that deadline after deciding which one they want to keep - in essence keeping quite a lot of rooms unavailable for booking, in some cases for months.

I get why hotels got fed up with it and increased rates; I only ever book a room I can cancel so am keenly aware of how the difference in the prices have changed. I figured that was the primary reason.

Old days: you would call, reserve and sometimes not even have to leave a credit card but if you did, most people I know booked just one place - not 3, 4 or 5. Even when the internet made online bookings possible, it seemed to take quite a long while before people began using this (rather selfish, I think) strategy.

Internet has changed travel in every aspect. But, terms and conditions should be read for more than just cancellation policies, only takes about one minute to read them - can't imagine booking anything without reading those.
I see what you mean. When I book, I have already decided where I am going to stay, and so a cancellation would be for an unforeseen circumstance. With the internet, it would indeed be easy for people to book many different properties and just hold them. People behaving badly ruins things for everyone else, as usual.

That said, I still feel that if a room is not cancellable, then it should state that up front with the rate--and they don't. They advertise as cancellable for a higher fee, but then negate that on the very last screen by setting a time limit, and not even on the buy screen. You have to click an extra link to find it. It feels like a bait and switch--which everyone would agree is false advertising. I've seen many complaints on this site about OTAs and airlines changing the price or the terms on the buy screen.
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
16,716
15,330
113
New York
www.promalvacations.com
#15
Yes, of course you are right--that's why I always book directly with the hotel.....but lately, literally in the last year, I have found that the hotels allocate a large number of their rooms to the OTAs and they will not book those rooms directly.

Recently, with a hotel in NY, there were no suitable rooms (we needed a room with 2 beds) available through the hotel website or by calling them. Both the hotel website and reservations rep could only offer a room with a single king bed. When I went to Booking.com, there was plenty of availability in that hotel for a room with 2 beds. It turns out that the hotel had given that specific 2-bed inventory to Booking.com and so it wasn't possible to get a 2-bed room booking directly. This happened to me with a hotel in Europe last summer as well.

So....you and I may not want to use OTAs, but so many other people do that the hotels are giving a larger and larger chunk of their inventory to the OTAs.

As for OTA reservations being the first canceled, I guess my travel insurance will protect me there. If the hotel could not provide the specific type of room that I booked, I would assume that the hotel or booking.com would need to refund the money in that case, but if they refused, there is the travel insurance.
Read your policy- insurance doesn’t usually cover things like this.
 
May 16, 2018
76
39
18
55
#16
Read your policy- insurance doesn’t usually cover things like this.
Correct. What I meant to say, is that if I cannot arrive on the appointed day due to weather, my insurance will certainly cover that. I bought the insurance because I was told by two hotels that I would be charged the first night even if all flights were grounded due to weather, even if the governor of the hotel's state declared that no one could be on the roads. My insurance covers that. And yes, I've read the policy.

Now, if the hotel pulls a fast one and simply can't or refuses to provide what I had pre-paid and have a written contract for, well, that would seem a legitimate reason to get the credit card company involved. I have read everything printed on my reservation and clicked through every link as well. There is nothing in my reservation small print that says that the hotel has the right to change my room type or walk me to another hotel. They may offer to walk me to some other place, but it is my choice whether to accept that or simply get my money back. If they refuse a refund (even after escalating), a chargeback would seem to be a no-brainer.
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
16,716
15,330
113
New York
www.promalvacations.com
#17
Correct. What I meant to say, is that if I cannot arrive on the appointed day due to weather, my insurance will certainly cover that. I bought the insurance because I was told by two hotels that I would be charged the first night even if all flights were grounded due to weather, even if the governor of the hotel's state declared that no one could be on the roads. My insurance covers that. And yes, I've read the policy.

Now, if the hotel pulls a fast one and simply can't or refuses to provide what I had pre-paid and have a written contract for, well, that would seem a legitimate reason to get the credit card company involved. I have read everything printed on my reservation and clicked through every link as well. There is nothing in my reservation small print that says that the hotel has the right to change my room type or walk me to another hotel. They may offer to walk me to some other place, but it is my choice whether to accept that or simply get my money back. If they refuse a refund (even after escalating), a chargeback would seem to be a no-brainer.
You are correct.
 
Feb 3, 2017
146
201
43
45
#18
I never stay in large chain hotels so don't know how their rates for refundable vs. non-refundable are changing.

Two hotels I pretty much stay in exclusively in Rome and Naples (this is just one example) have really made significant changes in the two payment type categories; whereas in the Rome hotel, just 2 years ago had a minimal difference of about 20 euros per night, it now has a difference of close to 80 euros per night (for same room type and time of year)- slightly less of a dramatic difference in the Naples hotel but still about a 25 euros difference from early 2018.

Booking recently for an upcoming Spring trip - in looking at the differences between the payment types at new places I will be staying in various destinations, the amounts are quite substantial in difference. (Hardly a scientific study, I know; just my personal experiences)

I only ever book directly with hotels so can't speak to the issues related to OTAs -

I find I get offered all sorts of nice little perks booking directly and I like to establish communication early on with a hotel - just a personal preference.

But, I have gotten breakfast included, welcome drinks, discounts on actual room prices, treats left in my room upon arrival (locally made pasta, bottle of wine, sweets, that sort of thing (where it is not included on an OTA) - nothing hugely dramatic but small things many of the types of hotels (small boutique hotels) I use are offering as an incentive to book direct with them.

Travel these days is an ever changing landscape - it is (in my opinion) essential to stay on top of the changes and research carefully so as not to miss out (or be too shocked) by shifting policy changes in various accommodations when planning a trip.
 
Dec 19, 2014
220
382
63
46
#19
A few years ago, several of the major hotel chains (Marriott, Hilton, etc), started changing their cancellation policies. They moved away from a 6PM or 4PM the day of arrival cancellation to 24 hour cancellation. This has now been expanded to 48 hour. So, the OP is correct in that most "refundable" rates now require cancellation 2 days prior to arrival or else a deposit is charged. These rates DO NOT charge the credit card in advance.

Resorts typically have different rules, and some resort hotels will charge the 1 night deposit when you book, but it is refundable if cancelled within the terms of the reservation.

Contrast this with advanced purchase (ie non-refundable) rates, which will charge you for the ENTIRE stay, and do not allow ANY changes or modifications once you book.

Here are 2 scenarios with a 5 night stay:
Option 1 : book a "refundable" rate of $150/night X 5 nights = $750. You fail to cancel within 48 hours for whatever reason. You are liable for $150
Option 2: book a "nonrefundable" rate of $140/night X 5 nights = $700. Your are charged $700 when you make the reservation and will be liable for $700 if you cancel even 2 days after you make the reservation

So, yes, there is a difference between the 2 rates and risk. 99.9% of the time, I still choose option 1, because there is less risk.

My personal experience is that general managers of hotels are generally reasonable. If you are within the non-refundable terms of a reservation (ie weather, flight delay), and you call the hotel, explain the situation, more often than not, the hotel will refund you, or offer you a credit. It is a goodwill gesture and they are not obligated to do it, but I have never been told no. Then again, we hold elite status and always book direct, so that may play a role.

Examples I have encountered:
- Flight to destination cancelled. Called hotel. They did not charge me for the reservation
- Incorrectly booked for the wrong night (booked for the night before). Showed up with a "no show" for the night before and no reservation for the night of. They fixed it and honored the rate
- Snowstorm closed the interstate. Called hotel. They did not charge me for the reservation.

Also, the hotel chains have offered flexibility when you need to move a hotel reservation to a different location. For example, I am booked in hotel A, but need to change to hotel B because of travel change, corporate will often "waive" the non-refundable terms at hotel A and re-book you to hotel B.

Again, I hold elite status with the hotel chain I use so your experiences may be different.

However, it is NOT false advertisement. The rates are refundable, and 2 days prior to arrival is "reasonable"
 
May 16, 2018
76
39
18
55
#20
A few years ago, several of the major hotel chains (Marriott, Hilton, etc), started changing their cancellation policies. They moved away from a 6PM or 4PM the day of arrival cancellation to 24 hour cancellation. This has now been expanded to 48 hour. So, the OP is correct in that most "refundable" rates now require cancellation 2 days prior to arrival or else a deposit is charged. These rates DO NOT charge the credit card in advance.

Resorts typically have different rules, and some resort hotels will charge the 1 night deposit when you book, but it is refundable if cancelled within the terms of the reservation.

Contrast this with advanced purchase (ie non-refundable) rates, which will charge you for the ENTIRE stay, and do not allow ANY changes or modifications once you book.

Here are 2 scenarios with a 5 night stay:
Option 1 : book a "refundable" rate of $150/night X 5 nights = $750. You fail to cancel within 48 hours for whatever reason. You are liable for $150
Option 2: book a "nonrefundable" rate of $140/night X 5 nights = $700. Your are charged $700 when you make the reservation and will be liable for $700 if you cancel even 2 days after you make the reservation

So, yes, there is a difference between the 2 rates and risk. 99.9% of the time, I still choose option 1, because there is less risk.

My personal experience is that general managers of hotels are generally reasonable. If you are within the non-refundable terms of a reservation (ie weather, flight delay), and you call the hotel, explain the situation, more often than not, the hotel will refund you, or offer you a credit. It is a goodwill gesture and they are not obligated to do it, but I have never been told no. Then again, we hold elite status and always book direct, so that may play a role.

Examples I have encountered:
- Flight to destination cancelled. Called hotel. They did not charge me for the reservation
- Incorrectly booked for the wrong night (booked for the night before). Showed up with a "no show" for the night before and no reservation for the night of. They fixed it and honored the rate
- Snowstorm closed the interstate. Called hotel. They did not charge me for the reservation.

Also, the hotel chains have offered flexibility when you need to move a hotel reservation to a different location. For example, I am booked in hotel A, but need to change to hotel B because of travel change, corporate will often "waive" the non-refundable terms at hotel A and re-book you to hotel B.

Again, I hold elite status with the hotel chain I use so your experiences may be different.

However, it is NOT false advertisement. The rates are refundable, and 2 days prior to arrival is "reasonable"
Well I would disagree. Refundable means refundable, and while the hotels have a right, reasonable or not, to make the rate refundable only up to 2 days before, they don't have a right to state/advertise one thing on the "rate" screen and then change it on the "buy" screen.

If the information changing it from refundable to refundable-only-up-to-a-point is not available until the very last "buy" screen (and even then you have to click through to another screen to find it) then it's actually a bait and switch--you know, when things are represented as one way and then changed to something else on the "buy" screen.

For it to not be false advertising, the fact that it is not refundable within 48 hours of arrival needs to be shown/advertised on the "rate" screen. This information should be consistent with the "buy" screen. I'm curious. What do you have against putting the actual terms of refundability/non-refundability on the rate screen? I imagine that if an airline changed its terms on the buy screen you would not defend the practice.
 
Status
Not open for further replies.