Made date mistake on non-refundable hotel reservation on AA

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Apr 29, 2018
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#1
I made an $1400 8 nights hotel and car package reservation on AA vacation on 04/16/2018 with the wrong date (06/13/2018-06/21/2018). I'm a graduate student and the trip is for a conference. I mistakenly remembered the wrong month (the correct conference date is in July 2018, but I booked in June 2018). I realized this mistake only one minute after I paid the reservation. Unfortunately, though I called AA vacation right away (two minutes after the reservation transaction) and also called the hotel about 8 times that today, plus about 5 emails sent to AA, the responses were that the hotel is booked full during July so AA couldn't change the date. I told AA that whether I can change to a different hotel with the correct date, they refused it because it is non-refundable. I'm aware that this reservation is non-refundable, that's why i never mentioned cancel the reservation. I merely want to correct the date.

My original solution is that that I'm willing to to make a new reservation with the correct date and pay for it on AA vacation first. Then hope I can get refund from the wrong reservation. But they insisted since it is non-refundable, there's nothing they can do.

My department is supporting me to go on this trip that's why i could ever afford it in the first place. But since I booked the hotel with the wrong date, There is no way I can get reimbursement from my department. $1400 is a huge amount of money for a student like me so I thought I have to try any possible ways to reduce the loss. This is the last email i sent to AA: " I understand there are the terms and conditions. But in the current situation, can’t big companies like you show some empathy to a helpless student customer? I’m willing to pay certain amount of fine because it is indeed my mistake (and also to cover any lost that may have caused to your company) to transfer to an available hotel on the date of the conference. The customer made a date mistake, but she realized only one minute after the reservation and contacted you two minutes later and have been trying to correct this mistake countless times in the politest ways possible ever since. Is it that there’s no way that your company care about customer’s situation, and your company can only follow the strict and indifferent rules? I just want to confirm on this so that I can give up my hope for your company. Thank you."

Their reply is:"To ensure our original decision was handled in the appropriate manner, your file was reviewed with a member of management. After careful evaluation, we were unable to discover any additional information that would alter our decision. We apologize as we realize this is not the response you had hoped for, but future requests for evaluation will not be considered."

So basically they told me they would not response to this issue anymore. Therefore, I completely gave up on resolving this issue with AA. Later, I discovered websites like Roomer and Transfertravel where you can sell your non-refundable rooms. I listed my room on Roomer already. When I tries to post the room on Trasfertravel, it shows that "The great thing about hotel bookings are that you can change the name on almost all bookings. There are also usually no fee’s to change a name on a hotel booking like there are with flight tickets. This makes your hotel booking easy to sell and transfer on the Transfer Travel platform. " But they also mentioned that " we advise those with an unwanted booking to seek name change policies with their travel providers before listing on the TransferTravel.com website ". So I called AA asking if they charge fees to change the check-in person's name. Shockingly, they said the name cannot be changed because it is a non-refundable room! And they wouldn't allow me to change guest name neither!!

I'm really furious right now and I'm having a lot of headaches because of this terrible experience... I'm sorry for such a long post. I just want to clearly explain the problem. It would be great help if anyone could give me some advice on dealing with issue. Thanks a lot!

Sincerely,
Anna
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
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www.promalvacations.com
#2
Why did you book a nonrefundable rate? This is exactly why one shouldn’t book them - because non refundable actually MEANS nonrefundable, whether or not you realized it a minute later.

Your only option is to appeal to the Executives at AA.

Click on the company contacts tab above and read the information on how to use the contacts and start writing but be reasonable. You need to cut that letter down to a page and a half and most and only state facts. Using a bulletin format helps.

You made the mistake and you chose the nonrefundable rate so in your letter do NOT blame AA. None of this is their fault.

Approach it and say you understand you made the error and are asking for consideration of an exception because you simply need to move it to a different hotel.

Read the first page on the Company Contacts on how to escalate it to the Executives and write the way we advise.

Let us know what happens.
 
Likes: ADM and jsn55
Sep 19, 2015
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#3
Oh boy what a mess.

Was the AA Vacations protection waiver offered for this booking? If so was it purchased.

There are some issues to consider. AA Vacations does not own or operate the hotel. They are just the reservation agent. So if the hotel does not refund the hotel, AA Vacations may not have the money to pay. And if the hotel says no, should AA Vacations be on the hook for admitted user error? And to be blunt, calling yourself a helpless student is not really a great strategy -- if one is that helpless one should not book travel for themselves. Same for saying well AA Vacations is a big company and the empathy thing..... That is not a great strategy. AA Vacations is the middle man -- they may have specially negotiated lower rate with less flexibility.

What further complicates things is that the June hotel has no availability in July, so they would lose the money completely.
Is the hotel part of a large chain?

I would think that if the hotel would agree to refund, then AA Vacations may -- but the hotel has refused so far? Who was contacted, the front desk or general manager?

Unfortunately we all get financially penalized for mistakes -- I got a traffic fine in Italy, paid cancellation fees, etc.

There is a reason the hotels do not want to transfer names -- it could end up being like scalpers reselling concert tickets -- but I do not know how those websites work.

It would be nice for them to give you a credit because of the quick notification time.

What happened with the car reservation? Was that able to be cancelled?
 

jsn55

Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
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San Francisco
#4
Oh, Anna, I am so sorry for this mess. Neil has given you the correct guidance. I want to explain how things work so that you have a good chance of getting this unscrewed. The travel business is now a cut-throat rush to squeeze as much revenue out of customers as possible. The travelling public is fixated on the lowest price, and they know that a 5% discount will be appealing and people will book the non-ref rates. Airlines and hotels set up these non-ref situations, knowing that you'll have to pay twice if you make a mistake. That is their goal. We have worked hard to figure out ways to get problems solved in the face of this kind of atmosphere. I feel that the executives are still human beings and often can correct a situation, where the regular Customer Service people are restrained by their Procedures Manual.

Therefore, we advise polite, patient and persistent. Clear, concise communication. Admitting that you made the error instead of being angry and arguing that "it's not right" (it's not right, but it's reality) seems to make a difference. Stick solely to the facts, no emotion (they don't care if you're a senior citizen on a fixed income or a starving student). These are business people and they need to understand your situation with one read-through. These are the people who can help you, they did not cause your problem. So sweetness goes a long way towards a positive solution. You don't have a great deal of time, so I'd get those emails started right away. Remember in the future that the internet is not your friend, in the travel biz, it's just another marketing tool, so you have to be really careful of all the details. Good luck and please keep us updated.
 
Apr 29, 2018
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#5
Thank you all so much for the reply. I've definitely learned my lesson this time. I'll not book a non-refundable room anymore and always buy the trip protection when it is offered.

Neil and jsn55: Thank you for the clear advice. I really appreciate it. I'll be sure to make the appeal clear, concise, with only facts and without emotional statements.

Christina: Yes they offered the reservation protection. But i didn't purchase it, as usual. Saving those tens of dollars is so not worth it... I've contacted the hotel many times. Their answers are always the same, which is AA vacation is holding the money, not the hotel, they told me to contact AA instead. I never reached a manager. While AA always told me to contact hotel... I cancelled the car reservation and got $180 credit back which can only be spent on a AA vacation package in the future. Also thank you for the suggestions.

I'll write the appeal right away and let you know the reply.
 
Sep 19, 2015
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#6
Ok if AA Vacations are holding the money then it is up to AA Vacations to make the decisions. AA Vacations is a division of AA but I am not sure if AA customer service can help or if it has to go through AA Vacations. Of course AA Vacations may blame the hotel even though they have not given the money -- which is probably why only an executive can help.

I do think there should be a one hour cancellation even for non refundable hotels, just for calendar mistakes like this -- when someone notices the mistake quickly. And I do hope that you can get some sort of credit, even if it is 70 percent.
 
Likes: krisseye

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
13,331
13,024
113
New York
www.promalvacations.com
#7
Anna, the hotel is correct. AA is holding the funds. The way these work is that AA holds so many rooms with the hotel. They don’t even send your name to the hotel until a few days before you arrive and in many cases don’t send the money until after you leave. That means the hotel doesn’t even know you have a reservation now and won’t until a few days before get there.

That’s why appeal to AA - they do have your money and they shouldn’t use the excuse that it’s up to the hotel. It’s up to them.
 
Likes: jsn55