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Nov 16, 2016
15
14
To summarize our situation: my now wife and I reserved an entire inn (~20 rooms) for our wedding. The contract stated that we had to release rooms 30 days prior or be charged whatever went unfilled. At the 30 day mark, we confirmed that we still wanted all of the rooms that hadn't been filled yet. But... a couple weeks before the wedding, our main contact at the inn asked if we could release a couple of the unfilled rooms for other guests who were trying to stay at the inn. We begrudgingly agreed to give them the rooms and made other accommodations for the people that we planned to be in said rooms. Ultimately, those rooms went unfilled and the day before my wedding I received a call from our contact that they'd like to put together an invoice for those unbooked rooms. I referenced that those rooms were only unbooked because they asked for them to be open and he agreed, stating that he didn't think an invoice was appropriate but that his GM wanted this done so his hands were tied. They ended up charging the card on file for the 4 rooms left unbooked for a total of about $1,600. I should note that the card wasn't dipped/swiped for this transaction but it was swiped for the rooms we did actually book. I would also like to add that the contract doesn't make any reference to the specific rooms were booking or even how many rooms - just the fact that we need to book rooms - which we did. But after multiple emails with the inn's GM trying to explain the situation she refused to issue a refund so I disputed the charge with our card issuer, Capital One. The merchant responded to the dispute so we're in the process of submitting our support documentation to Capital One now.

This is where I was hoping to get some help on this process. Capital One has sent me all of the documentation that they submitted including and email exchange with their lawyer. I don't think they have much of a case but I've been told that whenever the merchant replies to a dispute, it's typically ruled in their favor so I'm a little nervous. In my response to Capital One, I'm planning on submitting complete phone logs of all the calls I made with the inn including notes on what each conversation was about, our emails about the dispute after I was charged, recorded calls that I had with the staff, one where the GM dismisses the importance of the call where they asked me to leave rooms open, and text messages I have with our contact about the case.

Are there other items we should include or is there any way we should structure our documents to stack the deck in our favor? I've also considered filing a small claims dispute with them but I wasn't sure if that should be done in parallel to the dispute or only if I lost the dispute. Or should I just threaten to file in small claims in hopes they give me a refund? I've never dealt with anything like this before so I'd really appreciate any help!

TL;DR - local inn asked if we could leave rooms open for them, we did but now they're trying to charge us for those rooms.
 

Patina

Verified Member
Dec 22, 2015
2,098
4,342
First off, I personally don't think threats are useful. In my mind, either move forward with the act of filling or don't. Intimidation is not a professional way to handle this.

Regarding credit card disputes, the bank does not necessarily always side with the business. It just depends on the documentation that you can present that substantiates your claim. The Inn already has their documentation that you signed stating you would be responsible for any unsold rooms. This is what they will present to the bank.

Do you happen to have any written documentation from the hotel requesting you release the rooms or is this a situation of "he said, she said"? Is your main contact still employed by the Inn and have they corroborated with your version of the story? If so, will they still state that was the case? Lastly, is this Inn near you where you could request a meeting with the GM and your main contact? I ask because I feel the best way to handle this is in person and in a polite, professional manner rather than a combative one. You always have the option of going the aggressive route but try a "meeting of the minds" first.
 
Nov 16, 2016
15
14
Thanks for the response, Patina!

I suppose "threat" was a more aggressive word than I intended. I am more just curious if I told them I was filing if that could be enough to get them to back off a bit, or if I should just file it without informing them ahead of time.

They have already submitted that documentation to the bank and I'm hopefully that the supporting info I have is sufficient to back up my story. It's good to know that the bank won't just lean to the side of the business by default.

In my follow up call with our main contact, he agreed with our side of the story - admitting to asking us to release the rooms. More recently, though, he has changed his tune. Judging by the fact that we're still in this mess after 3+ months, I'm guessing he isn't being as forthcoming about these details with the GM.

I've tried requesting an in-person meeting to resolve this because, at the end of the day, I'm just extremely confused why this is still an issue. I figured if we could meet in person to discuss this everything could be brought to light and we could come to a resolution. The GM has doesn't want to do that and hasn't returned my most recent phone calls. This is what's brought me here, I feel confident that I have enough information to prove my point but by the very fact that it hasn't been settled yet has me nervous if it ever will!
 

Patina

Verified Member
Dec 22, 2015
2,098
4,342
Ah, bummer about the GM being unresponsive to your request to meet. And, I suspect your main contact has been strong armed into not siding with you.......wanting to keep his job and all!

I don't know anything about small claims so I am going to defer to the other advocates as to the value or legitimacy of filing. Since this is a volunteer based forum, most posters are working and will visit the site in the evening or early morning. Check back later tonight to see if anyone has better advice for you. I wish I had something more substantial to add.

One last question, is the Inn a national chain or a small, independent business? If it is a national chain, you might have luck going over the GM's head to a corporate exec.
 
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Nov 16, 2016
15
14
Thanks again, Patina!

I suspect he's been strong-armed as well, and I certainly can't blame him!

I look forward to hearing what other opinions on smalls claims are. And if anyone has any tips on our response on the credit card dispute, I'm all ears!

This is a small, independent business which also makes this difficult. Because we did have a great time at the inn! I have been trying to resolve this amicably because I'd like to continue a relationship with them. But, unfortunately, I believe the sixteen hundred is more important to them than a continued relationship.
 

JVillegirl541

Verified Member
Nov 21, 2014
3,925
4,037
Actually I believe he has Lied to his boss because his job is in jeopardy. The unfortunate and most important thing here is that you did not have your contract amended to account for this change and apparently there is no e-mail responding to request to release rooms.

Missing those items I'm not sure what standing you have. Are you in the same location as this Inn?

As asked previously is this a single own Inn or is this part of a larger organization. Frankly it would be helpful to know who we are dealing with so as to better advise you on the next step.
 
Last edited:
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Aug 31, 2015
1,325
2,449
Don't turn around . . . .
"Dear Capitol one:

I am disputing the charge in the amount of $XXX for rooms at the hotel cheapass.

I had a contract to pay for those rooms if they were not released prior to a 30 day deadline.

I received a phone call from the hotel [date and time, and name of person] asking me to release the rooms so the hotel could take them for their use. I did not initiate this contact, Mr. hotelman did; I could have used those rooms for my guests, but I was asked to release them by the hotel. So I did.

The hotel is solely responsible for these rooms they are charging me for. Apparently the higher paying guests did not take the rooms and now they want to stick me with the bill. Despite the front office admitting that they called me, they have been instructed to charge me, even though they agree they asked me to release the rooms they are charging me back to their control.

Hence my dispute.

If you require further information, please contact me/"
 

jsn55

Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
11,163
13,514
San Francisco
Joe has laid it out for you, Alex. It's very important to lay out your story clearly and concisely. I would write this letter forthwith. Why did you agree to let these rooms go?

You had a signed contract and the agreement changed, but not the contract. Your contact forgot about your verbal change when the other people did not show up. He had not shared this change with the GM. He seems to think that it's OK that you are paying the price for his incompetence. Time to stand up and state your case forcefully, as Joe has shown you.
 
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Nov 20, 2015
171
346
It occurs to me that evidence(receipts, statements of guests, etc.) of the alternate accommodations you obtained for the displaced guests would be important in supporting your argument directly with the GM, in the credit card dispute, or in small claims court. If you haven't yet provided these supporting documents, they may be enough to swing a decision in your favor.
 

johnbaker

Verified Member
Oct 2, 2014
1,097
1,811
48
My only suggestion for the future is to make sure that any change to a written contract is done in writing ...

For example: In this case a short email back to the sales person that said "just to confirm our phone conversation, I'm releasing 4 rooms back to the hotel as of today at your request and you will remove these from the contract."
 
Nov 16, 2016
15
14
Thank you all for the helpful information!

To answer jvillegirl541, we live about an hour from the inn so fairly close. And it's a small independent inn.

Joe, I think that's a very succinct yet thorough response for me to use, thank you!

jsn555, there were some other issues that the inn experienced where people were accidentally able to book rooms in our block from their website. So they asked us to give up these rooms to make room for them (I know realize I should've included this in my summary of our situation as I think it's pretty important to the case). They were pleasant to deal with and since they're a small local inn, I thought it would be nice to accommodate them on this. Our contact seemed very appreciative of this at the time as it prevented him from needing to call these unhappy guests, forcing them to cancel their rooms. But ultimately, my kindness got the best of me. No good deed goes unpunished!

And yes, johnbaker! Absolutely, thank you! Lesson learned.
 
Aug 31, 2015
1,325
2,449
Don't turn around . . . .
I'll be honest, if this is as simple as it looks - the hotel is being extremely ill tempered in its dealing with this customer.

If the facts truly are the OP books the entire hotel for days y-z and they hotel comes back to him to ask him to release them rooms for their own reservation errors- then those people cancel - and try to stick him with the room cost - that bordered on larceny by trick . . .
 
May 17, 2016
401
403
To summarize our situation: my now wife and I reserved an entire inn (~20 rooms) for our wedding. The contract stated that we had to release rooms 30 days prior or be charged whatever went unfilled. At the 30 day mark, we confirmed that we still wanted all of the rooms that hadn't been filled yet. But... a couple weeks before the wedding, our main contact at the inn asked if we could release a couple of the unfilled rooms for other guests who were trying to stay at the inn. We begrudgingly agreed to give them the rooms and made other accommodations for the people that we planned to be in said rooms. Ultimately, those rooms went unfilled and the day before my wedding I received a call from our contact that they'd like to put together an invoice for those unbooked rooms. I referenced that those rooms were only unbooked because they asked for them to be open and he agreed, stating that he didn't think an invoice was appropriate but that his GM wanted this done so his hands were tied. They ended up charging the card on file for the 4 rooms left unbooked for a total of about $1,600. I should note that the card wasn't dipped/swiped for this transaction but it was swiped for the rooms we did actually book. I would also like to add that the contract doesn't make any reference to the specific rooms were booking or even how many rooms - just the fact that we need to book rooms - which we did. But after multiple emails with the inn's GM trying to explain the situation she refused to issue a refund so I disputed the charge with our card issuer, Capital One. The merchant responded to the dispute so we're in the process of submitting our support documentation to Capital One now.

This is where I was hoping to get some help on this process. Capital One has sent me all of the documentation that they submitted including and email exchange with their lawyer. I don't think they have much of a case but I've been told that whenever the merchant replies to a dispute, it's typically ruled in their favor so I'm a little nervous. In my response to Capital One, I'm planning on submitting complete phone logs of all the calls I made with the inn including notes on what each conversation was about, our emails about the dispute after I was charged, recorded calls that I had with the staff, one where the GM dismisses the importance of the call where they asked me to leave rooms open, and text messages I have with our contact about the case.

Are there other items we should include or is there any way we should structure our documents to stack the deck in our favor? I've also considered filing a small claims dispute with them but I wasn't sure if that should be done in parallel to the dispute or only if I lost the dispute. Or should I just threaten to file in small claims in hopes they give me a refund? I've never dealt with anything like this before so I'd really appreciate any help!

TL;DR - local inn asked if we could leave rooms open for them, we did but now they're trying to charge us for those rooms.
You state that you had a contract. That contract is the key. If there were changes, such as releasing some of the rooms, that would have needed to be in writing and signed by both parties. I.e., another contract or an addendum to the original contract. Unfortunately, verbal agreements turn into a "he said, she said" situation. (I learned this from Judge Judy!)
 
Aug 28, 2015
3,729
2,904
New York
I read this with interest bc I had an airline dispute with cap 1 for @1k. I wrote about it on the forums. Ultimately, I filed a complaint with the CFPB bc I felt C1 didn't sufficiently investigate and accepted illegible records from the airline's accounting department, etc. C1 voluntarily credited my account.

My issue was similar to yours in that everyone agreed about the terms of the contract, etc, but we had different accounts of the facts. This is always a difficult credit card dispute. I agree that your situation sounds very simple and especially after a lovely weekend where you booked every room, this Inn has taken a foolish and unfriendly position.

I'm curious about when the hotel reached out re: unbooked rooms. At that point you were on the hook at the discounted rate. If the hotel had other guests willing to book those rooms then I would have been thrilled to release them back. If I was certain that my guests would eventually book, I would decline. Is it possible that the convo went more like:

"I see you have x rooms still available. Do you think you will need them or should we try and book them out."
"I think our guests will end up taking them, though I don't know for sure."
"How about we put them on the market and if we get any takers, we will remove them from your bill. Of course if your guests try to reserve in the interim, they will still be eligible for our discounted rate."
"Alright."

Did any guests specifically contact the hotel to reserve in that 2 week period? If the hotel told these guests the rooms were no longer available and you made other arrangements, then it's outrageous that the hotel is sticking you with the bill.
 
Nov 16, 2016
15
14
Thanks, AAGK! I'm glad cap 1 credited you. Hoping we can get the same!

That's not exactly how the conversation went. Basically, because of an issue on their website, people were able to book rooms that we had already blocked off. We were planning on using those rooms but they asked us to release them so that they didn't have to call these people to cancel their rooms. They had already had one issue where they called someone and they left a bad review on TripAdvisor. We then had to make other arrangements for the people that we wanted to put in those rooms.
 
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Neil Maley

Staff Member
Forum Moderator
Dec 27, 2014
26,133
29,488
New York
www.promalvacations.com
Then how on earth can they hold you responsible even with a contract if they didn't block off their website properly and guests were able to book your rooms.

If they admit to that, then they are admitting they screwed up- I really am stunned that you have the name of the person that called you and asked and they still are denying.

Is this a small hotel or a part of a major chain?

If Capital One doesn't find in your favor, this is one the writers should look at. Let us know the final outcome of your letter writing.
 
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May 17, 2016
401
403
Thanks, AAGK! I'm glad cap 1 credited you. Hoping we can get the same!

That's not exactly how the conversation went. Basically, because of an issue on their website, people were able to book rooms that we had already blocked off. We were planning on using those rooms but they asked us to release them so that they didn't have to call these people to cancel their rooms. They had already had one issue where they called someone and they left a bad review on TripAdvisor. We then had to make other arrangements for the people that we wanted to put in those rooms.
If they booked rooms that were blocked off for your guests the inn is in breach of contract. And if you had to make other arrangements, it's also on them. You owe them only for the number of rooms actually used by your guests.
 
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Nov 16, 2016
15
14
I want to thank everyone for your help with this. I've taken all of your advice and combed through all of our support materials for this dispute to put together our letter to Capital One. I started with Joe's letter and added in more color based on the support that we have. I wanted to share the letter with you all below before I submit it. Let me know if you have any thoughts on it!

In the letter, I cite the support materials (call log, emails, etc.) as "Reference pg. X" for now as I don't know what page everything will be on just yet. I also redact the names of the people involved to protect their privacy.

Thanks again! I'll be sure to update how this goes!

To Whom It May Concern:

I am disputing the charge in the amount of $1,598.63 for rooms at the ~INN~.

The charge comes from a hotel reservation that we made for friends and family for our destination wedding weekend. In summary, the ~INN~ requested that we release rooms from our reserved block to accommodate other guests (Reference pg. X). Then they proceeded to charge us for the released rooms when the rooms in question went unsold (Reference pg. X). We fulfilled our contract with the ~INN~ (Reference pg. X) by completing the reservation which we outlined with them (Reference pg. X). But they still felt the need to push an unconsented and unjust charge on us.

I received a phone call from ~INN CONTACT~, our main contact at the inn at 12:08pm ET on July, 28th (Reference pg. X) asking me to release rooms so the hotel could use them for other guests who were accidentally booked in our hotel block from a website error they had (Reference pg. X). I did not initiate this contact, ~INN CONTACT~ did; I could have used those rooms for my guests and had to make other accommodations for X number of guests because of this request (Reference pg. X). ~INN CONTACT~ and I entered an oral agreement at that time that I would not be charged for the released rooms as I was accommodating the hotel to help guests outside of my party (Reference pg. X).

Apparently, the guests ~INN CONTACT~ called me to accommodate did not take the rooms and now the hotel wants to stick me with the bill. Despite the ~INN~ front office and ~INN CONTACT~ admitting that they called me and made this request (Reference pg. X), they have been instructed by the ~INN GM~ to charge me, even though all parties are in agreement that I was asked to release those rooms (Reference pg. X). In recorded calls submitted to you, ~INN GM~ does not deny the conversation happening, but rather disputes their importance (Reference pg. X). However, this oral agreement abides Ohio law (Reference pg. X).

Our card was not dipped or swiped by us, the cardholders, but rather was charged without our knowledge while we were still in discussion about the validity / justification of these charges (Reference pg. X). The invoice was first mentioned to us on August, 5th, the day before our wedding but was made clear that it was still in debate (Reference pg. X). We were sent the invoice on August 18th (Reference pg. X), attempted to make contact with the hotel to discuss the invoice to no avail (Reference pg. X), and were charged on August 21st (Reference pg. X).

Their request for us to release the rooms from our block was caused by an error on their website which enabled guests not associated with our reservation to book rooms in our reserved hotel block (Reference pg. X). This request from them was in violation of our contract, as they were no longer upholding their end of the contract to make these rooms available to us (Reference pg. X). ~INN CONTACT~ requested that we release the rooms in order to accommodate these guests and attempt to mitigate the issues of unhappy costumers (Reference pg. X). This was proved with an unhappy costumer’s online review on TripAdvisor (Reference pg. X). In ~INN GM~ emails and dispute letter, she even makes reference to their attempts to accommodate some of these individuals (Reference pg. X). Because of this request we had to make arrangements for our other family and friends (Reference pg. X) who would have otherwise been included in the ~INN~ reservation and been able to stay at the Inn and celebrate with our group, but who instead wound up separated from us (Reference pg. X).

In the reference materials included, you can see from the call logs (Reference pg. X) and recorded calls (Reference pg. X) that most of our coordination was done over the phone. This was in part because of early signs of miscommunication and mismanagement on the part of the hotel when we were initially establishing the hotel block (Reference pg. X).

I’d like to re-iterate that we fulfilled the contract with the ~INN~ (Reference pg. X). Their contract makes no reference to specific rooms reserved or even the number of rooms reserved. The contract simply states that rooms shall be reserved. I believe they leave this open to accommodate errors they may experience such as this very example.

It’s a shame the hotel spoiled our otherwise perfect wedding weekend with such a simple and solvable issue. Furthermore, we’re very disappointed that we’re dealing with such a long and difficult process to resolve these issues. We’ve made many attempts to rectify the issue directly with the hotel (Reference pg. X) but all such attempts have been met with an argumentative and defensive tone (Reference pg. X).

You’ll find every claim made above to be the truth as supported by the lengthy reference materials attached below. We file this dispute to you with faith that you’ll thoroughly review these details in making your decision.

If you require further information, please contact us.