No-show charge despite efforts to cancel reservation

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Sep 27, 2017
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#1
Please let me know if you believe that the Sheraton Commander hotel, and its parent organization Starwood Resorts, have unfairly treated me by imposing a no-show charge on me, despite my efforts to cancel the reservation and their confusing practices that led me to believe I had cancelled.

About 10 months ago I made a reservation for the Sheraton Commander for late August 2017.

I made the reservation because a child of mine is now attending college in the area, and I wanted to stay at a conveniently located hotel. Excited about the possibility of visiting the area many times, I created a Starwood account. In fact, without realizing it, I actually created two Starwood accounts.

I received a confirmation email when I made the reservation in December 2016, and I received another one in April 2017. Both confirmations set forth the cancellation policy, and both notified me that if I did not show up I would be charged for one night's stay.

Aware from these emails of the need to cancel the reservation to avoid the no-show charge, I put in my personal calendar a reminder that would alert me one week before the check-in date to cancel the reservation if I no longer needed it.

Months passed after I made the reservation. Because of some other events, I no longer needed the reservation. My calendar alert reminded me one week before the reservation about the need to cancel. I went into my Starwood account to see the reservation (and to see if I had already cancelled it). After going into the account, there were no pending reservations. So I concluded that I had already cancelled the reservation earlier and simply forgotten that I had done so.

A week later, as the check-in date approached for what I believed was my cancelled reservation, I received no messages from the Sheraton Commander, such as a welcome email. Such emails are now standard at many hotels for pending reservations. The absence of this email did not surprise me because I thought that I had cancelled my reservation, as my empty on-line account with Starwood suggested to me.

Apparently, despite my efforts and the empty appearance of the on-line account, I had not cancelled the reservation. On check-in day, the Sheraton Commander charged me $323.83. But the hotel did not send me notice of the charge. I found out about the charge because I have asked my credit-card company to email me automatic notifications of large, on-line charges.

Within minutes of receiving the email from my credit-card company, I called to complain about the charge, believing that I had cancelled the reservation as my empty Starwood account would suggest. I received no response from the Sheraton Commander, except a request for more information, which I provided. I elevated my complaint to Starwood. I spoke to two customer-service representatives who thought that the problem was my having inadvertently created two accounts, which they merged so I would not have this problem again. They also said that I would have to wait to see if the company would do anything else for me.

I waited three weeks for a response. Finally I received an email from a Starwood representative in Ireland. The representative had a new explanation: I did not include my Starwood number on the reservation, so that is why I did not see it on-line. (I was never notified about this being a potential problem when I made the reservation). I replied with two objections. First, I had received no welcome email that would have alerted me to the confusion created by Sheraton/Sheraton: (a) the Sheraton never told me to include a Starwood number in my reservation, (b) Starwood never alerted me to my two accounts tied to the same email, which they could merge, and (c) the on-line account appeared empty, reasonably leading me to conclude that I had no pending reservation. The representative said only that the company had no obligation to send welcome emails. Second, I also objected that the Sheraton Commander had charged my credit card without notifying me of the charge. The representative answered that the two emails confirming my reservation said that I would be charged for a no-show; evidently the company therefore felt no obligation to notify me after the charge.

I recognize that despite my best efforts I did not in fact cancel, and that the Sheraton Commander had alerted me (in two emails confirming my reservation) to the consequence of not doing so. But the Sheraton and Starwood have not recognized the confusion that they have created that led me to believe I had in fact cancelled: they allow Starwood customers to make reservations without requiring or inviting them to add their Starwood account numbers; they allow customers who inadvertently create multiple Starwood accounts to remain in the dark about their multiple accounts and the problems associated with multiple accounts--until after they have imposed charges on the customer; they refuse to send welcome emails that could avert understandable confusion over whether a reservation was cancelled; and they charge credit cards without giving notice after doing so.

Under these circumstances, am I not entitled to some relief for confusion that the Sheraton and Starwood created, confounding my efforts to cancel my reservation?
 
Feb 9, 2016
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#2
I just bought a home. The mortgage company allows me to electronically transfer my payments. I went online in mid august to set up the electronic funds transfer, filled in my information, pressed submit, and was told that my first EFT would occur on Oct 1, 2017. I assumed that this must be the same date that my first mortgage payment was due.

Imagine my surprise when I opened a letter last week, informing me that I had failed to make my first payment on Sept 1, 2017 and I was being assessed a late fee.

I called them and informed them that I was under the impression that my first payment was due on Oct 1, and asked them why they didn't use the information that I had entered to initiate a payment on Sept 1, 2017? I was informed that it takes one billing cycle to enable EFT, regardless of when you set it up.

I made an immediate payment and asked if they would waive the late fee. I need to call and check on that.

My point is that the situation was entirely MY fault for not reviewing my escrow documentation to be sure of when my payment was due.

I empathize with your situation but you really should have made that one extra phone call....

I'm stunned that no one called to ask me what was up and/or I didn't get an email, and/or I didn't get letter mailed within a week of the payment being late.

But it is my fault.
 
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Feb 9, 2016
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#3
Your best bet would be what my best bet was, email and explain that you made a mistake and why you made that mistake and call it an unfortunate mistake that you would have never intended to occur.

In your letter CITE your two account numbers so they can reference and verify there are two accounts. Ask them to waive their no show fee this one time, and then double check that they closed one of the accounts.

In closing, ask/suggest that they make it impossible for customers to open two accounts so that this issue does not occur again.

You keep trying to push the blame back on them. I would abandon that offense and just be apologetic and tell them that you were confused about the booking not being in your account, and feel as if the instruction to add the booking to your account wasn't clearly communicated.

Email customer care
http://www.elliott.org/company-contacts/marriott/
 
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Sep 27, 2017
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#4
Thank you for your prompt and helpful reply.

I see a distinction between our situations.

I my case I had read the emails setting forth the cancellation policy. That is why I created a reminder alert to make sure that I cancelled my reservation in time. And that is why I logged into my Starwood account (which the company encouraged me to create) a full week before the check-in date to make sure that I had cancelled the reservation. And that is why, seeing no pending reservation when I logged in, I felt confident that I had already cancelled it (Starwood having never told me that my reservation would not appear in the account). So it seems I acted with prudence and diligence.

I have already done precisely as you suggest when I contacted the company. But it will not waive the no-show charge.
 
Sep 19, 2015
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#5
Thank you for your prompt and helpful reply.

I see a distinction between our situations.

I my case I had read the emails setting forth the cancellation policy. That is why I created a reminder alert to make sure that I cancelled my reservation in time. And that is why I logged into my Starwood account (which the company encouraged me to create) a full week before the check-in date to make sure that I had cancelled the reservation. And that is why, seeing no pending reservation when I logged in, I felt confident that I had already cancelled it (Starwood having never told me that my reservation would not appear in the account). So it seems I acted with prudence and diligence.

I have already done precisely as you suggest when I contacted the company. But it will not waive the no-show charge.
If you did not put in the starwood account number on the reservation, how would the hotel know to add it to your account? And if you had the reservation under account 1111 but you later looked at account 2222 and did not see it, why is that the hotel's fault?

Not every hotel sends a welcome email. And if they do they can get lost in spam.

The problem is that the hotel did hold the room for you all day, and had little if any chance to resell it.

You had no recollection of cancelling the reservation, and could have easily called the 800 number to verify.

Blaming the company is not going to lead for a satisfactory resolution. It is unfortunate that the technology does not stop one from registering two accounts, but that is the limitation and it is user error.

I am afraid that I do not agree that you acted with diligence and prudence. If I do not remember cancelling something I call and verify.

A humble letter owning up to the mistake may get some points
 
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Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
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www.promalvacations.com
#6
Thank you for your prompt and helpful reply.

I see a distinction between our situations.

I my case I had read the emails setting forth the cancellation policy. That is why I created a reminder alert to make sure that I cancelled my reservation in time. And that is why I logged into my Starwood account (which the company encouraged me to create) a full week before the check-in date to make sure that I had cancelled the reservation. And that is why, seeing no pending reservation when I logged in, I felt confident that I had already cancelled it (Starwood having never told me that my reservation would not appear in the account). So it seems I acted with prudence and diligence.

I have already done precisely as you suggest when I contacted the company. But it will not waive the no-show charge.
Didn't you receive an email confirmation when you booked? That's what you need to rely on.

You can use our company contacts to write to
Starwood and explain what happened and ask for a refund. But ultimately, it's your responsibility and you should have had a confirmation outside of your Starwood account that confirmed your reservation.