Friday, April 22, 2016

hotel booking hazards

NOTE:     This blog has no ads and I'm not beholden to hotels, cruise lines, tour companies or airlines, and that's why I can offer my readers the truth about all of the above + offer the many ways to enjoy comfort traveling for less.

This post is mainly about hotel booking hazards, but I also want to inform my readers it is a good  to apply for membership in the hotel groups for your pocketbook category—if you live in a country where a hotel group contracts with a special booking service authorized to directly represent them, do call the Hotel Group's main office & ask for confirmation from the Customer Relations Department.  

Remember, if you use Expedia & others, then you are subject to Expedia's cancellation policies + booking rules only.  

Hotel group membership also provides discounts + the process for complaints are handled in a businesslike fashion.  In the event of cancellation, I know that  e-mails are sent with reference numbers noting the cancellation.  I've also discovered that booking directly with a well-known hotel group whether in the states or based overseas, a non-cancellation booking gives me a great price for a reservation within 2 months of arrival.   At the last minute the price can be even better for a "non-cancellation" booking. 

When reserving directly for this kind of reservation, before doing so it's always best to check what amenities are available.  If I book a hotel group that I use often, I may get a member's discount in addition to the lower price.  

And yet I became victim of booking a 1 property hotel in New York City late last October—I  forgot to enter the hotel name prefaced by "official site" in my search engine slot & thinking I was speaking directly to the hotel, I determined this property had no advance booking rate, but I needed to be in this location & had already checked other properties nearby to know this was a great rate.  The date was April 14-16.  After an unexpected calendar conflict, I cancelled on November 3 with the number listed on the e-mail reservation confirmation.

When the reservations CSR told me that she wasn’t sure I could cancel, I asked if the CSR call center was located in the US. The  answer was no.  Rather than wait for a call back from her supervisor, I knew there was no reason not to honor my request because the date was 5 + months in advance & I had already determined there was no advance booking rate.

Once again I used my search engine for the hotel & added "official site."  I asked for the manager of the reservations  department & she told me my reservation would be cancelled.  I asked for a cancellation e-mail. The e-mail received was dated November 3rd.  I printed a copy to put in my special file for hotel cancellations.

Yet 5 months later, 4-days before April 14, I received a welcome e-mail from that same hotel service.  I knew I cancelled directly with the hotel.  I found the letter of cancellation  and called the number listed on the welcome-mail I received.  The CSR told me that she had no record of my cancellation—I was pro-active when I asked for a supervisor, threatening to call my state AG Internet fraud department to start an investigation. 

My pro-active attitude resulted in action & I asked for the supervisor's name.  I also gave the cancellation # on the cancellation e-mail.  He noted the same number used in the welcome  e-mail was labeled "itinerary #." After checking his system the supervisor agreed with me. I asked for an e-mail detailing what he told me—however, I also asked for his company ID, which he gave me.  I wanted to have him stay on the line until I received it.  Within a few seconds I did & I thanked him.

Nevertheless, I called the hotel property directly to inform them a bogus reservations service was representing the property with the property name listed on the confirmation e-mail.  The reservations manager checked her records & found the e-mail sent to me—to my surprise the cancellation request dated Nov. 3 was sent directly to the booking service  &  my cancellation e-mail was also sent from the booking service. She claimed that the hotel’s clientele had no complaints about that booking service.
And yet on  the 14th of April I received another welcome e-mail from the same booking service, but I didn't bother to look at the entire e-mail.  Instead, I called the hotel in New York City to report their deceptive practice to my state's AG fraud bureau.  She claimed the booking service had a policy of no cancellation because I received a special price.  I knew this wasn't true because I had checked before paying with my credit card back in late October.  I argued with her but she hung up on me.

My sad tale has a better ending—I went back to the e-mail to print it out to send to my state's AG & that's when I discovered I was sent a bookkeeping  invoice zeroed out, but don't you get fooled & lose money, follow my travels posts for more wise comfort travel tips for less $.