Q: I made a reservation on Expedia for this coming Friday at the Boston airport Courtyard by Marriott. Instead of making it for one night, I mistakenly made it for 10 nights. The rooms were nonrefundable.
I called the hotel, which agreed to cancel the unwanted nine nights. But Expedia has not responded to my request to cancel. Can you help me cancel the rooms and get a refund of $2,521? – Roland Tognazzini, San Anselmo, Calif.
A: Expedia should have responded to your request and helped you cancel those unwanted rooms. They were an obvious mistake. Normally, when an online agency receives a request like yours, it contacts the hotel and asks for a courtesy refund. Since Marriott already had agreed to the refund, this should have been an easily resolved case.
But it wasn’t. Expedia took its time – time you didn’t have. With just a few days before your check-in, you needed to get this issue resolved before the charges became permanent. Your online travel agency should have been sensitive to that.
Not to be too hard on you, but did you read your screen before clicking the “buy” button? Not only did you reserve 10 rooms, but you also missed the other significant restrictions. Remember, for just a few dollars per night more, you can book a room that can be canceled. It really pays to read the fine print before you book a hotel room, whether on Expedia or elsewhere.
Interestingly, Expedia could have kept your money even if the hotel agreed to refund it. After all, its refund policy is clearly disclosed, and you were dealing with the agency and not with the hotel directly. I’ve seen that happen.
For those of you thinking, “Hey, you’re being too hard on Expedia – I’m sure it would have eventually helped this guy,” I have only one thing to say: It takes a company like Expedia only a few seconds to suck the money out of your bank account. I think you’ve been more than patient with Expedia on the refund. Much more than patient.
It looks as if you tried to phone Expedia, which is understandable. A call offers immediate feedback, but as I’ve noted often, it’s not the best way to establish a record of your conversation. You needed a cancellation record from Marriott in writing, and you needed to contact Expedia in writing. You can do that through the company’s website or via the Expedia executive contacts listed on my consumer advocacy website: http://elliott.org/company-contacts/expedia.
Before I had a chance to contact Expedia, you decided to make one more call to the agency. I’m glad you did. This time, a representative carefully reviewed your case and agreed to refund the $2,521.
Christopher Elliott is the ombudsman for National Geographic Traveler magazine and the author of “How to Be the World’s Smartest Traveler.” You can read more travel tips on his blog, elliott.org, or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.