There's No Telling With Hotels.Com
(See reader's comments on this article -
There's no telling if the room rate you were quoted is actually the best rate for that room when you actually check in.
There's no telling how many rooms Hotels.com may have overbooked at the hotel where you reserved a room. Actually there's no telling what's going to happen when you book with Hotels.com.
What we know for sure is this:
1. Your credit card or debit card will be charged at the time you book your room, no matter how far in advance you book it.
2. Your room is not guaranteed to actually be there for you when you arrive. No where on Hotels.com site or in their 3100+ word User Agreement, does Hotels.com actually guarantee that your room will be available when you arrive - even though you paid Hotels.com for your room in full.
3. The room-rate you were charged at the time you booked your room may not be the lowest rate on the day you actually arrive at the hotel - in fact, there's a good chance that it won't be. In order to take a advantage of Hotels.com lowest-price match guarantee you would have to discover a lower "advertised" price within 24 hours of booking your reservation. After that, there's no guarantee at all that the room rate you've paid will be the lowest room rate. In fact, the room rate you pay may be substantially higher than the lowest available rate for the room you've booked by the time you arrived. There's nothing like finding out, when it's too late, that the room you're paying $325.00 a night for could have been booked directly with the hotel a few days before you arrived for $115.00 a night. There's no getting your money back for the difference from Hotels.com
But the cost of the room and how you pay for it, isn't nearly as important as the room being available when you arrive. There's nothing worse than being stranded far away from home, in an unfamiliar place, and suddenly finding out you've got nowhere to stay.
We became aware of the truth about Hotels.com when a friend of one of our family members arrived at his hotel only to find out that he had no room, even though he had paid for the rooms IN FULL through Hotels.com days before his arrival. The room was booked so he could attend a convention and as you might expect during this convention it was difficult to find any other rooms available in the area.
Here's the story written by the people who were involved.
My friend, Denis, booked and paid for (and received a confirmation number) two hotel rooms for four adults through Hotels.com. The rooms were booked prior to purchasing event tickets for the Arnold Schwarzenegger Bodybuilding Competition Finals in Columbus, Ohio.
After searching for a hotel that was within their budget, they found one on the Hotels.com web site. They booked the rooms and paid for them, in full, at the time of booking using my friend Denis’ credit card.
After the rooms were booked through Hotels.com Denis' credit card was immediately charged the full amount of the rooms. Feeling secure in the knowledge that their hotel rooms were secure, they went on to purchase their event tickets, and booked a rental car.
It was only after they had secured the hotels rooms
that he and his friends felt safe in buying the event tickets. The
event was a very large and popular one, and was expected to bring
nearly a quarter-million people from all over the world to Columbus
- most all of them, of course, would need hotel rooms too.
The desk clerk said they were sorry, but there were no reservations for Denis and his party. Denis called Hotels.com while standing at the front desk and spoke with someone from Hotels.com who identified himself as “Joe”. Joe was an operator somewhere overseas who was representing Hotels.com as a "customer service agent".
During the phone conversation, while Denis was still on the phone with “Joe”, Joe actually contacted Country Inn Suites and spoke with the same front desk clerk that Denis had been talking to and in fact, was still standing right in front of.
Denis could hear the whole conversation between Joe and the front desk clerk - Denis was still "on hold" with "Joe".
Denis heard the hotel clerk tell "Joe" that Hotels.com had overbooked this particular Country Inn by nineteen rooms and that Hotels.com had been notified prior to March 1 - approximately a week before - that the rooms they had sold to Hotels.com customers were in fact, not available.
Hotels.com failed to notify their customers that rooms they had booked were in fact not available, in spite of the fact that Country Inn Suites had notified Hotels.com that they were booking rooms that were not available.
"Hotels.com Joe" then told Denis: “Country Inn has made a mistake and your room is not available”. Denis, of course knew this wasn’t true since he had heard the whole conversation.
Denis told "Joe" that he knew this wasn't true. When Denis confronted him with the truth "Joe" became defensive and rude.
"Joe" then quickly found Denis a couple of hotel rooms in the area via the Hotels.com search engine. However, the price of a single room that "Joe" found was well above the $300 per room budget that Denis and his friends had set for their two rooms.
The price of the room that Hotels.com found was nearly double the price of what they had already paid to Hotels.com for two rooms. The rooms that "Joe" found were well beyond what Denis and his friends could afford to pay.
Denis asked Hotels.com to make up the difference since this problem was Hotels.com error and no one else's. But Joe said that was not possible.
"Joe" could not credit the amount Hotels.com had already charged Denis' credit card so that he could use his credit card to secure the much more expensive rooms. Denis would have to wait for the normal refund process which could take up to 30 days.
Denis then asked to speak to "Joe’s" manager and was told that wasn’t possible. Denis didn't back down and insisted on speaking to a manager who might be able to resolve this issue more equitably than "Joe's" offer.
"Joe" then hung up on Denis. So, after spending over an
hour on the phone with "Joe", and with nothing at all resolved, "Joe" simply
hung up the phone.
The third time I called, I was again transferred to an overseas operator acting as a Hotels.com customer service representative. This time, the representative's name was "Kalvin". "Kalvin" assured me that he could help me even though he was overseas. I agreed.
“Kalvin” apologized, and searched hotel rooms in the Columbus, Ohio area, and after a few minutes of searching finally found one that was available. The price of the rooms "Kalvin" quoted were, once again, well over $300. I requested that Hotels.com make up the difference since Denis couldn't afford this much for the rooms and it was Hotels.com errors that caused this problem in the first place. Hotels.com booked rooms they knew or should have known were not available.
I made it clear that Hotels.com charged Denis in full for rooms that were not available. He purchased these rooms in good faith from Hotels.com and the Hotels.com did not produce the rooms for which Denis was charged. Now it appears that Hotels.com were trying to upsell Denis and make it look as if they were doing him a favor - not to mention taking advantage of someone being in a strange city without a place to spend the night. I told him I thought this was a very poor business practice. He found this rather humorous and began laughing—he actually broke out in fits of laughter three or four times during our conversation as I continued to express my personal concerns for the situation that Hotels.com had put my friend Denis in.
After "Kalvin" stopped laughing, he told me he would have to talk to a manager. But, the manager was not available at this time - and "Kalvin" didn't know where he was. I waited on hold for more than twenty minutes. Finally, "Kalvin" said the manager was "busy" and could not help. Kalvin told me to call back later.
I again expressed my concerns and didn't want to have to "call back later" and go through the entire story all over again with yet another Hotels.com customer service representative.
Kalvin hung up.
After I had spent over an hour on the phone with
"Kalvin" nothing was accomplished - my friend still had no rooms and
Hotels.com representative "Kalvin" had simply hung up the phone.
In the meantime, my friend Denis and his friends were waiting in
Columbus Ohio, without hotel rooms - waiting for me to call them
After hours of searching, they finally found a hotel they could afford, but it was quite a distance away from the original hotel they had booked. It cost them over twice as much as their original rooms they had booked with Hotels.com.
It's been almost two weeks now, and Hotels.com has still not refunded the money for the rooms that they had charged to Denis' credit card - rooms that Denis had paid Hotels.com in full for but which were not available.
The next day I tried once again to see if I could
talk to a manager about this incident. I
was on the phone for over an hour. I asked to speak to a manager
right away but was told one was not available. I insisted. I finally
got Hotels.com to promise that a manager would call me back within
24 hours. No one ever called back.
I asked if my room would be guaranteed if I booked with Hotels.com and she said, "yes". I told her that I looked all over the Hotels.com site and was not able to find where it said I would be guaranteed a room if I booked and paid for it. She continued to assure me that I would indeed have a room, it was guaranteed and not to worry. She insisted that this was Hotels.com policy.
She was very nice and was trying to be helpful - after all she was a "reservationist" - a sales agent not a "customer service representative". I persisted and asked her exactly where this was noted in writing on their site and that I wanted more then a verbal guarantee.
She said to scroll down to "Prepaid Hotel Reservations". I did, and the reservationist tells me: "Right here, you will see the room is guaranteed".
I started reading, and she appears to be reading the same section right along with me. After a couple of minutes I tell her: "I don't see anyplace that says a paid room is guaranteed - it pretty much tells me that if I book a room and cancel, that Hotels.com gets to keep some of my money."
She seems genuinely surprised that the User Agreement does not mention any kind of a guarantee and she expresses her genuine surprise by saying "Hmmm, you are right! There is nothing here that mentions a guarantee". I then asked if she could please find a guarantee in writing. Then she admitted that she really did not know where the guarantee would be. Then, I asked her to connect me with someone who could help me and she gave me a phone number to call.
The phone number she gave me was the same number my daughter called two days prior - the one that connected her to "Kalvin" the overseas operator/customer service again.
I explained to her that the reason I wanted this information about the guarantee was because of the situation with my daughter's friend, Denis. I proceeded to brief her on his problem. Then I asked her if I could speak to a a manager; she said there was no one there I could talk to. I explained I was doing a news article about this, and I would be sending it to 1/4 million subscribers. I also said I would be sharing my daughter's and her friend's experience with News Channel 8 Wood TV in Grand Rapids, Michigan - which is a station recognized nationwide for its excellent investigative reporting.
After I had told all of the above she asked me to hold. Then she connected me with someone else. Once again, this person said they could not help me but would have someone call me within 24 hours. At this point I had been on the phone for nearly an hour.
Now, several days have passed and no one from Hotels.com has called me either.
Hotels.com spends millions of dollars on convincing you that they provide a valuable service by giving you the best hotel rooms for the lowest prices. But when it comes to the things that really matter, like making sure the hotel room is actually there for you when you arrive, they don't do so well. They take your money when you book the room - your credit or debit card is charged immediately whether you book your room one week in advance, one month in advance or one year in advance. They take your money but they do not guarantee you will have a room when you arrive at the hotel.
You need to know that if you book a room using Hotels.com you could end up like Denis, hours away from home, without a room - even though you paid for the room in full.
Think twice before using Hotels.com to book your hotel reservations.
A Hotels.com booking and confirmation number doesn't guarantee that you'll have a room when you arrive at your destination. But it does guarantee you one thing - Hotels.com has your money.
Think twice before using Hotels.com to book your hotel reservations because there's no telling with Hotels.com what you're going to find when you arrive at your hotel.
Tell us what you think - Please
Remember the point isn't that Hotels.com won't refund Denis and his friends, it's that Denis and his friends booked and paid Hotels.com two weeks in advanced for rooms which were not reserved for them when they arrived. Refunds can take up to 30 days and we understand that - but when a big company takes people's money and does not provide them the product for which they paid, that is not right.
Imagine yourself in a strange place, unfamiliar with your surroundings, expecting that you had a place to stay - and finding out when you arrive that you don't - even though you've paid for the rooms in full through Hotels.com.
Corporate greed and incompetency abound and Hotels.com is a perfect example of a poorly-run corporation, located in the United States, who outsources American jobs to other countries to save themselves money while taking yours - and not providing the goods and services for which you paid.
Your voice can make a big difference. Please share this with your friends, your family, your local newspaper, TV station, or other media outlet. If we don't all stand up against corporate greed and incompetency it will only continue to get worse - and you or one of your friends or family members might be next.
The following comments were sent in response to our rant about Hotels.com. They have not been edited except to format them for use on this page.
Another possible solution to keep
from making a lot of "spin your wheels" phone conversations would
have been for them to call the Credit Card company requesting
non-payment of the item. By doing that, even though the Credit Card
company has already paid the service, it will instigate an
investigation by the Credit Card company, who will usually reimburse
you the charges a lot sooner than waiting for Hotels.com to pay up.
The Credit Card company has a lot more clout and experience dealing
with these type of people ALL the time.
My only question is about the credit
card was it a debit or credit card? If a credit card why hasn't the
party who was damaged put the charge in dispute even if he/she has
already paid the charge? Credit card companies do have a little
advantage in that they can remove the payment from future charges
and credit they credit card holder (if they find that the company
defrauded the card holder and that seems to be very much the point
you have made in the rand).
Thank you for this article. I am so
glad someone finally let the public know about Hotels.com. I won't
waste your time with the whole story because I know you don't have
time to read about almost the same thing that happened last summer
to my son and his wife. They had reserved and paid for a room at
Myrtle Beach, SC, through Hotels.com. Their story is almost
identical to Denis'. They finally did get a room after many hours of
frustration and anger. They learned the hard way to never book a
Hotel on line.
Greetings from Australia..
As a regular subscriber to your premium Newsletter, I was quite concerned about the poor follow up service (or even no service) from Hotels.com
My wife and I are planning to visit U.S.A in September/October this year, and in fact, I have visited Hotels.Com website looking at various hotels etc,
but now I will not be seeking any further information from them re. hotel vacancies etc. to place a booking.
Thanks for the tip..
Thank you for the information on
Hotel. com. I have traveled extensively through the years, all over
the world, and I have never dealt with anything like Denis'
experienced. I am appalled. In my opinion he should be refunded in
complete for the room he had booked, his event tickets, second room,
and the gas used to find the second room, and any other expenses he
may have incurred because of their mistake. This organization should
be out of business!! My personal experience has always been to book
a reservation directly with a hotel. I don't even use their 800
service to book it. I talk directly to the hotel and have a
confirmation send via email from the person that made the
reservation. Travel is not always perfect, and I definitely have had
a few things go wrong, but never anything that compares to this
story. I am assuming that Hotels.Com represents national chains and
I think they all should be aware of the way this was handled. I have
shared your story with all my email buddies so hopefully the word
will get around and Hotels.Com might suffer in bookings. Good luck
Denis'. I hope this gets solved to your satisfaction.
Below is a note from a good friend of
mine. My daughter and I are going to Mount Rushmore this June, had
thought about using Hotels.Com, but after these stories I would
never consider it. Thanks for the information. Lou Ann
Thank you, thank you, thank you for
this information. I have never used Hotels.Com but came very close a
few times. What held me back from using them was the penalty charge
for changing or canceling. I hope you really did report this to the
news station. Again, thank you for sharing.
Good article. Before computers and the internet, I used a travel agent. I have stopped using a travel agent and never use a internet travel service. I do however, use the internet to find local hotels in the locality where I'm visiting. The intelligent thing to do is to make your own arrangements directly with the hotel, airline, rental car, etc., and never use a third party. Natalie
What an incredible, but believable
story. Some years ago, I ordered merchandise close to $300.00 from a
dietary supply company, which I had seen their commercial on TV. I
paid the entire amount with my credit card. I received my order in a
weeks time, as they promised.
THANK YOU, I am sending this link to everyone in my address book. It looks like an issue of fraud to me. Jerry H.
what a crock
Thank you so much for this. I hope they go out of business. Marlene
Thank you for such an informative article. And what perfect timing. It's getting close to Summer and a lot of people will be traveling. What a way to ruin a vacation--no rooms. I've sent this article on to everyone in my address book. Let's hope Hotels.Com goes out of business! Gayle S.
thank you for a most interesting and informative article.. i just sent it to everyone i knew would be interested also. esp. those people who travel alot. this company should be put out of business. can they be turned in to their local atty. generals office ? please do so. with money and patience running thin these days, we do not need anymore aggravation or deceit of this type! thank you again.. good job! .(*as USUAL!!) Ingrid G.
Hi, I'm so glad that you took the time to warn everyone about this site. I have just passed it on to my two daughters that travel every year. I'm hoping they didn't come across this site as my one daughter just finished booking two big trips for the end of the year. I love getting my coffee and sitting down every Friday to read my newsletter, you sure have helped me with your computer tips for the last 5 years. I am a senior as well as a lot of your viewers and just can't afford the cost of having someone come in to work on my computer every time something goes wrong . With your help I have been able to fix a lot of problems myself and have kept my computer running fairly well. Thanks again to everyone there for all the help. Janet P. - Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada
Thank you for such an enlightening report on Hotels.com. Before reading your article, I had not heard of any of this. Rest assured that I did indeed send them a scathing email that I will not under any circumstances be using their service. Their business practices are very shabby to say the least, and I hope enough complaints are filed by dissatisfied customers so that they will be investigated thoroughly. These kinds of practices are disgraceful, but alas, are so very typical nowadays. Consumers are at the mercy of so many large, (and small), corporations, with so few resources and/or agencies to help stop this kind of treatment. We can only hope that at some point consumers' voices will be heard. Linda B.
love you guys! I read every issue,
and buy your yearly e-books. Keep up the good work.
I have used Hotels.com for quite a few years for lots of bookings and never had a single problem.
Quite the opposite as I remember on one occasion booking a hotel (via Hotels.Com) in Atlanta, Georgia and when I checked the hotel out on the internet it was getting pretty poor reviews so I contacted Hotels.Com and within minutes I had that reservation cancelled and another arranged. Money from the first booking was refunded within a couple of days. I also received a very nice e-mail from the company apologising for the hotel and saying that they now had in place a system for ensuring what is said about the hotel is accurate.
I live in Scotland and travel all over the USA and Europe and have used a number of 'hotel booking' sites in the past and have found Hotels.com to be one of the best.
In your rant instead of castigating the site perhaps you could suggest that if anyone is concerned that they check directly with the hotel that there is a confirmed booking for them. Most hotels will do this over the net and if you take a printout of their reply with you they will not have a leg to stand on if when you turn up and there is some hitch with the booking.
Do like your site and normally fully agree with what is said in the 'rants'' but sorry not on this occasion.
Arrabest frae Bonnie Scotland
The same thing happened to my wife
and I when we used hotels-com for booking a hotel room in Tulsa,
Oklahoma for a high school reunion.
Good article - I sure will not book a room with that crowd after reading your review I do not understand how firms can be so stupid to laugh at you when they are at fault this would be a good one for the bbc watchdog programme to take up if this is happening in the uk as well I have never used them so had no idea they could rip you off like that. Anyway thanks for a very good article this is one customer who will never be ripped off by them I use the web a lot for booking but have never come across anything like this but forewarned is forearmed not to make the same mistake I do not like these sites Better to deal direct with the firm you know they have a room for you then. Neil M.
I think that is absolutely horrible. I can’t believe their customer service is that bad. I mean I can believe but it’s unbelievable that people would actually sink so low and not even care. I have checked their site before looking for a hotel room for my boss, but I’ve never actually booked anything. The overseas operators don’t care, they are just their for their number of hours and to save the companies money at any cost. I hate dealing with companies who don’t answer their lines here in the States. Anyhow, I’m glad to see that you don’t have a link advertising their site on your site. I see various hotel ads or links for hotel booking services. Thanks for the information. I will NEVER use their site and I will advise everyone I know not to use them. Lynn S.
This is what I wrote to Hotels.com - Just wanted to let you know your site is not guaranteeing rooms booked so as it is useless to search for them.....thanks to Cloudeight information and your desire NOT to help a friend who DID book. :-( not good. Earl S.
Thank you for exposing this site!!! I was lucky I didn't use them in my recent quest for rooms. I will be sure NOT to use them for any future trips. Thanks, Wendy B
What else could the poor guy
write, I mean my goodness he was in a deep pickle to say the least .
what ever got him into that mess to begin with would be a good
question and the words are very deep but would take some time to
really get the true meaning out of them , it was a last ditch effort
to maintain sanity in an insane situation. What thoughts would go
through ones head being in a place of knowing it was futile to even
try , but to try was the only thing he had, so try he did . I will
read those words over and over and try to begin to understand what
it was he was saying , I am sure that there is room for speculation
, especially in our world today when all is analyzed to the inth
Thank you for the information. I
have used Hotels.Com once but since I only go to one particular
place and I have a hotel there that I like to use. I go directly to
the hotel site. I have always not trusted most of the places that do
business on the internet since like Hotels.Com, it is possible for
them to take your money and not produce.
I just sent this to our local NBC affiliate in Winston-Salem NC. The weather is warming here & people will be traveling. And to my sister who travels quite extensively. Lou & Diane G.
Published 3/14/2008 (Revised 3/21/2008 ) All content is copyright ©2008 by Cloudeight Internet.