TRAVEL TROUBLESHOOTER

This hotel is too small and I have a headache! Can I get my money back?

 

January 25, 2024

Krishnamurthy Viswanathan's hotel room in London is smaller than he expects and has poor ventilation. Can he get his money back?

Hotels.com is refusing to honor the terms of our reservation, and I would like your help getting a refund.

My wife and I made a refundable reservation and prepaid the entire amount of $3,630 (and $504 worth of OneKeyCash) on Hotels.com for a 10-day stay at Lost Property St Paul's London - Curio Collection by Hilton.

The rules said we could cancel without penalty. After checking in, we found that the room was much smaller than advertised, with barely any room to move after laying down our bags. Also, we could not open the window.

As a result of insufficient ventilation, I woke up with a migraine headache the next day. We checked out the same day.

I called Hotels.com to let it know we were checking out. A representative said they would contact the hotel’s reservation team about the refund. Hotels.com offered to make another reservation at a different hotel if we paid the price difference. We had already checked into another hotel which I made through Hotels.com.

I asked for a refund for the nine nights we didn't stay at Lost Property. But Hotels.com refused because Lost Property would not refund the money. Can you help me get my $3,630 and all our points back?

Krishnamurthy Viswanathan, Sunnyvale, Calif.

You prepaid for a hotel room, but you also had free cancellation, so you should have been able to get a refund.

But before I get to my answer, you might be wondering if the hotel breached its contract by giving you a small room with a window you couldn't open.

Maybe. Small hotel rooms are fairly common in London, as are hotel rooms with windows that don't open. I have also stayed in some really small rooms in Europe -- and like you, I think we deserve a fair warning before we pay good money for them.

The best thing to do when you get a room that doesn't work is to immediately ask someone at the front desk if you can move. (I am staying in a hotel in Kyoto, Japan, at the moment, and I just changed rooms -- someone had been smoking in my previous room).

If the hotel won't relocate you, then contact your online travel agent. But you should have allowed Hotels.com to fix the situation instead of taking matters into your own hands. I think the company would have been able to find you new accommodations at a reasonable rate, but you had already booked another hotel on your own, so you ended up paying again for a hotel room.

What if it couldn't? I publish the names, numbers and email addresses of key customer service executives at Expedia (which owns Hotels.com), and you might have appealed to them. And don't forget the hotel -- I also have the names of Hilton's executives on my consumer advocacy site, Elliott.org.

Your case seemed pretty cut-and-dried. You should have been able to cancel your room. (After all, you had a free cancellation, and oddly you were still within the window when you checked in). The hotel wouldn't let you, and Hotels.com wouldn't help you. After you contacted my advocacy team, we took up your case and reached out to Hotels.com. In response, the company sent you $100 in OneKey Cash, Expedia's loyalty program currency. That didn't sit well with you -- or me. So we sent your case back to Expedia. The company reviewed your case again, and this time it gave you a full refund, including your points.

Christopher Elliott is the founder of Elliott Advocacy, a nonprofit organization that helps consumers solve their problems. Email him at [email protected] or get help by contacting him on his site.

© 2024 Christopher Elliott

 

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