Travel

Can I get a refund for my nonrefundable hotel?

DEAR TRAVEL TROUBLESHOOTER: I booked a room at the Hotel Tzekos Villas in Santorini, Greece, last year through Hotels.com. The reservation was nonrefundable. Due to the virus, we were unable to leave the U.S.

I called and emailed several times to cancel and get a refund or a voucher for a future stay.

Christopher Elliott, the Travel Troubleshooter 

Neither Hotels.com nor the Hotel Tzekos Villas would refund our money. After calling several times and receiving no response, we disputed the charge with our Chase Visa Sapphire Reserve. The credit card issuer sided with Hotels.com. Can you help me get our $592 back or a credit?

— Noemi Freeman, Aventura, Florida

ANSWER: Hotels.com should have helped you with a refund. After all, Europe was closed to Americans at the time you were supposed to visit. And if the hotel and the booking site couldn’t assist you, then your credit card should have been able to help with a chargeback. It didn’t.

What’s going on here? First, your case is one of hundreds of thousands of refund requests. It took weeks and often months for travel companies to sift through all of them. Yours was also a complicated case, because you paid for part of the hotel with a Hotels.com gift card. It looks as if you pushed forward with a credit card dispute relatively soon after your cancellation. I understand that you wanted your money back, but once you initiate a chargeback, it limits some of your other options.

One of the options would have been a brief, polite email to a Hotels.com executive. I list all of them on my consumer advocacy site at www.elliott.org/company-contacts/expedia (Expedia owns Hotels.com).

Ultimately, the problem was the type of hotel room you booked: a prepaid, nonrefundable reservation. When you agree to one of those, you’re saying that come hell or high water, you’ll be there. And if you aren’t, the hotel can keep your money.

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