Accidentally booked 10 nonrefundable nights instead of one on Expedia


Roland Tognazzini pushes the wrong key when he reserves a room through Expedia and ends up with nine extra unwanted rooms. They’re nonrefundable. Is there any way to fix the error?

Question: 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.

Answer: 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 had already 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 bother to 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, either on Expedia or elsewhere.

Related story:   Poof! There go my SkyMiles

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 them 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.

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

Christopher Elliott is an author, journalist and consumer advocate. You can read more about him on his personal website or check out his adventures on his family adventure travel site. Contact him at chris@elliott.org.

  • sirwired

    Yeah, assuming it’s the hotel’s money to give up (as in, not a block-booking by Expedia for them to do with as they please), they were just being lazy here.

    I remain convinced that the major OTA’s are pretty much pointless vs. booking directly. They only rarely have deals better than going to the provider itself.

  • Mark

    …and when there is a difference, some chains will price-match. (Though some quibble more than others – IHG, for example, will only price match on the cheapest (typically non-refundable) rate, and not on flexible rates)

  • Bill___A

    I’m glad it got fixed, but there would have been multiple chances to see something was amiss, particularly when looking at the total amount of money. One must be careful and not click too fast.

  • Mel65

    Glad it got fixed, but why do so many people click “complete” or “buy” or whatever WITHOUT reading what’s on the screen in front of them? I’m trying to figure out how you buy 10 of something… the 1 and 0 aren’t close to each other on the keyboard, and if it’s a drop down, you’d have to scroll down to the number 10… It’s a mystery! But, glad it worked out. That’d be a lot of money to lose.

  • FQTVLR

    Location of 1 and 0 depend on the keyboard. On the one I am using now 1 is right above 0, but on my laptop they are not close. But still cannot see how he made the mistake and did not notice it before completing the transaction.

  • DChamp56

    The reason they take so long, is they hope you forget about it…. sad.

  • DChamp56

    On the numeric keypad on my keyboard, the 1 is right over the 0. Easy to accidentally hit.

  • Pegtoo

    I’m surprised he missed the HUGE dollar amount.

  • DReid

    When are people going to realize that when you book through an OTA, you are a customer of that agency, NOT the hotel. When you need to make a change with your reservation, you must do it through the OTA, not the hotel. The other issue with using an OTA such as Expedia is that the hotel is going to assign you the worst of the rooms in the category you’ve booked. Why is that? It’s because they’re being charged a large commission by the OTA and will save the better rooms for people who book direct.

  • Mel65

    True. I was thinking top row numbers because my small keyboard doesn’t have ths square keypad.

  • Harvey-6-3.5

    This is only right. If the hotel or travel agent had put a “fat finger” rate of $10 instead of $100, they shouldn’t have to honor the mistake, especially if they noticed it promptly, so the companies should extend the same courtesy to the consumer as they would wish for themselves.

  • Bill___A

    Sometimes the OTA’s have rooms when the other channels do not. For example, I needed not one, but two rooms in Dublin last November,. Expedia had them, the hotel website did not. One must be careful wherever they book, but at the same time, everything went fine with these bookings, the hotel was fine and Expedia did everything right. I prefer to book directly with a hotel, but that’s not always possible.

  • greg watson

    As it has been suggested on this site ( many, many times ) it is much better and simpler to check the 3rd party websites…….& then negotiate & book the same deals directly with the hotel ( or other business )
    ………time to wake up !!

  • PsyGuy

    Do nothing, call your bank in a few days and file a duplicate charge claim.

  • PsyGuy

    They aren’t pointless, they keep consumer advocates in business.

  • PsyGuy

    That and the differences are often less than a few dollars.

  • PsyGuy

    I could see them clicking the buy button, then nothing happens so they click again and so on until the LW has bought 10 rooms.

  • PsyGuy

    That’s not how business work, where the contract or agreement is entirely created by the merchant to serve their needs.

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