Why am I paying an extra $600 for my hotel in Maui?

When Chris Danscuk checks into a Days Inn in Hawaii, he’s surprised by a rate increase. Why won’t the company fix the price?

Question: This summer I made a reservation by phone for the Days Inn property in Maui. I was quoted $108 a day plus three free breakfasts for me and my son.

When we arrived, it took more than 45 minutes to check in. After all that waiting, we signed paperwork that did not show the price. But the very last sheet showed a much higher rate than $108 per night for 5 nights.

I gave the receptionist my confirmation number and was told that the rate I’d been quoted by phone was wrong. The actual rate was between $129 and $189 per night, depending on the day, plus tax.

The hotel told me to call reservations back. I spent many hours on the phone with reservations, including a call on the same evening we arrived that went over an hour. Reservations called the hotel back and a representative later told me they were going to write up the hotel because they were rude and put them on hold three times with no resolution.

I was told an investigation would take place and I would hear back in within 10 days. I never did. When I checked out, the hotel would not let me leave without paying the whole amount.

I’ve sent a detailed letter to the CEO of Days Inn with a return receipt requested. They signed for it but never responded. I’d like Days Inn to adjust my rate and refund the $600 extra I had to pay. Can you help me? — Chris Danscuk, Novato, Calif.

Answer: Days Inn should have charged you the rate you agreed to pay when you made your reservation — no more, no less. Your case underscores the importance of taking a printout of your reservation, including your rate, when you travel. Make sure there’s a reservation number, in case you need to verify the rate with your hotel. Don’t trust the company to keep these records. It may or may not, as you discovered.

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Days Inn properties such as the one you stayed in are independently owned and operated, so corporate can’t always tell a hotel what to do. That may be why even Days Inn was getting hung up on as they tried to fix the price discrepancy. But the warning signs that this might be a difficult stay were there long before the pricing dispute. A 40 plus-minute wait to check in, even on a busy day, suggests that the hotel has some operational problems.

You imply that the hotel wanted to lure you in with a low rate and then charge you more, a classic bait-and-switch. I want to give the hotel the benefit of the doubt. Maybe its operational challenges extended beyond your long wait. Perhaps its reservations systems were affected as well, making it difficult to see the rate you were quoted.

The Days Inn property tried to address this by offering you a military rate, but you were still out $600, which is far too much. Incidentally, a $108 per night rate in Maui is really, really good. Maui has a well-deserved reputation as a pricey destination.

You might have tried contacting one of the Days Inn customer service executives. I list their names, numbers and email addresses on my consumer advocacy site.

I contacted the company on your behalf and it adjusted your rate, refunding the extra $600 you’d been charged.

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. Read more of Christopher's articles here.

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