Bill Chromizky and his wife are excited to travel to the path of this summer’s solar eclipse. They book a hotel in advance through Expedia, but when they arrive, they’re told that their reservation had been canceled. The Chromizkys are forced to relocate to a more expensive hotel. Can our advocates bring them some sunshine and reimbursement for their extra expense?
Question: My wife and I had a two-night reservation at the Centerstone Inn & Suites in Carlyle, Ill. for August 20 to 21. We made the reservation through Expedia. When we got to the hotel, they claimed that they were fully booked, and that Expedia had canceled my reservation. I had received an email from Expedia right before we left that day confirming our reservation, so I didn’t believe the hotel people.
We ended up getting a hotel 20 miles away, which cost us an extra $100 since we were a last-minute arrival and rooms in the area were scarce. I have emailed both the Centerstone chain and Expedia about this and have received no answer from either party.
I would like to be reimbursed the $100 difference from what I was going to pay at Centerstone, and the amount I did pay at the EconoLodge. I would prefer a check, not a credit for a future trip. — Bill Chromizky, Darien, Ill.
Answer: How lucky you were to be in the path of the solar eclipse! In the Northeast, where I live, the moon blocked out only a sliver of the sun. The hotel you had booked was right in the path of the total eclipse and thus was in a popular area to stay.
You were smart to book your stay in advance and had a confirmed reservation from Expedia, so what could have gone wrong?
So you asked our advocates for help. We reached out to Expedia and the hotel and found out more information about your case.
It turns out that the hotel had overbooked during the eclipse and did not notify you or Expedia that they wouldn’t be able to accommodate your reservation. However, the property attempted to remedy the less-than-ideal situation by booking alternate accommodations for you for one night, and offering you a room at the original hotel for the following night, free of charge. You didn’t take up the hotel on their offer.
You would think that overbooking only happens at the airlines, but it is quite prevalent in the hotel industry. As a matter of fact, one of my colleagues at elliott.org recently wrote about another solar eclipse viewer who was a victim of hotel overbooking.
And other travelers have posted about eclipse overbooking in our help forums, which are read by industry executives.
Is hotel overbooking legal? Yes. Is it acceptable? No. Apparently, a lot of hoteliers decided to make extra money by accepting higher-priced reservations and canceling lower-priced ones. And Expedia never was notified.
But your cloud had a silver lining. Expedia accepted responsibility for the overbooking. While you didn’t get the cash refund you desired, you did receive a credit of $150 to your Expedia account to use on a future trip, which you found acceptable.