Why won’t Fiesta Americana honor my $90 reservation?

Matt Peterson books a hotel stay in Puerto Vallarta at the Fiesta Americana, but it refuses to honor his reservation. And the travel site he used refuses to help him find an alternate hotel room. Can our advocates help Peterson get the room he reserved?

Question: I had a confirmed hotel reservation through a travel booking website called AMOMA.COM for Fiesta Americana Puerto Vallarta in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, for a one-night stay for $90. Then I received a phone call stating that the reservation could not be honored and that they would be refunding my payment.

I asked about AMOMA finding me other accommodations for the night but they said that there were none available for that night through their suppliers. After the call ended I went to the AMOMA site and entered the date of my stay. A number of hotels came up, including the Fiesta Americana (now for $320). I am just over a week out from my vacation and I’m now stuck finding a hotel room.

Can you help me get the hotel to honor the reservation? — Matt Peterson, Minneapolis

Answer: That’s certainly a stress-inducing message to receive one week before a hotel stay is supposed to begin.

Unfortunately, you are going to have to find another hotel room in Puerto Vallarta. I recommend using a different travel site — or better yet, booking directly with the hotel or through a travel agent. AMOMA doesn’t have easily accessible contacts on its site and requires that you create an account in order to communicate with an agent or supplier.

When AMOMA notified you that the hotel would not honor its reservation with you, it pointed to the following provision in its terms and conditions, which you agreed to when you confirmed the booking:

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AMOMA.com’s suppliers are independent contractors and not agents or employees of AMOMA.com. AMOMA.com is not liable for a supplier’s acts, errors, omissions, representations, warranties, breaches or negligence or for any losses, personal injuries, death, property damage, or other damages or expenses arising out any act or omission of a supplier.

In the event of a confirmed booking becoming unavailable before the check in date, AMOMA.com will offer a full refund. Where we have prior notice we will contact you by e-mail. However, upon check-in, if the original hotel booked is closed, over booked or has maintenance problems and cannot provide the room(s) booked, you accept that the hotelier is responsible for finding you alternate accommodation of a similar standard and/or for providing you with a refund and there shall be no liability on AMOMA.com to provide you with a refund or alternative accommodation.

So unfortunately all you can expect from AMOMA is the $90 refund it promised you. Its terms and conditions disclaim liability for anything the hotel told them about availability of rooms, whether true or not. This isn’t a customer-friendly policy.

It didn’t help your case that you threatened to post negative reviews about AMOMA on sites such as TripAdvisor and Yelp, as well as to contact our advocates.

In spite of your threat, we reached out to both AMOMA and the hotel’s corporate office on your behalf. However, neither AMOMA nor the hotel corporation was moved by your situation. The hotel responded very quickly, indicating that you need to address any issues through AMOMA.

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Regrettably, we were not able to get them to honor the reservation, regardless of what AMOMA’s site says about room availability at the Fiesta Americana or any other hotels. With luck, another hotel room will be available.

Jennifer Finger

Jennifer is the founder of KeenReader, an Internet-based freelance editing operation, as well as a certified public accountant. She is a senior writer for Elliott.org. Read more of Jennifer's articles here.

  • Jenny Zopa

    What recourse does a traveler have when a hotel cancels a long standing reservation shortly before the date of service, apparently so they can resell the room at a higher rate? NONE, the traveler is left to pay higher rates due to the now short window to book new accommodations. Absolutely despicable behavior by the hotel and they deserve every word of a negative review.

  • sirwired

    WAS the reservation confirmed (and cancelled by) the hotel directly? Or was this a 3rd party not properly setting up a reservation? It’s not clear from the story. However, given that she went on the warpath against the website, I’m guessing that it wasn’t the hotel that made the mistake.

    If that’s the case, the story and headline should be corrected.

    Just about any hotel front-desk clerk can regale you with tales of 3rd-party booking rate or availability screwups.

  • sirwired

    I’m not sure that it was the hotel at fault here… I’m guessing it was the website that failed to properly make the reservation, given that that is who the customer seems to be really angry at.

  • LeeAnneClark

    I’m with sirwired. I’m not seeing this as the hotel’s fault…he booked his reservation through a third-party provider, and THEY cancelled the reservation, not the hotel. And it’s not clear if AMOMA had ever even made a reservation at the hotel itself.

    So your claim that the hotel behaved “despicably” and deserves a negative review is absolutely unfair. It’s entirely possible (in fact, IMO, likely) the hotel never even had a reservation. The only despicable behavior I see here is AMOMA’s.

    Yet another reason why I NEVER NEVER NEVER book with OTAs or third-party providers. I will use their sites to find options, but then I will always go direct to the hotel or airline to make my purchase. It’s not like the good old days when I could find lower prices through OTAs than direct – I never see that anymore. So what’s the point? Adding a third party just increases the likelihood of problems, and complicates getting any resolution as they can each point to each other, leaving you in the lurch.

  • LeeAnneClark

    Exactly. I think the hotel is getting a bum deal here. I suspect AMOMA never even made a reservation at the hotel itself. So whey are they getting blamed for AMOMA’s bad behavior?

  • Doctor Now

    Most of the data (including rates) used by 3rd party booking companies inputted directly by the motel/hotel companies into one of several hotel booking networks. These databases are normally run by a separate company who may provide their network to many booking companies. For example, when I worked at Travelocity they used HRN for their hotel bookings (not sure if they still do).

  • MF

    If I were to guess about what is behind this case, likely the OTA did not forward the $$$ to the hotel until the hotel’s rates rose to make the transaction unfavorable for the OTA & thus the cancellation by the OTA.

  • Michael__K

    If that’s the case, the story and headline should be corrected.

    Not just the headline. The body of the article let’s AMOMA off the hook because their contract disclaims liability for their >>supplier’s<< "acts, errors, ommissions."

    So if it was really AMOMA's error, then they ARE liable, per their own contract….

  • Michael__K

    If it’s really AMOMA’s fault, then the article is wrong about the assertion that the disclaimer in their terms and conditions against liability for a **supplier’s** “acts, errors, omissions” protects them in this case.

  • LeeAnneClark

    I would agree there are several problems with the article – first and foremost, the title. If AMOMA never made the reservation, or cancelled it themselves, then the hotel should not be called out for doing anything wrong.

    I also agree with you that the disclaimer clearly doesn’t do anything to protect the client…in fact, it makes it clear that you are completely on your own, and AMOMA won’t help you even if a hotel DOES leave you in the lurch! After reading that disclaimer, I would never do business with this company.

  • Michael__K

    Adhesive contracts are always about protecting the drafting company and not the client.

    But in this case AMOMA’s disclaimer does not even apply if AMOMA is the party in error — meaning the customer should technically be protected in that case.

  • LeeAnneClark

    That’s part of the problem – the article doesn’t make it clear who cancelled the reservation, or if there was ever an actual reservation with the hotel itself.

    If AMOMA did cancel it themselves, then I agree that the disclaimer has no bearing on this case at all – the disclaimer only protects the client if the HOTEL cancels it…and only in terms of getting their money back. It doesn’t do ANYTHING for helping a client stranded without a room to find replacement lodging.

    But in this case, it seems AMOMA either never made an actual reservation with the hotel, or if they did, they cancelled it themselves. So nothing in this disclaimer even applies, since it doesn’t even mention what protections the client has if AMOMA cancels the reservation.

  • PsyGuy

    Sounds like the LW should post those negative reviews. Never heard of AMOMA, which sounds like a random collection of letters, all the other identifiable scammy travel site names must be taken.

  • PsyGuy

    This isn’t an OTA, they are just CSRs who are using an OTA.

  • PsyGuy

    Usually nothing.

  • MF

    Psy, I’m a bit confused here, as the AMOMA website offers to book a reservation at over 200,000 hotels, how does that make them CSRs and not an OTA?

  • PsyGuy

    Take a piece of paper and write “Access to 200,000 Hotels” on the paper, now hold it up and take a picture, congratulations you and AMOMA are now the same, because you can point your browser to their site or any other site (Bookings, Hotels, etc.) and have access to 200,000 hotels and properties, with the same access. Imagine you create a travel website, PAX call you and you open your web browser and go to a travel site and book the reservation for them, then take a cut of the sale. That’s all AMOMA is doing.

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