Can this trip be saved? They didn’t have my smoking room, so who pays to fix it?

Like 21 percent of other Americans, Larry Vail smokes. Having a room where he can light up is important when he travels, so when he booked his accommodations at the Sunset Jamaica Grande Resort & Spa through Bookit.com, he made sure it was a designated smoking room.

“This was our fifth trip to Jamaica and we have always reserved a smoking room without any problem,” he says.

Not this time.

Even though the all-inclusive resort offers smoking rooms online, and even though Bookit.com says he had one, he didn’t get one when he checked in.

Upon arrival, we were taken to our room where I later realized we had no ashtrays. I phoned the front desk to request an ashtray at which time I was rudely informed that we were in a non-smoking facility.

This is not what we signed up for and not what we were paying for. There was absolutely no mention of this being a non-smoking facility in the offer on Bookit.com’s website. If there had been, we never would have even considered staying there.

Vail asked if the Sunset Jamaica Grande had a sister property where smoking was allowed. It didn’t. He called Bookit.com, but couldn’t get through (apparently, he didn’t have the right calling card).

So he took matters into his own hands.

Frustrated, we went back to our room and called a resort we had stayed at on a previous visit and booked our remaining four nights of vacation there.

However, we had to make arrangements to get there. We arranged a ride back to the airport, which is a two-hour trip, and from there the other resort arranged the ride to them, which was another two-hour trip. We woke early the next morning, checked out and started our journey.

Vail is upset about the experience. He lost an entire day of his vacation because of the room mix-up, which he blames on Bookit.com. But that wasn’t the worst of it.

“After returning home and receiving our credit card bill, we found that the they had billed us for the full five nights [at the Sunset Jamaica Grande] at a cost of $1,243,” he says.

Vail paid $248 for his first night, but left the balance unpaid on his credit card. Bookit.com sent him a pro forma response to his dispute, asking him to state his reasons for denying the rest of the money. When the company dragged its feet, he threatened to formally dispute the rest with his credit card. In response, Bookit.com sent him an email that accused him of trying to “double dip” on his bill.

“How rude,” says Vail.

I turned to our credit card company to dispute these charges of $944. Bookit.com issued a credit in the amount of $450.

When I called them again to ask why we only received a $450 credit in lieu of the $944, I was told it was due to “cancellation charges”.

Wait! There would not be any cancellation charges had Bookit.com done due diligence in their handling of our business as their booking partner. I told them this was their oversight and they did not agree.

Finally, Bookit.com made him another offer: A refund of another $225 if he agreed to a “non-disclosure and acceptance” clause stating total confidentiality in the matter.

No way, he said.

Since then, Bookit.com has sent him terms and conditions that say the room type isn’t guaranteed and that it’s up to the hotel to honor a request for a smoking room. But Vail says it’s the first time he’s seen the fine print, and had he known a smoking room wouldn’t be guaranteed, he’d have never made the reservation.

This has turned out to be a really bad deal for all involved. Can you please help us recover our losses? I still believe this is a complete oversight by Bookit.com and their lodging partner, but we should not have to pay for their mistakes. It has already cost us more than enough.

I have to admit my bias: I don’t think people should smoke in their hotel rooms — ever. But if a hotel offers smoking rooms, then they should honor that promise.

No, my issues are that 1) Vail has already recovered a lot of the money in this dispute and 2) the online agency doesn’t guarantee it room types.

From the Bookit.com terms:

We do not guarantee the accuracy of the ratings and make no guarantee about the availability of specific products and services that may be offered. We strongly recommend that prior to any booking each user do their own independent review of any hotel, resort, or activity offered on our Website.

I’m put off by the apparent attitude of the resort and the online agency. That whole business with the non-disclosure was too much. Should I help Vail get the rest of his money back?

What do you think? A survey of nearly 700 readers this morning found that a majority (74 percent) want me to mediate this case.

(Photo: AM agill/Flickr Creative Commons)

Underwritten by

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by AirportParkingReservations.com

With nearly 20 years in the industry, over 128 airport covered in the U.S. and Canada, and over 1,000 Hotel and Parking Partners-we provide travelers the best options on how to get to the airport when flying. Whether you want to; drive yourself and park near an Airport (Airport Parking), stay the night before your flight at an airport hotel and leave your car (Hotel and Parking Package), or take a shared Shuttle/Private Car/Limo to the Airport- we got you covered. The best deals can be found online, and booking a reservation has never been easier. You can explore all of our options by visiting us at AirportParkingReservations.com, ParkSleepFly.com, AirportParking.com, and ShuttleFinder.com.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Generali Global Assistance

Generali Global Assistance has been a leading provider of travel insurance and other assistance services for more than 25 years. We offer a full suite of innovative, vertically integrated travel insurance and emergency services. Generali Global Assistance is part of The Europ Assistance (EA) Group, who pioneered the travel assistance industry in 1963 and continues to be the leader in providing real-time assistance anywhere in the world, delivering on our motto – You Live, We Care.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Seven Corners

Seven Corners has helped customers all over the world with travel difficulties, big and small. As one of the few remaining privately owned travel insurance companies, Seven Corners provides insurance plans and 24/7 travel assistance services to more than a million people each year. Because we’re privately held, we can focus on the customer without the constraints that larger companies have. Visit Seven Corners to learn more.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Sodexo North America

Sodexo North America Sodexo North America is part of a global, Fortune 500 company with a presence in 80 countries. Sodexo is a leading provider of integrated food, facilities management and other services that enhance organizational performance, contribute to local communities and improve quality of life for millions of customers in corporate, education, healthcare, senior living, sports and leisure, government and other environments daily. Learn more at Sodexoinsights.com.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Travelex Insurance Services

Travelex Insurance Services is a leading travel insurance provider in the United States with over 55 years combined industry expertise of helping people dream, explore and travel with confidence. We offer comprehensive travel insurance plans with optional upgrades allowing travelers to customize the plans to fit their needs. Compare plans, get a quote and buy online at Travelexinsurance.com.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by AirHelp

AirHelp is the world’s leading flight delays compensation company, helping passengers apply for compensation following a delayed or canceled flight or when boarding has been denied. It is AirHelp’s mission to fight for passenger rights by holding airlines accountable for flights disruptions that are out of passengers’ control. AirHelp has already helped 5 million people, taking the stress out of applying for compensation and making it as hassle-free as possible for travelers around the world.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Allianz Travel Insurance

The Allianz Travel Insurance company has built its reputation on partnering with agents all around the world to provide comprehensive travel insurance for their clients. Contact Allianz Travel Insurance for a comprehensive list of coverage.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Chubb

Chubb is the world’s largest publicly traded property and casualty insurance company, and recognized as the premier provider of insurance for successful individuals and families in the U.S. and selected international markets, offering coverage for high-value automobile, homeowners, recreational marine/aviation, valuables and umbrella liability coverage. As an underwriting company, Chubb assesses, assumes and manages risk with insight and discipline, and combines the precision of craftsmanship with decades of experience to conceive, craft and deliver the best insurance coverage and services to individuals, families and business of all size.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Fareportal

Fareportal’s portfolio of brands, which include  CheapOair and  OneTravel, are dedicated to helping customers enjoy their trip. Whether you want to call, click, or use one of our travel apps, one thing is clear: We make it easy to take it easy.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Insuremyrentalcar.com

An independent provider of low cost CDW/LDW insurance for use with rental cars. Up to $100,000 cover with no deductible. Policies available on a per day, per trip or per year basis. Also works with overseas rentals. Try  Insuremyrentalcar.comnow.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by G1G.com

Since its inception over three decades ago, G1G has continued to revolutionize the travel insurance industry by being the only aggregator to operate a customer portal, placing all of the user's primary needs in one place. We have continued to innovate and disrupt the market by reimagining the way travel insurance can be delivered to the end user in ways no competition can. Simply put, no one knows the market as well as its founders and no one else shares G1G values and mission.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Mediacom Communications

The nation’s fifth-largest cable operator, serving the smaller cities and towns in the Midwest and Southern regions of the United States. We are a high-performance broadband, entertainment, and communications company that brings the power of modern technology and quality customer experience to life inside the connected home by combining ultra-fast gigabit speeds with personalized local and over-the-top entertainment choices that fit your lifestyle. Details at  Mediacomcable.com.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Arch RoamRight

Arch RoamRight is one of the fastest growing, most-highly rated travel insurance companies in the United States. Travel advisors love working with us, and travelers feel protected with our trip cancellation and travel medical insurance coverage. We also make it easy to file a claim online with our fast, paperless claims website. Learn more about RoamRight travel insurance.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Virtuoso

The leading global network for luxury and experiential travel. This invitation-only organization comprises over 1,000 travel agency locations with 17,500 advisors in over 45 countries, and holds preferred relationships with 1,700 of the world’s finest travel companies. Virtuoso advisors collaborate with their clients to create personalized itineraries featuring exclusive perks, while also providing advice, access, advocacy, and accountability. For more information, visit  Virtuoso.com.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by VisitorsCoverage

VisitorsCoverage is one of the world’s most trusted providers of travel insurance for millions of global travelers in over 175 countries. Working with top-rated travel insurance partner providers, VisitorsCoverage’s award-winning search, compare and purchase technology simplifies the travel insurance process and finds the best deals for the coverage you need to explore the world with confidence. Get insurance for your next trip at VisitorsCoverage.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by MedjetAssist

Medjet is the premier global air-medical transport, travel security and crisis response membership program for travelers. With a MedjetAssist membership, if you become hospitalized more than 150 miles from home, we will get you from that unfamiliar hospital all the way home to the hospital you trust. All you ever pay is your membership fee. MedjetHorizon members add 24/7 personal security and crisis response benefits. Elliott.org readers enjoy discounted rates. Travel safer with  MedjetAssist.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Southwest Airlines

The mission of Southwest Airlines is dedication to the highest quality of Customer Service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and Company Spirit. We are committed to provide our Employees a stable work environment with equal opportunity for learning and personal growth.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by TravelInsurance.com

TravelInsurance.com makes it fast and easy to compare and buy travel insurance online from top rated providers. Our unbiased comparison engine allows travelers to read reviews, compare pricing and benefits and buy the right policy with a price guarantee, every time. Compare and buy travel insurance now at  TravelInsurance.com.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Squaremouth

Squaremouth helps travelers easily and instantly compare travel insurance policies from all major providers. Only companies that meet the strict requirements of Squaremouth’s Zero Complaint Guarantee are available on the website. Compare policies on  Squaremouth.com to save over 70 percent on your next purchase.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Travel Leaders Group

Travel Leaders Group is transforming travel through its progressive approach toward each unique travel experience. Travel Leaders Group assists millions of travelers through its leisure, business and network travel operations under a variety of diversified divisions and brands including All Aboard Travel, Andrew Harper Travel, Colletts Travel, Corporate Travel Services, CruCon Cruise Outlet, Cruise Specialists, Nexion, Protravel International, SinglesCruise.com, Travel Leaders Corporate, Travel Leaders Network and Tzell Travel Group, and its merger with ALTOUR. With more than 7,000 agency locations and 52,000 travel advisors, Travel Leaders Group ranks as one of the industry’s largest retail travel agency companies.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Travelers United

If you’ve been mistreated by the airlines, Travelers United is your voice in Washington. Join the #1 travel advocacy organization working with Congress to improve and protect travelers. Plus, get $400 of annual benefits you can use for travel for only $29/year. Add your voice to ours. Make travel better.  Join today.

Send this to a friend