Case dismissed: Oops, I booked eight nights instead of one

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By Christopher Elliott

Meryl Lee Seewald thought she was booking just one night at the Holiday Inn Miami International Airport. Instead, she booked eight.

Now she’s stuck with a nonrefundable one-week reservation at the hotel. Oh, if she’d only used a professional travel agent!

But wait: Seewald is the travel agent, and the reservation is for a client who is taking a cruise.

Now what?

Hotel booking blunder

Seewald is stuck in the same place countless other hotel guests are who have an erroneous booking.

As soon as we discovered the error, we notified the hotel and asked them the rectify the charges.

The hotel would not even though we offered to pay an extra night or even two. They will not respond to me or my clients. They offered a credit good at their hotel only which my clients will not be able to use.

I spoke with Holiday Inn International, but they would not help in any way.

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If you’re a regular reader of this site, you probably think this kind of thing only happened when DIY-ers try to book through one of the big online travel agencies, or directly through a hotel. And even when it does, you’d think a professional travel agent like Seewald would have special connections that would allow her to get a speedy refund. (Here’s our guide with the best travel advice.)

My advocacy team and I asked Holiday Inn about her case, thinking that maybe it wasn’t clear that this was an agency reservation.

I heard back from my contact at Holiday Inn corporate:

It’s my understanding that a prepaid rate with no option to cancel was selected by the person who made the reservation.
But, the hotel is willing to apply the funds to a later date, which is an excellent alternative. I hope this helps!

Um, not really.

Seewald says she’s disappointed.

I was trying to get them to work with me on the charges. My agency is in Colorado and I don’t have many clients staying near Miami airport, so it will be difficult to use these funds. They are unwilling to discuss any other remedies.

You have been wonderful in helping me with this. Now if I could just find a way to use these funds as I have personally refunded the overcharge to my client.

Booking blunders and hotel hassles

It’s nice of her to repay her clients for the erroneous booking. And Holiday Inn’s rules are clear on her reservation: no refunds and no changes. Technically, it was doing her a favor by offering credit.

I don’t want to move this into the “case dismissed” file, but what choice do I have?

Holiday Inn has already done all it can, or all that it thinks it can. Seewald say she’s going to book away from the hotel chain because of its restrictive policy. Her clients, meanwhile, have been made whole. It may be the best possible solution, all things considered. (Related: They renamed the hotel and canceled my reservation.)

Update (3:30 p.m.): Many of you have asked for specifics on the booking error. I asked Seewald, and here’s her response:

I booked the reservation through my system in the same record I had booked the airfare for my clients. Since the air was for 8 nights, my system automatically booked the hotel for 8 nights as well. This is where the error occurred.

We did not discover the error until my clients were checking out of the Holiday Inn Miami Airport. Their credit card was charged for the full amount even though they told them, they were checking out that day.

They called me and I immediately contacted the hotel and the manager. We were in contact with the manager within 1 day of the credit card charges. My clients commented on the fact that this was a very busy hotel with many airline people staying there.

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Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is the founder of Elliott Advocacy, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that empowers consumers to solve their problems and helps those who can't. He's the author of numerous books on consumer advocacy and writes three nationally syndicated columns. He also publishes the Elliott Report, a news site for consumers, and Elliott Confidential, a critically acclaimed newsletter about customer service. If you have a consumer problem you can't solve, contact him directly through his advocacy website. You can also follow him on X, Facebook, and LinkedIn, or sign up for his daily newsletter.

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