Reading comprehension is one of the foundations of primary education. (I ought to know. My eight-year-old struggles with his reading assignments from time to time.) But you’d expect a full-grown employee to actually take the time to read and understand something like a complaint email, right?
So would Ned Uyeno, who recently tried to cancel his Hotels.com room in Japan. When the site refunded only one of his rooms, it set off a chain of events that Uyeno is having a hard time comprehending.
Uyeno did everything by the book. He logged into Hotels.com and executed the cancellation, expecting a full refund of $878. But Hotels.com only issued a credit of $439.
Hotels.com claims that their system assigned each room with a confirmation number. But this is not shown on the confirmation I had printed the night I made the reservations.
Hotels.com cannot show me proof that I was sent or notified that their were two confirmation numbers the night I made the reservations.
I tried to resolve this issue by going through their customer care department and was subjected to the worst example of customer service possible. I had to make eleven calls, disconnected four times (hung-up on more likely) and was promised by the last customer representative that a refund would be issued due to fact that I had only one confirmation number to use and to make up for the horrible way I was treated in trying to explain my situation.
But Hotels.com didn’t refund the second room.
I suggested Uyeno contact Hotels.com by email, asking for the promised refund. Here’s an edited excerpt:
Uyeno: Please review your customer care center recordings and system records for my itinerary number. They will show that the reservation was canceled on June 15th. I followed the instructions of your customer care person and entered the itinerary number and the screen showed reservation canceled. At no time did a message appear on the screen stating that a second itinerary number was required or needed to be canceled. How would I know about a second itinerary number when I was only given one?
Hotels.com: We apologize for the inconvenience and delay of response. After conducting an investigation in your reservation, it shows that there are two rooms under two different names: Uyeno Vivian and Verde-Uyeno Rosarito. Record shows that you were able to cancel room under Uyeno Vivian and was refunded amounting $439.26. However the reservation under Verde-Uyeno Rosarito was not cancelled and charged for the fee. Since you booked two rooms at the same time in your account, you were sent one itinerary for the two rooms booked.
Uyeno: By your own admission in the attached email I was given only one itinerary number for TWO rooms. Using the only itinerary number to cancel the reservations YOUR system only canceled one room. How is this my fault? Please issue a refund immediately for the second room.
Hotels.com: We apologize for the delayed response and for the inconvenience this may have caused. We are sorry that only one room has been cancelled and only half of the amount has been credited to you account. As one time courtesy, we will release your credit in the amount of 439.26 USD within 24 hours. You may want to call your bank within the next 3 to 7 days to see if your credit is posted. Thank you for choosing Hotels.com.
Why did Hotels.com have a change of heart? Maybe someone actually read his email and reviewed his file. Then again, maybe they noticed he was copying me on the exchanges, and suspected they’d get a note from me if they didn’t fix the problem. It’s difficult to say.
So what do you do when a company refuses to listen to reason? Uyeno had a few more options, including appealing to someone higher up at Hotels.com or taking the company to small-claims court. But persistence can also be an effective tool, and Uyeno’s persistence paid.