Kate Farrelly has a little ant problem in her apartment, so she decided to book a hotel room while her landlord fumigated her building. She paid $181 for two nights in a “pet friendly” room at the Vagabond Inn Glendale through a Priceline-affiliate site. Problem is, the Vagabond Inn didn’t actually have any pet-friendly rooms. They sent Farrelly packing — back to her ant-infested apartment — and they charged her for one night after she canceled her reservation. Is one night’s refund enough? Farrelly says her initial booking was made through a site called Pet Vacations, which appears to be affiliated with Priceline.
I packed up my dog and cat, and showed up at the hotel around 7:30 p.m. When I got to the hotel, the clerk told me they didn’t have any pet-friendly rooms left. [An employee] called her manager and was supposedly given permission to open up another non-pet-friendly room for me. I was told they were going to charge me an extra $60 per night for my pets. Meanwhile, there’s a sign on the counter that says pets cost $10/night. I had already paid $181 for the “pet-friendly” room. My credit card had already been charged, so I assumed this included any pet fees. I told the clerk that I didn’t think the extra fees were fair as it was the hotel’s fault they’d accepted the reservation without having the room, and asked to cancel the reservation. I was told I needed to call Priceline. I was told that I couldn’t cancel the reservation because it was afternoon on the day of check in. A Priceline supervisor called the hotel and asked if they would waive the $60, but they supposedly refused. The most they agreed to was cancelling the reservation and refunding me $87. So I paid $94 to sleep in my own ant-infested bed.
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Yuck. The next day, Farrelly filed a complaint with the Better Business Bureau. She received the following response:
Priceline contacted the hotel and spoke with [a representative] who confirmed to Priceline that the property allocate a number of rooms for pets, and when all these pet allocated rooms are all occupied, the hotel has the option to open another non pet allocated room. However, the hotel must charge an additional fee for providing a non pet allocated room for the special cleaning process required once the guest check’s out of the non pet allocated room. As a goodwill gesture, the consumer has already received a courtesy one night refund, and we can offer no additional refund for the hotel room that was used by the consumer.
She appealed, but the BBBs response was the same. I contacted Priceline. Here’s what it told me:
We contacted the hotel on Kate’s behalf. The manager claims that she requested a room upgrade and that’s what the additional fee is for. The hotel feels they’ve already met her halfway on this and they declined to go any further. Sorry.
I can sort of see the hotel’s perspective. If it opened another pet room, it would have to clean it. But maybe it should have thought of that before it accepted Priceline’s money. Is its refund of one night’s accommodations enough? In a quickie poll of more than 500 readers, you said … (Photo: B inux/Flickr Creative Commons)