So you canceled your hotel reservation — prove it!

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By Christopher Elliott

When Michele Buescher reserved a room at the Super 8 property in Frankfort, Ind., through Priceline, she knew she had a limited time to cancel her stay.

But she phoned the hotel with plenty of time to spare, she says. Five full days, to be exact.

“I have a copy of the receipt which confirms this policy,” she says.

Ah, but does she have a cancellation number?

Yes, she does. But it’s not enough.

Last week we noticed that our room had not been refunded, so we called the motel. At first we were told we needed to have canceled in seven days.

Then when we had proof of cancellation policy, we were told he didn’t understand, he couldn’t do anything, ask Priceline.

Each time we talked with same rude worker, who we think is the manager. He is very difficult to understand and work with. He would not tell us his name.

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He kept asking why we canceled. He was very uncooperative and unprofessional. I have tried calling at various times of the day, hoping to talk with someone different so I could get a name or email of the manager or owner, but he has answered every time I have called.

OK, so to reiterate: Buescher canceled well in advance of her stay, she received a cancellation number from Super 8, and the hotel still refuses to process the refund?

I asked Priceline to have a look at its records. Here’s what a representative told me:

The hotel is adamant that there was no cancellation and will not issue a refund.

The stay was for June 29 to July 1. The customer could have contacted us as late as June 28 for a full refund.

Unfortunately, we did not hear from the customer until July 17, by which time it was too late for us — or any other booking agent for that matter — to assist.

If you didn’t book directly with the hotel, you should always make your cancellation through the booking agency.

Navigating refund challenges

In other words, it doesn’t matter that Buescher phoned Super 8 and received a verbal confirmation and a confirmation number. She needed to call Priceline to make the cancellation.


I asked Super 8 corporate to review her refund request. It investigated the cancellation and offered Buescher a full refund. But the money came from Wyndham corporate, which owns the Super 8 brand, not from the hotel. (Related: Can I get a refund for my stay at No-Tell Motel?)

(By the way, I think corporate Wyndham did a commendable job of handling this refund. It helped this customer when no one else would, and I’m grateful for its cooperation)

But I’m troubled by this case, which very nearly didn’t go her way. Super 8, like many other budget hotels, seems to dole out franchises like Halloween candy, but often exercises minimal control over its hotels. (Here’s how to book the best hotel at the most affordable rates.)

So it’s pretty easy for an owner to go “rogue” and refuse to honor an agreement, even when there’s proof of a phone call, a written confirmation agreement, and even cell phone records to verify a cancellation was made.

If there’s a lesson to be learned, it’s that you need to notify the agency through which you booked a hotel room. Maybe the threat of having this Super 8 franchise blacklisted by Priceline would have been more incentive to issue a refund.

Then again, maybe not.

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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. He is based in Panamá City.

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