This TripAdvisor website error should be easy to fix. It isn’t.

Should he pay for a TripAdvisor website error?

When is a Holiday Inn actually a Rodeway Inn? When you’re booking on TripAdvisor, that’s when. At least that’s what Thomas Burgei discovered when he tried to make a reservation through the site and encountered a TripAdvisor website error that he couldn’t resolve.

For the record, Holiday Inn and Rodeway Inn are not the same. Anyone who travels even a little knows that. To be clear, Holiday Inn is a midscale hotel chain; Rodeway is an economy-priced hotel chain.

And yet, when Burgei made a nonrefundable hotel reservation through TripAdvisor — processed by Hotwire, the famously opaque travel website — it happened. The confirmation said “Holiday Inn” — and then it said “Rodeway.” And, of course, the reservations were completely nonrefundable and non-changeable. His $396 was gone.

“I want my money refunded,” he says.

Burgei may be the poster boy for travel sites run amok, with many hidden relationships behind the scenes that vastly complicate what should be a simple hotel reservation. Then again, this may just be another case of corporate intransigence. You know, an oversized company like TripAdvisor, which made a name for itself by hosting user-generated hotel reviews, trying to pivot into an online travel agency — and forgetting about customer service.

How did this TripAdvisor website error happen?

A few weeks ago, Burgei clicked on TripAdvisor to find accommodations in Kendallville, Ind. His choices were:

  1. Holiday Inn Express
  2. Best Western
  3. Rodeway Inn

Now, you would think that if you press option “1,” you would actually get to the Holiday Inn Express, right?

Not really.

“I clicked on the TripAdvisor icon and that directed me to Hotwire,” says Burgei. “When the confirmation came from TripAdvisor, there was a picture in the email of the Holiday Inn Express, but the wording in the email stated I had been booked into the Rodeway Inn. ”

Remember, bookings made on Hotwire are nonrefundable and nonchangeable.

Burgei was stuck.

“I went back to the website and noted that it indeed listed Holiday Inn Express and Hotwire as the contact. I took pictures of the page showing it,” he says. “Then the website listed the Rodeway Inn third with Priceline as the contact for that hotel. I then received a notice from Hotwire indicating a reservation for Rodeway Inn.”

If you’re thinking “bait and switch,” that makes two of us.

This is not the resolution he wanted

Burgei assumed TripAdvisor and Hotwire would fix this website error immediately. Wrong again.

“Within 10 minutes and after finding a number, I contacted the helpline at Hotwire and spoke to a representative who said she needed to contact the hotel to see if they would release me from the contract,” he says. “I stated again I did not make a non-cancellation agreement with Rodeway — mine was with Holiday Inn Express. The representative said she would call me back within an hour. I did not hear back from her.”

I’ll spare you the rest of the details about this TripAdvisor website error. But Burgei appealed this to the highest level at Hotwire and TripAdvisor, to no avail. He was stuck with his nonrefundable Rodeway reservation.

A surprise twist in this TripAdvisor website error case

Burgei isn’t the kind of customer who rolls over. He decided to do some sleuthing. He searched the Holiday Inn site for the Kendallville property, but couldn’t find it. The mystery deepened. How could TripAdvisor be selling a hotel that didn’t exist, at least according to Holiday Inn?

Then he discovered that there was no Holiday Inn Express in Kendallville because the property had reflagged as a Rodeway.

The switch happened two years ago.

So why hadn’t TripAdvisor updated its site?

What to do when you buy one thing but get another

Burgei reached out to the executive contacts at TripAdvisor and at Hotwire. But this was really a problem of paying for one thing and receiving another. And it’s against the law.

The Fair Credit Billing Act protects you against such fraudulent purchases made with a credit card.

They include:

  • Unauthorized charges. Federal law limits your responsibility for unauthorized charges to $50.
  • Charges that list the wrong date or amount.
  • Charges for goods and services you didn’t accept or that weren’t delivered as agreed, including math errors.
  • Failure to post payments and other credits, like returns.
  • Failure to send bills to your current address — assuming the creditor has your change of address, in writing, at least 20 days before the billing period ends.
  • Charges for which you ask for an explanation or written proof of purchase, along with a claimed error or request for clarification.

Bottom line: Burgei had an airtight case for a credit card chargeback.

How we helped fix this TripAdvisor website error

Dwayne and Michelle reviewed Burgei’s lengthy paper trail and decided enough was enough. Instead of asking him to submit even more paperwork to his credit card company, they figured a quick intervention would do the trick.

Dwayne reached out to TripAdvisor on his behalf. A few days later, success.

“I’m happy to report that this matter has been resolved thanks to your help and that of TripAdvisor — which, I might add, accepted responsibility for the error on the website and corrected it,” he says. “They credited my card the $396.”

Also, TripAdvisor has updated its listing for Holiday Inn, so we shouldn’t see any more cases like Burgei’s — at least not in Kendallville.

But this case is about more than a company stubbornly insisting that its rooms are nonrefundable. This is what happens when an online travel agency like TripAdvisor simply hands you off to a partner site and takes your money. There’s no chain of responsibility. They get your money, and you become someone else’s problem.

This is not good customer service. When you pass a customer off to a third party, you enter into a partnership with that company to take care of the guest. When I hear about emails that go into the void, calls unreturned, and boilerplate “nos,” this consumer advocate is very unhappy.

And TripAdvisor, you don’t want me to be unhappy.

Underwritten by

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by

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,,, and

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

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

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

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

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

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

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. 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 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

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 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,, 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