Case dismissed: Was there really no room at the inn?

Ivy Photos/Shutterstock
Ivy Photos/Shutterstock
Ifti Qadir’s case against the Royal San Marco & Suites Hotel and Orbitz seemed like a slam-dunk when it crossed my desk recently. He’d paid $1,307 for two rooms, for a total of three nights.

“When we arrived at the hotel, we were told they don’t have any room available for us,” he says.

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Qadir contacted Orbitz, the website through which he booked the rooms, and a representative told him to book another hotel and promised him a refund within five days, he says. But the money never came.

“Finally, we were told that it is not possible, because Orbitz had already paid the hotel,” he says.

Huh? At this point, my blood pressure has gone up by a few points. They can’t just keep Qadir’s money — can they?

Actually, they can.

I checked with Orbitz and its records reflected a different version of events. Orbitz says it didn’t receive a call until a day after Qadir’s scheduled arrival.

The hotel advised that the customer was a “no-show” for both rooms and because they had not been contacted (i.e., “our flight cancelled, please hold our rooms for arrival tomorrow”) the rooms were given to another guest. The customer was under a “non-refundable” penalty for the hotel.

The hotel advised that due to its “no-show”, no refund was possible. At this point, as the hotel denied a refund, Orbitz has not provided any refund.

I checked with Qadir to see if he had any response. He says Orbitz’ records are incorrect, and that he did call the online agency on the day of his scheduled arrival.

I told them that I will not be able to make it today and will be coming in the next day.

When I contacted Orbitz the next day from the hotel lobby, a representative, after talking to the hotel clerk advised me to find a different hotel and assured me that I will receive my refund within five business days.

I called Orbitz the next day for a follow-up and she assured me again — it is all set, she has all the information needed and just needs one final approval from the supervisor before she can submit the refund request.

OK, back to Orbitz. It insists the first contact didn’t happen until the next day, after Qadir no-showed. Orbitz says Qadir failed to notify the hotel of his change in plans and that it told him it would try to secure a refund, but that it didn’t make any promises.

The process is such that the hotel invoices us upon the completion of the guest’s stay. In this case, the no-show triggered the hotel closing out the stay.

We were invoiced electronically and payment was issued. Our funds were transmitted to the resort. By the time we were contacted, this payment process was likely well underway.

A refund to the customer would have required the hotel refunding Orbitz, to free up those funds to refund the customer. We said we would try, but the resort declined.

I’m moving this one into the “case dismissed” file.

Qadir should have also notified the hotel of his late arrival before he was scheduled to check in, not called his online travel agency afterwards, as Orbitz’ records suggest. It might also be nice to have something in writing when you travel plans are disrupted; even an email from the hotel would have helped. Beyond that, you really have to pay attention to the terms of your hotel stay.

Increasingly, nonrefundable really means nonrefundable.

Should Orbitz have refunded Ifti Qadir's money?

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243 thoughts on “Case dismissed: Was there really no room at the inn?

  1. I think the OP is lying.

    I think the OP was so stressed out because of a delay they forgot to call the hotel so when Orbits said they did not call until it was to late.

    “Orbitz says it didn’t receive a call until a day after Qadir’s scheduled arrival.”

    i believe them.

    if the OP can pull up phone records (all cell phones keep track of what time calls are made) that say when he called then I will retract my statement- but as the article reads- the OP was lying.

    Yes 1,307 is ALOT of money and the OP probably; wanted to try to get some of that back- but the OP lied and deserves no sympathy.

    1. You shouldn’t use the term “lying.” It is too harsh and judgmental.
      Maybe use…made a mistake…

        1. What is missing from the story is: was his flight delayed? Was he put on another flight on the next day?
          I have been in a similar situation just recently where it was snowing very hard and I was sitting on the plane at Dulles hoping we would take off to fly to Paris. It crossed my mind that I would try to contact the hotel directly and try to contact Expedia.
          There were just too many missing details from this story to accuse someone of lying.
          And even if the room was non-refundable and he showed up a day late, he still paid for his room. So in effect, the hotel made money on the same room twice.

    2. There is no question that *orbitz* didn’t get a call until day 2. What matters here is whether he called the hotel on day 1.

  2. Even with the no-show policy, technically, the hotel got paid twice since they managed to still rent out the room. They should’ve possibly kept a fee for the first night, but after that, it should have been returned.

    1. I agree. I could understand that he would have to pay for the first night even if he was not there. And, I could understand him having to pay for an entire stay he did not show for. But, keeping the three nights payment and then not allowing him to use the last two nights is a complete and total rip-off. If you book two weeks at a resort and you miss the first day due to a cancelled flight, it is reasonable for the hotel to call you a no-show, refuse to accept you the second day and then keep the 13 days payment?

      1. I understand from the quotes that Orbitz books the hotel on a standard non-prepaid rate and Orbitz is the one imposing the prepaid non-refundable terms on the traveller !

        1. They also offer nonrefundable – and this probably fell into that category – the hotel makes the rules, Orbitz has to abide by them.

      2. They offer a nonrefundable stay where if you cancel or no show, you are in penalty for the ENTIRE stay – T&C on their OWN website.

    2. So you think the hotel is guilty of unjust enrichment or something?
      Was it possible (for you to believe) that the OP breached the contract?
      Was the contract illegal or unenforceable in Venice or Italy?

      1. I”m going by the assumption that the OP did not call, but his material obligation was to pay for the room which he did. Thus, no breach occurred.

        1. Did the hotel breach the contract?
          If not then what is the problem?
          Some folks don’t like how a hotel makes money?

          1. He was going to another country and according to the hotel he didn’t let them know until after the first day. You feel they should have let that room sit empty wondering if he was going to show up?
            If he was flying business or first class, the carrier’s lounge would have called the hotel for him.

          2. Of course they should have let the room sit empty – he paid in full for it. You were thinking of the old convention for hotel reservations, which was to pay a deposit of one night’s stay. If you no-showed, that amount would be forfeited and the room could be resold the following day.

            So now hotels get to double-dip by rerenting a paid-up stay while still keeping the original customer’s money?

          3. I don’t know the rules of the rate he paid. But recently, for reservations in Europe, I was required to notify the hotel of a late arrival or the room would not be available after a certain time. I can’t remember where this was and it wasn’t a chain hotel.

          4. Yes, I think they should have let that room sit empty. It is not their concern whether he actually showed up. They got paid.

            I am struggling to think of a scenario, not travel related, where you pay for something in advance, but take delivery late, and the seller gets to say, sorry, sucks to be you, I get to resell the item and you lose the prepayment.

          5. I fully understand. However, he didn’t show up and according to the rules of the rate, ANY changes or cancellations forfeits the money by 100%. A noshow is a change. I did go in and read the current rules on Orbitz of the nonrefundable rate at that hotel and it states to contact Orbitz, not the hotel. The OP did that, but he wasn’t cancelling and I would have called the hotel directly to explain the delay in the use of the first night. But it appears to me that with the time delay they considered the noshow as a cancellatin, hence no refund. I have dealt with delays for years and by calling my vendors who make the call or if I make the call directly to the hotel, clients have never lost their reservations or money. One client actually got money refunded for the unused night due to the delay. THAT was early in my career and a vendor I have done many, many bookings with since due to such fabulous service.

          6. I don’t think there is an argument that this sh*t stinks. Personally, I have attacked this kind of pricing consistently in this site.
            But I know it is legal so that only thing we can do is educate people NOT to be suckers.
            In addition, I have consistently told people here you don’t need a TA for everything. But if you can’t, don’t want to, or don’t know how to, then why not use a TA to search a hotel (in Venice) that lives up to your expectations?
            But for Pete’s sake, at some point consumers need to be more responsible for their decisions and mistakes.

          7. I agree.

            It seems to me there are two issues. The first is the propriety of this type of contract. In other arenas it might be completely unenforceable.

            The second is that if you want to do something yourself, prudence dictates that you need become knowledgeable.

          8. You know, I have never heard of a State (attorney) challenging these BS pricing schemes. But, I have heard of many States fighting OTAs for their “right” share of the occupancy tax. So if public officials don’t give a damn, then who should?

          9. Because this is not a criminal or administrative issue. Unconscionability merely means that the contract, or a part of it, is not enforceable. The proper venue for challenge is purely private action, e.g. a class action.

  3. If the OP called Orbitz or the hotel via his cell phone there would be a record of it. All cell phone billing records have detailed data available – what number was called, time and day of the call, and length of the call. Just look at the detailed (not regular) billing record. OP could prove that he phoned the hotel with his cell phone records.

  4. I am skeptical about the LW’s version of events for three reasons

    First, He booked a non-refundable rate. It is not credible that merely because his travel plans changed that Orbitz would promise a refund of a nonrefundable rate.

    Second, and more importantly, he doesn’t disclose the entire story. He doesn’t mention that he arrived on the second day of a 2 day stay. That seems like something that you would mention upfront when seeking assistance from the media.

    Third, as polexia_rogue points out, cell phones keep track of calls. It should be simple for the OP to show that he called Orbitz.

    When I have a potential client who “forgets” to disclose obviously important information, I generally decline or withdraw from the case.

    1. You’d think that if he called Orbitz the day before his actual arrival, he would have mentioned that in his original e-mail. Instead, the note explicitly says that he called after he finally showed up and was turned away. An advance warning call is kind of an important fact in his favor to “forget”.

      But yeah, neglecting to mention that he showed up the day after he was originally scheduled to arrive is already grounds to simply let the case go, as it certainly is a Red Flag that he isn’t being entirely truthful.

    2. I see no difference. He prepaid for 3 nights. The hotel and/or Orbitz refuse a refund on the basis that he was a no show for the first night, but none of them was able to provide him with a room for the reminder of the stay !
      It’s not as if the room was just held with no advance payment (well, it was probably the case for the hotel, but not for Orbitz) !

      1. That’s a different question. One reason why I avoid prepaid reservations is that being a no-show for the first night permits the hotel to cancel the remainder of the nights. I don’t think that’s fair but it is the industry standard.

        The issue here is whether the LW is being truthful, which appears unlikely.

        1. Correct – it is like NOT using the first flight of your reservation, and NOT cancelling in advance – the balance of the flights are cancelled and worthless (ALWAYS cancel prior!!!)

          1. C’mon, give us a break. With lawyer’s fees you get the service you pay for. While you may not like the outcome, you did actually get the service. And with a contingent fee you may not even have to pay. ’nuff said.

          2. But showing up for the second night of a multi-night stay is a lot easier to do than trying to get to a second leg of a flight. If the hotel has already been paid for the night, I don’t see where it matters if you are a no show or not. The room is paid for. End of story. The only reason I see for this type of policy is a money grab on the part of the hotel.

  5. One question I’d like to see asked…..did the Orbitz representative get the OP another room (“advised me to find a different hotel”) or did the OP get one on his own?

  6. My only issue with this case is that the OP paid for the rooms in advance. It shouldn’t matter if he was days late, the hotel is still covered for the rooms. If they re-rented them, they should refund him.

    1. Ok … No more commenting before caffeine … What I should have said on the last line is that .. If they re-rented them and no longer had rooms for him, they should refund him. Wasn’t trying to imply that I thought that he should get a refund solely because they rented the rooms.

      1. But the OP agreed to a nonrefundable rate. It wasn’t refundable if he couldn’t make it. You get a much lower rate (reward) by taking the chance (risk) that something goes bad.

        1. The reason for the refund was that they couldn’t / wouldn’t deliver what he contracted for. If he had straight up no showed… no refund.. If he shows up and they have a room for him… no refund. Its because he showed up and they didn’t have a room for him that he should get the refund.

          1. But according to the terms he DID no show – just popping up the following date is meaningless – the T&C on the hotel’s site CLEARLY shows it will cancel and keep the money for entire reservation. Which is why I NEVER let me clients make such a choice for over one night (and even then, don’t recommend it!)

          2. He no-showed because the industry has a self-serving definition of no-show. In the real world, he merely showed up late.

          3. The next day is hardly “late” – that’s like showing up for your flight the next day, and expecting them to have saved you a spot. And the nonrefundable aspect is why I always tell my clients NOT to do it — if you can’t take responsibility for contacting the hotel prior to missing checkin, I don’t really feel sorry for you

          4. Of course it is. The OP shows up during the rental period. Unlike the plane, the hotel is still there, the room is still there; its fully paid. There is no good justification, except to double dip, for the hotel not to keep his room for him.

        2. I do have a problem with that part of non-refundable. I don’t think its right that a hotel can re-rent out a prepaid room merely because you didn’t show up. The OP should lose the first night, but I don’t see why he has to lose the remaining, pre-paid nights.

    2. The ability of the hotel to “double-dip” on no-shows and cancellations is why pre-paid non-refundable rooms are cheaper. If they only charged a one-night penalty (like any other reservation) then there’d be little reason for the lower pre-paid rates to exist, and they’d be discontinued entirely.

      1. I have no problem on double-dipping on cancellations or double-dipping on the last day of a several night no-show. But not as soon as the 2nd day of a several days stay, especially when you refuse all refund for what you are no longer able to provide !…

      2. I wasn’t trying to say that (see below)… I have no problem with the hotel keeping a “no shows” money. I have an issue if I show up on day 3 of a 7 day stay and you tell me that I have no room and you won’t refund the last 4 days.

      3. I guess I see that differently. I see the idea of a prepaid rate as guaranteed revenue for the hotel. I’m ok with the hotel keeping the money for a no-show. But double dipping is generally a no-no

      4. Pre-paid rates for anything exist because the business gets positive cash flow, meaning that it gets paid before a service is rendered. This is why travelers checks (remember those) were usually “free” – the issuer made its money on having your funds to invest months before the check was cashed.

        In this case, a pre-paying customer has every reason to expect that the room is going to be held for him. If he never shows up at all, the hotel makes just as much as if he had been there. Slightly more, in fact, because there is no one in the room needing heat or dirtying up towels and linen.

  7. They should keep the room for him. If they rented it, they should refund less the first night .It’s one of the reasons I don’t like to pay full in advance. What if I don’t like the room or the hotel, I will lose my money.

  8. This, and likely others, shows how many untrustworthy people try and sometimes succeed in using a consumer advocate in their evil schemes. At least Qadir saved us from more of the drama that usually accompanies bogus complaints.

    1. Ok, he’s untrustworthy.
      But he still paid for 3 nights, intended to use at least 2 of them and was not able to do so because of the hotel canceling his prepaid booking !…
      I don’t see his complaint as being more than 1/3 bogus !…

      1. From your other comments above, it is obvious you do not agree with or do not know Orbitz’s Hotel No Show Policy.
        As I said here (in this site) repeatedly – Do NOT prepay hotel stays especially if you have any intentions in changing them. That is where the OP screwed up.

        1. Well, I certainly don’t know it (went browsing on thier website but did not find one), and even if i did, I wouldn’t agree with it in case of a prepaid non refundable multiple night stay !
          But I agree with you that you should always try not to prepay (or be prepared to loose) when you are not sure of your travel plans !

          1. Very easy. Go to Orbitz and book the same hotel in Venice.
            Then select the Not Refundable – Save with Not Refundable Rates!
            Below the total price to pay is a section which says this:

            Trip Information
            Royal San Marco & Suites Hotel Venice
            Cancellation policy

            This reservation is non-refundable. Cancellations or changes made at any time are subject to a 100% charge.

            If you need to change or cancel this hotel reservation, please do so through Orbitz rather than through the hotel directly.

            So apparently no shows may be treated as a cancellation just like how the airlines do it 🙂

          2. I sure didn’t intend to do that ! Thanks for doing it for us …

            We are then left with a question about wether a partial no-show can be considered a cancellation or a change ! I would still vote no to that …
            No harm to neither Orbitz nor the hotel if I choose to eat only 2/3 of my lunch …

          3. You are describing the unfairness of the T&Cs of PREPAID hotel rates.
            Unfortunately, not many people can stop their greed (both the vendor and the buyer) from destroying trust in the travel industry.

            Lesson to all readers – stick with POST PAID hotel rates. The max you will lose is one night’s stay charged to your card in most instances.

          4. Would it be any different if the OP used a real travel agent to book the same type of reservation and then didn’t let anyone know he was going to be late arriving at the hotel? I seriously doubt it.

          5. Not this particular property. But if he told a TA he liked this property, I bet the Cancellation Terms would be clearer to him.

            Personally, I would not touch this if I knew there is possibility I would have to rebook or change. I would look for something else. But maybe the OP just loved this particular hotel or location and he paid dearly for the option.

            That said, I have stayed in awesome beach fronts where we have prepaid 6 months ahead of time and booked one year ahead.
            But I would not go to Elliott and cry if I lost my money because I had to cancel or change my dates.

          6. FYI, I did check Travelport and it does allow agents to book a POSTPAID RATE from Booking dot com with only a one day penalty for no-shows.
            Either the OP or his TA could have booked a more “lenient” rate.
            So there you go, a little research helps 🙂

          7. If you book this hotel’s “refundable” rate it STILL becomes non-refundable inside 2 days before the date of arrival.

            Ditto for practically any other hotel in Venice.

            So if your flight is cancelled on the day of departure, you lose no matter what rate you chose.

          8. Let the PROs do it.
            If you have GDS, display hotels for VCE, search rack rates, read Rate Rules. Done.
            Just because YOU can’t find one does not mean I can’t find one.
            Here’s what one hotel has …
            THE DAY OF ARRIVAL.

            There is a reason why some people use good TAs:-)

          9. You want it both ways. You insist it’s as easy as “buying the REFUNDABLE rate of a hotel” and you insist that we should “Let the PROs do it” through GDS (and that’s because the “refundable” rate is, in fact, NOT good enough most of the time…)

            Just because YOU can’t find one does not mean I can’t find one

            Who said I couldn’t find one? Hotel Mercure Venezia Marghera is one, but there are a variety of reasons why that would be a far less appealing option than a hotel right next to Piazza San Marco.

            The point is that non-refundable-rate-creep is everywhere, and avoiding it requires eliminating about 95% of your options at a growing number of popular destinations. And using a TA doesn’t fundamentally change that.

          10. Ah you said — Ditto for practically any other hotel in Venice.
            Well, duh, now you are pissed since I proved you wrong.
            Looks like you are the one who wants it both ways 🙂

          11. Funny, I’m not only aware that there are a small number of exceptions, I even cited one. Yet you — wrongly — think I’m “p*ssed” because you cited one.

            Either you completely missed the point or you purposely chose to ignore it.

          1. The hotel’s T&C’s could be clearer.

            The T&C’s state the customer will be charged for “the total price of the reservation”.

            The T&C’s do not explicitly state that the customer forfeits their right to occupy the room on the dates they prepaid for.

            The T&C’s also do not mention any arrival cutoff time, and the T&C’s do not mention anything about contacting the hotel to hold rooms for late night/next morning arrival.

  9. I have found that many times when online travel agencies list rooms that require advance payment and the money is non-refundable, I can go to that hotel’s website and find the same rate there for AAA members or Senior Citizens with the ability to cancel without penalty before 6:00 pm on the date of arrival. Both of these discount categories apply to me. This works with properties which are part of a large hotel chain like Hilton, Marriott or Best Western. Many independent hotels do not offer these discounts. Having this flexibility can help avoid situations like the one encountered by this OP.

    1. I have had the situation with both Hilton and Weston where I had a flight cancelled well after 6:00pm for a one-night trip. In both cases, I assumed I would be charged the one night, but both hotels canceled the night without me even asking. The reservations where, of course, booked directly with the hotel.

    2. I don’t qualify for either of those discounts, but I’ll surf the opaque sites to see what the lowest rates are in that area of a city and then pick a hotel I want to stay at and call them directly (after visiting their websites). More often than not, I can get a better rate on the hotel’s site or thru calling the hotel directly and asking for a discount than I could using a pre-paid, opaque, non-refundable site, and as mentioned not have to pay up front and get a much better cancellation policy. Since when I travel I’m often getting into the city close to midnight or later, it pays to deal directly with the hotels, since I’ve had them no-show me when I booked thru Orbitz even tho I contacted them to tell them I’d be a late arrival, but have never been no-showed when dealing with a hotel directly.

    3. Yes, you are generally correct. AAA rates are often good in the USA.
      Now in all fairness, the OP’s destination is Venice, Italy (unless I did not read the hotel’s name correctly).
      Finding a decent and reasonably priced hotel there is not that easy (especially if you must be near Piazza San Marco) in my opinion. It requires a little bit more research 🙂

  10. I always believed that the no-show clause allows the hotel to keep the money for the first night, not for all stay, even without notice.

    It seems I was wrong…

    1. If Qadir contacted the hotel directly before he was supposed to arrive, the hotel may have held the room. There is no evidence that he did that. There’s only his statement that he called the online travel booker after he arrived a day late for his reservation. I had an issue with a non-refundable hotel reservation. My flight was cancelled due to weather and I was rescheduled to arrive 12 hours late missing the first night of my reservation. I called the hotel directly and the hotel kept my room. The hotel did not refund the first night but did keep the room for me for the remainder of my reservation.

      For the first night, I filed a claim on my travel insurance and received a refund through my policy.

      1. Very smart of you. If only the OP did the same 🙂
        My folks had a prepaid (private) tour arranged during that Iceland volcano thing.
        They were able to postpone for months. And luckily I was able to replace my younger brother 🙂
        Got to talk folks. It solves a lot of issues.

        1. Did you replace him with a robot? It would be cool to have a robot brother. 😀
          Seriously, I don’t know why people don’t reach out and communicate your needs. The hotel doesn’t know what your plan is unless you tell them what your plan is. Not rocket science.

          1. The robot was me 🙂
            I replaced my younger brother since he was not available for the latter schedule.
            The destination was Tuscany. Wonderful !
            All the hotels and private transpo were very easy to reschedule (even if they were all fully paid).
            The difference is we informed them of the travel problem ASAP and that the supplier was a very reputable Destination Mgmt company. Not an OTA.

  11. I think the issue lies with Orbitz, as suggested by its last quote : “The process is such that the hotel invoices us upon the completion of the guest’s stay. In this case, the no-show triggered the hotel closing out the stay. We were invoiced electronically and payment was issued.”

    In other words, Orbitz sells the room as an advance payment non-refundable rate, but just books the hotel on a “regular” rate. Should the customer have cancelled, the hotel would have seen no cash and Orbitz would have kept the entire amount for itself.

    Therefore, in such a case where the OP was not able to use 2 nights out of 3, wether or not he warned them about being late, he should be refunded for at least the 2 nights where the service purchased was not given to him !

    1. Why should he be refunded if it’s a non-refundable rate? On Orbitz booking engine, it says before payment, that there is a 100% penalty for any changes. A no-show is a change. I agree with you that it lies with Orbitz, and its not fair, but it is disclosed and they did what they said they would do. I personally never pre-pay, and never book non-refundable rates. To me, the potential loss is not worth the small discount.

      1. How is arriving one day late on a 3 days booking a change ! He never asked for them to provide 3 nights, just wanted what was left of his prepaid room !…
        As far as I’ve read, in the beginning, he didn’t even ask for a refund of the first night he missed !…
        And he should be refunded on a non-refundable rate because they refused to honor his booking !…

        1. Its a change because he no-showed. Had he called, he would have had the same stay he booked with no change, and been able to stay his last two night.

          1. Here’s the ethical question. If I book a 5 day prepaid room, why isn’t that room blocked off for me. Whether I sleep in that room for all five days or just the final four, why do I have to inform the hotel? The hotel has received the full benefit of the bargain regardless of which day I check in..

            That has always disturbed me.

          2. Its solely because of the “Gamble” behind the discounted pre-paid rate. The discount is only offered because the hotel expects to be able to resale and double dip a certain number of rooms. If all discounted pre-paid rooms were held regardless of whether or not the guest checked in, there woudl be no reason to offer the discounted pre-paid rate. The majority of people who book pre-paid rates stay without a hitch, and got a discount, we never hear about those people. We only see the ones who want to make a change, or no-show, and then get the penalty involved in booking the lower pre-paid rate, and then don’t think it’s fare. However, pre-paid or not, its always in ones best interest to call if they are arriving the next day, its just that in a pre-paid rate with a fully disclosed 100% penalty, the consumer looses a bigger gamble.

          3. I understand the how and why, but that doesn’t address the ethical question. Why is this right? What ethical justification is there for a hotel resell something that it has already been fully paid for, especially when the purchaser, i.e. the guest, is willing to take delivery of the remaining item, i.e. the remaining rooms.

            Can the hotel do it? Yes. Is it right? That’s what I’m struggling with.

          4. I can’t ethically justify it myself, nor would I do that if I owned a hotel, however I think they justify it because they clearly state any change will result in a 100% penalty.

          5. Perhaps people cannot understand that they are not merely booking (renting) a room.
            The price they are paying reflects the risks whether they know it, or understand it, or not. In other words HOW they book a room matters.

            Part of what they are buying is the HOW.

          6. A very travel industry specific concept. I can’t think of another consumer industry that has such caveat emptor constructions

          7. Excellent example. I fell and hurt my back. I have contracted for 40 chiropractic visits (specific dates and time) over the next several months. In fact, I’m heading there right now.

            Because of the nature of the injury, those dates where chosen with great specificity. In fact, I’m headed there right now. I screwed up the date and missed my first appointment. It is defensible that one visit should be charged. That would be analogous to being charged one nights hotel.

            However, imagine if the chiropractor’s contract with me stated that missing an appointment breached the contract, prevented me from going to the remaining 39 visits, and had to pay for the full 40 visits. That would be absurd. We’d be talking to the District Attorney for fraud

            That’s exactly the absurdity that we have here. Since you missed day 1, the remaining days are forfeit.

          8. Not really since your (agreed upon) price was PER VISIT. The OP might have contracted a much cheaper rate for 3 PREPAID nights.
            In addition your example is really not the same as a hotel room with contiguous days of stay.
            The OP in this case agreed with Orbitz’s (ridiculous but legal) T&Cs.
            Had he used Booking dotcom (shown in my other posts) and chose post paid (pay at hotel), he would not be in the same sorry state.
            Blame him, not the hotel or Orbitz.

          9. No, the agreed on price was 5k after insurance for a treatment regime. It ended up being 40 visits, but the contract does not price per visit, unlike the hotel which is priced per day.

            Moreover, continuous is not relevant, In both cases it’s one contract. The point remains, it would be fundamentally unfair to charge for the remaining, unused portion.

            I maintain that you will be hard pressed to come up with a consumer transaction where the vendor can keep the remaining unused portion of a contract, deny goods or service, AND keep the money.

          10. Well if you miss your scheduled appt, you don’t get to go back anytime you want. You have to ask for a new appt.

            Same situation with hotel booking. You just don’t no show and appear for the last day.

          11. True, but you don’t lose other reservations or the money you paid. That’s the only issue. Everything else is white noise

          12. Please don’t get me wrong. I understand exactly what you are saying and how most people are thinking.
            But I need to emphasize that is NOT the way the OTAs are selling hotel rooms. It’s like all or nothing baby. A lottery if you have a misstep.
            Now hotels themselves are doing the same BS.
            People just need to be careful. Better adjust to BS or get hurt.

          13. Can’t let ethics get in the way of the terms that the OP went into eyes wide open. I wouldn’t book this, you likely wouldn’t either, but the OP had all the info up front and lost the risk/reward game they were playing for the lowest possible rate.

          14. I could write a contract that you would think you went into with your eyes wide open, but in reality you were being bamboozled. Go to a payday loan or rent to own place and see what I mean. That’s why there are consumer protection laws as well as legal maxims against forfeiture and unconscious terms.

          15. I agree on the rent to own and payday loan but this really is clear. You check in on X and check out on Y and you pay Z now. ANY change = 100% lost. Not a change that you think should be okay, but all changes. Of course it makes sense to still pay for the room for 3 nights (you’ve already paid) and only stay the 2nd and 3rd, but that is not what the terms say. It is clear and the OP wanted the best rate and took his chances. And that’s why people like us avoid them (and let’s not go the Orbitz route, that is another part of the OPs disasterous short sighted decision making that was destined for trouble).

          16. You check in on X and check out on Y and you pay Z now. ANY change = 100% lost

            Ok. Let me flip it around. The guests plans change. His 3 day stay will now only be 2 days. He checks on Monday

            Desk Clerk: Good afternoon sir. Checking out on Thursday?

            Guest: Nah, I’m leaving Wednesday.

            Desk Clerk: Oh, I’m sorry sir, that’s a violation of the agreement that you signed. I’m afraid I’ll have to forfeit your reservation.

            Guest: But, but, but, I’m still willing to pay for the full three nights.

            Desk Clerk: I’m sorry, you agreed to check on on Thursday. I can’t let you check in unless you’re staying until Thursday.

          17. That is a very good example of showing how illogical this type of policy is and how it is only in place for the hotel to make extra money from traveler’s misfortune.

          18. I actually stayed at a hotel for 2 days on a 3 days required reservation. I didn’t need the 3rd day, but the rate for 3 days was far cheaper and the hotel far nicer than what I could find elsewhere for 2 days. I had pretty much the same conversation that you describe above when I checked in. I finally bumped the conversation up to the GM, and told him that I was perfectly willing to have him put that room back into inventory after 11 a.m. on Day 3 OR I could hang a “Do Not Disturb” sign on the doorknob all day and night of Day 3 and the hotel could have it back 11 a.m. on Day 4. He thought about it and said that we could stay the 2 days, but asked me not to post the fact that I had done so on TripAdvisor or other sites. I thought that was fair, and enjoyed my 2 day stay. (I did tip housekeeping for 3 days since they had to make up and ready the room earlier than normal.)

          19. Amazing. I thought my example was absurd. I guess I wasn’t thinking big enough 🙂

          20. I think in the case of the guest leaving early, it also means they still pay 100% even thoguh they can’t use the last night. Its a financial penalty only. He losses the money either way.

            On the other hand, I have returned a rental car early before and been charged extra because my rate was based on the length of the rental. Makes no sense, but it was disclosed to me, and I paid extra to leave early.

          21. I get what you are saying, but if a traveler books a room based solely on price and doesn’t protect themselves in how they handle delays, they have only themselves to blame, not the hotel. People want rock bottom prices and with those comes rules and restrictions. Crap happens, so know what your risks are BEFORE hand.

          22. And that’s why the OP should have called and asked them to hold the room rather than no-showing. Than he would still be out an unused night, rather than the entire reservation. In any scenario, he is out 100% of the rate. But if he arrives late with notice, or leave early, he looses use, but keeps his reservation. Per the hotel info, if he no-shows, its canceled and forfeited. I have never had a hotel not hold a reservation if I called and said I was late. Its the fact that the OP didn’t show up and didn’t give notice that caused the issue, and the hotel only did what it said it was going to do and cancel it with 100% penalty.

          23. Oh, no doubt the OP should have called. That would have been the prudent thing. But technically, the hotel was not obligated even still.

          24. If you agreed to these silly terms you cannot be surprised when you are being held to them.

          25. Because it is (heavily) discounted (for the hotel) and you are playing the lottery. So where is the ethics in a lottery?

          26. Agree with you that he should have called (and probably also not lied about not having done so), but I would insist on the fact that it is not a change. He had booked for specific dates and his stay was intended to be within those specific dates …

          27. That’s the crux of the pre-paid discounted room. The hotel sold it at a reduced rate hoping someone would no-show so they can re-sell it. If they held the pre-paid reduced rate rooms, then they lose any intensive to offer the reduced rate pre-paid rooms.

        2. I have to agree that if the hotel is getting its money for the entire three night booking, then whether or not the traveler shows up to sleep in the bed is irrelevant — whether the traveler shows up for the first night or the last, it shouldn’t be resold since it’s already paid for. The hotel actually makes money in this instance since the usual costs for cleaning and restocking the room are not incurred.

          Now if it’s *not* a prepaid room, meaning the hotel might be able to collect the first night’s rate but not the other two, then if the traveler doesn’t show the room *should* be sold to someone else. The only way the hotel loses out in that case is if someone wanted three nights but the hotel only has that room for two nights, meaning the new traveler will likely go to another hotel.

          1. The whole reason discounted pre-paid rooms are offered, is because the hotel can double dip on those rates. The consumer is paying a lower rate, and gambling that they won’t have to change their reservation. The hotel is gambling that the customer won’t show, or will change, and they get to keep 100% as the penalty. If hotels had to hold pre-paid rooms and not re-rent them, then they would have no reason to offer discounted pre-paid rates. Customers always complain that its not fare when they make a change or no-show and loose the gamble they willingly made, but when they do show up with no changes they are getting a discounted rate for doing so, though they never seem to notice. If people want the flexibility, they can pay the higher rate. Unlike airlines, it’s not as big a difference in price for hotels.

          2. If hotels had to hold pre-paid rooms and not re-rent them, then they would have no reason to offer discounted pre-paid rates.

            Not really. The hotel still realized revenue from rooms which might have been cancelled. Had the OP booked the rooms at a regular rate, he would only be out one night’s rate, not three. So the hotel still has incentive to have discounted pre-paid rates

          3. Sure, I may not have been clear.

            The premise is that reason for prepaid rates being discounted is that should the guest cancel the hotel can double dip. Without the ability to double dip, the hotel would have no incentive to offer discounted prepaid rates.

            I am disputing that notion. I am saying that just the gravy and discounted prepaid rates would exist even without the ability to double dip. For example, in this case, the OP didn’t show up on the check in date. Perhaps he changed his mind. As a prepaid rate, the hotel gets to keep the entire 3 night payment. Had he been on a regular rate, the hotel would only have been able to keep one nights payment. Unless the prepaid rate was discounted by 2/3, the hotel comes out ahead, even if they can’t double dip.

            Thus, prepaid rates would remain, even if the hotel cannot double dip.

          4. Okay, I see what you are saying. I think we are both right, depending on the time of year. Lets say pre-paid is $80 a night, and post-paid is $100. We already know that the hotel is at 100% occupancy in this case. The hotel is now sitting on a room that is not being occupied making 80 cents on the dollar, when they could have sold it for $100 a night and have people willing to pay right now on top of what they already made. During busy seasons, the hotel could have sold all of the rooms at the post paid rate. So during those times of year, they will no longer have intensive to offer the lower pre-paid rate if they can’t double dip for a no-show. When they know they won’t be at 100% occupancy, they may still offer it pre-paid at a discount because of your example.

          5. But using your example, if the person showed, they still would make only 80 cents on the dollar as you put it. Why should they make 180 cents on the dollar if they don’t show up and thus keep the money and rent again? By offering lower rates for early booking, the hotel is hedging its position to have a high occupancy. If they didn’t offer lower rates for early booking, and they don’t have the same occupancy, they lose money. Based on your example, sounds like the hotel is trying to cover itself both ways so it never loses money and has no risk.

          6. The hotel does make less money if they show, but they know a certain number of people won’t show, and they will make the additional money. Its all figured by actuaries as to how many rooms they will offer, at that rate, when they will be offered, etc. and its designed to maximize revenue for the hotel. The hotel is trying to cover itself both ways, and the consumer who pays the lower rate with the penalty is gambling that they won’t have to change or cancel.

          7. But making it so they lose it all if they miss the first day and allowing to rent it out again makes them more money. The penalty being impossed is unreasonable to me. In this story, the OP took the risk and prepaid. But because things changed, the OP loses everything, not just the one night. That is where the problem is for me.

          8. That’s how most companies in many industries in a capitalistic system do business, they do whatever they can, to make as much money as they can. We may not like the rules the impose, or think they are reasonable, but they are allowed to do it, and they do do it. I’m merely explaining it. This is the invisible hand of the market at work.

          9. And the point myself and several others have made, just because they can, doesn’t make it right or ethical.

          10. So how do we stop it? If a hotel were to stop, they would have a higher rate, and would have less people booking, and eventually go out of business. People scream at the thought of government regulation. So what other options do we have?

          11. By the hotel not doing a money grab. They rented the room and got paid. Doesn’t matter if the person shows up or not. The hotel has gotten paid. The only reason for policies like this is to make an extra buck. Not to stay in business. I doubt any hotel would go out of business by not having this type of policy. If they would, then they would be in the same boat if they didn’t have any no shows.

          12. Most hotels are owned by corporations or holding companies. They aren’t trying to rent a room and get paid, they are trying to maximize income for their owners and shareholders. It’s also a competitive industry and offering these reduced rates does in fact make or break a busines. I am sorry you don’t like it, but I am only explaining what they do and why. Unfortunately it’s probably not going to go away any time soon either.

          13. I don’t understand how getting paid for a room and the person not showing and the room not rented again is any different from getting paid for the room and the person showing up to the business bottom line. In fact, they make more if they don’t show up because there is no water/electricity/etc that has to be spent on a guest that is there. The only reason for this type of rule is to allow the hotel to double dip. It may be legal, but that doesn’t make it right or ethical.

          14. Oh, we understand what they do and why? Fortunately,albeit not in this case, we have consumer protection laws to prevent gouging and gotchas, just for reasons like this.

            As I mentioned earlier, I could write a contract that you would think is fair but you would get a royal screwing, you’d say I should have bought you dinner first.

          15. That’s why we have business ethics. Just because you can do a thing, doesn’t mean that we should.

          16. If double-dipping revenues were quantified and factored into the hotel’s non-refundable rates, then one-night non-refundable stays should be more expensive than multi-night non-refundable stays. Because the longer the stay, the larger the hotel’s double-dip windfall when someone arrives too late. And there’s no possibility whatsoever of a double-dip windfall for one-night stays (compared to “refundable” reservations).

            Yet 1-night non-refundable stays are NOT more expensive at this hotel. The price varies by day of week. But a Tuesday night stay (1-night) on Orbitz is NOT any cheaper if you reserve a longer stay that includes Wednesday and Thursday nights (3 nights).

          17. I think you answered your own question.

            As to why should they make 180 cents on the dollar? My question is, why shouldn’t they? Why single out this one industry? I know good and well that the shoes I bought today didn’t cost anywhere near what I paid for them. If hotel rooms were a public utility, well, then, you could make an argument for regulating how much profit they bring in. They aren’t.

          18. Why should they? They already rented the room to someone else and gotten paid for it. Whether the person shows or not is really irrelevant. It’s not theirs to rent again. Why single them out? Because other businesses aren’t allowed to do it.

          19. Financial service businesses do it all the time. You even alluded to it yourself. It’s called “hedging”.

            Airlines do it too. It’s called overbooking. Sometimes it doesn’t work and they have to bump people and we get to read about it here.

            I’d go on, but I have to go make supper. 🙂

          20. But an airline has to reimburse the people they bump. This isn’t a case of someone being bumped. It’s a case where someone arrives during the rental period they have paid for but not being allowed to used and not getting a refund.

          21. Okay, chicken’s in the oven – quick response before I move on to the veggies . . .

            Like I said with overbooking, “sometimes it doesn’t work” – which means that sometimes it does.

            You are free to boycott or not book any hotel that has T&Cs with which you do not agree. As was the OP. The OP had a duty, to which he agreed when he purchased his room reservation, to inform Orbitz that he was delayed in using his purchase, in order not to forfeit his purchase. He failed in that duty. Even Elliott agreed, calling this, “Case Closed”.

            I generally don’t get snippy when posting online, but here goes: why bring up extraneous arguments (profit margins) in order to excuse a lack of personal responsibility?

          22. Extraneous arguments? Like how you brought airlines into the example when airlines are not renting? And profit margins are not Extraneous.

          23. Damn broswer closed the reply before I was done. The profit margin is not an extraneous argument, but the center of this type of policy. It allows them to double rent a room and increase the profits.

          24. And here I thought you were going to ask what I was making for supper. 🙂

            Not going to convince each other, are we? Have a good night.

          25. I want to know what you made for dinner. We finally finished the leftover lasagna I made for a party on Saturday. Cooking is one of my favorite past times.

          26. Parmesan and Dijon Mustard Crusted Chicken Breasts
            Roasted Carrot Slices tossed with Hazelnut Oil and Dill
            Sliced Rye Bread (from loaf)

            and my husband had a nice mini-brownie from a local bake sale, with some local craft beer to wash it all down.

          27. Jeanne, since you a professional actuary dealing with probabilities, wouldn’t you say there are some people who actually win and pay less with these pre-paid rate schemes? Do you think more win than lose (ones who forfeit payments)?

            The problem I have with some folk’s arguments here is that they insist that the maximum penalty is one night (which happens to be the penalty for post paid) or the nights one did not use. In essence, they are de facto forbidding the hotel rate lottery. Furthermore, they are infringing on the the right of consumers to make stupid decisions. Hence a Nanny State.

            Hope the dinner was tasty. I’ve got a subway meat ball sandwich waiting in the kitchen. That’s my stupid decision for today 🙂

          28. Mr. JeanneinNE is the professional actuary; I just have a degree in it. I found my husband to be the only actuary I could actually stand personally, so didn’t pursue a career as an actuary. 🙂

            Both of us say “Yes” to your question – that the majority of people who purchase prepaid reservations get the value of that purchase.

            And see my response to @emanon256:disqus for tonight’s menu. Tomorrow is pizza, Thursday is Beef Stroganoff and Friday is something with fish. Selection depends on what looks good at the grocery store on Thursday. I have a new salmon recipe to try.

          29. I’ve been educated and amused by all these posts, and now I’m hungry. Typical day at the office of Christopher Corleone… lol

          30. The OP had a duty, to which he agreed when he purchased his room reservation, to inform Orbitz that he was delayed in using his purchase

            Where do the T&C’s disclose this duty? I’m pretty certain they don’t. In spite of the hotel’s reply to Chris, if we stick to the written T&C’s disclosed via Orbitz, the hotel doesn’t need to do anything differently regardless of whether or not the customer informs them of their late arrival.

            Neither do the T&C’s explicitly state that access to the room is forfeited. That’s understood to people familiar with industry norms, but that doesn’t come from the disclosed T&C’s.

          31. I went into Orbitz this morning and in the rules of the nonrefundable rate for this hotel, it states that you are to call Orbitz not the hotel. The rules clearly state that changes or cancellations are at 100% of the prepaid amount. I would have called the hotel first and explained the situation if it was me…or have the Business Class lounge call them for me, which they have made international calls for me before….I don’t fly coach on international flights to and from the US.

          32. So what was changed or canceled about the reservation? The OP didn’t cancel the first night. They didn’t try changing the start date. They just weren’t present for the first day of a 3 day rental is all.

            Take this policy to an extreme. What if the policy stated you had to be present at check in time on each of the days of the reservation. If you aren’t there, they can cancel the remaining days, move your stuff out, and rent the room out again. So if after you check in the first day, your plans change and you are gone the second day where you don’t get back until after check in, you lose everything? Apart from removing your stuff, this is the same policy when you miss the first day check in.

          33. Just an FYI: my husband and I stayed at a hotel in Boston where we received one rate (convention) for the first 2 days of our stay and then a different rate (personal) for the 3rd day of our stay. I did have to present myself at the desk and check in all over again on that 3rd day. So your hypothetical situation isn’t as extreme as you might think. 🙂

          34. Your example is not applicable. You were dealing with two separate reservations, not one like the OP. The fact you had to check in again shows it was different reservations.

          35. Nope. One reservation. Two rates. Two check-ins. Really stupid, but that’s how it rolled and I knew that before we checked in, as I had discussed it with a manager before we came in.

          36. To you it appeared to be one reservation, but to their system, it was two; thus the need for the second check in. Like when you book a flight with multiple legs, you have one reservation, but to the airline’s system, it is multiple ones linked together.

          37. Could be. Like I said, I thought it was really stupid, and it takes a computer to be really stupid. I generally prove that at some point on a thread! 🙂

          38. Not by the definition of the word cancelation. Only by the industry’s practice. NOTHING about the reservation was changed or canceled. As you said, the industry CONSIDERS it a cancelation. They are applying their own definition.

          39. Checkin starts around 3pm on the day your reservation is for. You don’t get 48 hours to checkin. Normally, if you are arriving late, you notify your hotel of a later arrival or they can and will give your room away. Not everything is written in stone, but it is how things do and have worked for longer than I have been selling travel. If you notify the hotel of a late arrival, they will hold the room. But not to notify them can mean a cancellation. Also, not all front desks are open after midnight. I have encountered that domestically as well as internationally.

          40. The terms state you are to call Orbitz for “changes or cancellations” which are subject to a 100% charge.

            The terms makes no mention whatsoever about any accommodation for delays or late arrival if you call. Nor is it explicit about room forfeiture.

            If someone calls for you from a lounge, I hope you got their name, or else good luck proving it.

          41. Okay, I’ll play. 🙂

            While I was reading about this case yesterday, I was also reviewing and booking hotels for an upcoming stay in New Mexico, so I was reading all the stuff about cancellations before I clicked on the “I accept the terms” buttons. I can’t reproduce those screens, because I did receive confirmation emails, so I moved off the page when I saw that the emails summarized what the screens were showing. I also didn’t buy “Nonrefundable”, so I can’t duplicate the experience, nor was I booking in Venice, Italy, so please note, I’ve already added all the caveats I can think of. My experience is NOT exactly the same as the OP’s, but I think the concepts are similar enough that I can bring them into play.

            Here’s what the cancellation policy is for the one place where I’m staying 2 nights, starting on May 8th: If you need to change or cancel this reservation, you may do so up until Wednesday, May 7, 2014, before 4pm local hotel time. The reservation cannot be cancelled through email.

            Here’s the cancellation for the far more upscale place we’re staying at on May 7th: Cancellation policy: If you need to cancel your reservation, please do so at least 48 hours prior to your arrival date to avoid a penalty of the first night’s room and tax. Special cancellation policies may apply for holiday or special events.

            The T&Cs for cancellation were and are explicitly stated, It was my duty to read them, understand them and only then click the button that says “I have read the Terms and Conditions”. It was my duty to read my confirmation emails to see if they said the same thing to which I had agreed.

            Before responding that I didn’t read what the OP had on his screen or on his email, please note the caveats above.

          42. So where do these terms state that if you arrive on the morning of May 9th you forfeit your entire reservation AND the hotel keeps the funds for the entire length of your stay?

            And where do these terms state that you have a duty to call if you discover — after 4pm or inside of 48 hours — that you will arrive on the morning of May 9th?

            Granted, I would call (if I could), and I’m sure you would call (if you could), and maybe the OP did call and maybe he didn’t call, but what does that have to do with the T&C’s?

          43. So where do these terms state that if you arrive on the morning of May 8th you forfeit your entire reservation AND the hotel keeps the funds for the entire stay?

            And where do these terms state that you have a duty to call if you discover — after 4pm or inside of 48 hours — that you will arrive on the morning of May 8th?

            Granted, I would call (if I could), and I’m sure you would call (if you could), and maybe the OP did call and maybe he didn’t call, but what does that have to do with the T&C’s?

          44. @mk_1001, I’m confused by what you’re asking. I’m staying one place May 7th and another place, another city, the nights of May 8th and 9th.

            If I don’t cancel my May 8th/9th stay by May 7th at 4 pm, yep, I’m stuck. I pay. Whether I’m there or not. For 2 nights. And this is NOT a nonrefundable rate.

            If something happens and I can’t physically get from one place to another, I would call the 2nd place (the May 8th/9th place) and tell them the situation, sometime on May 8th, since I’d know my situation and possible remedies on that date. They would charge my card for the 2 nights, but I would insist that they hold that room for me since I’d informed them of the situation AHEAD of the actual stay.

            If I called on May 9th, after the original date of arrival, and said, “Hey, I couldn’t make it May 8th and I paid for 2 nights, so fluff up my pillows for me, okay?” I would be out of line.

          45. I’m stuck. I pay. Whether I’m there or not. For 2 nights.

            Where does it say you forfeit the right to use the second night if you arrive too late on the first night?

            I would insist that they hold that room for me since I’d informed them of the situation AHEAD of the actual stay

            You could insist anything. However the T&C’s don’t grant you any right to insist that. They are completely silent on the issue of late arrival.

          46. Actually,most business cannot routinely sell the same item twice and keep both sets of money and certainly not a consumer purchase. If you think about, you would be hard pressed to come up with a consumer business, outside of travel, that permits this practice as part of the regular business

          47. Okay, I take part of my argument back. As long as other hotels are offering pre-paid rates, they probably wills till offer them to remain competitive since most consumers only look at the price. But they still need to take something else a way to make sure they still make the money their owners/investors expect.

          48. Please do a little bit more (historical) research.
            Not too long ago, this was a sleepy industry. Hotel rates were mostly POST PAID and gave TAs 10% commission.
            The only exception were a few wholesalers that supplied the TOUR and FIT travel segment.
            Enter Priceline and Expedia (followed by others) after 9/11 disaster.

            These 2 companies expanded the role of WHOLESALING. They invented the MERCHANT model.
            They got fat discounts (minimum 25%) to market the dying hotel industry.
            Since they had fancy websites, they could support the DIY traveler and those who expected miracle rates (name your price, opaque rates, etc.).
            But there was a key – those rates were almost all PREPAID. The OTAs got your money first and then paid the hotelier when you stayed.
            Some hotels learned from this and made their own PREPAID rates (off course with all the sleazy conditions inherited from the OTAs).
            So what else is new? You get what you pay for.

          49. I’m not sure what the point is. No particularly new information. I know that hotel rooms were mostly postpaid and that the OTAs give pre-paid rates, which is why I generally avoid them.

          50. Hey, thanks for describing how Frequent Flyer Plans work 🙂
            Some win, some lose.
            As long as you and I win, it is fine 🙂
            The only problem I see here is that losers come to this site to whine.
            Maybe this site can show them how to win.

          51. I have even lost some of these gambles from time to time, the difference is I accept the risk and don’t complain when I lose. There are many valid complaints by people who were truly wronged and really do need help. Whenever Elliott posts those, there are maybe 9 comments that day. These controversial ones make for better stories and comments, but also bring out people who insist the company is always wrong no matter what. I have learned a lot about how not to lose from you and others in the comments, and I hope I have shown others how not to lose as well.

          52. Just for the record, I politely suggested that the OP’s story was not completely accurate 😉

            I have no problem with the hotel keeping the first night, regardless of whether he called or not.

          53. Wow. You’re saying that the hotel induces the buyer to pay an artificially low rate in the hope that something will keep the buyer from showing up. Then the hotel can jump on that failing, keep all the money paid and re-rent the same space to make a big profit. You may be correct, but what a terrible – and basically unethical – way to do business. If I thought I was dealing with such a hypocritical company, you can bet I’d never deal with it again.

          54. Yes, this is the practice industry wide and it has been this way for many many years. Pay a higher rate and it’s fully refundable up until a certain point in time, then partially refundable, pay a lower rate in advance and you forfeit 100% of it if your plans change. The customer can choose which option they would prefer.

          55. What a shame. I’m old enough to remember when businesses were small enough to care about their customers, and the hospitality industry was actually hospitable. Too bad, we’ve lost a lot….

          56. How’s that any different from requiring young people to buy health insurance when their probability of getting sick is low?
            Aren’t they simply subsidizing old peoples’ medical bills?
            If one plays the hotel lottery, sometimes they will lose and they will subsidize the winners – but the house always wins.

          57. I think you’re mixing up a plan that assumes risk with one that penalizes you for your mistake. Health insurance simply spreads risk more evenly over the entire population, so that whenever one needs it (and we all need it throughout our lives) the coverage is there. It’s very similar to other kinds of insurance, or Social Security (yeah, I know, that’s whole other matter). However, here, I get the feeling that the hotels are just taking advantage of hapless customers to make extra profit.

          58. IMO, our heath insurance business is a rent seeking parasite that simply sucks the citizens dry.
            I guess OTAs are in that same category 🙂
            They might operate differently but it seems to me that they both take advantage of hapless customers to make extra profit; and it is legal for them to do it. Both are an extra layer between the customer and the real provider.

          59. On the health insurance industry, I think we agree completely. (I just
            read that they add $350 billion/year to the cost of health care. Even
            if an exaggeration, wow! That’s a lot of profit.)

          60. Before you go throwing out the baby with the bathwater on your disappointment, realize that the OP bought a hotel online at a rate that had rules and restrictions. For something last minute, he should have called the hotel. I am sure the hotel would have worked with them, as that has been my experience on any prepaid rate where clients had delays.

          61. Not necessarily. I got a prepaid rate about 10 years ago. The room rental was Friday to Friday. I called to arrive on Saturday instead (Less traffic) and the hotel (thanks Westin Rancho Mirage) made it clear in no uncertain terms that if I didn’t show up on Friday I would lose the entire payment.

          62. That’s one of the many problems. Most of the hotels aren’t small businesses. Many of them, in fact most of them, are owned by large holding companies. All these companies care about is profit for their share holders and/or owners. Becuase they own multipel hotels, they can cut out all of the non-required services and offer a price much lower than the individually owned hotels, and most consumers only look at price when booking.

          63. Or you can pay the *exact* same rate and book 3 separate, consecutive, non-refundable 1-night reservations at this hotel.

            And then the hotel has to have the room available each and every night of your reservation in case you show up. And there’s no possible controversy over whether or not they were notified that you will arrive a day late.

          64. I agree with your analysis, but alas, you’d never stay in another hotel room as it is becoming more and more common.

      2. Whenever I have a client for AIR (international) and they want to book their hotel on their own, I give them a standard piece of advice —
        Unless they want to go to the hotel site directly; use booking dot com and pick the post paid cancellable room rate.

        So I will try to follow my own advice and search booking dot com for this hotel.
        Here’s the cancellation policy for the post paid rate.

        Cancellation: If canceled up to 2 days before date of arrival, no fee will be charged. If canceled later or in case of no-show, 100 percent of the first night will be charged. (Times quoted are from the hotel’s time zone (CEST) )
        How to cancel
        You can use the link in the confirmation email to cancel your booking
        Prepayment: No deposit will be charged.
        Booking dot com’s policy is even better than the hotel’s own cancellation policy 🙂

        Clearly the OP did not do his homework correctly.

    1. It’s not Orbitz’ fault. The room was non-refundable. Travelocity has similar verbiage: “Some room types are fully non-refundable from the time they are booked.
      If you change / cancel this room type, you do not receive a refund.”

      1. I think it is Orbitz fault : Orbitz relation with the OP was “prepaid non refundable” and the hotel relation with Orbitz was probably “not prepaid, but with a charge for no shows” !

  12. It’s true that in the absence of some proof that he called, such as a confirmation number for the cancellation, the OP doesn’t have much of a case. I use email and text in situations like this On the other hand, he seems to have acted on a quite reasonable belief that since his stay was irrevocably prepaid, he had a right to show up late and stay for the remainder of his paid-up time.

    This is an example of how the cancerous spread of non-refundability culture poisons the whole travel experience. The hotel now expects to be able to double-dip by reselling paid-up time because of a missed first night. I’m sure they have a rule claiming such, but that doesn’t make it morally right.

    Next time, the OP is going to pay attention to online reviews and stay at a resort whose attitude is “How can we help you?” rather than “Gotcha!”

    1. Morality. Well that is a good one.
      In the last couple of elections, I’ve had a problem finding a U.S. candidate I considered moral.
      Who would have thought OTAs would be any different?

      1. Why yes, how silly of me to use a term like ‘morality’ for an industry that prides itself on double dipping, having things both ways, writing one-way contracts that you don’t get to read, and moving the goalposts. It’s like the Wall Street derivatives market, only with better views.

  13. Been there done that. Knew I couldn’t make the first night of a non-refundable resort stay. Called the hotel, explained that I intended to use the remainder. No problem. There…that wasn’t so hard was it?

  14. Orbitz should refund if the OP can PROVE he called in time. I can’t imagine anyone not following up with this issue directly with the hotel involved after he contacted Orbitz, it’s weird. I’ve only been caught in this problem once when I forgot to cancel … it really stings to see the charge on your credit card because you were a dummie. But blaming “someone else” doesn’t cut it.

    1. No Judy, how about buying the REFUNDABLE rate of a hotel?
      It is not right to force your own beliefs on a strictly non-refundable, non-changeable, non-cancellable room rate. If you do not like the hotel policies, then don’t book.

      1. What refundable rate of what hotel?

        What rate does this hotel (or comparable hotels nearby) sell that could be cancelled within 2 days of arrival?

        By the time you discover your flight is cancelled and you won’t arrive on the scheduled day, even the “free cancellation” (“refundable”) rates are almost always “non-refundable.”

          1. TonyA you are right. How TA’s handle things are totally dependant on how they were brought into the business and their level of customer service.

            If you use a travel agent, you should “interview” them like any other professional. Do they have cancellation fees? What do they offer that you can’t get yourself? Can you get hold of them 24 hours a day? (even with brick and mortar agencies, this isn’t always possible). If there is a problem, what will they do for you?

            A good travel agent isn’t an order taker – they probe,question and advise you and are there when a problem happens.

        1. I have called hotels for clients and clients have called the hotels to notified them of a very late arrival. All hotels have held the room for clients. I had a client booked on a package to Hawaii where the flight was cancelled and they wouldn’t arrive for another day. I called the tour company and they immediately notified the hotel and the client had no problem checking in for the remainder of their week long stay.
          Use a vending machine and buy a nonrefundable rate, you best know how to handle delays to protect yourself.

          1. I have always wondered what happens when your generation of TAs all retire?
            I don’t see many younger ones doing the same thing you are doing.
            Most I see today is Search (price) and Book. That’s it.
            You’ve got a problem, too bad 🙂

          2. Did the terms state that you could hold rooms for next day arrival?

            If not, that’s great that the hotels held the rooms, but I’m not sure that qualifies as “protecting yourself”; it might be more accurate to say the hotels did you and your clients a favor that your clients weren’t contractually entitled to. I.e. “non-refundable really means nonrefundable” is for other people but not for your clients…

          3. There are several ways to protect yourself. But you also have to take responsibility in how you handle a problem, should one arise. Of all the years selling travel, I have never had a client have a problem when their flight was delayed. Knowing who to call, when to call and how to call is important. But at the same time, if you can’t afford to lose the money is you don’t handle it correctly, don’t travel.
            BTW, if the OP had travel insurance and had told the insurance company he was placing a claim as Orbitz dropped the ball, the first thing he had better have is proof of the call. Cell phone companies can get you that.

          4. I have never had a client have a problem when their flight was delayed.

            What will you tell the first client who runs into an uncompromising “rules are rules” vendor?

            Knowing who to call, when to call and how to call is important.

            Agreed, but at that level it’s not about written rules and contracts and “non-refundable means non-refundable”. It’s about navigating unwritten rules and about CYA…

            Cell phone companies can get you that.

            Depends. If you have a prepaid cell phone from certain (popular) companies, you simply can’t get your call logs except with a subpoena, at considerable expense. I learned this from direct experience.

          5. 1)They use me, they will be protected. They paid a fee for that and I back it up. If they get their own hotel, they are on their own.
            2)If you can’t afford to lose the cost of your hotel, you shouldn’t travel. A call to the hotel is all it takes if you handled the reservation on your own. Without a TA….you are on your own! With a TA, they will handle it for you.
            3)Can’t help you on a prepaid phone. You can come up with all sorts of excuses, but domestically, I would guess that they had a US cell phone.

          6. 1) Do the written terms and conditions declare the protections you promise? If not, my complaint is that you want everyone else (i.e. anyone who complains to Chris) to understand that they shouldn’t expect anything that isn’t promised in writing… but you don’t want your clients to understand it that way.

            2) There’s nothing in the terms & conditions about calling the hotel. That’s an unwritten rule. I’m glad that at least you’re not using this as an occasion to pitch travel insurance as a panacea 😉

            3) What I stated applies to US prepaid phones (of which there are over 75 million).

          7. Michael, if the agent calls the hotel on behalf of the client when a flight is delayed, they usually do hold the rooms. They fully understand that these things happen, they just need to know that the client will be there and is paying for the room.

            Good travel agents tell their clients to contact them if their flights are delayed just for this reason. Unfortunately, the general public doesn’t know about this.

          8. Unfortunately, the general public doesn’t know about this.


            The written disclosure could easily include a provision like this:

            Late arrival: You must checkin by midnight local time on the scheduled date of arrival or call [phone# here] to request a later checkin. If you fail to inform us and arrive late, your room may be resold and you will forfeit your entire reservation.

            That would still be an unethical policy IMO, but at least it would be clearly disclosed. As it stands, they choose not to spell that out for customers– yet most of the comments here falsely pretend that it is spelled out.

          9. I rented a car on Xmas Eve from Payless or some other off-brand car rental company (last minute trip, everything was sold out) My flight was delayed by 6 hours. They refused to hold the car for me 🙁

            They said the best they would do is if the car was still available they wouldn’t reprice the car at the higher rate, but if someone else wanted it, tough luck

            Side note. The next year, I was an top level elite with Hertz. I used the guarantee to get a car at the regular rate. Loyalty program score 🙂

          10. Yes, many rental car companies do not hold a car reservation past 2 hours, but Hertz does. I still call Hertz when my flight gets delayed just to have it noted. In the US, I get the number of the local office I am renting from and call them directly. One flight I was on was delayed until after closing time. By speaking to the office, I was more comfortable at arrival as they told me that despite closing time being before our flight arrived, they wait for the last flight when they have a reservation in the system. Thumbs up to Hertz!

          11. I had to cancel a flight Thanksgiving last year due to a blizzard. I forgot to cancel my Hertz reservation which was to be for 5 days. The car was still waiting for me when I arrived 3 days later. And they were nice enough to only charge me for the days I actually used the car with no extra fees for late arrival or repricing of the days I did have it. Just one of the reasons I prefer Hertz.

          12. I didn’t answer your question. No, the terms didn’t state a room would be held. But they also didn’t state they wouldn’t be. Now days with nonrefundable options, you need to ask these questions BEFORE booking.

  15. Okay. I think I’m missing something here. The OP paid (fully?) for two rooms for three nights. Just because he checked in late, how was the hotel harmed? It appears that the hotel simply took the opportunity to double charge for the facilities, and make an undeserved profit at the OP’s expense. At the very least the OP should be entitled to a refund for two rooms for two nights each. The hotel suffered no loss for those nights. There is no justification for the hotel to receive unjust enrichment as a result. The hotel made double profit, it should pay the OP back.

    1. What you need to see are the rules of rate the OP was paying for. People want rock bottom prices, so if this rate’s rules state that the first night of not showing up forfeits the all the nights booked and paid for and the OP ok’ed this rate, why shouldn’t the hotel abide by the rule? Now had the OP called and spoke to the hotel directly, I am sure the hotel would have worked with the OP.

      1. My problem is that the hotels (airlines? car rental companies?) set up these extremely one-sided “rules”, and then act as if they are (1) fair, (2) inviolable, and (3) in the customers’ best interest. Even if the rates are lower due to the “no refunds” rules they’ve created, the entire relationship smacks of “gotcha”. I can’t believe that there isn’t a fairer way to deal with the public. And I’d be willing to bet that this rule results in a greater profit overall that just what the venue would have made if it had simply charged a little more for the room in the first place. Just seems like a race to the bottom. Naive me, I guess….

        1. I don’t think everything is one sided. The OP got a lower rate with restriction. If you pay a higher rate, you might get less restrictions. With the lower rate, the hotel is guaranteed being paid regardless of if you show up or not. With the higher rate and a more lenient cancel policy, the hotel could lose filling that room.

        2. As long as the majority of consumers only care about price, the second a run of the mill hotel does this, others need to as well or they will go out of business. There are still hotels out there that care about quality and service (Ritz, Four Seasons, etc), but the vast majority of the population can’t afford their rates, but they are a niche enough market that they still stay in business. If a run of the mill hotel tried that, they would shut down in a few months because customers would rather save $20 a night.

          Fortunately, the average hotels still offer nonrefundable rates with less restrictions, but to stay competitive, they offer these lower rates as well, and like you said, they probably do many more money.

          1. That we agree 100%. The majority of consumers shop by price and that’s why we have these funky rates and accept these horrible restrictions which would violate every business ethics rule in most other consumer transactions. As a rule, I only book a non-refundable rate if I am in the hotel lobby. I figure I probably won’t change my mind in the 20 steps to the front desk 😛

          2. I agree, and I agree with your other comment about business ethics, but have been far to busy today to reply 🙂 I almost never book non-refundable myself, though I need to try from the lobby sometime and see if I can get a good rate that way. When I explain the rates and why they do it, I in no way like it or think its okay, but I have no clue as to what we can do to change it either, so I have learned to work with the system rather than get burned by the system.

        3. Lonnie, it isn’t the hotels, it is the OTA. That is why they offer these low non refundable rates. They are still going to make money on the client if they show or don’t show.

          Hotels are all the same – if you are going to be delayed getting to it, you must contact the hotel (or your travel agent) so they can let the hotel know and your room is held. It’s just the way it works.

          When a traveler pays more for a room by either booking directly with the hotel or an agency that is preferred with the hotel and has the clout to go back and fight for a refund, then they have a little more backing them.

          If a rate seems to good to be true, it often is when a problem occurs like this. But many travelers have no idea that they need to contact the hotel if they are delayed. We tell all our clients to call US if their flights were delayed so we can take care of this for them.

          1. And I think my problem is that “It’s just the way it works.” We have come to accept unilateral so-called “rules” set up by an industry that seems to be moving downward towards the standards of the airline industry. They make up the rules and we are left with no choice other than to meekly agree.

            Now, I understand the economics of dropping the rates and making them non-refundable. However, most of the comments I have read seem to be apologizing for the hotel industry by suggesting that all travelers want is the lowest rate, period. In fact, I just read – perhaps on one of Chris’ posts – that when customers find a business that treats them well, they will remain loyal to that business, even if it costs/charges a little more. Apparently, people prefer doing do business with companies that treat them with fairness and respect. If only everyone in the travel industry understood that.

          2. Lonnie I absolutely agree. But consumers that shop strictly by price are not usually brand loyal nor do they appreciate paying a little more for a brand that takes care of them.

    1. But I think you need to make an important distinction.
      Many decent tour companies (esp those that do Destination Management) will charge prior to stay. So they do appear like an OTA to the public but they are not an OTA.
      When a Travel Agency bundles some local hotels this way, they can always ask the supplier’s help to make changes.
      Most of the time they will accommodate. These businesses are there for the long haul and they have excellent relationships with local hotels.
      This is not the case with OTAs. They are pure vending machines and hotel management usually don’t like them. So you get the worst room and the least flexibility.
      The above is simply my opinion.

      1. And those booking with OTAs are usually the first walked when a hotel is oversold – the hotel wants to put the bodies that have paid the most in their beds, not the ones who ave paid the least.

        1. You’re right. Why would anyone expect the hotel to like you as a guest when the hotel is making a lot less money because they had to discount your merchant 25-35% minimum. So they will think you (the guest) is some cheapo and will treat you like one.

          Common sense should tell me that I want to please my HOST so it would treat me right. The OTA is not my host, the hotel is. So I will use the OTA to do a free search only and then I will offer the hotel the same money (or even pay more for a deal) for my business. Now we have a win-win relationship with no middleman. Screw the OTA folks.

  16. Where was the call to Orbitz made when the flight was delayed? From the airport on his cell phone or from a land line? If from the former, he would be able to get phone records of numbers called with time of the call. Also, what did the Orbitz agent tell the OP when he called to notifiy them to notify the hotel of the initial delay? That isn’t mentioned…why is that?

    1. I agree. He should have had names of who he spoke to also. But the phone records would be a very easy way to show when he called.

  17. I get that the guy screwed up by not calling, but at the same time part of me thinks if I pay for 3 days for two rooms and it’s paid in advance, I should be able to check in at any time during those three days and those rooms I’ve already paid for should have been set aside for me. It’s no harm no foul to the hotel if I show up late whether it’s midnight, 2 a.m. or the next day…in fact most of the time when I travel they ask if I’d like to use my credit card to secure the room for late arrival…so something isn’t making sense to me here.

    1. This is the way the hotel world works regardless of how the rooms are paid for. The hotel wants those rooms sold and there can be a credit card claim later on from the no show.

      Anytime that your are delayed getting to a hotel you have booked, you have to let them know.

      1. That hasn’t been my experience. I travel frequently for work and somewhat less often for pleasure. I’ve experienced airline or traffic delays or just late evening flights that have had me arriving at hotels well after midnight before and not had them so much as blink at the late hour. It’s silly to say I have to call them “if I’m delayed” since it’s not like when I make the reservation I say, “Okay, I’ll be there at 3pm” or whatever, so they don’t know if my arrival is on time or delayed. They have my credit card and that first night is paid for if I haven’t cancelled by 6pm the day before. It may be a good idea to call, but if my “late arrival” is secured with my card, it certainly isn’t something I “have” to do…and if I’m sitting on a tarmac somewhere it isn’t even typically going to be a consideration. Now, if I’m not arriving for a Friday reservation until Saturday afternoon, THAT’s a different story and I’d certainly call to ensure my entire reservation isn’t cancelled.

  18. This is a lesson that everyone needs to take into consideration – if you have a hotel booked and you can’t make it that day or your flights are delayed you MUST contact the hotel or your travel agent (or in this case Orbitz) and let them know so they can contact the hotel. Once you are marked as a no show, your room can be given away.

    We tell all our clients if their flights are canceled or delayed when leaving to contact us so we can make sure the hotel is advised and the rooms held for the next day.

    If the OP actually did call Orbitz as soon as the flight was delayed he should have the phone records to prove it and could fight this battle himself, or at least give Chris the ammunition he needs to fight for him.

  19. This is an “I have no idea” case. It is entirely possible that letter writer is lying, or mistaken. It’s also entirely possible that he called and that the hotel didn’t properly record that he’d be a late show. It’s hard to blame Orbitz in this case, I guess, but a real travel agent would probably have been able to get the money back.

  20. Maybe the Orbitz call center is in a different time zone than the hotel and that is why they think he called the next day.

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