Hyatt didn’t welcome my dog, so I canceled. Can the hotel keep my money?

Joshua Perry canceled his reservation at the Hyatt on learning that he couldn’t bring his dog. The Hyatt assured Perry that it wouldn’t charge him for the room, but it did so anyway — and successfully challenged his credit card chargeback.

Why did Perry have to pay for a room he couldn’t use?

Unfortunately for Perry, he failed to request the cancellation prior to the hotel’s cut-off time.

His story also carries a warning not to finalize a reservation with a travel company without doing all your homework ahead of time, and to get all confirmations of anything promised by a customer service agent in writing. Had Perry checked the Hyatt’s pet policies before completing his booking, he would have discovered that he and his dog would have to stay elsewhere. And had he received a written confirmation of his cancellation, he might have prevailed in his chargeback.

Perry booked his room at the Hyatt Regency Denver at Colorado Convention Center through Hotels.com for $171, to be charged to his Citibank credit card. The hotel has a non-cancellation rule: Reservations canceled within 48 hours of the beginning of a scheduled stay are nonrefundable.

While within the 48-hour window, says Perry, he called the hotel and canceled the reservation:

I canceled over the phone and was told both by the Hyatt staff member and also by the Hotels.com representative that an exception had been made and I would receive a full refund for the room. However, no email confirmation was given. In fact, I asked for an email confirmation and was told that I couldn’t be sent one but assured that the refund would be processed.

Then Perry saw a charge on his Citibank statement for the Hyatt.

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He contacted Citibank, which gave him a provisional credit for the charge. But Citibank’s customer service representative told him that it would need written confirmation of the cancellation to grant him a permanent credit. And Hotels.com told Perry that it did not have any record of its interaction with the Hyatt. Hotels.com and Hyatt challenged the chargeback, and Citibank restored the charge to Perry’s account.

Perry then contacted our advocates for assistance. (Executive contact information for Hyatt Hotels Corporation and Hotels.com (a brand of Expedia) is available on our website.) But the lack of a written confirmation of the cancellation was an obstacle to our being able to help Perry as well.

Hotels.com’s terms and conditions indicate that

You agree to pay any supplier required cancellation or change fees that you incur. In limited cases, some hotels do not permit changes to or cancellations of reservations after they are made, as indicated in the rules and restrictions for the hotel reservation. You agree to abide by the terms and conditions imposed with respect to your prepaid hotel reservations.

Perry sent us a copy of the confirmation of his reservation, which showed that he could cancel his booking free of charge up until 4 p.m. on the day 48 hours prior to the beginning of his stay.

Our advocate asked Perry for documentation of the chargeback to determine whether we could help him contest Citibank’s final determination. Perry submitted a letter indicating that the chargeback was reversed because, contrary to what he had told us, he had not canceled within the 48-hour window.

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We asked him whether he could provide telephone records indicating when he had requested the cancellation, and his phone bill showed that he had placed the call to the Hyatt at 6:42 p.m., nearly three hours after the cut-off time for canceling his reservation.

With no documentation of either the Hyatt’s or Hotels.com’s agreement to cancel the reservation, and because Perry’s cancellation request fell outside the 48-hour window, our advocates don’t feel that we can successfully assist Perry to challenge Citibank’s final decision to reverse the chargeback. We thus classify his story as a Case Dismissed.

Jennifer Finger

Jennifer is the founder of KeenReader, an Internet-based freelance editing operation, as well as a certified public accountant. She is a senior writer for Elliott.org. Read more of Jennifer's articles here.

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