I booked a nonrefundable room at the Hampton Inn by accident. How do I fix it?

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By Christopher Elliott

Carol Egan accidentally booked an expensive and nonrefundable room at a Hampton Inn. Can she fix the mistake or is she stuck with a $264 bill?

Question

My grandniece is getting married soon. We used the travel information she provided online to book our room at a Hampton Inn. 

When we clicked on the link, it opened up a webpage listing the rooms available for the wedding dates in the special block with a nonrefundable rate of $264.

We thought the rate was high, but we followed the wedding party’s instructions. The bride’s mother called us and said that our room rate was supposed to be $149. She instructed us to call the manager at the Hampton Inn to get it straightened out

During that call, we realized that the block of rooms allocation must have reached its capacity when we used the website to book the room. Consequently, the website quoted the $264 price. However, we later discovered that the block allocation had already been extended before we contacted the local manager. The manager said he could not modify or cancel the reservation since I made it on the Hilton website. He gave us a number for Hilton and suggested that they could cancel or change our reservation.

We called Hilton and requested that they modify the reservation to be the wedding block rate of $149 or cancel and refund the reservation. We got nowhere. 

They did offer to cancel the reservation and give us 12 months to use the whole $264 for a booking at another Hilton property. We did not accept that offer.  We don’t plan on booking any $264 per night rooms during the next 12 months. Can you help? — Carol Egan, Marco Island, Fla. 

Answer

Congratulations! Your grandniece is marrying! It was nice of her to find a block of hotel rooms at the Hampton Inn for her family, but you’re right — $226 a night is a little high for a night at the Hampton Inn. When you see a rate like that, don’t click on it, even if your family has arranged the rate. You’re better off calling the hotel and asking for a better rate. Or you can stay somewhere else and use the money you save to buy your grandniece a nice wedding present.

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Be extra careful when you book a nonrefundable rate (even if it’s with your family’s apparent blessing). Hotels love nonrefundable rates because it means they get to keep your money no matter what happens. And it appears that would include you booking a room at the wrong rate. Want a refund? Tough luck — it’s nonrefundable! (Related: I booked a nonrefundable room at the Hampton Inn by accident. How do I fix it?)

There’s no reason hotel rates should ever be nonrefundable. Usually, hotels will offer a small discount — 10 to 20 percent — in exchange for non-refundability. In your case, they skipped the discount and just added the onerous terms. Come on.

Never, ever book a nonrefundable hotel rate. (Related: They reserved a $96 room at the Hampton Inn Atlanta-Buckhead but were charged twice.)

The solution is a case study in self-advocacy. I gave you the executive contacts for Hilton (which owns Hampton Inn) and recommended you send a brief, polite email to them. You did, and you received a quick response.

Hampton Inn’s response to booking issue

A representative apologized for any inconvenience. How you stated your concerns were addressed. “Kindly note that there are specific cancellation policies in place for Advance Purchase Non-Refundable reservations. Our customer service and hotel agents could not modify or refund as per protocol.”

Has she been refunded by the Hampton Inn? (Here’s how to book the best hotel at the most affordable rate.)

However, as a “one-time exception and gesture of good faith,” Hilton refunded the full $264. “We at Hilton thank you for bringing this matter to our attention and hope that this does not deter you from staying with our brands in the future,” the representative added.

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Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is the founder of Elliott Advocacy, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that empowers consumers to solve their problems and helps those who can't. He's the author of numerous books on consumer advocacy and writes three nationally syndicated columns. He also publishes the Elliott Report, a news site for consumers, and Elliott Confidential, a critically acclaimed newsletter about customer service. If you have a consumer problem you can't solve, contact him directly through his advocacy website. You can also follow him on X, Facebook, and LinkedIn, or sign up for his daily newsletter. He is based in Panamá City.

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