Should I help get a refund for a “disastrous” hotel stay?

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By Christopher Elliott

The Sunswept Beach Hotel, a budget hotel on Barbados’ western coast, promises visitors they will be left “wanting for naught.”

But when Josh Trevers checked in for a recent stay, he was left wanting for something: a working air conditioning to take the edge off the Caribbean heat.

Trevers’ case is a difficult one because there are so many players. More than usual.

He says he asked the hotel to fix the broken AC in his room, but it didn’t.

“I was told it could not be looked at and I could not be moved to another room until the following day,” he says. “The room, hallway, bathroom and pool were dirty. There was a constant squeezing sound right outside the room which made sleep impossible. At night there were no hotel staff present so there was no way to deal with any issues.”

Trevers’ tropical turmoil

Trevers checked out that night. That was the right call, as I note in my guide to rejecting your hotel room.

He contacted Expedia, the online agency through which he’d purchased the hotel, and asked for a full refund. Now, in the past, he could have relied on something called the Expedia Promise to stand behind its purchase, but it appears that assurance was quietly dropped some time ago. Expedia simply sees itself as an online agent.

Expedia apologized for the bad stay but said his stay was nonrefundable.

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We are truly sorry for the inconvenience. Expedia goes to great lengths to supply our clients with the information and opportunity to make well-informed travel purchases, and we are more than willing to assist our clients in any way commercially possible. We are dedicated to providing knowledgeable service and support to our clients, but we have to follow the policies of the vendors whose services we provide on our website. When you purchase a trip through, we act as the agent between you and the vendor. These vendors’ rules and regulations govern any transactions on the reservations.

Trevers appealed to me. Shouldn’t a hotel room in the Caribbean come with a working air condition? I agreed with him. So I contacted Expedia. Here’s what it told me.

Expedia contacted the management of the hotel to relay Mr. Trevers experience at their property and again requested a refund for the reservation. Expedia was informed that they would not authorize a refund. Expedia is unable to process the refund without authorization from the hotel.

Expedia strives to provide the highest level of customer service, and it’s disheartening when one of our vendors does not work to meet that goal as well. Expedia is sorry to hear that Mr. Trevers had a less-than-satisfactory experience when staying at the Sunswept Beach Hotel.

That’s disappointing.

Navigating the tangled web

Trevers is now left with two options: a credit card dispute or contacting the hotel directly and requesting a refund.

Ah, but that’s where it gets interesting!

The Sunswept is no more. Effective May 15th, Sunswept Beach is under new management and will be called Tropical Sunset. So now you have an online agency and new owners to contend with. What a mess.

I think Expedia could have done more to help its customer, who clearly didn’t get the product he was promised. Then again, I’ve been to the Caribbean many times, and you can’t always count on everything to work. (Heck, you can’t even count on everything to work in Florida … but I digress.)

What should the next step be for this dispute? Should I contact the new owners of the Sunswept, asking them to help a guest for something that didn’t happen on their watch? Should I double back to Expedia and urge them to help a customer? Or should he take this to his credit card company?

What should Josh Trevers' next move be?

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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.

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