Why won’t RIU extend my hotel voucher?

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By Christopher Elliott

When Dave Mootz checked into the RIU Playacar two years ago, he was greeted by trucks and construction workers where there should have been a quiet beach. The area was undergoing a much-needed beach restoration project — during his much-needed Mexico vacation.

Mootz was unhappy with the view and the incessant noise. So he complained to RIU, and after a lengthy back-and-forth, the hotel agreed to send him a two-night voucher, valid between Aug. 1, 2010 and Aug. 30, 2011. That made him a little more happy, but not by much. He’d asked for a partial refund, arguing that he couldn’t return to Mexico until 2013.

“They said just hold on to the voucher and explain that when making a reservation,” he says.

Unfortunately, he didn’t get RIU’s promise in writing. So you can probably guess what comes next, right? Here’s the response he got from RIU when he tried to make a reservation with his long-expired voucher.

Regretfully we inform you that your voucher is no longer valid. Complimentary stay vouchers are valid for one year only and can be extended only for 6 more months after the regular expiration date.

We deeply apologize for the inconvenience that this may cause you and shall you need further information, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Mootz wants me to ask RIU to extend the voucher for two reasons. First, because a hotel representative assured him he could use it, and that has to count for something. And second, because he agreed to a lesser compensation — a voucher instead of a refund — and in doing so, believed he was doing the hotel a favor. The least they could do now is return that favor by being a little bit flexible.

“I want to be able to use the voucher and have RIU show me that they actually care if I stay at their properties in the future,” he says.

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This isn’t the first complaint we’ve had about RIU. I’m a little conflicted about this case. RIU wasn’t responsible for the beach restoration; it was a federal project. Had RIU been remodeling its rooms during that time, it would be another issue. It reached a generous compromised with Mootz, giving him a one-year voucher and then extending it for another six months. (Related: Is this enough compensation? A voucher for a “completely forgettable” honeymoon.)

Still, Mootz specifically said he couldn’t get back to Mexico until next year, and was told that wouldn’t be a problem. It’s a shame he didn’t get that in writing, because if he did, he’d have a confirmed reservation for his next vacation by now. (Here’s our guide to resolving your consumer problem.)

I don’t know if my advocacy team and I should take up this case.

Should I mediate Dave Mootz's case with RIU?

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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 Rio de Janeiro.

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