Case dismissed: The valet service damaged our rental, but we got the bill

Car rental damage cases are usually disputes between two parties — the renter and the agency. But not always.

Ron Goldstein recently rented a car from Thrifty in Los Angeles. He left the car with a parking valet at the DoubleTree by Hilton Guest Suites Santa Monica. It’s a decent hotel about a block from where the 10 freeway ends, and street parking isn’t really an option.

And then things took a turn for the worse.
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Can this trip be saved? “Come to the room, I have an emergency”

Erica Lara and her boyfriend, Patrick, checked into the Hilton Key Largo Grande Resort & Beach Club last Saturday for a wedding, but they didn’t stay long.

Patrick suffered an unfortunate, and extremely painful mishap, and was sent to the hospital. Details on his condition in a moment (warning: if you are in any way squeamish, click away now). The couple want their money back because they didn’t get to use the room.
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Here’s an unconventional way to cut your room rate

Hotel room rates are about to resume their climb. The latest forecast calls for average daily room rates to get a modest 3.5 percent bump in 2011, which means we’ll all pay a little more for our accommodations next year.

Unless you’re Kevin McGonagle and you’re staying at the Hilton Sydney. McGonagle thought the AU$359 was out of his price range for a six-night stay in November, so he did something unconventional: He asked the hotel to lower its price. He asked politely.

And what did the hotel say? I’ll get to that in just a moment.
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Sorry, your room is non-refundable — did we neglect to mention that?

Norman and Mary Lou Vitrano are by their own admission not Internet-savvy, which is why they phoned the Doubletree Beach Resort Tampa Bay/North Redington Beach to make their room reservations last August. When the couple’s plans changed and they tried to cancel their reservation, a hotel representative informed them their room was completely non-refundable.

There’s just one little problem: No one had told the Vitranos that the room was non-refundable. “We wouldn’t have made the reservations under those conditions,” says Norman Vitrano.

And here’s where the story takes a strange twist.
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Good night, sleep tight, don’t let the … ouch! What was that?

Bedbugs.

Just the mention of these tiny, bloodsucking insects is enough to send a veteran road warrior packing. But what does a hotel owe you if you’ve been ravaged by a swarm of Cimex lectularius during your stay?

No, that’s not an academic question.

I wish it was. So does Hilton. So does Diane Lapin, who claims she had visitors during her recent two-night stay at the Hampton Inn & Suites in Burlingame, Calif. Hers was room 323, but for hundreds of bedbugs, it was more like a dining room, she says.
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A quiet weekend in Pensacola Beach, Fla.

Here’s the view that greeted us when we checked into the Hilton Pensacola Beach Gulf Front yesterday afternoon.

Beautiful? Yes. But it’s also 40 degrees, not counting the wind chill factor.

Maybe that’s why there’s no one here. But you know us — we’re contrarian travelers. We go where no one else does. And when no one else does.
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Hilton exec overrules “customer service” department, helps guest

vbGot a problem with Hilton? You might get help. Then again, you might not.

Ever since the Blackstone Group’s $26 billion buyout of Hilton in 2007, getting good customer service has been a hit-or-miss proposition. Some cases are resolved to the customer’s satisfaction. Others aren’t.

I used to know most of Hilton’s executives, thanks to a first-rate corporate communications team. They made sure the channels of communication were always open between Hilton and any potential customer-service problems, much to their credit. Today, I have a queue of unsolved cases.

Is Hilton a lost cause?
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