Why won’t Starwood let me change my reservation ?

Helga Esteb / Shutterstock.com
Helga Esteb / Shutterstock.com
Carol Pratt is stuck with three pre-paid nights at a Starwood Hotel. Even though she wants to move the reservation by a few days, the hotel won’t let her without losing all of her money. What’s going on?

Question: I made a pre-paid reservation at the W New York – Downtown. The rate description said it was non-refundable and a penalty would apply for changes. When I tried to change it to a few days later, I was told that the reservation was actually non-changeable, and that should I cancel it, I would lose the money and need to book three new nights.

I contacted the W hotel’s central line and pointed out that the rate description for non-refundable rates stated they were non-refundable and non-changeable. That’s not the same thing as “a penalty for changes,” which is the language in the terms for the rate I had booked.
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What to do if your hotel doesn’t exist

Darren Bradley/Shutterstock
Darren Bradley/Shutterstock
For just $89 a night, the all-suite hotel in Killeen, Tex., promised Steven Hoybook and his family “European-style luxury” – an offer that seemed too good to pass up.

But Hoybook wishes that he had. When he and his family arrived, they found the hotel’s windows and doors shuttered. “They were out of business,” says Hoybook, who lives in Minneapolis. He couldn’t reach Orbitz, the site through which he’d booked the room, so the family found accommodations at a nearby Marriott, paying $111 a night for a smaller room.

When Hoybook finally reached the online travel agency by phone the next day, a representative “seemed sympathetic, leading us to believe that they would reverse the charge for the closed hotel,” he recalls. But after months of back-and-forth, during which the Hoybooks formally disputed the credit card charge for their first hotel, Orbitz referred their bill to a collection agency.
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They didn’t have the accessible room I reserved — what am I owed?

Disara/Shutterstock
Disara/Shutterstock
Some hotel amenities aren’t that important. Some are.

Having an accessible room, which is required under some state and federal laws, is a biggie. So when John and Carolyn Falabella asked me to look into their hotel’s failure to offer them the room they reserved, I knew it could be serious.

But a closer look at their case one shows just how frustrating it can be to fix a major problem like this, particularly with a chain hotel. I’m not sure if I can make this right, but read on and let me know if you think I should get involved in mediating this dispute.

Falabella had reservations at a Comfort Inn in Arlington, Va. He says he’d made a booking for an accessible room through Comfort Inn’s 800-number, and that he received a confirmation.
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Don’t forget to confirm your hotel reservation

Stock Solutions/Shutterstock
Stock Solutions/Shutterstock
A two-night stay at the Driftwood Inn in Chestertown, Md., was supposed to cost Bruce Romano $138 through a Web site called HotelPlus Destination Portal, as long as he prepaid for his accommodations. That seemed like a good deal. After all, it was Memorial Day weekend, one of the busiest travel times of the year.

But it didn’t make sense to the Driftwood Inn, a budget hotel that decorates its rooms with flotsam and other artifacts pulled from the Atlantic. An employee claimed that the hotel didn’t know much about Romano’s reservation when he checked in.

“When I arrived at the Driftwood Inn, they had my name but insisted that I needed to pay them directly,” says Romano, who works for the federal government in Washington, “and at a higher rate.”

He coughed up an additional $157 for his room, paying twice for the same accommodations.
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Hyatt charged me for my canceled hotel room and now I’m stuck

Songquan Deng/Shutterstock
Songquan Deng/Shutterstock
Question: I recently attended a job fair in Marietta, Ga. Because I was unsure of the number and date of interviews I would have at the event, I decided to book a room for one night at the Hyatt, in case I had to extend my stay.

I didn’t need the room, so I called a full day before I was supposed to check in to cancel. But a Hyatt representative told me they could not find my reservation and that I would need to call back later in the day to cancel. I called back that afternoon and was transferred to central booking. A representative said they could not process a cancellation for me. So I called the hotel and they agreed to cancel my reservation.

When I tried to book a flight back home this morning, my card was rejected because of insufficient funds. I checked my account and found the Hyatt had charged my card $141.

I immediately called the hotel and they told me that if I did not have a confirmation number there was nothing they could do. I kept calling back until someone in accounting said they would research the issue but no one ever said they would be able to refund my money. Without a cancellation number, they said, I would be considered a “no show.”
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They renamed the hotel and canceled my reservation

Vladitto/Shutterstock
Vladitto/Shutterstock

Liz Egland thinks she has a reservation at a Holiday Inn. But she’s wrong. The hotel has canceled her reservation and wants her to pay more than double to get it back. Is it allowed to do that?

Question: I made a reservation at the Comfort Inn in Troutdale, Ore., this fall, and received a confirmation number. At that time I was told that the hotel was in the process of being sold and would become a Holiday Inn Express and the reservation would be honored.

Last month, I got a call from the Comfort Inn that the sale had gone through and to contact the Holiday Inn Express Troutdale directly to verify my existing reservation. When I made this call, they indicated they no longer had a reservation for me, so they will not be honoring the contract I had with the Comfort Inn.
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No, this isn’t a Hotwire bait-and-switch (or is it?)

Kim Gandy is an experienced traveler, and she’d like to think she wouldn’t fall for a scam. But when she tried to book a rental car through Hotwire recently, she thinks she may have been duped.
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Could United Airlines’ chaotic computer “cutover” have been avoided?

At United Airlines, they called it the “cutover.” It was the final and most difficult piece of the puzzle in the merger with Continental Airlines, and it involved combining two complex passenger reservations systems.

But some United passengers referred to what happened in March as something else: chaos.
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The Travel Troubleshooter: Am I stuck with this $378 phone bill?

Question: I’ve been haggling with Travelocity for almost three months about a flight, and I need your help. I recently booked flights from Newark, N.J., to Madrid, Spain via Continental Airlines and on to my final destination of Barcelona, Spain, via Iberia.
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