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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The Travel Troubleshooter: Why do I have to pay a $477 cancellation fee?

Question: My husband and I were planning a weekend trip to New York to celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary. I have mobility problems and we always book a hotel as close as possible to Broadway in the theater district.

For the trip in question, I searched Cheaptickets.com and found the W Hotel right off Broadway. We thought we booked the room, but when reviewing the confirming email, we found that we had accidentally booked the W Hotel on Lexington Avenue — not the W Broadway hotel.

Within less than 24 hours, we canceled the reservation and tried to rebook the correct W hotel. I did not notice the cancellation notice on the screen and the original booking confirmation disappeared from my files. I did not retain a printed copy of it.

We were stunned when we were billed $477 for the cancellation. After many phone calls and emails to both Cheaptickets.com and to the W Hotel, Cheaptickets.com told us that billing one night’s charge for a cancellation was a policy of the hotel. The hotel told us it was not their policy.

After much correspondence with Cheaptickets.com and our credit card company, we were told that we had to pay the charge, which we did. However, we still feel that a $477 charge for a cancellation made in less than 24 hours after the reservation is very excessive and unconscionable. Can you help? — Beulah Saideman, Philadelphia

Answer: If the W wasn’t charging you a cancellation penalty, then it must have been Cheaptickets.com. But since you didn’t keep your records, it’s difficult to say exactly what was going on.
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