An Expedia error, a canceled vacation and a $1,300 loss? Not so fast!

Sheila Couch is looking forward to a tropical island getaway with her beau when a work-related emergency puts a sudden end to their plans. Believing that the Expedia insurance she had purchased will protect her prepaid fees for this trip, she files a claim for a refund. But will an Expedia error lead to a $1,300 loss?

Question

I used Expedia to book a vacation package to Turks and Caicos for me and my guy, Chris. It’s been a long winter, and I just wanted to relax on the beach and soak up some sun.

Because Chris and I are both busy executives who run our own companies, I knew there was a possibility that one of us might need to cancel at the last minute. So I purchased the Expedia insurance that I believed would allow for this cancellation with little financial penalty.

Unfortunately, one week before our scheduled trip, it became clear that Chris couldn’t break away from work that weekend.

I called Expedia and canceled the vacation. The Expedia agent quickly processed my credit for the airfare, but she told me that she would have to request a goodwill gesture from the hotel. I thought this response was odd since I purchased the Expedia insurance. But I waited for clarification.

After several weeks and no word from Expedia, I checked back. The agent told me that the hotel declined to refund my $1,300; citing the nonrefundable terms of the reservation.

All of this happened two months ago, and I’m still angry about it. I believe the Expedia insurance should have protected me in this situation. As my sister, you have experience with this type of thing. Will you take a look? Is this an Expedia error or is my $1,300 just down the drain? Thank you. — Sheila Couch, New Hope, Pa.

Answer

How disappointing! We’ve had quite a dreary winter here in the northeast, and I know that you were really looking forward to that vacation.

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But more disappointing than your lost time on the beach was the loss of your $1,300. And although you initially accepted Expedia’s determination that you didn’t qualify for any refund, you continued to ruminate over the situation.

Since you are my sister, I have heard your disgruntled telling of this tale on many occasions over the past several months. Too many times to count.

And although I offered to take a look at your case, you wanted to handle the problem on your own. But I had suspicions that this might be an Expedia error.

Then you gave up and accepted the $1,300 loss.

An Expedia error or a policy misunderstanding?

But when you began planning a new vacation and the Expedia insurance plan popped up on your screen, those angry feelings resurfaced. And you asked me to take a look at the Expedia insurance vacation waiver. You wanted to know if you had misunderstood the policy or if an Expedia error had occurred.

When I looked through your paper trail, I could see that the Expedia agent cited the hotel’s cancellation terms as the reason for your refund denial:

We have already communicated your request with East Bay Resort, and they have denied your cancellation request.

For your reference, we have also listed below the cancellation and change policy of your reservation.

-The room type and rate selected are non-refundable. Should you change or cancel this reservation for any reason, your payment will not be refunded.

What does the Expedia insurance plan cover?

But why was this Expedia agent contacting the hotel to request a special consideration when you had purchased the Expedia insurance?

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After all, Expedia touts this insurance plan as “protection against life’s unexpected occurrences” — like your boyfriend suddenly realizing work commitments trump a vacation.

On your Expedia confirmation, in red letters, was the alert that your hotel was completely nonrefundable. I suspected that there might be fine print terms in Expedia’s insurance policy that excluded some nonrefundable parts of your trip.

So I set in to read all the terms of your policy. And what I discovered pointed to the agent’s error and not a hidden “gotcha” clause that would invalidate your claim.

The Expedia insurance plan that you purchased is a cancel for any reason policy. The terms below illustrate how the plan is supposed to work.

Terms of the Expedia Vacation Waiver

If you purchase a Vacation Waiver, you may change or cancel your Trip for any reason one time prior to the Scheduled Start Time, and we will:

Process that change or cancellation on your behalf with the applicable travel providers
(airline, hotel, rental car company, destination activity provider, etc.);
Waive our own change or cancellation fees (if any);
Return any amounts refunded by the travel provider(s) to you;
Refund any amounts withheld by the travel provider as a change or cancel fee;
Apply any travel credits awarded by a travel provider to your account with that travel provider (subject to provider’s redemption policies and restrictions); and
When you redeem these travel credits, we’ll reimburse you for any change or cancellation fees you are charged by a travel provider at the time of redemption.
You are responsible for any increase in the cost of your Trip as a result of any change or cancellation.

Seeing no plausible reason for the denial of the hotel refund, I reached out to Expedia on your behalf. (We also list Expedia contacts on our site)

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Yes, this was an Expedia Error and you’re getting a refund

And soon came the good news for you. Our executive contact reviewed your case and determined that your refund rejection was the result of an Expedia error. She explained:

The resolution team confirmed the delay of the refund was due to an unfortunate agent error where they failed to trigger the refund for that part of the package. We’ve issued a refund for the full amount of the hotel and sent our sincere apologies to Ms. Couch for the error and inconvenience. The team is also looking into the root cause of the error and will be working to ensure it isn’t repeated.

You have now received your $1,300. I’m happy to have been able to help you in correcting this expensive Expedia error. You immediately reinvested your refund into a new trip and will soon be taking that beach getaway after all. Enjoy!

Michelle Couch-Friedman

Michelle is the executive director of Elliott Advocacy. She is a consumer advocate, writer, an SEO-lady, and licensed clinical social worker who spends as much time as possible exploring the world with her family. Contact her at Michelle Friedman Read more of Michelle's articles here.

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