Can this La Quinta hotel really keep my $2,000?

Zachary Smith uses Expedia to book a reservation at a La Quinta Inn and then decides to cancel and stay somewhere else. Unfortunately, he never notices that he has no proof of this cancellation — until the $2,000 bill arrives. Can we help?

Question

I made a hotel reservation through Expedia for ten days at the La Quinta Inn & Suites, Santa Clarita-Valencia.

The next day, I canceled that reservation through my Expedia account. My wife and I booked rooms and stayed at a different hotel in the area for the same time.

I became aware of a problem three days into our stay when I received a call from the La Quinta asking me when I was checking in. I told the La Quinta representative that I had canceled the reservation. He told me that I had to contact Expedia to resolve this issue.

Then I called Expedia and asked the agent if she would please make sure that the La Quinta hotel received the information about the cancellation.

The La Quinta management says that it will only refund the last night of my stay.

Even if I hadn’t canceled, the cancellation terms show the hotel can only charge me for one night plus tax. However, Expedia charged me $1,968 and only refunded me $198, which is the one night rate plus taxes and fees.

Expedia says I never canceled the reservation. In fact, Expedia says I never called until the last day of the scheduled reservation.

Will you please help me get a refund for all of these charges? — Zachary Smith, Bloomfield, NJ

Answer

Oh boy, what a mess. If you canceled your Expedia reservation at this La Quinta hotel, then you should not be on the hook for any of these charges.

However, there was one glaring problem with your case.

Where is the cancellation confirmation?

I reviewed your paper trail and noted that you did not include the confirmation of your cancellation through Expedia. That cancellation confirmation would be all the proof needed to make these charges quickly go away.

Expedia stores the records of all its users’ confirmed reservation activities inside the traveler’s Expedia account under “my trips.” This feature makes it easy to view upcoming reservations and canceled bookings. Additionally, when a guest makes or cancels a reservation, Expedia sends an email to confirm the transaction.

Users can create a perfect paper trail with the Expedia records inside their accounts.

But when my colleague Dwayne Coward asked you for this critical piece of your case, you reported that Expedia never sent you a cancellation confirmation. And when you checked the records inside your Expedia account, you found no cancellation there either.

Things were looking grim for your case.

In your correspondence with Expedia, you asked for the company to consider your evidence of the cancellation.

This evidence consisted of a screenshot of a URL for an Expedia cancellation page.

Unfortunately, as Coward explained to you, this evidence wasn’t going to help your case. Although it proved that you looked at a cancellation page on Expedia, it didn’t show that a cancellation actually took place.

La Quinta refuses to refund this “stay”

Expedia remained unconvinced of your cancellation. But the company asked La Quinta to consider your refund request.

This La Quinta hotel’s management responded by agreeing to refund only the last night of your “stay.” The implication seemed to be that you had stayed there for some amount of time.

Expedia then sent you the confirmation of the “resolution” of your case. That’s when you contacted our advocacy team’s helpline.

This “resolution” was unusual since, even if you were a no-show, the cancellation terms that you did have in writing state:

The terms of the reservation are as follows: Cancellations or changes made after 5:00PM (Pacific Daylight Time (US & Canada); Tijuana) on Jul 12, 2017 or no-shows are subject to a property fee equal to the first night’s rate plus taxes and fees.

La Quinta could only keep your money if you had stayed there for the days that you reserved.

Our advocacy team never saw the response from this La Quinta hotel (a franchise operated under the La Quinta brand), so it is unclear what the management’s rationale was for keeping your $1,700. But we agreed that this resolution wasn’t fair and was not in line with the published cancellation policy.

The bright side

Although the management of this La Quinta refused to consider a further refund, Coward contacted Expedia and highlighted your cancellation terms. Under those terms, La Quinta owed you a refund of all the nights except one.

After our Expedia executive contact took a look at your case, the company agreed this La Quinta hotel could only claim one night of your prepaid reservation.

You are happy to report that you have now received a refund totaling $1,700.

Remember, when a reservation has any penalty attached to it, make sure that you have actually completed the cancellation transaction. If you don’t receive an email confirming your cancellation, make sure to ask for one. Because this is the type of expensive travel-related headache no one needs, and you can easily avoid it.


Consumer Question of the day:

Why do you think this La Quinta did not adhere to the published cancellation terms?

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