I canceled my hotel but was charged anyway

Photo of author

By Christopher Elliott

Bob McIntyre is being billed $383 for a hotel room he never used. Now, both his online travel agent and the hotel are telling him the charges are legit. But are they?

Question

I recently booked a hotel room in New Orleans and had an unusual experience. We used Booking.com to make what we thought was a changeable reservation for a Monday and Tuesday night at the Bourbon Orleans Hotel.

There was nothing on the Booking.com website to indicate that a three-day notice was required to cancel our reservation. Also, there was nothing indicating it would cost us almost $40 extra per day for parking at this property.
We would have never chosen the Bourbon Orleans if this had been made known to us.

We contacted Booking.com and they canceled the reservation on Sunday night. But Booking.com refuses to return our deposit. What’s more, it has charged our credit card for $383 — that’s more than the $338 on the reservation.

Prior to retirement I traveled nearly 100 nights a year and have dealt with hundreds of hotels. I’ve never encountered such a dishonest, deceptive and unethical company in the travel business. Any help you can give us would be appreciated. — Bob McIntyre, San Antonio, Texas

Answer

Your online travel agent, Booking.com, should have disclosed the cancellation terms and the parking fees when you reserved your room. I reviewed the Bourbon listing on Booking.com after wrapping up this case, and found that both the parking charges and the cancellation terms were listed. Sorta.

The parking fee is clearly disclosed on the first page. However, the cancellation terms vary, based on your room type. It’s possible that Booking.com could have been clearer with you about your ability to cancel, but it’s difficult to know for certain.

By the way, you are not required to park your car at the hotel. From the looks of it, there’s plenty of available parking nearby, which may have been cheaper.

Insured Nomads helps you get travel insurance for as low as $2.88 per day, and options to add trip cancellation, global legal assistance, car rental cover and adventure sports. Award-winning plans. Exceptional service. Digital policy card to store with to your boarding pass and loyalty programs in your Apple/Google Wallet, in-app emergency button, lounge access for registered delayed flights and so much more than just medical. It’s peace of mind to reduce the uncertainty and travel with confidence short term for leisure and even longer for remote work, or your cruise and safari excursions. TrustPilot reviewed ”Excellent.” Read more and get covered.

If Booking.com said you would get a refund, then you should have received a full $338 credit — not a charge for $383. I’m not sure what accounted for the extra $45. Maybe they also charged you for a car you never parked in their garage? I have received many complaints about Booking.com.

It looks as if you got your wires crossed between Booking.com and the hotel. Since you made your reservation through an online travel agent, it would be your first point of contact in resolving this problem. As far as I can tell, the Bourbon Orleans was just enforcing its cancellation policy. (Here’s our guide to resolving your consumer problem.)

If Booking.com couldn’t help you, then you might have also been able to dispute this charge on your credit card.
Fortunately, that would be unnecessary. My advocacy team and I contacted Booking.com several times on your behalf. At first it promised to investigate your claim, but ultimately referred you back to the hotel, which denied your refund. After a second inquiry, Booking.com offered you a full refund.

Are hotel cancellation policies too strict?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...
Photo of author

Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is the founder of Elliott Advocacy, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that empowers consumers to solve their problems and helps those who can't. He's the author of numerous books on consumer advocacy and writes three nationally syndicated columns. He also publishes the Elliott Report, a news site for consumers, and Elliott Confidential, a critically acclaimed newsletter about customer service. If you have a consumer problem you can't solve, contact him directly through his advocacy website. You can also follow him on X, Facebook, and LinkedIn, or sign up for his daily newsletter. He is based in São Paulo.

Related Posts