Hey, that’s no four-star hotel!

Photo of author

By Christopher Elliott

Albert Muick books a four-star hotel through Expedia in Prague. Turns out, it’s just a three-star property. When he asks for a refund, he’s sent a series of form letters. What now?

Question

I recently booked a hotel in Prague through Expedia. While perusing the hotels online, I saw an advertisement for an unpublished rate hotel. I clicked the advertisement and was presented with three four-star hotels from which to choose.

Based on the amenities and price, I chose the four-star hotel that was offered for $58 a night. I paid for the three rooms and then was shown the hotel name and class.

The class was only three-star. I couldn’t believe it.

Thankfully, I made screen captures of the offer and the result. I immediately sent an email to Expedia’s customer service department, explaining what happened. It replied with a short notice saying all sales were final. I then replied that this was not an issue of wanting money back or a change, but of getting what I paid for, namely: a four-star hotel.

The next response I received was infuriating. Expedia informed me that they were unable to verify the change in star rating. I then responded with the screen shots. Each time, they instructed me to call in to discuss the matter.

No sir, I want this on the record.

I am very unhappy at the moment. Working at Kandahar Airfield in Afghanistan, taking my vacation time is a top priority for me. I want Expedia to either give me the four-star hotel I paid for or refund my money immediately. Can you help? — Albert Muick, Kandahar, Afghanistan

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.

Answer

If you paid for a four-star hotel, you should have received a four-star hotel. Problem is, no one can really agree on what a four-star hotel is — or isn’t. There’s no high court of hotel stars, no international governing body. As far as I can tell, if I call something a four-star hotel, it is a four-star hotel.

But wait, you made screen shots? Nice work. You insisted on conducting your correspondence by email? Even better!

Keeping meticulous records on your grievance can ensure a fast resolution. And when it doesn’t — well, that’s where I come in.

I’m somewhat surprised that Expedia sent a form response to you, and then, after your reply, they sent another one. Is anyone reading these emails?

You might have tried a brief, polite appeal to an Expedia executive. I list their names on this site.

This is a textbook case of a traveler doing almost everything right, but still unable to get a fair resolution. (Here’s our guide with the best travel advice.)

I hope this is one of those rare times when Expedia just didn’t bother to carefully read your concise, well-crafted email. I say this because I haven’t had that many Expedia complaints recently, so I hope it’s an anomaly.

My advocacy team and I contacted Expedia on your behalf. It reviewed your grievance and found that a “system error” occurred when you made your reservation. You’ve received a full refund.

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 Panamá City.

Related Posts