Hotels.com heaps on the compensation, then reneges

After Dawn Polvorosa spends hours on hold, Hotels.com promises her $250 in compensation for her trouble. Although the company fixes her initial problem, the make-good offer is missing in action.

Question: I recently cancelled a reservation through Hotels.com, which was partially paid for with a $325 gift card. I was told I would receive a refund within four hours via email. I did not receive a refund until nine days later.

It turns out that the refund was being sent to an incorrect email address despite the fact that I spelled out the email address to everyone I spoke with.

I wanted to share a few details about what it took to finally get the refund. I called customer service and was transferred between booking and gift card services for over 40 minutes. I spoke with three representatives. I was told to wait 24 hours and I would “certainly” receive the refund via email. I did not receive anything.

Several days later, I called customer service and was again transferred between booking and gift card services for over 40 minutes. I eventually spoke with a representative who told me that I would receive the gift card refund by the next day and she would also give me $150 as compensation for my time and trouble.

The process repeated itself several times again. Finally, a representative promised me an additional $100 as compensation for being transferred around and waiting.

I have the $325 refund, but the promised compensation is still missing in action. Can you help me get Hotels.com to do the right thing? — Dawn Polvorosa, Martinez, Calif.

Answer: When a company promises you additional compensation for your customer service problems, as Hotels.com did, it should assign it the same priority as the case itself — which is to say, Hotels.com should have refunded you and paid the $250 at the same time.

Why didn’t it? Who knows? Companies don’t always keep promises made by phone, That’s probably because you don’t have the same right it does to record a conversation. Without proof, you can’t really hold Hotels.com to anything.

In a perfect world, Hotels.com would have to provide you with a transcript of the conversation. These calls are already recorded for “quality assurance” purposes. But practically speaking, they’re only made available to customers like you when you show them a subpoena. (Not gonna happen on a $250 claim, and Hotels.com knows it.)

Hotels.com makes no warranties about fast refunds. It only promises, “The best prices at the best places. Guaranteed.” Fast refunds? Apparently, that’s not in its mission statement. In fact, slow refunds, as I’ve explained on numerous occasions, are a type of business model that allows a company to take out involuntary microloans from its own customers.

But I digress.

There were many more twists and turns, and I had to edit your case for brevity. Needless to say, Hotels.com failed you a few times.

You could have reached out to some of our Hotels.com contacts. We list them under Hotels.com’s parent company, Expedia.

But our fearless team of advocates saved you the trouble. We contacted Hotels.com on your behalf, and it offered you the $250 credit it promised.

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