Hotels.com left us waiting in the rain for our room

Gail Jaworski’s room isn’t ready when she and her husband arrive in Barcelona, Spain, and they’re left waiting in the rain. Although they eventually check in, she wonders: Who’s responsible for this late check-in?

Question: I have a question about a recent reservation I made for a hotel apartment in Barcelona, Spain, through Hotels.com.

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In the fine print of my reservation, it instructed me to call 24 hours before I arrived to make arrangements to pick up the key. For me, that was an international call. The phone number was printed incorrectly on the form, so I couldn’t reach the hotel.

I called Hotels.com, and a representative put me on hold for five to 10 minutes. I asked to be called back. Someone called after an hour, by which time my husband and I were already at sea and could not receive any calls.

Hotels.com didn’t send me a text or email. The next day, we arrived at the hotel, in the rain. No one was there. We found the correct phone number on the door, made another international call, and discovered that the hotel had no record of my reservation.

I called Hotels.com. A representative said the company’s computers were down, and he refused to do anything. I asked him to write down the reservation number and to cancel my reservation once the computers were running, so I could book elsewhere.

The representative refused; he told me to call back in one to two hours, when the computers were up. I asked for a supervisor but got nowhere. He hung up on me. By then, I had been on the phone for 40 minutes at 40 cents per minute. The hotel finally sent someone who looked at my written reservation and got a key.

I’ve contacted Hotels.com by email but have not received an answer. I’d like a refund of my phone bill and an apology. Can you help? — Gail Jaworski, West Palm Beach, Fla.

Answer: Wow, talk about a streak of bad luck. First, the wrong number for your property. Then the rain and the missing reservation. And Hotels.com didn’t make things any better with its computer failures and lack of service. I think you deserved better — much better.

Hotel apartments are not like standard hotels. Sometimes, there’s no lobby where you can check in, which means you either need a key or you’ll be left standing outside in the rain. So a company like Hotels.com, which rents these accommodations, needs to be extra careful to make sure the numbers it lists are right.

A Hotels.com representative shouldn’t have hung up on you or forced you to call back to cancel your reservation because the company’s computers were down. Instead, a representative should have politely helped you find a solution instead of telling you to phone back later, from a foreign country, at your expense.

Incidents like these are what give online agencies a bad name — and frankly, keep human travel agents in business. A person you know, with whom you had booked your vacation, would have worked directly with you to make sure you had a key to your hotel room. A real agent wouldn’t have left you standing outside in the rain.

I list the names, numbers and email addresses of the customer-service managers at Hotels.com’s parent company, Expedia, on my consumer advocacy website. A brief phone call to one of them might have resolved this when you arrived in Barcelona.

After you returned, Hotels.com should have responded to you promptly, not ignored you for three days. I contacted the company on your behalf. It offered you an $89 gift card and an apology as compensation.

16 thoughts on “Hotels.com left us waiting in the rain for our room

    1. 40 minutes wouldn’t be enough time to make me endure the hassle of calling Hotels. That’s a customer service failure too but I guess a slightly diff one.

    2. Unless it’s one of those prepaid Visa/MC gift cards, at least you could pay the phone bill with that. It’s times like this I would have used Skype, where the bill would have maybe been $1 or $2 for 40 min.

  1. I would be mad too if the contact number was incorrect. Hotels didn’t even resolve this, he did directly with the property. Ugh, now this guy will have to use them again for the $89. However, waiting 40 min for a room isn’t the end of the world. I wouldn’t have stood in the rain, so that’s kind of on him. I would have headed for paella.

    1. No they wouldn’t they would lose one client, the TA isn’t going to stay on an IDD call for 40 minutes at $.40/minute.

      1. we wouldn’t have had to pay those rates, but even if we had, we would have resolved this — of course, we would have made the key dropoff arrangements in advance for the client, so this would not have been an issue in the first place

        1. My apologies, but that was my point. This TA couldn’t be bothered to do the key drop off correctly, they aren’t staying on the phone for 40min, nor paying for the phone call.

  2. The only part that comes to mind is how was the phone number written? In some cases how a number is called from OUTside the country can be vastly different than when called from INside the country or even via different modes (land line versus mobile for example).

  3. Perhaps there ought to be some minimum standard mandated for OTA’s to assist their customers? These sorts of stories are really of customer abandonment, or of csr failure. There is no ‘recovery’ from a csr hanging up on a customer in need of help. Too bad it costs OTA’s money to do the right thing, or they would already be doing it more often.

    1. “There is no ‘recovery’ from a csr hanging up on a customer in need of help.”

      Yeah, there is. Charge back the credit card on ’em and file a lawsuit.

    2. How would you enforce that? These companies will just offshore the call center (if they haven’t already) to a country with far more lax laws. They will have some disclosure on their site that they are a TA licensed in X country, and that outside purchases are in violation of their TOS, and while they will happily arrange your travel and take your money, if you complain or file a complaint they will just point to the TOS and say you violated it not them.

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