My Hawaiian vacation is canceled! Will Hotels com refund me?

Photo of author

By Christopher Elliott

Beth Tananbaum canceled her vacation to Hawaii at the height of the pandemic. She hoped for a refund, but Hotels com only offered her a voucher for her accommodations — and it’s about to expire. Can this trip be saved?


I booked a family trip to Hawaii for May of 2020. Then COVID shut everything down. Everyone refunded my money fully except Hotels com, which issued vouchers for the three rooms I had booked.

The vouchers expired before Hawaii even reopened. Then I received an email that they were extending the vouchers to this December. Hawaii didn’t reopen fully until the end of July. I can’t get to Hawaii before December because some of my children are in college.

You must know, I never agreed to a voucher, and I didn’t cancel my trip by choice. I have spoken to the customer service reps at both Hotels com and Expedia (which owns Hotels com), who say the hotel denied my request for a refund because of its policy.

The hotel claims that its policy is to fully refund customers in this situation. I investigated, and it turns out that the hotel never even received the money from Hotels com. It only gets the money the day before I check in. Hotels com had my money.

I feel that Hotels com has stolen my money. Can you help me get my $4,000 back? — Beth Tananbaum, Plantsville, Conn.


You booked a nonrefundable reservation at the Outrigger Waikiki Beach Resort (great hotel, by the way). Nonrefundable means that Hotels com doesn’t owe you a refund if you cancel your travel plans. But if the hotel cancels your reservation, you definitely are entitled to a refund.

You forwarded your paper trail between you, the hotel, and Hotels com. It looks like you contacted a revenue manager at the Outrigger, who opened a case with Expedia. As a result of that investigation, Expedia promised to issue a full refund within 7 to 10 days. But you never received the money.

Southwest Airlines is dedicated to the highest quality of customer service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and Company Spirit. We are committed to providing our employees with a stable work environment with equal opportunity for learning and personal growth.

Hawaii closed to tourism during the early days of the pandemic. When the islands closed, most hotels canceled their bookings and issued refunds. So something went awry with your canceled vacation. I think Expedia’s promise to refund the money makes this an open-and-shut case. (Related: Help! My Expedia tour credit is about to expire.)

If you run into a problem like this in the future, you can always reach out to an executive at Expedia or Hotels com. We publish the names, numbers, and email addresses of the Expedia and Hotels com customer service contacts in our database. Also, check out my free guide to booking a hotel room for more tips on avoiding hotel closures.

The good news: Here’s your refund from Hotel com via Expedia

I think contacting the Outrigger’s revenue manager was an excellent idea, because it led to opening a case with Expedia. You also kept a meticulous paper trail and all of your receipts and records. Hotels com claimed that Outrigger denied your claim because it’s against the hotel’s policy to refund a nonrefundable room. However, an Outrigger representative said the hotel did refund all hotel guests.

It’s obvious that your case had been taken over by some kind of automated system that sent you vouchers you couldn’t possibly use. That’s all the more reason to try to reach a human at Hotels com or Expedia.

I reached out to Expedia on your behalf. Separately, you also reached out to the Expedia executives. The company reviewed your case and issued a 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