Hyatt charged me for my canceled hotel room and now I’m stuck

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By Christopher Elliott

Fallon Speaker cancels a hotel room she doesn’t need at a job fair, but the cancellation doesn’t go through, and now she’s stuck in New York. Can this trip be saved?

Question

I recently attended a job fair in Marietta, Ga. Because I was unsure of the number and date of interviews I would have at the event, I decided to book a room for one night at the Hyatt, in case I had to extend my stay.

I didn’t need the room, so I called a full day before I was supposed to check in to cancel. But a Hyatt representative told me they could not find my reservation and that I would need to call back later in the day to cancel. I called back that afternoon and was transferred to central booking. A representative said they could not process a cancellation for me. So I called the hotel and they agreed to cancel my reservation.

When I tried to book a flight back home this morning, my card was rejected because of insufficient funds. When checking my account and found the Hyatt had charged my card $141.

I called the hotel right away, and they said they couldn’t assist me without a confirmation number. I kept calling back until someone in accounting said they would research the issue but no one ever said they would be able to refund my money. Without a cancellation number, they said, I would be considered a “no show.”

I have $10 in my account and am stuck in New York. Can you help me? — Fallon Speaker, Chapel Hill, N.C.

Answer

Hyatt should have canceled your room as promised. But you had a few warning signs that it didn’t — or couldn’t. That included the hotel not being able to find your reservation, the central reservations line not being able to process your cancellation, and a promise (but no verification) from the hotel that your reservation had been deleted.

Any one of these should have sent up an enormous red flag. But the one that should have sent you into a panic was the lack of a cancellation number. When a hotel doesn’t offer you one, you should assume your reservation is still active. Unfortunately, yours was. (Related: Why is the Grand Hyatt refusing to refund her Broadway tickets?)

Arch RoamRight is one of the fastest-growing, most-highly rated travel insurance companies in the United States. Travel advisors love working with us, and travelers feel protected with our trip cancellation and travel medical insurance coverage. We also make it easy to file a claim online with our fast, paperless claims website. Learn more about RoamRight travel insurance.

Although some hotel rooms are still cancelable, many are not. In fact, there’s been a shift towards the airline model, where the cheapest rooms are non-changeable and non-refundable. So it’s worth making sure, as you did, that your room can be canceled and ensuring that if your plans change, you give the property ample notification.

My advocacy team and I checked with Hyatt, and it turns out your reservation couldn’t be found because someone — it’s not clear who — misspelled your name. Within an hour of asking the hotel to investigate, it had reversed the charge, allowing you to buy a ticket from New York back to North Carolina. (Here’s our guide to resolving your consumer problem.)

As a gesture of goodwill, Hyatt enrolled you in its loyalty program. It deposited enough points in your account for a one-night stay at one of its hotels.

Are hotels responsive enough to erroneous billing questions from guests?

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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.

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