I canceled my reservation for a full refund — so why did Sleep-Inn charge me $400?

When Robert Williams cancels his reservation at a Sleep Inn through Travelocity, he receives a verification — but no money. What gives?

Question: I have been charged the full two-day deposit for a room at Sleep Inn & Suites Green Bay Airport that I canceled through Travelocity and for which I received a cancellation confirmation.

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The email from Travelocity explicitly stated, “You have cancelled with full refund of deposit by hotel.” However, it appears that Travelocity never informed Sleep Inn of the cancellation.

Travelocity has summarily dismissed my refund request with the erroneous statement, “We have advocated your case with Sleep Inn & Suites Green Bay Airport and due to their policy in relation to your reason for refunding the first night penalty charged to your cancelled reservation; they have denied your request since the room type you booked is prepaid and is non-refundable.”

The booking was advertised as cancellable “any time” prior to one day before our arrival. I canceled five days before our arrival and have the cancellation confirmation email as proof.

Travelocity customer service has not responded to my two requests for additional review, nor has there been any response to a polite email I sent to Scott Weismiller at Expedia requesting the same

I would like the full $404 deposit refunded to my credit card. Can you help? — Robert Williams, Fairview Park, Ohio

Answer: Travelocity should have coughed up that refund, no matter what Sleep Inn told it. After all, you made your reservation through Travelocity, an online travel agency. It represented the terms to you at the time of your booking and you abided by those terms. Now Travelocity needs to do the same thing.

This is about as open-and-shut of a case as I’ve ever seen. And the funny thing is, you gave Travelocity’s executives every chance to respond. They appeared to ignore you.

I reviewed your paper trail — the correspondence between you and Travelocity — and I have to say, I was impressed! You tried to keep everything in writing. Travelocity responded with form letters, which suggested they weren’t even reading what you sent them.

That’s a shame, and you probably know what I’m going to say next, don’t you? A human travel agent is unlikely to treat you the same way. Even if a travel advisor gave you the wrong information, that person would have errors and omissions insurance that would quickly cover your losses.

But no question about it — you deserve every penny of that $404. Now.

My advocacy team jumped in to help you. Advocate Dwayne Coward contacted Travelocity on your behalf and it quickly refunded your money to you. Turns out there was a “glitch” with the system that led to this mess — a problem that, we’re assured, has been fixed.

17 thoughts on “I canceled my reservation for a full refund — so why did Sleep-Inn charge me $400?

  1. Glitches and mistakes happen, but there’s no excuse for form-letter customer service that repeatedly doesn’t even attempt to understand the problem.

    1. I totally agree…nothing gets me going when I spend time in detailing the issue and etc. then to receive a form-e-mail response from customer service that doesn’t even come close to the problem that you reported as well as to show that they didn’t even read your e-mail.

      Customer Service is an investment as well as a cost. Since a lot of purchases of services and products have become commoditizedtransactional, a lot of companies are not willing to put money into customer service since the public wants the lowest prices.

      1. What’s kind of funny is that, with few exceptions (like rare special deals, or Priceline/Hotwire specials), the OTAs all offer the same pricing, which makes customer service important.

        Speaking for myself, warned off by all the terrifying stories here, I no longer use generic OTA’s unless they actually save significant money over a direct booking. (This is rare.) I will use Hotwire, but I know how they work, and I only use them if I can suss out exactly what property I’ll be staying in.

  2. thanks for the travel agent comment – you are correct, we would have stood by our promise to the client, even if it cost out of our own pockets

    1. And no agent is going to put a claim for $404 through their E & O insurance because the deductible is higher than that.. A good agent would eat the cost if it was their error.

  3. “Turns out there was a “glitch” with the system that led to this mess — a problem that, we’re assured, has been fixed.”

    Yeah, and if you believe that, I’ve got some swampland in Florida to sell you.

    Funny how these “glitches” always financially benefit the company, isn’t it?

    1. Some of the ‘glitches’ are a way for companies to avoid their responsibilities or to blame technology for the mistake when the company dropped the ball, was trying to scam the customer, etc.

      Some of the glitches are result of poor programming, software testing, software design, etc. A lot of companies are using programmers in Third World countries to write their websites, systems, etc. in order to save money…as a result, bugs are not caught. Also, the people doing the programming are more familiar with ‘mobile devices’ (i.e. smartphones and tablets) than desktops and laptops.

      I worked in the software industry for 20 years…it might be a bias (given my age) but the “older” programmers tends to look at more possibilities than the “younger” programmers. I was a product manager for a software program…I was constantly in touch with our clients to make sure that we were covering all ‘possibilities’ or ‘events’ in our next software release. When I consult with companies now and ask questions like “what does your programsystemetc. cover this or that eventincidentetc.” and I get “we never thought of that possibility, event, incident, etc. in writing the program but we do get them all of the time.”

  4. “Glitch with the system” are weasel words for, “We didn’t care. We lied. We don’t care about fixing the root cause.”

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