I only stayed at the Marriott one night before my cruise!

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Christopher Elliott

Before her recent cruise, Elizabeth Maglione stayed just one night at the Courtyard Marriott Miami Downtown/Brickell. Later she realized the hotel charged her gift card for two nights and she asked for a refund. Now the hotel wants to issue a future travel credit. 

Question

I booked one night at the Courtyard Marriott Miami Downtown/Brickell before a cruise. When I checked in, I told the clerk I was using a Marriott gift card. He charged it for one night.

When I checked out, the hotel charged a second night on the gift card. I called customer service at Marriott to get the charge removed. I also called the front desk manager at the hotel. He said the best he could offer me is Marriott points or a credit at the Courtyard Marriott Miami Downtown/Brickell.

It’s been almost a month, and this is still not resolved. A statement I received shows the credit, but the gift card balance does not.

Can you help me get a $210 credit to my Marriott gift card or the same amount in another Marriott gift card? Or maybe just a refund?  I only stayed there one night before my cruise. I don’t want to pay for two!– Elizabeth Maglione, Mount Pleasant, SC

Answer

Marriott should have charged you for only one night since you stayed for only one night. I think you deserve a full refund — not credit at the Marriott Miami Downtown/Brickell.

Overcharges are common in the hotel business. I’m still trying to resolve one of my own for a hotel in Santa Maria, Calif. You’d think that being a consumer advocate who specializes in travel would help. But no. I have to wait in the same line as everyone else.

Review your bill before you leave the hotel

Here’s where I went wrong with my case: I didn’t check my folio immediately when I left the property. If I’d reviewed my final bill, I would have caught the error and fixed it right then and there. Actually, as I review the many double-billing error cases I’ve received over the years, that’s the biggest mistake guests make.

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Don’t go for the “instant” checkout by bypassing the front desk. That removes the ability to check your bill for accuracy and to appeal it to a clerk or a manager if necessary. Sure, you’ll have to carve out a few extra minutes when you leave a hotel, but it’ll be worth it. Here are more strategies for avoiding a hotel billing error.

You can find executive contacts for Marriott on my consumer advocacy site. After appealing to the hotel and corporate customer service, you might have shared your problem with these executives in writing. For a problem like this, a phone call is less effective than a brief, polite email.

A one night Marriott stay should not be billed twice

I contacted Marriott on your behalf. It reviewed your case and agreed that it charged your gift card a second time by mistake. It again offered a credit, which is a common hotel response (after all, it wants to keep your money). A representative said it was having a problem refunding the purchase to your gift card.

I said you wanted a full refund. Marriott sent you a check for $210.

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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 weekly columns for King Features Syndicate, USA Today, Forbes and the Washington Post. He also publishes 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 Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, or sign up for his daily newsletter. Read more of Christopher's articles here.

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