Our vacation rental in St. Lucia is closed — are we out of luck?

Susan Palmer and her family have a reservation for a vacation rental in St. Lucia. But the property is closed. Can this vacation be saved?

Question: A few months ago, my family and I booked a hotel and flights through Expedia for a trip from Cleveland to St. Lucia. We had a reservation for a three-bedroom villa at Cotton Bay Village.

Earlier this week, I called the hotel to set up a few tours and was told that the property was closed for renovations and that they had notified Expedia almost a month ago.

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We have called Expedia six different times, and it hasn’t been able to find a comparable property. Each time we call, we get a different agent and supervisor, review the entire history and try — and fail — to find another property.

We still have no rental for the vacation. I would like someone who is farther up the chain of command to help us. I need someone who can stay on the line, give his or her first and last name and contact information, and has the authority to approve the villa. With every day wasted, there are fewer properties available. Any assistance would be appreciated. – Susan Palmer, Cleveland

Answer: Expedia should have notified you of the property closure as soon as possible, not waited for you to find out by chance. Cotton Bay Village was nice enough to furnish you with a copy of the email it sent to Expedia, letting it know about the closure. There’s no excuse for the omission.

When you told Expedia about the closure — which you shouldn’t have had to do — it should have jumped on the problem and fixed it without you having to call back six times.

You asked for the name of someone with the authority to fix this. I publish the names on my site. I’d recommend sending one of Expedia’s executive contacts a brief, polite email asking him or her to find you a suitable replacement. Oh, and try to stay off the phone. Why? There’s no way to prove a conversation happened, apart from the notes a representative might take during the call.

Bottom line: Expedia needed to make this its problem, not yours. Instead, it kept putting you off and giving you nonanswers until you were finally out of patience.

This case made its way through our help forums on my site before coming to my desk. You can get fast answers to any consumer question on my forums, day or night.

I contacted Expedia on your behalf. Your husband found another villa and called Expedia with the reservation information. Several hours later, Expedia agreed to book your villa at the same rate.

This story first appeared April 20, 2015.

6 thoughts on “Our vacation rental in St. Lucia is closed — are we out of luck?

  1. It is a near certainty that Expedia’s CSRs did what they were trained to do. 6 tries to fix a vacation disaster is not an outlier by 1 or 2 lazy or incompetent CSR’s. Chris, you are right that phone calls ‘evaporate into the ethers’, but some companies try to hide their email address in order to avoid the problem of customer documentation.

    1. Or, as per the James Bond movie, once is happenstance, twice is coincidence, but three times is enemy action. I wonder what that makes six.

  2. this is why you should deal with a real travel agency or better still a specialist, not an OTA.
    We had a booking at Copper Mt Colorado few years back. Just before our arrival, previous guests had a fire in the kitchen. The place wasn’t gutted, but was a mess that was going to take weeks to get fixed, so they simply gave us another apartment, which was actually bigger & better.

  3. An online travel agency takes bookings, processes your money, gives you a confirmation number and that’s the end of that. There is no customer service at all … this story is a great example of why you should book directly or with an experienced travel agent who will take very good care of you.

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