What to do when a resort won’t accept your Travelzoo voucher


When Jerry Shepard’s Travelzoo voucher for pet-friendly accommodations doesn’t come through, the resort agrees to extend the offer. Now it won’t honor the voucher. What gives?

Question: You are my last hope for a dispute I have with a resort. I recently bought a Travelzoo voucher for pet-friendly accommodations at Yosemite Lakes RV Resort. I made a reservation with the resort at the time I purchased the voucher.

Yosemite Lakes sent a reservation confirmation for a yurt (a large, dome-shaped, tent-styled structure) that did not allow pets. I called and pointed out this error to Yosemite Lakes. The proposed solution was to extend my voucher so I could reserve one of its pet-friendly yurts.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Travel Leaders Group. Travel Leaders Group is transforming travel through its progressive approach toward each unique travel experience. Travel Leaders Group assists millions of travelers through its leisure, business and network travel operations under a variety of diversified divisions and brands including All Aboard Travel, Andrew Harper Travel, Colletts Travel, Corporate Travel Services, CruCon Cruise Outlet, Cruise Specialists, Nexion, Protravel International, SinglesCruise.com, Travel Leaders Corporate, Travel Leaders Network and Tzell Travel Group, and its merger with ALTOUR. With more than 7,000 agency locations and 52,000 travel advisors, Travel Leaders Group ranks as one of the industry’s largest retail travel agency companies.

When I arrived, the resort would not honor the promotional value of the voucher. I explained the situation to several employees and eventually to a manager. They would not budge from their decision not to honor the promotional value of the voucher, and I was charged $48.

I called Travelzoo and was told that it could not get involved in this dispute since the voucher had expired.

I would have stayed at this property prior to the expiration date of the voucher had Yosemite Lakes not reserved a non-pet yurt. I think Yosemite Lakes should not have charged me the additional $48. Can you help me get my money back? — Jerry Shepard, Fairfield, Calif.

Answer: I agree that if the resort offered to extend the voucher, it should honor its promise. Unfortunately, you didn’t have that offer in writing, and that means it’s your word against Yosemite Lakes’. And guess which one of you will get your way? Right, not you.

That’s an important lesson — and at $48, a relatively affordable one — to always get a promise in writing. I can’t remember what I told someone a day ago, let alone a week ago. So unless someone from Yosemite Lakes extended your voucher in writing, by email or by sending you a new paper voucher, there’s no way to verify anything that anyone told you.

I might have circled back with Travelzoo, the company that sold you a voucher for a “pet-friendly” room. After all, you didn’t get what you paid for. I would have started with an email query through Travelzoo’s form.

Failing that, I might have reached out to one of Travelzoo’s executives. Their names are listed on its website: http://ir.travelzoo.com/bios.cfm. Email addresses at Travelzoo follow the convention: [email protected] (So if I were a Travelzoo employee, my email address would be [email protected], but I’m not, so don’t try that address; however, you can always reach me at [email protected])

It’s difficult to tell if the resort just decided to change its rules or if Travelzoo goofed. But no matter — you should have been able to use the full value of your voucher, as advertised.

I contacted Travelzoo on your behalf. The company investigated your claim and found that it had a “miscommunication” with the resort. Travelzoo refunded your $48.

Should Travelzoo have refunded Jerry Shepard’s money?

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35 thoughts on “What to do when a resort won’t accept your Travelzoo voucher

  1. Being on the business side of it I can’t imagine why I would ever give a customer anything in writing once I had their money. One it takes more time, two it increases my exposure to liability and three it does nothing to improve my revenue. Either I’m going to accommodate a client, which means never saying “no” or I’m not, and if I’m not no matter how it ends, that client is lost business. Once an incident is elevated to the level of a dispute doing anything is just loss revenue.
    On the customer end, how do you “make” a merchant give you anything in writing?

    1. Several reasons

      1. It affects your reputation. The promise may not be fulfillable at the moment that you are interacting with the customer. Putting in in righting gives the customer assurance that they are dealing with an honest, upright business and that you will stand behind your promise(s) to them.

      2. Even though you have the customer’s money you may not be entitled to keep it should the customer elect to cancel. I can charge in advance for my services, but if the customer decides to cancel I must return the unearned fees. If a business didn’t put its promises to me in writing, I’m canceling and getting my money back.

    2. “it does nothing to improve my revenue.”

      That’s incredibly short-sighted and, frankly, totally incorrect. If the dispute causes the customer to never stay at your hotel or patronize your business, you definitely could lose revenue even if you get to keep any money they’ve already given you. Let’s imagine this is a large party who would have eaten at your on-site restaurant multiple times or paid for other services, as an example. Then let’s take it further and imagine that some would-be customers read about you on elliott.org and decide they’ll pass on your hotel/business.

      And accommodating a client is not an “always” or “never” proposition. You can give on some things without always saying yes. It’s your choice as a business and businesses do that every single day. In this case, if the OP claiming somebody said the voucher would be honored is a total lie, then I could understand the management denying them. If, however, there’s a decent chance somebody did tell them that, then it’s simply bad business to create a stink over $48. Maybe this lodge is all a single family working there and they absolutely know nobody told the OP they’d honor the voucher. But outside that, I can’t imagine why any good business person wouldn’t have honored what sounds like a very reasonable request.

    3. Weird, my earlier post disappeared. So, I’ll try again.

      Saying it “does nothing” to improve the business’s revenue is incredibly short-sighted. You can definitely lose revenue in cases like this even if you get to keep everything that has already been paid to you. Let’s imagine it was a large party who would have purchased extra services, eaten at your on-site restaurant, etc. And what if some would-be customers read this story and decide they’ll pass on this business? That’s lost business and lost revenue.

      Accommodating customers is not an “always” or “never” proposition. Every day businesses bend on some things but say no to other requests. In this case, if the RV resort was ran by a single family and they absolutely know that nobody ever told the OP the voucher would be accepted after its expiration date, then I can see them saying no. In that event, they’d be dealing with a dishonorable customer and people shouldn’t benefit from lying. But if there’s any reasonable chance some employee told them the voucher would be accepted, it’s simply bad business to make a stink over $48. This was a rather reasonable request by the the OP and I think most places would have honored the voucher without question given the circumstances.

  2. I’m glad that I’m not the only one who has had trouble with Travelzoo vouchers. I’ve had issue with Groupons & Living Social vouchers from time to time, but Groupon & LS have always bent over backwards to make it right. I’ve purchased 3 Travelzoo vouchers – 2 of the 3 have been problematic and Travelzoo’s response has been “too bad, so sad.” I finally got them to refund one of them but that was after weeks of complaining.

    1. I have never done business with Travelzoo. Thanks to the information provided here, I will be able to say 20 years from now “I have never done business with Travelzoo”.

  3. MY HUSBAND IS HIGHLY ALLERGIC TO ANIMALS (FUR). AT A MEETING LAST NIGHT — A meeting — A WOMAN BROUGHT A RATHER LARGE DOG THAT SAT IN HER LAP. HUSBAND HAD a 2 minute time to state his case re a problem with the rules at our townhouse complex and he had an allergy attack soon as he finished and we had to leave.
    As we were leaving a doctor at the meeting came outside to make sure he was not having a heart attack. WHY DO PEOPLE THINK THEIR ANIMALS BELONG IN A MEETING? And
    a “lap dog” at that???????????????

    1. Was it an “emotional support animal?” Nowadays anyone can claim their animal is a “service” or “emotional support” animal and they can take that animal anywhere.

      The law needs to be tightened…people just abuse it.

      1. I seriously feel like parading my cat around like people do with their dogs. I like animals, but do you really need to take your dog to WalMart? Really? And we all know that most of the dogs aren’t actually medically necessary. People just like dragging them around. It really irritates me.

        1. I was in Lowes two days ago picking up some fixtures and there was a dog peeing on the floor. It wasn’t a supportmedical assistanceetc. dog…just a regular dog.

          1. At least it was pee. At our local Lowes, the last time I was there, a lady brought her dog in with her and he defecated right pass the front door catching patrons by surprise, many stepping in it. Not only was it a mess, the stink was blown in each time the door opened. I love my dogs, but they stay home, where they belong, when we go shopping!

      1. LOL. I was also wondering what the special significance was of the dog SITTING IN HER LAP. The husband would have been less allergic had the animal been STANDING ON THE FLOOR?

        And this was a meeting at a townhouse complex where residents came over from their units for a few minutes. Technically still a meeting, but this wasn’t like everybody was on the 50th floor downtown in their Armani suits when some crazy lady with a dog showed up out of nowhere.

        1. On the plus side, I’ve been of the opinion the phrase “pet-friendly yurt” is wildly under-used. Today’s article gave me my fill.

      1. I suspect she was, without directly saying so, suggesting problems her husband might have if he stays in a pet-friendly room after the animal’s owner checks out. Of course, this couple should stay away from such businesses.

      1. I think she was venting… this article is about a dog and her husband is allergic to dogs and she needed to get this off her chest so….. she posted it here. I think 🙂

    2. Naoma, they don’t “think their animals belong in a meeting”, they don’t think at all. Or if they think, they don’t care. They are entirely unconcerned about anyone but themselves. And the more often they get away with it, the more blatent they become. People seem to feel that telling some moron to put her dog out in the car/backyard/garage during the meeting will affect her rights, so it is politically incorrect and NOBODY wants to be considered politically incorrect these days. I am a serious animal lover and would run around with 9 husky dogs and a cat in my pocket if I could get away with it … but I also understand that there are other people in the world besides myself. We all have to speak up at the time of the offensive behaviour, or soon our world will be uninhabitable. There are ways to politely speak up, you just have to be brave. Sorry this has nothing to do with a dishonored voucher, but the downfall of society due to political correctness is a great interest of mine.

  4. I need more information:

    Article stated: “I made a reservation with the resort at the time I purchased the voucher.”

    Question # 1: Did the voucher had an expiration date, blackout dates and/or etc? It seems like it there was an expiration date based upon the article. What was the expiration date in relation to the expiration date (i.e. one week after the purchase; six months after the purchase, etc)?

    Question # 2: Was the date(s) for the original reservation made before the expiration…just because the reservation was made when the voucher was purchased…doesn’t mean that it was made in the time period that was allowed by the voucher (i.e. the voucher expired on 9/1/14 but the reservation was for 10/1/14).

    Question # 3: When was the time frame between the original reservation and the second reservation? Days? Weeks? Months? More importantly, how time after the voucher expired?

    Question # 4: Who was the “owner” of the voucher? TrazelZoo or Yosemite Lakes RV Resort? If the voucher was “owned” by TrazelZoo, how could the rv resort extend it without contacting TravelZoo?

    Question # 5: Did the voucher states that “the holder of the voucher has a guarantee reservation for a pet-friendly yurt on any day during the time frame of the voucher regardless if the rv resort is sold out on a specific day”? We go camping at the various Arizona State Parks…some parks have cabins, yurts, etc…you need to make reservations weeks if not months in advance…for a regular tent campsite or a rv site for Memorial Day and Labor Day, you need to make a reservation eight to 12 months in advance to get a spot.

    The article stated: “I called and pointed out this error to Yosemite Lakes.”

    Question # 6: When did the OP called the resort? The same day or days or weeks later?

    I agree with Chris that the OP should have 1) sent an e-mail and/or fax to the rv resort, stating that they agreed to accept the voucher on another date which was outside of the time frame stated on the voucher and 2) ask for a written response stating that the voucher will be honored on a date after it was expired.

    I think that it was nice of TravelZoo to refund the $ 48 to the OP but I don’t see where it was TravelZoo’s fault based upon what was in the article. It was the RV Resort who told the OP that they will accept the voucher after it was expired not TravelZoo. It will be a different story if the voucher states “pet-friendly reservations are always available and guaranteed on any day during the time frame on the voucher” or there was no availability on any day during the time frame on the voucher or the voucher was only good for three days or etc.

    1. I think that the issue here is that the op was attempting to use the residual value of the voucher. The way these things work is, say I buy a voucher for $48 and it is good for 1 night. Once the expiration date passes, I can no longer redeem the voucher for 1 nights rental; however, I CAN still redeem it for the price I paid for it in this example $48.

      I believe this is where the problem comes in is that they wouldn’t let him use the voucher at all.

  5. Why the photo of Yosemite Valley? I looked up where this place is, and it’s quite a ways outside the boundaries of Yosemite NP, and well away from Yosemite Valley. It’s a rather uninteresting location surrounded by national forest land.

    Additionally, don’t most of these types of offers at least provide that the purchase price value never expires? My wife got one of these deals (forgot from who) and it clearly stated that we could apply the purchase price outside of the particular promotional deal (it was for weekend brunch) or even after expiration.

  6. Oh yes. They will investigate the claim when Chris calls, but not when the customer inquires about the problem. Good for you, Chris. Bad for Travelzoo.

    1. Actually, good for Travelzoo. They were the good guy here. This wasn’t their problem yet they stepped in and solved it for the customer. It was the the RV park who couldn’t accommodate the OP before the expiration date but told him they’d still honor the voucher only to break that promise.

      Great lesson here about why some companies are so scared of the press. Here the good guy gets branded by some readers as the bad guy simply because their name was in the story. I sometimes wonder if some people read stories about fires and come away thinking the fire department set the blaze.

  7. The OP bought the voucher for a pet friendly yurt, which the RV park has, but they also have ones that no pets are allowed in. He then called the RV park and made the reservation. Where was the problem? Didn’t the voucher state what he purchased? Did he not tell the RV park the voucher was for a pet friendly yurt? Why is this Travelzoo’s error to rectifiy? The only reason I can come up with is that the voucher wasn’t suppose to be for a pet friendly yurt?
    I have seen ‘deals’ pop up on Facebook for TravelZoo. I often go check the hotel directly and always find the same rate at the hotel as the ‘deal’ being promoted. Suckers are born every minute online!

    1. If TravelZoo gave him a voucher states that he was to be given a pet-friendly yurt, and there were no specific restrictions against that particular type of yurt listed on it that he was trying to violate, then TravelZoo should have provided one to him rather than refusing to honor it. That makes it TravelZoo’s error to rectify. They need to stand behind the words of whatever their representatives promise their customers.

      1. Travelzoo’s deal had an expiration date. They initially declined to help because the expiration date had expired–which the OP freely admits happened. The problems all were with the RV park. They initially refused to accommodate the OP because there weren’t any pet-friendly accommodations available at that time, then they compounded the situation by agreeing to still honor the deal after the expiration date only to renege on that promise.

        I also don’t follow your statement that Travelzoo should have provided him with a pet-friendly yurt. They don’t own the RV park so they can’t give the OP a room and this is a remote area so finding comparable accommodations might well have been impossible even if Travelzoo had been responsible for the problem, which they weren’t.

        1. This area? Groveland is close. Sonora is pretty close. El Portal might not be an option because all options could be fully booked with Yosemite visitors. And there’s dispersed camping at Cherry Lake. Just sleep in your car.

      2. Did he buy a voucher for a pet allowed yurt? If so, the voucher should have stated that. Then when he called, he would have stated what was on the voucher. What might be in question, as TravelZoo stated, is the communication on what TravelZoo was permitted to offer, but would the RV Park said something when the OP called for the reservation?

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