A “sticky” situation at the Omni


Tamara Lustig books a room at the Omni Shoreham Hotel, but when the property offers her the wrong accommodations, all bets are off. Can she get a refund?

Question: I wonder if you could please advise me on a sticky travel situation I’m in. I booked a room in Washington on Hotwire for my co-worker and me over Columbus Day weekend, and we got the Omni Shoreham Hotel.

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I have used Hotwire before and have always been able to call the hotel directly after booking to make small changes, like request a room with a view or two queen beds instead of one king if I’m not traveling for romance.
This particular time, however, neither Omni nor Hotwire will budge, saying it’s my tough luck, that my room fits two people, regardless of our sleeping arrangements.

It’s highly inappropriate for me and my co-worker to sleep in the same bed. Omni has over 800 rooms, and I find it hard to believe they all are full.

I made my request four months in advance. I don’t understand why they are unwilling to do something so small, as they are already ruining our stay before we even arrive.

I tried disputing the charges on my credit card, but lost. I don’t know where else to turn. Is there anything at all you can think of? Any advice or assistance you could possibly offer would be most appreciated.

Tamara Lustig, Delray Beach, Fla.

Answer: I can think of a few things. But before I share them with you, let’s have a look at the actual terms of your Hotwire booking. Hotwire is referred to as an “opaque” travel site because you get discounts on your room, flight or rental car in exchange for giving up a few things. You can’t select the exact hotel, your reservation is completely nonrefundable, and you agree to several other restrictions. One of those is that you can’t always specify the number of beds.

You can find the fine print on Hotwire’s site.

In other words, you were taking your chances when you booked your accommodations through Hotwire, and while it would have been nice for Hotwire to refund your purchase or for Omni to put you and your co-worker in a more appropriate room, they didn’t have to. Your credit card company was correct to deny your dispute; the terms of your booking are clear.

But I was curious about the circumstances of your request. Was the hotel just giving you a “take-it-or-leave-it” attitude, or did it really have no rooms for you? If this was simply a matter of sliding your request in front of the right person, then I thought I might be of service. I heard back from Omni quickly, and it confirmed that the property was dealing with a full-occupancy situation.

“The lack of her requested bedding was due to the rooms of that type being committed to other guests,” Ryan Hawkins, Omni’s assistant director of revenue management, told me. “Otherwise, I would have given her the room without hesitation.”

I think this situation was completely avoidable. If you want to be able to choose the exact room type, avoid booking through an opaque site like Hotwire. The savings is just not worth the uncertainty. I’ve used Hotwire myself, and have saved serious money, but it only works when you’re flexible; not when you’re traveling with a colleague.

Even though you were not entitled to a refund, and even though I did not ask Omni for a refund on your behalf, the hotel contacted Hotwire and agreed, as a one-time exception, to refund the room with no penalty.

Should Hotwire have offered Tamara Lustig a room with two beds?

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143 thoughts on “A “sticky” situation at the Omni

  1. Wow; somebody failed to utterly not comprehend the whole point of a bottom-dollar “opaque” booking. You (usually) save money, and the hotel unloads rooms they’d never get somebody to actually pick. I wouldn’t call this “fine print” at all; it’s the whole point of the product!… It’s like complaining your Mystery Meat sandwich at a school cafeteria isn’t made with USDA Prime Ribeye!

    And re-examine your attitude, OP! Why CAN’T the hotel be solidly booked? They didn’t build those rooms to gather dust; it’s the hotel’s JOB to fully book themselves every night if they can… Who woulda thunk it? A hotel in a quite touristy, convention-filled, town being booked solid on a holiday weekend! How could that EVER happen?

    And why on earth did she think a credit card dispute would work? She booked a room for two people, she got a room for two people. If she wanted a room with two beds, she should have paid for a service that could promise that. If people continue to abuse the credit card dispute process like this,
    eventually business are going to kick up enough of a fuss, and the law’s
    going to be changed to take that away…

    Nice of the Hotel/Hotwire to cave and refund her (I wouldn’t have… after the bogus credit card dispute, she would have gotten ZERO favors from me), but please, never use such a site again unless ANY room that fits the base description will do. (As in, you need to be okay with the room farthest from the lobby, next to the elevator and ice machine, a view of the parking lot, right over the nightclub, construction going on next door, etc.)

    1. They comprehend it just fine…as long as it works out in their favor. When they don’t get what they want, they complain about it.

  2. I agree with sirwired – she is either willfully or blissfully ignorant of the nature of opaque bookings and is acting as if there’s no penalty to be paid in limitations, etc. for taking that route. I further think it’s a little nuts for her to call asking for a room with a view or change her bedding type a “small” change and to file a CC dispute.

    To cap it off, she’s not even paying for the room herself – it’s a work booking!

    1. I think she knew the terms, but as said above, she had made “minor” changes before, so she assumed she could do it again, and was surprised when she couldn’t this time. My dad always told me, “just because someone did you a favor once, don’t expect them to do it again”.

      The lesson… when you have specific book requirements, never use Hotwire.

          1. It’s bad because when providers get hammered into making exceptions for undeserving people simply to avoid bad publicity, they tighten up the rules even more for ‘ordinary’ customers.

            And I’m confused by something else: if it’s “highly inappropriate” for two co-workers to share a bed, surely it’s almost as inappropriate for them to share a room? Sounds to me like she should have requested separate rooms and sucked up the cost of a second room.

  3. A couple of years ago I booked a room with Hotwire in Toronto. I ended up at the Downtown Sheraton. Upon checkin I was told that there were no normal rooms available and that I would get a conference room with no bed in it. I tried to complain with different people that I wanted a room with a real bed but they insisted that all they owed me was a room that can host two people. The room itself was enourmous, about three times the size of a normal room. It had a conference table for 10 people, a large sofa-suite, two huge tv and a smaller than usual bathroom, but no bed. They pulled the sofa suite to the corner of the room and put up a two-people spare bed. in the end I didnt complain any further because i really liked the space and the spare bed was alright to sleep in.

  4. This is almost certainly a leisure booking. Why is she using the “highly inappropriate to sleep with a coworker” excuse? Would it be “highly inappropriate to go on a vacation over Columbus Day weekend with a coworker” as well? If not, why not?

    I’m disappointed the hotel caved.

    1. If it was not a business booking, why else would the one bed or two choice be that crucial?

      Oh, I forgot – every customer is a lying scammer.

    2. Not sure why it should disappoint you when you really have no stake in the matter. Some might call it good customer service. And as someone said, they might have re-sold the room and made more money, but that is just a guess….

      1. So I’m only allowed to not take kindly to scammers – who don’t follow the rules and then try to apply chargebacks to their credit cards – when it doesn’t directly affect me?

          1. Yeah sorry, they’re a scammer. They made a valid purchase, then didn’t like when they couldn’t modify it outside the terms and conditions offered, so they tried a chargeback. That’s scammy.

          2. Sorry Chris, but from a hotelier perspective, when someone tries to dispute a c/c charge because they didn’t get what they wanted, even if it wasn’t promised to them, it is no different than the scammers we deal with on a regular basis. “Guests” that enjoy the property and its amenities for a week, find some nonsensical reason to complain, then dispute their entire charge after checking out.

          3. She is a gamer then and too bad if she doesn’t like it. She wrote you, you fell for her game and she benefited.

          4. Read Chris’s statement. I would call her someone trying to rectify a situation she deemed intolerable. Maybe not the best way but not a scam for sure. 🙂

          5. I would say fine except she entered into that contract knowing the intolerable conditions, she doesn’t get to cry follow afterwards (and her bank card issuer agreed).

          6. My problem with that characterization is that to “rectify” means to right a wrong, and there was no “wrong” done to the OP here. She got what she paid for, whether or not it was what she WANTED. She wasn’t trying to rectify anything; she was trying to unilaterally change the terms of her agreement with the hotel and with Hotwire.

          7. It is in mine, she entered into a contract for a room with certain conditions, when she attempted to change the conditions (the number of beds) and she was declined she then attempted to dispute the transaction with her credit card company, that’s fraud.

        1. I think its the word disappointed. Since it was the hotel caving that disappointed you, ergo it stands to reason that you are also disappointed with the hotel. But they made a business decision that was in their best interest.

    3. Don’t forget, Hotwire’s profit from this booking was also lost because of an interference of a consumer advocate.
      Hotwire did not do anything wrong.

      1. Except that the booking was four months out and they were already sold out. You don’t think they have already rented that room out for that weekend? I do.

  5. When I reserve a room, I make sure whatever site I am using gives me the choices I want….before I make the booking. That way, I am sure to have been able to make the right decision. Seems this would avoid a lot of problems.

      1. No, but it seems you are taking it a bit personal. I’m happy someone had a happy resolution, but it really doesn’t affect me one way or the other. And you are allowed to be disappointed, I just don’t see why you would be. 😉

        1. How can you not see that she played the game, lost and complained. Now had she gone to the hotel’s website, booked a room with two beds and got a room with one bed and the hotel didn’t correct it, that would be worthy of a letter to Chris. But this one is just another gamer who whined and got something they didn’t deserve. Another case of it is all about the booker screwing up on a website, not liking the rules and wanting something for it. That is what most letters on travel issues to Chris have been about. All about me, what can I get for it.

          1. Am I upset with the hotel? I am bothered by the letter writers who book something, not knowing what they will get, then complain on what they get and writing for help.

      2. Maybe It does directly affect me. Maybe i’m getting the crappier room because someone who booked Name Your Own Price on Priceline or other opaque bookings causes a scene at the check in desk. I’ve seen these scenes play out in hotel lobbies several times during check in.

  6. This woman wants her cake and to eat it too… I can’t believe her audacity! I am a huge fan of opaque sites. In addition to saving lots of money, I have been able to stay in luxury hotels that I normally wouldn’t be able to afford at the price of more moderate accommodations. Opaque sites can offer tremendous savings- but you HAVE to know what you are doing! (I actually do a bit of research and prep work before each time I use one) It is not something to go into blindly! There are risks. There are times where opaque sites are not appropriate- traveling with a co-worker on company business needing specific conditions is one of them. And you know what, Tamara, you took a gamble and lost… so be a big girl and accept it! To be honest, I don’t even know why Elliott & Co. are handling this case- it’s pretty open/shut, the OP is a whiner, and it puts Hotwire and the Omni in an unfair light. This woman shouldn’t have been given her money back, and everyone’s time and energy have all been wasted on her. How many of you think she learned her lesson for next time?

  7. I’ve been wondering why the hotel refunded her the money. My best guest is that the manager decided that the LW was too whiney and the hotel would be better off without her.

    1. I agree, the hotel probably felt it was worth the refund to just simply shut her up. And if they were fully booked, the odds were good they could resell the room.
      Now, as to some of the other comments. I too question a “coworker” on a holiday weekend. However, I would like to point out that sharing a room with a coworker to save money, should always be a huge no! It leaves the company open to all kinds of lawsuits. I have always worked for small, start-ups, that are dependent on investors to keep going. I travel frequently, on average 2-3 times a month. I have never been asked to share a room, and neither has anyone else at any of these companies. It is simply too hard to predict what is going to offend another person… and that can elicit a lawsuit.

      1. FYI, some of the largest corporations in the world force their workers to share rooms with total strangers from around the world; especially if it’s an incentive program and the decision is to either share a room with another regional winner or don’t go at all.

    2. I’d would bet it’s because there are still a lot of companies terrified when they get any negative media attention (In this case, Chris).

      If he wouldn’t have gotten involved they would have told her to go pound sand.

      1. Not sure I would label it “negative” in this case. Clearly Hotwire and Omni were well within their rights to not refund the booking. I don’t think anyone disagrees with that. So, nothing negative there. However, the fact that they did makes Omni look like one of the good guys in my eyes. They did something they didn’t have to do… generally I call that being nice. Seems many on here don’t think companies should be nice.

        And since they did AFTER Chris got involved, perhaps they also wanted to garner a little good PR.

        1. I agree. I don’t think it was fear, but rather an opportunity to garner some good PR as well as make more money by reselling the room. For the hotel it’s a double win.

          1. The hotel usually does not get a say on Hotwire’s refund policy. You can google a typical Expedia property contract.

  8. I’m surprised that her company would expect two coworkers to share a room on a business trip. Even if they were both the same sex. Maybe it happens but that part also seemed weird. Maybe she could request a rollaway bed for an extra charge.

    1. It’s pretty common with trips to major conventions where the rates may be high. However, it’s a company expense, and I can’t think why anyone would book through an opaque site for a business trip.

      Addendum: read it again and it doesn’t sound like it was a business trip – just that it was a coworker on the same trip.

      1. Oh, okay. That changes things a little bit, because then it sounds more like a vacation or mini-break. I hope she knew that coworker well enough that it won’t be too awkward being in the same bed.

          1. Well I don’t know if they are going to pray together, I was thinking more knowing each other in the adult porn kind of way.

      2. If you google the OP’s name, it appears the person works for a City. I’ve worked with many municipal gov’ts that would require that two people (same sex) going to a conference share a room. So it is possible.

  9. It was honorable that they offered a refund, though I am inclined to agree with Mr. Elliott philosophically. The Priceline-type of companies offer a great service with some heavy restrictions. But it’s often a great trade-off in the risk/reward profile.

    I agree with a comment below: going on a trip with a co-worker over a weekend and sharing a room, but not a bed.

    I don’t know about you all, but I don’t share a bedroom (let alone a bed) with my co-workers…anytime. In today’s age of litigiousness, I can’t imagine a company would endorse/permit double occupancy of rooms for employees on travel. It’s got HR problem written ALL OVER IT.

    So, I am throwing the BS flag on the co-worker situation…traveling over a holiday weekend. Don’t know the real reason, but the one offered doesn’t sound like the real reason either.

  10. I have frequently encountered this problem in the past and what was more interesting was that when I traveled with a girlfiend we were given one bed and when I traveled with my husband we got two. I never use opaque sites anymore and always make sure I get confirmation at booking on the bed situation.

  11. I traveled cross country with my father last month and absolutely did not want to sleep in same bed. We used Hotwire a lot but avoided sites like Hotel Tonight, which can’t guarantee number of beds. I simply entered 3 as the number of people using the room and always got two beds. One time I got a pull out bed but that was still fine with me. Hopefully this tip worms for these situations always

  12. It’s called opaque for a reason, it works best if your flexible, but you can’t have the expectation that you will be able to change anything.

  13. She should have taken this golden opportunity to get a little “closer” to her colleague–that makes more sense than feeling entitled to a refund. Jeezy peezy.

  14. I’m usually a bit more sympathetic to the traveler in these situations, but in this case she booked with Hotwire. She’d used the site before so she should’ve known the restrictions. So the fault rests with her. Having said that, it seems a little strange that you can’t specify single or double occupancy, or something like specifying a non-smoking room on Hotwire. Seems to me like you should be able to add at least these two conditions, and then the hotel can either accept your offer, or not.

      1. Yea, I guess so. But since I’d rather sleep in my car than in a smoking room, it’s probably good that I don’t use Hotwire.

        1. You can choose those options on Hotwire with their “retail” listings. Of course that means paying for it, although sometimes they give deals that you can’t get directly with corporate.

  15. Hotwire’s terms are pretty much “take it or leave it” and it’s not clear to me that she even requested a room with two beds. Just because she was able to call the hotel after booking through Hotwire and adjust her reservation in the past doesn’t mean she can reasonably keep expecting to be able to do it.

  16. I don’t think this is specific to Opaque sites. Whenever I book through Hyatt it says they don’t guarantee room types. Even at full price I can only request 2 beds, does not mean I’ll get them.

  17. I don’t use Hotwire, but I think Hotwire should offer everyone the choice of rooms with king or separate beds. Perhaps that would increase business without costing them anything.

    1. Being able to provide a room without committing to a particular configuration means that the hotel can simply provide whatever is “leftover” after accommodating all their full-fare customers. To be able to offer that choice to discount patrons means that the hotel would have to maintain additional room inventory.

      An interesting question (at least academically, though potentially relevant in a few U.S. states and foreign countries) is the enforceability of a Hotwire room contract where there is local law prohibiting cohabitation by unmarried persons of different sexes. I think the answer would probably be that it is the responsibility of the person having booked the room to produce two individuals who are permitted to stay in the same accommodation as permitted under local law (effectively, the situation here).

      1. It is called ROH…or run of house. What ever is available at the time of checkin they can assign you. This use to be a category through my vendors for years, but that has now changed.

      2. Can’t say for every country, but having traveled heavily in China, where such a law exists, the VAST majority of hotels just don’t ask, or turn a blind eye, they just mark in the register “married” or “couple”.

      3. Those laws are long gone (mostly), but yes, I would opine that the person booking the room would have the burden of producing appropriate people.

        1. That used to be the law in Virginia until recently. What I was thinking of was a situation where there was a Washington, D.C. “zone” that included, say, a portion of Arlington, Virginia. Cohabitation has long been O.K. in Washington, D.C., and so an unmarried couple might bid on a hotel in that “District of Columbia” zone. Alas, they could get a hotel in Virginia, where their planned stay could be unlawful. In fact, those laws are probably never enforced, so there likely be little risk of anyone actually being prosecuted. I think there’s something like 6 states left in the United States like that, but there are many such laws elsewhere in the world, especially in the middle east where women are refused their reserved hotel rooms because they’re not accompanied by the spouses or allowable family members.

  18. This topic has been covered a number of times. (or else this is a repeat.)
    You do not book through an opaque site if you need specific requests met–such as a room with 2 beds for co-workers going to Boston over Columbus Day weekend.
    Hotwire was gracious to make an exception but this tale of woe sounds contrived to me.

  19. What’s wrong with sleeping in the same bed with a coworker if it’s a leisure trip? Nothing, if you like that. But I take trips with friends quite often, as my husband doesn’t like to travel, and these friends and I do not like to share a bed.

    1. Let’s see

      You’re married and the co-worker is a different sex
      The co-worker is married and of different sex
      Co-worker is grabby
      Co-worker kicks

  20. Funny – I tried to book a room with only one, king-sized bed over that same weekend, in that same city – and found very, very few offerings available. In fact, rooms were pretty darn hard to come by in general, so I ended up in one of the suburbs. So, I believe the Omni Shoreham when they say they were out of a certain inventory of room.

  21. Sometimes, even if all that’s available when I book is two double beds when I would like a king, or vice versa, all it takes is to ask very sweetly when I check in whether the other type of room might be available. Most times, why yes ma’am we do have one. If not… as long as your roommate isn’t a perv, it’s only a couple of nights out of your life. I understand about the potential lawsuit waiting to happen, but believing that 99.9% of people are decent human beings, especially a coworker, you will live.

  22. She wanted the benefit of a cheap-o site but didn’t want to take the cheap-o risk.
    Sounds like someone with champagne taste on a beer budget to me.

    No, she shouldn’t have gotten anything, but hey.

    1. But hey, write to CE and get rules bent. This way it is public record and it has to be done for everyone else who doesn’t want to follow the rules.

      1. Once it’s a rule, it’s in stone and never shall it ever be changed or bent. It’s not like it’s a law with criminal punishment. Those that make these rules are the ones that can decide to break or bend them. However, if you don’t ask, the answer is always “no”. One would think you feel it’s wrong to even ask.

        1. In this case, it was wrong. But it happens here all the time. She wasn’t able to do something that wasn’t allowed but other hotels have let her, so when this one followed the rules, she complained. Why have rules then?

          1. If you have a problem with the way things are done here, you always have the option to quit reading.

          2. Well thank you for that invitation. I am disappointed that you accept these letters when someone doesn’t follow the rules and it is rare that any travel complaints written about here are legitimate. They just show that it is all about ‘me’ type of complaints that don’t deserve any assistance. I can’t believe that there are not some legitimate ones that come across Chris’ desk.

          3. Pretty snarky comment for a so called “moderator”….at the same time Chris is asking for friendly discussion at least twice…

          4. These rules are arbitrarily created by the companies that are also in charge of enforcing the rules. These rules, which can be changed basically any time by said companies, generally are in place to benefit the companies that created the rules.

            Therefore, if they choose to bend or break one of those rules in a customer’s favor, that is their prerogative. It’s not up to us when they chose to or not to do this, but the companies themselves. How can it be wrong? It’s their rules, they can do that if they wish.

            This is CONSUMER advocacy site, not a CORPORATE advocacy site. I see nothing wrong with asking for something, the hotel could have said “no”.

          5. Uh, the hotel did say “no”. Then the charge was disputed, and it effectively said “no” again when she lost.

            Yea, but why not put the negative connotation on Omni on a consumer advocate blog with phrases like “…when the property offers her the wrong accommodations…,” right?

          6. Just to be clear, it would have been Hotwire that said no since they are the mechant on record for the credit card comp. Anyone who has had an experience with chargebacks knows how time consuming they are. Her filing a frivolous charge back can be viewed as bad faith and the case closed. But no, Chris went to the hotel and got the hotel to get Hotwire to agree on a refund. The hotel could not refund the LW since they did not hold the charges. Only hotwire could.
            In my opinion, Chris unjustifiably interfered with hotwire’s contract with the LW.
            Hotwire had done nothing wrong. This is consumer advocacy gone wild.

          7. I agree. The business has every right to bend its rule in favor of a customer. There is nothing wrong with that. I routinely get rules bent at hotels where I am a frequent guest. In return, I spend tens of thousands at those hotels.

          8. But you don’t go writing a letter asking CE to help you when you don’t get your way. That my dear, is the difference.

  23. Double wow! Double whiner. The attitude that shows through this whole story is soooo sad. I’m disappointed that anyone gave her anything … it will just encourage the next bozo to behave stupidly and then complain. As always, if you can’t read the information presented to you, you shouldn’t be making your own travel arrangements.

  24. by giving a refund the hotel is saying, we don’t refund on non-refundable deals, but if you are really silly & don’t read the conditions, we do.
    Stop refunding, it makes you look really stupid yourselves.

    & why couldn’t they get a rollaway put in the room ?

      1. sorry but I thought I had toned it down somewhat.
        Don’t think you should have taken this one on. She’ll do it again next month.

        1. I have worked with Chris, and I would have probably made the same mistake, and I truly believe it was a mistake. I would have assumed I could ask for 2 beds if I wanted them, and I could get refunded if I didn’t get what I thought I was buying.

          1. That is a silly assumption based on the site she used, isn’t it? Sorta like the teenage who finds it is easier to ask for forgiveness than for permission.

          2. William. You’re forgetting that many of the posters don’t make mistakes and never need assistance.

  25. There are so many travelers with legitimate complaints, why waste your time and energy — and potentially your ability to help others — by getting undeserved refunds for people like this?

    1. Please note that Chris didn’t ask anyone to refund anything, he simply inquired as to the circumstances, and the hotel made the decision to refund the money.

  26. In my opinion, this is a wrong use of a consumer advocate. The right thing to do is accept responsibility for your mistake.
    It is this kind of selfish consumers which makes this site less effective for negotiating with travel suppliers.
    If you do not vet who you will bat for (accept them no matter how frivolous their complaints are), then you are not asking for justice or fairness.
    All you are doing is using your power to shame vendors for things they do correctly.

      1. Bodega, many here seem to forget or not understand the LW made a deal with Hotwire (and not with the hotel directly).
        It took Chris a run-around way to get Hotwire to refund. No way the hotel can change the terms of Hotwire’s and the LW’s contract.
        Hotwire lost its profit and really should be compensated. What happened here is not fair to Hotwire.

          1. Lady justice is blindfolded so you can’t see her tears.
            Unfortunately justice and fairness is not the top priority of this site.
            It goes above and beyond to help dishonest consumers who want to get their way.
            As soon as I heard the LW say she filed a CC chargeback, I lost any faith in her.

          2. Are they really dishonest or just desperate? There’s a difference between using the “force” to get an advantage and using the “force” to fix something, perceived as an error.

            Justice may be blind, but she sees as well as anyone in the dark.

          3. Yeah and then there’s the deal with the devil, and a barrister named Daniel Webster had something to say about that.

    1. I’d be curious, Chris. Do you find that your contacts are less interested because you take “frivolous” cases. I doubt if that’s true.

      In this case, the vendor wasn’t shamed. The vendor probably decided that they didn’t want the guest and could resell the room for lots more since the hotel is now sold out.

        1. Since it’s not obvious to you, I will elucidate.

          1. Directly. A contact states it directly to Chris.
          2. Indirectly. New resistance to reasonable requests. Change in demeanor, e.g. phone calls not returned with the same frequency if at all, etc.


          1. Not really. It does not take a very intelligent person to see how CE can be a pain in the butt for travel suppliers 🙂

    2. I told my husband about this case. His response is that this case has now ensured that anyone who wants to call a hotel for little changes after making a booking via Hotwire will be turned down. The LW had gotten little changes in the past, which made her think that she could get little changes in the future. Well, see what’s happened because of past generosities? Cases like this cause more rigid adherence to the rules, less tolerance of consumer mistakes, more cases for Elliott.

  27. Honestly, if you are this naive about using Hotwire, you really shouldn’t be using it. It’s no secret that the rates are lower because you are getting what’s left in inventory, their own ads say so. Of course you can’t get your choice. If you want that, book directly through the hotel. You would have seen that the room you wanted was sold out and could have booked elsewhere. Especially for business travel! Wake up call for anyone if you care to read it here.

  28. You know, a lot of terms and conditions for ordinary hotel bookings state that room type might not be guaranteed, although it’s kind of tough if you’ve got three or four to a room and they’ve unloaded all their two bed or sofa bed rooms.

    Heck – once I arrived late and the last room of the type I reserved was sold at the manager’s discretion. For that I got a suite at a king bed price.

    1. I’ve never used hotwire or Priceline or any opaque site…too paranoid I guess, but… silly question: Do you not enter how many beds you want? Or a preference like “2 Queens” or “1 King” or whatever? Is it seriously just put in the dates and the # of people? That seems a recipe for potential awkwardness, if so!

      1. It’s actually just the dates. The number of guests can’t be requested, nor the room type. One person said that this is often called “run of the house” where the hotel has the flexibility to manage their inventory and will give priority to bookings where a specific room type was requested. I’ve booked on Priceline, and my wife actually prefers a single king bed for us, but sometimes all we could get was a queen or two doubles.

        Also – there’s some belief that hotel managers often instruct their staff to withhold some of the worst rooms (noise, condition, distance from elevator, etc) for opaque-booking Priceline or Hotwire customers.

        Here are their terms if you click where it says that rooms are guaranteed to accommodate up to 2 adults:

        Rooms reserved through priceline are guaranteed to accommodate up to 2 guests comfortably. Some hotels may charge an additional fee, payable at the front desk, for bedding requests and/or extra people. All bedding requests are based on hotel availability and are at the discretion of the hotel. Rooms may have:

        Double Bed
        1 King Bed
        1 Queen Bed
        2 Double Beds
        2 Twin Beds

        Accommodations for additional guests or requests for specific bed types must be made directly with the confirmed hotel and are not guaranteed by priceline.

        Priceline requests non-smoking rooms; however, room assignments are based on hotel availability and are at the hotel’s discretion. If you require either a non-smoking room or a smoking room, contact your confirmed hotel directly. Priceline cannot guarantee a non-smoking or smoking room.

        Requests for specific room locations (i.e., connecting, high floor, view, away from elevator etc.) should be made directly with your confirmed hotel. While your hotel will do its best to accommodate you, priceline cannot guarantee that special requests can be met.

        For specific room type or bed type requests, try our Published Price or Express Deals options.

  29. This is tricky case. My main question is how far in advance she requested the two queens. If at booking (i.e., four months in advance) or even a few weeks in advance, then this is on the hotel.

    Either way, if it’s inappropriate to sleep in the same bed, then how is it not inappropriate to sleep in the same room? Sounds like Tamara likes to walk fine lines.

  30. I’m really embarrassed by some of the comments in this thread. Lustig just contacted me and she is very upset. Look, there’s a way to express your disapproval with her and me without being disagreeable. Come on, everyone. Let’s show Lustig our good manners.

  31. Next time don’t be so cheap and book directly with the hotel when you have special requests. She learned nothing by whining to Chris and getting her money back.

    Rooms booked on those OTA websites are usually give the worst locations in the hotel and if the hotel is overbooked, they are the first ones walked. When will people get it? You get what you pay for and she got what she paid for.

    Perhaps she should also read Hotwires Terms and Conditions too:

    limited cases, some hotels do not permit changes to or cancellations of
    reservations after they are made, as indicated in the rules and
    restrictions for the hotel reservation. You agree to abide by the terms
    of use imposed with respect to your prepaid hotel reservations.

  32. I don’t deal with opaque sites. I’d rather go to corporate sites, or contact hotels directly. Rarely have I not been able to get a good rate by talking to someone at the front desk, or reservations if the hotel is large enough to have a separate reservations department.

    I do the same with airlines. I’ll check out rates on their sites, check with AAA and ITT at the base. I won’t do opaque at all, no matter what, where or when. If someone is willing to use these opaque sites rather than doing their own homework, they pretty much deserve whatever they get.

  33. I’m sure there are many people who will call the OP foolish, a whiner, etc. I just have one question. Many people prefer to have one King bed instead of two Queen beds. It’s like offering someone an aisle seat and taking their middle seat on a plane. I just don’t see the problem. Swapping another guest who hasn’t yet arrived into a King bed, from two Queens doesn’t seem like a great hardship to impose. Is the hotel really saying that that every single room in the hotel was full and occupied, and they couldn’t accommodate that reasonable request, at the time they arrived? I find that hard to believe.

    So many hotels just have a knee-jerk reaction and say ‘no’ when saying ‘yes’ isn’t all that hard. Good customer service (and building long-term relationships) is about finding ways to say yes when it doesn’t really cost you much (or anything). Good negotiating is about giving the other party things that matter to them, that don’t matter (or cost much) to you.

    How often have we asked for tiny little things, only to be told ‘no’ automatically? How many times have you had to beg for a late checkout, like 12:30 or goodness gracious even 1pm, when you checked in late the night before? I stayed at a hotel in Vegas once (note the ONCE) that required a 10am checkout on a Sunday morning, no exceptions, no explanations – I have never stayed there again. Or been given a crappy room because you used a pre-paid website (like the smallest room they have, or a handicapped room, or a room located 5 miles from the front desk?).

    Just a little bit of courtesy and customer service can go a LONG way with a customer! The customer pays your salary. They make it possible for you to be in business. They have other options. They’re not the enemy.

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