They renamed the hotel and canceled my reservation

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By Christopher Elliott

Liz Egland thinks she has a reservation at a Holiday Inn. But she’s wrong. The hotel has canceled her reservation and wants her to pay more than double to get it back. Is it allowed to do that?

Question

I made a reservation at the Comfort Inn in Troutdale, Ore., this fall, and received a confirmation number. I was informed that the hotel was being sold and would become a Holiday Inn Express. And they would honor the reservation.

Last month, Comfort Inn called, confirming the sale and advising me to contact Holiday Inn Express Troutdale for reservation verification. When I made this call, they indicated they no longer had a reservation for me, so they will not be honoring the contract I had with the Comfort Inn.

I asked to speak to a manager and was transferred to the voicemail of the general manager. He called me back and indicated they no longer have a room for me, and the Comfort Inn should be putting us up somewhere else nearby, which would not be near the area where we are attending an activity those nights, so we might as well stay at home each night. He also said that the Holiday Inn Express summer rates are now over $200 per night. I had made a reservation at $90 a night.

Is this legal and or ethical? Do we have any recourse? — Liz Egland, Portland, Ore.

Answer

The hotel should have honored your reservation. That’s the ethical thing to do, especially given the fact that they knew the Comfort Inn would be reflagged as a Holiday Inn Express before your stay.

Hotels are regulated by your state, so you would have to consult Oregon’s lodging statutes and review its applicable contract rules to determine if the hotel broke the law by canceling your reservation. But you don’t really need a lawyer to tell you this is wrong, do you? (Related: Two rooms with one bed — and no refund.)

By the way, there are scenarios under which a hotel might modify an existing reservation. Let’s say you booked a room at a run-down property before it was sold, and between the time you made the reservation and your stay, it was purchased and the new owners gutted the property and gave it a top-to-bottom facelift. The resulting product would be priced higher, and I can see why a property might either cancel the reservation or modify it, asking you to pay a new, higher room rate. (Related: The inn’s owners are out – why won’t they waive my cancellation penalty.)

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That doesn’t seem to be the case here. You could have taken your grievance a step further. By reaching out to Holiday Inn and Comfort Inn through their corporate websites. They could have applied some pressure on their hotels to do the right thing, which would be to either rebook you at a hotel close to your event or honor your existing reservation. (Here’s our ultimate guide to resolving your consumer problem.)

My advocacy team and I contacted Holiday Inn on your behalf. The hotel’s general manager called you. It offered to honor your reservation at $10 above the original price, which you agreed to.

Should hotels be allowed to cancel their reservations when they're reflagged?

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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 three nationally syndicated columns. He also publishes the Elliott Report, a news site for consumers, and 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 X, Facebook, and LinkedIn, or sign up for his daily newsletter. He is based in Panamá City.

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