Marie Kvistero was looking forward to rest and relaxation in her hotel room that summer day in August 2017. But she wouldn’t get either. The hotel was closed for renovations — and there was no one there to help her. (Reprint)
Kvistero had two major challenges ahead of her. First, she had to find a new hotel at the last minute, in a city crowded with tourists. Then she needed adequate reimbursement from the hotel for the significantly higher cost of her new room.
Her quest for compensation was a long, painful journey. The roadblocks she faced as she tried to obtain reimbursement from the hotel seemed endless. But her story contains valuable lessons for guests who struggle to receive acceptable service from hotels.
Nobody told me I was registered at a hotel closed for renovations!
Kvistero reserved a hotel room online at the Country Inns & Suites in Omaha, Neb. Before she booked the room, she spoke to a hotel representative. This person informed Kvistero that the hotel had scheduled renovation work while she would be staying there. However, the agent informed Kvistero that the construction should not interfere with her stay.
Two weeks before Kvistero’s arrival date at the hotel, she received an email reminder of her upcoming stay. The email did not mention that the hotel was closed for renovations. Instead, the email welcomed her to the hotel.
But when she arrived at the hotel, no other guests or hotel representatives were on the premises — only construction workers. And nobody at the hotel or Carlson Rezidor, the parent company of Country Inns & Suites, had warned her that her room was unavailable.
She had to switch hotels unexpectedly
Unable to stay at a hotel closed for renovations, Kvistero now had to find a new hotel room at the last minute. It wasn’t easy. She first tried calling the phone number on her email confirmation. But she could not reach a live person — only a recording.
And unfortunately for Kvistero, tourists had flocked into the area for a solar eclipse and a concert. Kvistero’s last-minute replacement hotel room cost considerably more than the original room.
“Because Country Inns & Suites would not assist me, and there were few rooms available in the Omaha area, I took the first available room I found,” she says.
Frustrated by inadequate reimbursement offers
Upon returning home, Kvistero emailed the hotel to request reimbursement for her new hotel room. But the hotel offered Kvistero Club Carlson points, which she rejected. As far as Kvistero was concerned, the hotel had failed her twice. It should have warned her that the hotel was closed for renovations. And its offer of loyalty points did not sufficiently compensate her for her trouble and additional expense.
Country Inns & Suites then followed up with a cash offer that Kvistero felt was too low. And its agents repeatedly failed to fulfill promises to call her within specified periods of time. It seemed that nothing Kvistero could do would result in reasonable reimbursement for her last-minute hotel room.
“I was forced to incur this expense solely because the hotel failed to honor my reservation,” Kvistero says. “Since then, every offer … has been inadequate, and [the hotel’s] representatives have repeatedly misled me.”
Finally, an acceptable offer … with a little help from Elliott Advocacy
But Kvistero wasn’t ready to give up on her hope of adequate reimbursement. She used our contact information for Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group to write a letter of complaint to its executives, closing with:
Your company accepted a reservation, confirmed that reservation when the hotel was clearly closed for construction, did not assist me when I arrived expecting to check into a functioning hotel, and has [sic] continually refused to offer an acceptable resolution to your operational failure.
An Online Customer Care agent for Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group replied:
Thank you for reaching out to us today!
I am truly sorry that this has been allowed to go on for this long. But I want to assure you that this type of service is not how we would want our guests to experience.
I understand that you had paid a total of $211 for alternate reservations. I would like to issue you a check for this amount to cover your expenses. As for all the trouble that you have had to receive [sic] this I have taken the liberty of depositing the original offer of 28,000 points into your Club Carlson account so that you can give us another chance at a similar hotel. It is my hope that these tokens of apology will help heal the hurt ….
Thank you again for the opportunity to assist you. I know it has been a rough road but I do hope that you’ll give us another chance to show you the quality hospitality Country Inns & Suites are known for.
At last, Kvistero received an apology and an acceptable resolution to her situation from the hotel.
When your hotel is closed for renovations
If you are unable to stay at your hotel — or in any other case where you have a problem with a business, here’s how to self-advocate for an acceptable offer of reimbursement:
- Follow our recommendations for fixing your own consumer problem:
- Observe the three P’s of complaint resolution: patience, persistence and politeness, even when they don’t yield satisfactory offers.
- Maintain a solid paper trail of your communications with the hotel.
- Write letters to the company contacts we list on our website. Start with the lowest-ranking contact and give that person a week to respond. Then escalate to the next highest-ranking contact if that person doesn’t offer you an acceptable resolution, and continue up the corporate hierarchy.