Monday, June 18, 2012

Hotel Cancellation Run Around

I had a business trip scheduled this week, but things came up at work and I had to cancel. Easy enough, right?  I called the travel agent and managed to get my United airfare back sans issue.  Next up, the hotel.

I log into the Hilton website and find that my reservation cannot be cancelled online because I am within a  2 day cancellation window -- that's fine, I knew I had to cancel at least two days before arrival.  I pull out my HHonors Gold Card and call customer service.  While waiting between 5-7 minutes on hold I get a woman who says I can't cancel because I'm within the 2 hour window and that I could reschedule for a later date. Why would I want to do that? The oh-so-unhelpful woman on the phone implied that I could reschedule then cancel that reservation later.  First off that seems like a lot of work to "work" the system.  She then tells me I have to call the reservation line because she cannot change my reservation.

Second try (maybe third try, if you count my attempt to cancel online). I get another woman, who loads my reservation and reads all my reservation info back to me. Helpful. She then tells me that my only options are to stay at the hotel or lose the cost of the room for the entire reservation (3 days, not just a single night charge that the reservation indicated). That's not right.  She has the same issue and says she can't make any changes to the reservation.  The only way to make any changes are to call the Hotel directly. If this is the case, then why make me go through all this mess? Shouldn't they know pretty quickly if they can't help and only the hotel can?

Third (or Fourth) try. I call the hotel directly.  After two transfers, I was connected to a woman who confirmed my reservation, reiterated the 2 day cancellation requirement, but immediately said that she would cancel my reservation without a penalty because of my HHonors Gold Status.  That is a lovely amenity that I was not aware even existed. Is this hotel specific?

The end result was better than I expected. I just wanted to cancel my reservation, pay my one night cancellation fee and be done.  The frustrating part is spending the better part of 40 minutes calling three different people who all give me a different response.

The best part? The first woman told me I was selected to get $200 off my next Hilton stay if I listen to their timeshare sales pitch. Really? You can't cancel a reservation, but you expect me to buy a timeshare?  Not bloody likely.

I must admit my Hilton experiences have been pretty good since I made the switch to using them a bit more frequently for my visits to certain markets (LA, Toronto and third tier cities).

Have you had any hotel cancellation issues recently? How many phone calls does it take you to cancel with Hilton? Starwood? Marriott? Hyatt?

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