Hotel Booking Nightmare (Or, Avoid hotels.com - Seriously)

| 3 Comments

I've tried to be patient, I really have. I've now booked hotels 6 times with hotels.com. Of those times, only 2 worked out correctly. The final straw came in the last 24 hours as I tried to book my last hotel for the vacation that starts, well, today. The web site had a major fault last night, the primary customer care was completely unable to find the reservation anywhere in their system. They sent me to the "other" customer care office (other one?), which last night informed me to give them a couple hours, that system was down.

So, I looped back this morning. Reservation still was MIA, so booked it again, same darned problem. Seriously?!? Call customer care, they're unable to find it (or the hotel I was trying to book!), send me back to the "other customer care" office. Hmmm. Other care finds the reservations, forces a confirmation email to be sent, but then they proceed to tell me that I'm going to have to pay the "non-refundable" $5 booking fee for the duplicate reservation. Squeeze me? WTFover? Demand to speak to a supervisor.

Connect to a supervisor, the call drops (I think our bad VOIP at work). Cell phone rings, it's the supervisor *whew*. I explain the problem, demand immediate cancellation of both reservations because they suck (yes I told her that hotels.com sucks completely). She cancels the duplicate and then tries to talk me out of canceling the original, then finally relents. Both cancellations are processed, I receive confirmation emails a few minutes later. So, now I need to watch like a hawk to make sure I don't get charged $5 or $10 for booking fees.

If You Book with hotels.com

If you ignore my warning and book with hotels.com, here's a few things you should know:
* They have hidden booking fees.
* Cancellation policies vary.
* They usually charge you the full price right away.
* You must cancel via hotels.com, not through the hotel itself.
* They don't always have the best rates.
* You may get charged by hotels.com for canceling, even if you're within the cancellation policy of the hotel.
* Each hotel maintains its own hotels.com cancellation policy, separate from the hotel's actual cancellation policy.
* What you gain in pricing, you will lose in customer service and easy of reservation management.
* They outsource/offshore their call centers - your experience may vary, though overall it wasn't the worst I've seen.

The Rest of My Booking Troubles (AAA Issues)

So, I finally got all the hotels.com stuff sorted after a couple hours of phone time. Next up, fix the reservation through AAA directly. Or not. My membership is with AAA Mid-Atlantic, and the hotel and rate I wanted was only available through AAA AZ. AAA AZ does not do membership transfers. They said I'd have to sign up for a new membership with them, and then would have to talk to AAA Mid-Atlantic about canceling and getting a partial refund. I called AAA Mid-Atlantic and they were astounded by this. AAA AZ recommended waiting until my current membership expired before signing up with them. Anyway...

The problem, then, was this: I couldn't book the hotel+rate through AAA Mid-Atlantic because they didn't see the hotel. I couldn't book the hotel+rate online through AAA AZ because I didn't have a AAA AZ membership. So, I ended up calling the AAA AZ travel line and, thankfully, they were able to hook me up. Per AAA AZ and AAA Mid-Atlantic, I'll likely not be able to use their respective web sites for booking travel for the foreseeable future, and will instead have to call. This is a bit of a pain, but whatever. It's rare that I need to go through their site anyway.

Long story short, after an hour on the phone, back and forth, I got my hotel booked at the same rate as hotels.com, and I have a confirmation number. Unfortunately, I still do not have a confirmation email for the hotel. So, I'm going to have to call them from the road to confirm that they have my reservation. I absolutely refuse to show up with only a confirmation number and no proof of the rate (which was much better than the AAA rate published on the hotel's own web site). I have a sneaking suspicion that I may still end up being screwed here. We'll see...

3 Comments

You are not the only one who has had a horrible experience with hotels.com

See: http://goo.gl/3gxW3

Hi Ben, thanks for sharing this, I definitely wont book anything in that site. Have you tried booking.com? They are really good to book hotels and everything. I’ve been using it forever and it always works perfectly. Good luck for the next!

Unfortunately, I read your post after having booked a room! They said they would charge me a total of Euro 85,60 but they charged more! If I cancel now, maybe they charge me again for canceling. I'll just avoid this website in the future!

Thanks for your post, hope people won't do my same mistake...

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