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How to get refund from hotels.com

Hi everyone,

I was wondering if anyone has had any experience of getting a refund from - or advice on getting - a refund from hotels.com.

I have read several threads here and elsewhere of people facing exactly the same problem as me - but I’ve not seen any resolution. 

THE BACKGROUND:
I made a booking for a 4 night stay through hotels.com I paid a chunk of the value with Tesco vouchers, and the outstanding was ~£500 in cash. 

We specifically booked the hotel because it had a pool, which our autistic children would enjoy and de-stress with. At the time of booking the website said the pool was closed until 4th January, which meant it would be open for our stay. When we arrived we found it wasn’t. 

The biggest problem, though, was that we had been downgraded without being informed. We went to our room to find it much smaller and without the facilities we requested. There was only crockery for 4 people and so we went to reception and asked for crockery for a fifth. We were told it was a 4 person room; ensuing conversation revealed we’d been downgraded. The room is usually only let to 4 occupants, hence the 4 sets. Most importantly the room lacked a bath, which we specifically wanted as my back has had surgery and nerve damage in her back and finds regular hot bathing a relief. Also, the bathroom had no bin, so sanitary waste had to be placed in the main room bin. We had also been wanting to entertain someone on the last night of our stay, but there was nowhere to sit them in our downgraded room so we had to hastily make plans to do something different - which was a stressful experience for our autistic son especially and partially ruined that evening - which had been one of the purposes of our visits.

Crockery didn’t come that day. Went down for breakfast just before 9.30 (we had paid extra for breakfast buffet) to be told the website information was wrong and breakfast finished at 9.30 (not 10am as stated) so we basically had to grab stuff as the kitchen staff was taking it away. Asked again at reception for the extra crockery. Eventually came at 3pm. We were able to ask that lady about a bathroom bin and one was provided. 

The Hilton staff were polite and helpful, and said we had to go through Hotels.com, but that we could request a full refund and they would authorise it. We were grateful, and after discussing it we decided not to ask for refund for the breakfast charges as that had been good, despite the first day experience, or faff trying to get Tesco vouchers refunded etc. Hotels.com though offered £150 credit on a future booing, take it or leave it. I tried explaining that this was neither a refund, nor even the difference between the room we booked and the one we got, let alone any attempt at compensation, but it made no difference. 

I have subsequently discovered similar experiences. One even said they had contacted the hotel itself and confirmed a full refund had occurred at their end, but hotels.com were saying repeatedly  they couldn’t get hold of the hotel. (This is exactly what they told me.) 

I had hoped I could use Section 75 as I paid with credit card, but have discovered it’s invalid against 3rd party brokers. The only thing I can now think of is submitting a case to the financial ombudsman, but I wouldn’t be hopeful of a favourable outcome. I have found one email address that I may be able to forward a complaint to, but I’m not even sure it’s for UK customers.

Anybody got any advice or experience in this sort of matter? It would be gratefully received, thank you.
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Replies

  • MorningcoffeeIVMorningcoffeeIV Forumite
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    The Financial Ombudsman doesn't deal with hotel bookings. They're the ombudsman for the financial industry.

    If you haven't already, submit a formal complaint, then a LBA if you want to pursue it.
  • Wonka_2Wonka_2 Forumite
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    The core issue here is use of the 3rd party - especially for a brand name hotel where I suspect you could have negotiated the same price and then had direct contact with the hotel to ensure your needs were met

    Honestly you're on a hiding to nothing - Booking.com probably use different room names so you can't directly compare like with like and, unless you're at suite level they're unlikely to guarantee bath vs shower

    You keep pushing Booking.com but as you've found you don't have much leverage and unless someone else comes up with a magic wand there isn't an ombudsman that'll help you
  • DullGreyGuyDullGreyGuy Forumite
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    To be blunt, you need to realistic about what you are likely to receive. You stayed at the hotel, you had your breakfasts (even with the hassle on the first day) and there is always a risk of facilities being out of action and therefore would be very much looking for exceptionally generous goodwill to get a full refund. 

    If you have evidence you were downgraded in room then certainly a refund between the class of room booked and class of room received would be in order. In many hotels, other than recent purpose built affairs, the reality is that rooms are on a spectrum and where classic becomes superior or executive is rather arbitrary or linked to non-room aspect (eg access to the Exec Lounge). If you have conf from Hilton you were downgraded rather than just got the lowest end of the room you booked then you should be able to achieve the price difference.

    Whilst S75 isnt going to work because you used a booking agent chargebacks can be used if you only travelled recently.  
  • ReubiedooReubiedoo Forumite
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    Thanks all.

    Thank you morning coffee; I will research and pursue this forthwith.

    I have confirmation of downgrade from Hilton. It’s not booking.com; hotels.com. I couldn’t have negotiated a similar price because I used Tesco vouchers. I got details of the rooms from Hilton themselves and they advised asking for a full refund because they would grant it. 

    We chose not to pursue a full refund, nor ask for refund on the breakfasts. I swear some posters are so quick to get on their horse they don’t take the time to read. 

    I agree I “should” be able to achieve a refund for the downgrade; that is why I am here asking for advice on how to. The practicalities of achieving this are my interest.
  • ReubiedooReubiedoo Forumite
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    And yes it was a suite. The highest they offer.
  • DullGreyGuyDullGreyGuy Forumite
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    Reubiedoo said:
    I got details of the rooms from Hilton themselves and they advised asking for a full refund because they would grant it. 
    Like Apple's constant comments of "if you'd bought it from us then we'd have helped" I'd take their advice with the healthy pinch of salt... its very easy to promise things that you dont have to deliver on. They'd know that the refund process is controlled by the agent and that the agent wouldnt be offering you a full refund and so the hotel will never have to put their wallet on the line but you feel good about them as you believe they would and the agent is the villain of the story.

    Having had an issue with a Hilton room not being what it should have been, the hotel admitting it was their error and it having been booked directly with them, they didn't offer anything close to a full refund and were reluctant to do anything other than refund the difference in room rates (though they did offer to allow us to double the amount we'd paid for an upgrade to the only room available that met our requirements... didnt even offer to reduce the price from the rack rate if we did upgrade)
  • ReubiedooReubiedoo Forumite
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    Thanks DGG. 

    Exactly that thought had crossed my mind. 

    Tbh I would happily settle for the ~£200 room cost difference as a refund. It’s just getting it, and as cash rather than credit.

     I am going to ring Hilton again and ask for emails to document statements. Depending on what I get I will then go back to hotels.com and see if I can get anywhere.

    if not I am going to have to find an address to send a formal complaint. Finding one is the problem.
  • DullGreyGuyDullGreyGuy Forumite
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    If you have evidence that you didnt get what you paid for then chargeback is the other option
  • ReubiedooReubiedoo Forumite
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    Yeah…chargebacks aren’t worth the paper they are printed on in my experience. I had one where it was clear the bank hadn’t even read what I had submitted and just reversed it. And wouldn’t respond further. 

    But it would be worth a try as last resort, for sure: better than nothing.

    Thanks.
  • edited 26 January at 2:31PM
    ExodiExodi Forumite
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    edited 26 January at 2:31PM
    Reubiedoo said:
    I got details of the rooms from Hilton themselves and they advised asking for a full refund because they would grant it. 
    Like Apple's constant comments of "if you'd bought it from us then we'd have helped" I'd take their advice with the healthy pinch of salt... its very easy to promise things that you dont have to deliver on. They'd know that the refund process is controlled by the agent and that the agent wouldnt be offering you a full refund and so the hotel will never have to put their wallet on the line but you feel good about them as you believe they would and the agent is the villain of the story.
    Hahaha exactly what DullGreyGuy said.

    I work as at a manufacturer and we have retailers sell our product across the UK. If there is an issue they will forward us correspondance with their customer and essentially ask me what I want to do - either I can give them a credit and they'll refund the customer, or I won't and they won't.

    Funnily enough I regularly see the customer service team paint me out as the villain in these decisions (and to be honest, I'm not too bothered by this, I'm happy if it makes customer services jobs easier).

    What does make me chuckle however, and to bring it back to this thread, is that - if the distributor, or Hilton here, were sooo desperate and willing to offer the customer a full 100% no questions asked refund... there's literally nothing stopping them. "We have to refund hotels.com so they can refund you because procedure?" is a very convenient justification, but ultimately if they really wanted to give you the money, they would give you the money. Just like if my retailers felt their customer was soooo hard done by due to my decision, and it was so unfair and they feel terrible, etc... they're always free to just refund the customer themselves.

    But nope, all smoke, mirrors and scapegoats!
    Know what you don't
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