Hotels.com Snatches Victory from the Jaws of a Pissed Off Customer

My lovely wife Melissa and I are planning on a mini-vacation on the motorcycle in mid-July. As is my habit, I started doing research on routes, distances, gas stations, road conditions, etc. All the things you’ve got to think about when you travel several thousand kilometers on a motorcycle.

That’s approx 30 hours (on a bike, that will translate to approx 40-45 hours total on the road) and almost 1500 miles/2000 kilometers in four days. And many of those roads won’t be straight and easy travel on an interstate. Many will be wonderfully twisty with a lot of elevation changes through two mountain ranges.

I know from past experience that, at my/our age, getting a good night’s sleep is important for long days on a motorcycle (as are handfuls of ibuprofen). So I started to do research on hotels in some of the towns we expected to be in each evening.

Whenever I’m looking for locations or ballpark rates on hotels, I always start with Hotels.ca (note that domain – it will become important). I’ll often then go directly to the hotel’s website to see if they offer a better deal. But this time around, Hotels.ca offered really good deals on decent hotels. Considering it was going to be the height of the tourist season, I didn’t even bother looking for better deals — I knew I had already found the best I was likely to find. I quickly booked two hotels in two different locations and patted myself on the back for saving us money.

Then the Hotels.ca confirmation emails started arriving…

The prices had inexplicably jumped by about 30-35% from the time I booked to the time I got the email. I went back to the site to check but the pricing was what I had booked. The confirmation made clear the bookings were non-cancelable. I called Customer Service.

After a bit of back and forth, the phone agent told me the price I saw on the website was in US currency and the confirmation email was showing the price in Canadian dollars. I asked the agent why the pricing on the Canadian website, while I was logged in under my Canadian account and making bookings for Canadian hotels…WAS IN US DOLLARS… He couldn’t answer and asked me to send screenshot confirmations of what I was seeing on the Hotels.ca to their Billing email address and that, if what I was saying was accurate, the company would honour the price in Canadian dollars. So I sent them an email and waited.

….and waited…

I resent the email. I also posted to Twitter to the Hotels.com Twitter account. And waited….

….and waited…

I resent the email. I resent the tweet.

Four days later, @hotelsdotcom finally responded. But things weren’t destined to get better.

After several DMs back and forth, this is happened:

As frustrating as this was, I knew I was in the right and would eventually get the issue resolved to my satisfaction. After all, as you can see, the assumptions Hotels.com seems to expect from Canadian users is unreasonable.

I sent the requested reservation confirmation numbers. 12 hours later, I received this DM from Hotels.com:

Hello, you have reached the Consumer Relations team. Thank you for your patience while we reviewed your concerns regarding the billing on these reservations.

We want to extend our sincerest apologies for any inconvenience you experienced. We never like to hear that one of our guests has this type of experience with us and we want to ensure we are available to assist whenever needed.

Upon review of the screenshots and recorded booking sessions associated with the reservations in question, we do see that the Hotels.ca website was accessed and the Canadian point of sale was displayed throughout the booking session. Hotels.com is a US based website so when our standard website is accessed from any point in the world, the currency and point of sale will default to the US. Customers can change this information through the flag and currency denominations at the top of the page.

Alternatively, when a preferred point sale is accessed directly through that regions designated web address, Canada in your circumstance, that website will default to the currency of that region as well. As the Canadian point of sale was displayed throughout the bookings sessions, it would be a reasonable expectation to believe the currencies would be displayed in CAD as well.

Based on this review and our findings, we have issued a refund on each booking to match the dollar amount shown in the Canadian currency.

1) A refund in the amount of $23.07 USD/$30.55 CAD has been processed back to the original form of payment provided at the time of booking.

2) A refund in the amount of $24.45 USD/$32.37 CAD has been processed back to the original form of payment provided at the time of booking.

Again, we apologize for any inconvenience this matter may have caused and appreciate you allowing us the chance to assist.

I appreciate the Consumer Relations team at Hotels.com resolving this once they found out about it. I hope they will also take measures to ensure this confusion doesn’t happen again.

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