• Report: #65544

Complaint Review: Hotels And Lodging

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  • Submitted: Mon, August 11, 2003
  • Updated: Fri, January 09, 2004

  • Reported By:Morehead City North Carolina
Hotels And Lodging
Any Nationwide U.S.A.
  • Phone:
  • Web:
  • Category: Hotel

Hotels And Lodging How to avoid rip offs at hotels and lodgings! Nationwide

*Consumer Suggestion: Nick, your comments are certainly HBO comedy material. Scott in Vancouver - right on.

*Consumer Comment: AAA and MOBIL inspect us but never a wholesaler

*Consumer Comment: MOST Hotels are inspected by online companies

*Consumer Suggestion: I have used Expedia a few times...

*Consumer Suggestion: Pretty close with a few exceptions

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Many disputes with hotels are avoidableby taking just a few preventative steps. Instead of spending hours on the phone with your credit card company, the hotel or your travel agent, if you spend just a few minutes doing the things that are laid out below, you can save yourself time, money and a lot of frustration.

Traveling can be stressful. On the way to your nice relaxing vacation, you encounter crowded airports, clogged highways and and tiring waits in line at rental car angencies, gas stations and hotel check-ins. At the hotel, what may look like a smooth stay to you is actually coordinated by sometimes hundreds of people in several departments all with the same goal... ensuring
guest pleasure so the hotel makes money and they can have their paychecks. The sometimes frazzled front desk agent that you encounter must coordinate with the housekeeping department, the maintenance department, the food and beverage department, the concierge, the bell staff and the management.
They must book reservations, perform check ins and outs, handle guest complaints, and do almost anything to ensure guest satisfaction. Make no mistake... this is one of the most stressful jobs IN THE WORLD. 99% of the time, this is all done with a smile and things are great as far as the guest is concerned. Every now and again, the desk agent just cannot take anymore that day and the next guest that comes to the desk bears the brunt of the agent's frustration. This is, by no means, an excuse for the actions of a desk agent; it's merely an explaination as to why they are sometimes frazzled
when you encounter them.

Now, onto the steps you can take to prevent mishaps.

The first thing you do when you want to stay at a hotel is book a reservation. Often, you can find the cheapest rates online, so many people book their rooms on the internet, and never think twice about it because it should all be taken care of, right? Wrong. Sites such as Expedia, Hotels.com and pricematch.com are known as "wholesalers", meaning that they have a certian number of rooms that the hotel has allocated for them to sell at their discounted rate. Let's say you go to expedia and find a room for $119.00. Expedia is actually only paying the hotel around $79.00 for that room, and marking it up to make their profit. Te $119.00 rate that you are
finding on expedia is cheaper than what the hotel itself can offer you, however, this comes with a couple of downfalls.

First, when you book room online, you are NEVER guaranteed a specific room type. If you want a smoking room, a non-smoking oom, 2 double beds, a handicapped room, a king bed, a suite or any other special request, you ARE NOT guaranteed this if you book through a website. You are merely guaranteeing that you will have some kind of room at the hotel when you get there. It doesn't matter what the website says about this; the contract between the hotel and the wholesaler states very clearly that no room types or special requests are guaranteed for online bookings.

The second problem with booking through wholesalers is that they have never seen the property. Their descriptions do not reflect changes that have been made, full lists of amenities or accurate room descriptions. You may be surprised that the "Ocean View" hotel that you just booked a room in is actually 3 blocks from the beach, and you can only see the ocean from one of the upper floors. If you decide to book a room online, at the very least, research the property that you want to stay at and know what you are paying for.

Another problem with booking rooms online is that you must pay for the room at the time you make your reservation. The hotel never gets your credit card information and never recieves payment from you. The hotel recieves payment from the wholesaler that you booked the room from. This means that if you had any problems during your stay, the hotel cannot reduce your rate or comp your room for you. You MUST contact the wholesaler to get a refund, and most of them hve very strict NO REFUND policies. If you need to cancel or change your reservation, the hotel cannot help you. You have to go through the wholesaler to do this, and most of them also have no cancellations of changes policies as well.

My suggestion to you is to always book your reservation directly through the hotel. Sometimes, a hotel will match the price that you find on a website; othertimes they won't. At any rate, it never hurts to ask. If they won't match the price, it's worth the extra few dollars to get exactly the type of room that you want and to know exactly what you are paying for. You can be confident that there was no mix up and that you do, indeed, have a reservation at the correct hotel. You can be certain that if there are any problems during your stay, the management will be able to compensate you accordingly. You will also be made well aware of the hotel's policies concerning cancellations and room guarantees at the time of your reservation, which brings me to the next section.

Hotel policies. Hotels have a lot of policies that may seem unfair or petty to the average person. The most hated of these policies is the no-show policy. When you book a room, you are asked to provide a credit card to guarantee that room. If you do not provide a credit card, your room reservation may be cancelled at 4pm or 6pm if you have not yet arrived. This is so the hotel can be sure to sell that room. If you do not provide a credit card, the hotel has no way of guaranteeing that it will be paid fr if you do not show up at all, and they can lose revenue.

If you Do provide a credit card, your room will be held for you for much longer, usually 6 or 7 am. If you fail to show up to claim your room at all, the credit card that you have provided will be charged for one night's room and tax, and your reservation will be cancelled for the remainder of the nights that you reserved. A lot of people will tell you t use a credit card that has very little money on it to reseve a hotel room with. That's a terrible idea, because it can result in your reservation being cancelled. At many hotels, they begin authorizing credit cards that have been left to guarantee rooms with at 6pm (or 4pm, depending on hotel policy).

If the hotel gets a decline on your credit card, your reservation will be cancelled, and your room will likely be sold to someone else. Note that the card you leave is not being CHARGED; it is being AUTHORIZED, which means that the hotel is asking the credit card company to make sure that you have enough money on your card to pay for one night's room and tax. It's important that, unless you are absolutely certain that you can be at the hotel by 4pm, you leave a valid credit card number to guarantee your room with. If you do not do this, you could find yourself without lodging on the first night of your vacation, and the hotel will not take responsibility for it.

It's also important that you pay close attention to the cancellation policy when the reservationist explains it to you. Most hotels allow you to cancel your reservation within 24 hours of your arrival (usually 4 pm the day before). I have, however, seen some hotels that insist on a 72 hour cancellation policy. Many resort hotels have the 72 hour cancellation policy. Basically, the gist of the cancellation policy is that if you do not call to cancel your reservation within the alloted time, your reservation will NOT be cancelled, and you will be treated as a no-show and charged one night's room and tax. It is very rare that a hotel will change it's cancellation policy for a guest, so make sure that you know it and are well familiar with it.

When you check into a hotel, make sure that you read over the entire registration card that you are signing. More often than not, hotel guests just sign where told and ignore the fine print, and begin yelling at check-out when they find out that local calls cost 99 cents. Many hotel policies will be explained on the registration card, as will your rate. After you sign the card, it is legally binding and the hotel is under no obligation to change anything or lower your rate. Make sure that all of the information is correct BEFORE you sign the card.

When you get to your room, check things over immediately. Is it cleaned to your liking? Is everything you need provided for you? Is it the wrong room type? Is it too close to an elevator or near a noisy ice machine? If you are unhappy with your room, it's usually no problem for the hotel staff to get you moved to a room that you are more comfortable in. The sooner that you tell the hotel about your problems, the sooner that you can be moved, and the sooner the hotel staff can do whatever needs to be done to make the room sellable to another guest. Please note that most hotels don't offer discounts if you want to be moved because of elevator proximity or something of that nature. This is personal preference, and it's inappropriate to expect the hotel staff to compensate you because your mind was not read at check in.

Do everything in your power not to alter or damage the room in any way during your stay. If you're in a non-smoking room, be respectful to other guests who may stay in that room after you and to other guests who are currently on the floor that you are on. Smoke outside or on the balcony, if your room has one. There are a few hotels out there that can and will charge you for the thorough cleaning that must be done to the room after you check out of it. If you reserved a smoking room and the hotel was unable to accomodate that for you, simply don't check in.

In most cases, the hotel will not charge you as a no-show if it is their fault. If you break something in the room, report it immediately. The hotel may or may not charge you if you report it, but if you don't, you can bet that your credit card will be cahrged large amounts of money to replace it. If anything is broken when you check into the room, you should also report that immediately so that the hotel does not think you were responsible. ANy leaked bodily lfuds must be cleaned with heavy chemicals that can ruin the carpet, causing it to have to be replaced. Take care with this, as a single drop of blood on the carpet could cost you hundreds of dollars.

Sometimes, no matter what you do to prevent them, problems may occur during your stay or with your billing. That's where Rip Off Report comes in. If you are unable to resolve your complaints with the hotel, by all means, post a report here and seek the advice and assistance of people who know the business or have had previous encounters with them. The best of luck to you!

Pezstar
Morehead City, North Carolina
U.S.A.

This report was posted on Ripoff Report on 08/11/2003 06:38 AM and is a permanent record located here: http://www.ripoffreport.com/r/Hotels-And-Lodging/nationwide/Hotels-And-Lodging-How-to-avoid-rip-offs-at-hotels-and-lodgings-Nationwide-65544. The posting time indicated is Arizona local time. Arizona does not observe daylight savings so the post time may be Mountain or Pacific depending on the time of year.

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#1 Consumer Suggestion

Nick, your comments are certainly HBO comedy material. Scott in Vancouver - right on.

AUTHOR: Bob - (U.S.A.)

Your kidding Right ?
Nick, if you have worked in hotels for 20 years and make those comments, you must work for some losers. First of all, I agree with Scott 100%. 30 % of my business comes from wholesalers. I can assure you that they all visit the property at least once a year and the larger producers do so 2-4 times. Interenet providers like Expedia & Hotels.com do so as well. I have had both companies do inspections at least once a year. There are a ton of internet providers that wont do inspections but the producers always do. They have too much to lose if they dont.

Your comments regarding giving them the worst rooms is so typical. If you have ever run any quality type of hotel then it does not matter what rooms they get. All the rooms should be guest ready all the time and able to pass any type of Q.A. inspection unannounced. I couldn't operate any other way. Of course you would preserve your premium rooms that you would sell at a higher rate for your sales effort. You can however make these available to a wholesalers, interenet providers or anyone else at higher rates. You get what you negotiate. If you can sell the same room for more, you always would. Keep in mind that the Expedia's of the world were set up with the idea that they would fill your hotels rooms that would otherwise go vacant. You give them what you need them to sell and that's it. Anyone giving them low low rates is missing the boat.

Revenue managers and D.O.S.'s dont know what they are doing ? If you have people in these positions that don't have a clue you are in huge trouble. Anyone worth a rats ass is all over maximizing revenues and knowing how to do it. You are setting yourself up to fail miserably if your key people are the wrong people. Can't compromise on people. A & B employees only anything else is unacceptable.

Finally, Wholesalers and Expedia don't pay ? Are you serious ? If you dont establish the guidelines and follow up on payment thats your fault. Why would you continue to do business with these people. Shut them off. Don't you get a credit card from the guest for incidentals ? You have lots of options. It sounds like whoever you are working for or did work for has or had no internal controls and no organization whatsoever. I can tell you Expedia pays on time and they are as regular with their payments as anyone. If you establish relationships with your clients, know them personally and know how to keep those relationships strong, you'll never have a problem. I have a 6 figure a/r balance and none of it is older than 45 days. Based on your comments, you have alot to learn for being in the business for 20 years. Know your top accounts. The way to make yourself valuable is to secure the relationships you have with your revenue producing clients PERSONALLY. You then become a very valuable asset because if you walk out the door, your employer should fear that the business will go with you. I'll leave you with this: People do business with people the know,TRUST and like. If you move to another hotel, you should have total confidence that those accounts will move with you. How many hotels go out and steal a D.O.S. from another because of the business he or she brings with them. - ALOT. Quality accommodations, service and people will always create a winning formula for success.
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#2 Consumer Comment

AAA and MOBIL inspect us but never a wholesaler

AUTHOR: Nick - (U.S.A.)

I have worked for hotels for over 20 years and I have NEVER had a wholesaler inspect a hotel. I have worked in Washington DC, Pittsburgh, Chicago, Nashville, Minneapolis, NYC. All they do is send a form for us to fill in.

AAA and MOBIL inspect us but never a wholesaler.

EVERY hotel I have EVER worked at will guarantee a room TYPE. Two Beds Or One King. ALL Front Office Systems are built like this. They don't guarantee smoking or floors or that they will be next to each other but they WILL guarantee a room type. IF you book thru THEM.

A wholesaler agreement says Hotel will provide a room. Do you know what rooms WHOLESALERS get? The worst ones. As a revenue manager why would I EVER put an EXPEIDA customer who pays $63.00 (that's what EXPEDIA charges Starwood in chicago). When other than Priceline and Hotwire it is the cheapest.

If you pay more you are entitled to and should get more. The limited view rooms SHOULD go to EXPEDIA and the like. That is called MAXIMIZING revenue. Something many rev managers and DOS know little about. You should never have Upsells because you train your people to sell those first. And with correct training they do. I worked as Six Sigma and we showed a tremendous increase by taking Rev Mgrs and DoS (dir of Sales) and showing them how to properly max their rooms. All they care about is getting 100% so they get a bonus.

Wholesalers often don't pay hotels. Most people are lucky cause if Expedia don't pay I don't give the guest checking in the room. It happens a LOT. Espeically with Priceline. We are on the phone as the guest is trying to check in and Priceline doesn't care that they are late sending payment. Remember you pay Priceline, Priceline pays hotel. Expedia is the second worst (after priceline) offender.

Take you chances...
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#3 Consumer Comment

MOST Hotels are inspected by online companies

AUTHOR: Scott - (Canada)

".....The second problem with booking through wholesalers is that they have never seen the property. Their descriptions do not reflect changes that have been made, full lists of amenities or accurate room descriptions. You may be surprised that the "Ocean View" hotel that you just booked a room in is actually 3 blocks from the beach, and you can only see the ocean from one of the upper floors. If you decide to book a room online, at the very least, research the property that you want to stay at and know what you are paying for....."

I am a hotel sales and marketing director and I can assure you that the MAJOR online companies (Hotels.com, Expedia, Destina, AAA) do in fact come and site inspect our properties approximately every 12 to 18 months. In fact I have had all 4 product managers here this year. Furthermore, the information provided regarding the property on these sites is provided by the Product Manager who does the site inspection and is a reflection of their visit good and bad. We at hotels are given very little leway for descriptive and are not allowed to use words that may leave our description open to interpretation. JUST THE FACTS. For properties who just come online with an online company, they will be visited within 3 to 9 months of coming online and quite often their descriptive is taken from their national brand website until such time as an product manager can come visit.
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#4 Consumer Suggestion

I have used Expedia a few times...

AUTHOR: Kim - (U.S.A.)

and never had any problems. After reading this maybe I should think twice? Thier rates are usually lower than the hotels direct websites. I have always had good servide through them. i would think that these wholesalers help fill rooms that might otherwise go empty, since you can view a wide range of hotels at all different prices, and smaller hotels and chains could easily be overlooked by the consumer, but these wholesale websites give them some exposure. I want 1 website that gives me good prices and hotel info, instead of quoting out from 10 different websites. It also helps when there are user comments too.

just my 2 cents.
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#5 Consumer Suggestion

Pretty close with a few exceptions

AUTHOR: Bob - (U.S.A.)

I would agree with most of what you said BUT disagree with a few comments. First let me start by saying I have operated hotels for over 20 years in major markets as well as thrid tier cities and resorts areas. I am all to familiar with wholesalers and the internet companies that you listed certainly are a form of wholesalers. Your comment with room types such as double doubles etc is a little off base. Any reservation regardless of if you book direct, on line, travel agent etc is a REQUEST. Unless specifically noted for example "Guarantee a king room" and it is verbally executed and documented at the point of reservation, then it is simply a request. Hotels will honor every request possible. Why would a hotel make your reservation for a king and then give you a double ? More than likely the king is not available when you check in and it does NOT matter how long ago your reservation was made. Problems do happen and I have been in the position where a plumbing problem forced us to close 40 rooms and guess what, no kings were available. It happens. If a hotel simply does not give you the room type you want but has the ability to do so, then thats a poorly managed hotel.

The only other issue I have regarding your comment is the information that describes the hotel. You mentioned some of these wholesalers have not even seen the property. While that may be true, any wholesaler that does not inspect a hotel that they are going to work with, is making a huge mistake. HOWEVER, the vast majority of the amenities and descriptions of the hotel are provided to the wholesaler BY THE HOTEL. The information from the hotel should be accurate. If it is not, then the hotel is just as much to blame as anyone since you should be making sure that your hotel is properly and acurately represented. I agree with you 100 % that you are far better off booking with the hotel. The guest has more options as does the hotel. The third party internet providers wont be around a few years from now. Most hotels guarantee that you'll find the lowest internet rate on their websites and the major franchise hotel companies require it. The quicker we get back to dealing direct with the hotel, the better off everyone will be.
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