Travel Troubleshooter

Travel Troubleshooter: Hotel charges for ‘no show’

Q: I recently made a reservation for a room at the Gite Nadia near Casablanca, Morocco, using Booking.com. Because of a scheduling error, I realized I would not be able to use the room. A gentleman on the train, who spoke French, agreed to call the hotel to explain that I couldn’t make it. But the Gite Nadia refused to cancel the reservation.

The terms on Booking.com say, “You won’t be charged until you arrive.” So I thought I was safe, but I’m being charged $70 for a room I didn’t use. Can you help me get a refund?

Evalee Dahn, Benson, Ariz.

A: The terms on Booking.com can be a little confusing. Actually, the site says that cancellation and prepayment policies “vary according to room type.” When I entered a few sample dates, the inn offered “free” cancellation 24 hours before check-in, which is fairly standard.

It wasn’t clear, based on your initial request and the paper trail between you and Booking.com that you sent me, when the man from the train had phoned the hotel on your behalf.

Booking.com’s records suggest that you were a “no-show,” which means you didn’t tell anyone you weren’t going to make it. That contradicts your account.

The only way to sort this out was to ask Booking.com about this. I list the Booking.com executive contacts on my website: http://elliott.org/company-contacts/booking-com. I thought that maybe the company could review your reservation and ask the hotel to take a look at its own records.

Before I get to the resolution, I want to tell you how to avoid this in the future. If you call to cancel a reservation, ask for a confirmation number and make a record of it. Also, consider contacting the agent through which you made the reservation. Even if the Gite Nadia didn’t give you a cancellation number, Booking.com would have.

I asked Booking.com to look into your cancellation. In an email sent directly to you, Booking.com agreed to ask the hotel for your money back. Separately, you filed a credit-card dispute. We can’t be sure what did the trick, but you received a full refund for your stay.

Email Christopher Elliott at chris@elliott.org.

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