Always get cancellation number

  • By Christopher Elliott
  • Wednesday, July 17, 2013 1:31pm
  • Life

Question: I recently attended a job fair in Marietta, Ga. Because I was unsure of the number and date of interviews I would have at the event, I decided to book a room for one night at the Hyatt, in case I had to extend my stay.

I didn’t need the room, so I called a full day before I was supposed to check in to cancel. But a Hyatt representative told me they could not find my reservation and that I would need to call back later in the day to cancel.

I called back that afternoon and was transferred to central booking. A representative said they could not process a cancellation for me. So I called the hotel and they agreed to cancel my reservation.

When I tried to book a flight back home this morning, my card was rejected because of insufficient funds. I checked my account and found the Hyatt had charged my card $141.

I immediately called the hotel and they told me that if I did not have a confirmation number there was nothing they could do. I kept calling back until someone in accounting said they would research the issue but no one ever said they would be able to refund my money.

Without a cancellation number, they said, I would be considered a “no show.”

I have $10 in my account and am stuck in New York. Can you help me?

Fallon Speaker, Chapel Hill, N.C.

Answer: Hyatt should have canceled your room as promised. But you had a few warning signs that it didn’t — or couldn’t. That included the hotel not being able to find your reservation, the central reservations line not being able to process your cancellation, and a promise (but no verification) from the hotel that your reservation had been deleted.

Any one of these should have sent up an enormous red flag. But the one that should have sent you into a panic was the lack of a cancellation number.

When a hotel doesn’t offer you one, you should assume your reservation is still active. Unfortunately, yours was.

Although some hotel rooms are still cancelable, many are not. In fact, there’s been a steady move toward the airline model, where the most affordable rooms can’t be changed or canceled for any reason.

So it’s worth making sure, as you did, that your room can be canceled and ensuring that if your plans change, you give the property ample notification.

I checked with Hyatt, and it turns out your reservation couldn’t be found because someone — it’s not clear who — misspelled your name. Within an hour of asking the hotel to investigate, it had reversed the charge, allowing you to buy a ticket from New York back to North Carolina.

As a gesture of good will, Hyatt enrolled you in its loyalty program and deposited enough points in your account for a one-night stay at one of its hotels.

Christopher Elliott is the ombudsman for National Geographic Traveler magazine and the author of “Scammed.” Read more travel tips on his blog, www.elliott.org or email him at celliott@ngs.org.

© 2013 Christopher Elliott/ Tribune Media Services, Inc.

More in Life

Mark Ellinger works with fire to create unique texture and color on a float. (Dan Bates / The Herald)
Glass Quest: Find clue balls to trade in for hand-blown floats

The ninth annual Great Northwest Glass Quest is on Camano Island and in Stanwood through Feb. 25.

See migrating snow geese at birding festival next weekend

The Port Susan Snow Goose Festival in Stanwood features speakers, bus tours and kids activities.

Mixer vs. maker: War for counter space is like Game of Thrones

Is there a correlation between weight gain and the small appliances we keep on our kitchen counters?

Welsh revival: Cardiff sheds rust-belt past for glossy future

Just an hour from major English destinations such as Bath and the… Continue reading

The farm-to-table concept in an easy-to-grow container garden

Through container gardening, you can grow edible plants in pots instead of the ground.

How do plants survive freezing temperatures? With genetics

Plants have evolved to tolerate the weather conditions of where they are growing.

Beer of the Week: Scrappy Punk’s Dark English Lager

The Snohomish brewery’s English-inspired lager was created by a first-time brewer.

Barnard Griffin’s award-winning rose is a wine to fall for

Looking for a bottle of vino to go with your Valentine’s Day weekend dinner? Think pink.

‘Black Panther’ builds a proud new superhero world

The movie presents a vision of what central Africa might have looked like without colonialism.

Most Read