Look at hotels online before booking

  • By Christopher Elliott
  • Wednesday, July 24, 2013 1:24pm
  • Life

Question: While traveling through Pennsylvania on a college tour with our daughter, my husband and I made a reservation for two nights at a Super 8 through Hotels.com.

When we arrived at the hotel late in the evening, we were dismayed to find a hotel with questionable clientele (there was a couple behind us looking for a couple of hours’ stay at the hotel) and a hotel attendant behind a double-panel glass window.

I asked to see the room before signing any paperwork and the attendant declined. He simply gave me a form to fill out with my name and address.

Because of the late hour and not having any other viable option for a night’s stay, we agreed to spend the night at the hotel but to check out the following morning as soon as possible.

Although the room had been recently renovated, the carpet was filthy. Our shoes stuck to the carpet. The air conditioner was set at 45 degrees, and it took more than three hours for the room to heat up to 74 degrees.

The walls were thin enough that we could hear every move of our neighbor upstairs and of our neighbors around us.

The room was supposed to be smoke-free, yet the bedspread on one bed had cigarette burns and the room smelled like cigarette smoke. We did not have enough towels for three people and the bathroom had not been cleaned, as evidenced the next morning by our find of a handful of long red hairs stuck to the wall of the shower.

The next morning, a hotel attendant informed me that Super 8 had nothing to do with our transaction, and that if I ever were to be issued a refund, I’d have to go through Hotels.com. I have called Hotels.com and asked for a refund, but so far, I’ve gotten nowhere. Can you help?

Gladys Martin, Berea, Ohio

Answer: Are you sure you were booked at a Super 8? It sounds like you tried to check in at the No-Tell Motel, instead.

Hotels.com shouldn’t have sold you a room like that. But even a cursory online search would have revealed that this Super 8 was horrible.

Sure, the Super 8 chain is a budget brand, but this one was — and I quote the recent write-ups — “just gross.” One reviewer advised everyone to “stay away,” and the hotel received an aggregate rating that would embarrass anyone associated with the Super 8 brand. In other words, you had ample warning.

Under the terms of your reservation, your room was completely nonrefundable by the time you checked in, so technically Super 8 was right for refusing your refund,both to you and to Hotels.com.

But who cares about technicalities? Super 8’s promise to be the “best in quality” means you should have expected more from your lodging experience.

By the way, if you ever find yourself in a similar situation, here are a few tips. When the air conditioner is turned down to 45 degrees, open a window. It will take only a few minutes to warm things up. If the rug is sticky and the shower is dirty and the bedspreads smell like smoke, ask for another room.

And most of all, when dealing with a refund request, put everything in writing. Calling Super 8 was just an exercise in futility.

I contacted Hotels.com, which sold you the room, and it helped you secure a $150 refund from Super 8. Hotels.com also sent you a $20 voucher as an apology.

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

Andrea Rosen, mother of two, quit eating sugar more than 1,000 days ago. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
How kicking her sugar habit changed a Mill Creek mom’s life

Andrea Rosen quit eating sweets 3 years ago, lost weight, felt better and her family also benefited.

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.

Most Read