Can she get a refund for her nonrefundable hotel?

After the COVID-19 outbreak, Noemi Freeman has to cancel her trip to Greece. Does this mean she loses the $592 she paid for her hotel?

  • Sunday, May 2, 2021 1:30am
  • Life

Q: I booked a room at the Hotel Tzekos Villas in Santorini, Greece, last year through Hotels.com. The reservation was nonrefundable. Due to the virus, we were unable to leave the U.S.

I called and emailed several times to cancel and get a refund or a voucher for a future stay. Neither Hotels.com nor the Hotel Tzekos Villas would refund our money. After calling several times and receiving no response, we disputed the charge with our Chase Visa Sapphire Reserve. The credit card issuer sided with Hotels.com. Can you help me get our $592 back or a credit?

— Noemi Freeman, Aventura, Florida

A: Hotels.com should have helped you with a refund. After all, Europe was closed to Americans at the time you were supposed to visit. And if the hotel and the booking site couldn’t assist you, then your credit card should have been able to help with a chargeback. It didn’t.

What’s going on here? First, your case is one of hundreds of thousands of refund requests. It took weeks and often months for travel companies to sift through all of them. Yours was also a complicated case, because you paid for part of the hotel with a Hotels.com gift card. It looks as if you pushed forward with a credit card dispute relatively soon after your cancellation. I understand that you wanted your money back, but once you initiate a chargeback, it limits some of your other options.

One of the options would have been a brief, polite email to a Hotels.com executive. I list all of them on my consumer advocacy site at www.elliott.org/company-contacts/expedia. (Expedia owns Hotels.com.)

Ultimately, the problem was the type of hotel room you booked: a prepaid, nonrefundable reservation. When you agree to one of those, you’re saying that come hell or high water, you’ll be there. And if you aren’t, the hotel can keep your money.

Travel insurance might have helped you recover some of your losses. But I think Hotels.com could have done better, too. I’ve heard from other travelers who said Hotels.com took good care of them during the pandemic by pushing for refunds or vouchers. It doesn’t seem fair to make you eat that $592. I also think Chase Sapphire could have fought harder for you during the dispute. Those pricey credit cards advertise themselves as the traveler’s best friend, but they don’t always come through for you when you need them.

After months of back and forth, I contacted Hotels.com on your behalf. The company refunded all of your money.

Christopher Elliott is the chief advocacy officer of Elliott Advocacy, a nonprofit organization that helps consumers resolve their problems. Elliott’s latest book is “How To Be The World’s Smartest Traveler” (National Geographic).Contact him at elliott.org/help or chris@elliott.org.

Talk to us

More in Life

George Vasil, author of “The Lance,” in his home office in Arlington. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
Arlington author explores an era of forgiveness and redemption

The plots of George Vasil’s novels unfold amid Byzantine Empire power struggles.

The 2021 Toyota GR Supra two-seat sports car is available in six-cylinder and four-cylinder versions. (Manufacturer photo)
Toyota makes significant changes to GR Supra for 2021

The six-cylinder model gets even more horsepower, and there’s a new turbo four-cylinder version.

It’s been nine years since “I Brake for Moms” debuted and much has changed. (Photo by Jennifer Bardsley)
Nine years later, the ‘I Brake for Moms’ journey continues

In her debut column in 2012, Jennifer Bardsley reflected on driving with little kids. Today, it’s the kids doing the driving.

Patience and kindness are essential ingredients for a happy home

Here are ways to cultivate and nurture greater patience for your partner during trying times.

Bacharach (below its ruined chapel) on the Rhine River.
Rick Steves’ Europe: Bacharach: Legends and sagas on the Rhine

Rich in history, the German wine town has been charming travelers for centuries.

Owner and Airbnb disagree on refund for rental. Who’s right?

Carl Baeuerlen cancels his vacation rental in Lanai, Hawaii. But Airbnb says he can’t get his money back.

Irene Koster.
Here are eight amazing azaleas no garden should be without

These deciduous shrubs have few equal for color and fragrance. Curiously, many Northwest gardeners overlook them.

Carbon-free water power electrifies much of Snohomish County

With increased adoption of electric vehicles, and clean energy mandates, hydropower has never been more important.

This oak 19th-century "cave a liqueur" holds four decanters and 16 liqueur glasses. It is decorated with silvered mounts of hunting dogs. The 11-inch-high box sold at New Orleans Auction Galleries for $4,250. (Cowles Syndicate Inc.)
Don’t confuse the vintage cave a liqueur with a tantalus

Both have decanter bottles, both have drinking glasses, both can have locks — but they’re not the same thing.

Most Read