Q: I booked a hotel stay at the Opus XVI in Bergen, Norway, in 2020 through Expedia. The hotel was part of a package. I had to cancel the trip because of COVID-19.
Expedia refunded our airfare and issued a $1,875 credit for Opus XVI that expires in December 2021. Norway has been closed to U.S. travelers, so we have been unable to use the credit.
I called and requested an extension or refund from Expedia. A representative told me that they would contact the hotel on our behalf, but we needed to deal directly with the hotel for a resolution. Expedia said it had already sent the $1,875 to the Opus XVI.
I emailed the hotel last summer, and I received an email reply that it denied my request. Instead, the hotel offered a 50% discount if we booked a future stay directly.
I have emailed Expedia, sharing the hotel’s denial of our request, and asked for their help in securing an extension. We have not received any response from Expedia. I understand that this was a nonrefundable reservation, yet since our stay was canceled through no fault of our own and we can’t visit Norway, we believe our credit should be extended. It is unfair to pay for a stay we are unable to take. Can you help?
— Kent York, St. Paul, Minnesota
A: The Opus XVI shouldn’t pocket your money. Expedia should have helped you get either a refund or an extension.
Your trip to Norway was part of a tour package that included airline tickets and accommodations. Technically, that makes Expedia your tour operator, and it bears some responsibility in making sure all the components are in order and usable. Expedia is also your travel agent and, as such, should be taking care of you — especially during a difficult time like this.
Telling you that you had to deal directly with the Opus XVI was simply wrong. A good travel agent and tour operator takes responsibility for the products it sells. Expedia fell short of that.
I understand that Expedia had already paid the hotel, but that’s not your problem. And I also know that the rules say you can’t get a refund. But these are unusual circumstances, and companies like Expedia and its hotel partners have invoked that time and again during the pandemic. You can, too.
I would have sent a brief, polite email to an executive at Expedia. I list the names, numbers and email addresses of the Expedia customer service managers on my consumer advocacy site, Elliott.org. Calling doesn’t make a lot of sense because you won’t have a record of the conversation. You need written proof that you’ve tried to resolve this through the right channels.
Companies should not be able to pocket your money at a time like this. You may want to give your business to a travel agent or a tour operator — as opposed to an online agency — that will fight for you during an extraordinary circumstance.
I contacted Expedia on your behalf. The company agreed to extend your hotel voucher by a year.
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 email@example.com.
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