Charged twice for room — how about a re­fund?

South Florida Sun-Sentinel (Sunday) - - Travel - By Christopher El­liott Christopher El­liott is the om­buds­man for Na­tional Geo­graphic Traveler mag­a­zine and the au­thor of “How to Be the World’s Smartest Traveler.” You can read more travel tips on his blog, el­liott.org, or email him at [email protected]­liott.org.

I booked one night at the Court­yard Mar­riott Mi­ami Down­town/Brick­ell be­fore a cruise. When I checked in, I told the clerk I was us­ing a Mar­riott gift card, which he charged for one night.

When I checked out, the hotel charged a se­cond night on the gift card. I called cus­tomer ser­vice at Mar­riott to get the charge re­moved. I also called the front desk man­ager at the hotel. The best he could of­fer me was Mar­riott points or a credit at the Court­yard Mar­riott Mi­ami Down­town/Brick­ell.

It’s been al­most a month, and this is still not re­solved. A state­ment I re­ceived shows the credit, but the gift card bal­ance does not.

Can you help me get a $210 credit to my Mar­riott gift card or the same amount in an­other Mar­riott gift card? Or maybe just a re­fund?

— El­iz­a­beth Maglione, Mount Pleas­ant, S.C.

Ac­tu­ally, as I re­view the many dou­ble-billing er­ror cases I’ve re­ceived over the years, that’s the big­gest mis­take guests make.

Don’t go for the “instant” check­out, by­pass­ing the front desk. That re­moves the abil­ity to check your bill for ac­cu­racy and to ap­peal it to a clerk or a man­ager if nec­es­sary. Sure, you’ll have to carve out a few ex­tra min­utes when you leave a hotel, but it’ll be worth it.

You can find ex­ec­u­tive con­tacts for Mar­riott on my con­sumer-ad­vo­cacy site. Af­ter ap­peal­ing to the hotel and cor­po­rate cus­tomer ser­vice, you might have shared your prob­lem with these ex­ec­u­tives in writ­ing. For a prob­lem like this, a phone call is less ef­fec­tive than a brief, po­lite email.

I con­tacted Mar­riott on your be­half. It re­viewed your case and agreed that it charged your gift card a se­cond time by mis­take. It again of­fered a credit, which is a com­mon hotel re­sponse (af­ter all, it wants to keep your money). A rep­re­sen­ta­tive said the hotel was hav­ing a prob­lem re­fund­ing the pur­chase to your gift card.

I said you wanted a full re­fund. Mar­riott sent you a check for $210.

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