When Hotel Bookings Go Wrong
In travel you never really know how good a company is until you have a problem. While I would say over 99% of the time I have no issues when traveling, there is that 1%. A good example of that was my stay earlier this year at Bellagio. It revealed true failure on many levels within the hotel. Today I ran into a much smaller issue, however it revealed that Chase probably isn’t a good company to book hotels through consistently.
Last week I shared the amazing deal I got in Gothenburg for the Hotel Arena. Today I’m not going to eat my words, however I will explain that it wasn’t quite what was promised or expected. The main reason for this post isn’t to trash the hotel, Chase or anything else, but to highlight a true weakness when you book through Chase, Citi or another company that uses a 3rd party travel provider. Here is what happened.
Trouble in Sweden
My son and I arrived in Gothenburg and made our way to the hotel directly from the train station. When checking in, I tried to confirm that we would have two beds, however I was told there was only 1 queen bed and that the hotel was full. The front desk agent said there wasn’t anything she could do. We went to the room and confirmed the bed just wouldn’t work.
Since I had booked through Chase, I gave them a call and explained the situation. Without even asking I was quickly escalated to a supervisor. She put me on hold and contacted their vendor who contacted the hotel. The front desk agent supposedly told the vendor that I had never inquired about wanting two beds. Chase finally said they couldn’t help, because the vendor says I received the correct room based on the “description”.
Lets look at that description: “Cozy Queen – Twin Bed”. So they say it means I could get a queen or a twin bed. Except, when I booked there was also a “Cozy Queen – Double.” So I could either book a twin or a double and booked a twin. (For the record that couldn’t mean a single twin since I booked the room for 2 people.) Seems self explanatory, but they don’t agree.
I explained my dissatisfaction with the manager from Chase and she said she would escalate it and I would hear back in 24-48 hours. Yes, you heard that right! I’ll be long gone by then of course, so my only option was to go down to the front desk where the agent told me a different version of her conversation with the vendor. She then showed me her version of the confirmation that simply said, “Cozy Queen”.
The thing is that they don’t even have a room type called “Cozy Queen”. If you go to their website they have a queen room, a double room and a twin room. The only room mentioning the word twin has two twins beds in it. Anyway, I showed her my confirmation that showed the full description including the “twin bed” verbiage, but she didn’t budge. I had to pay 250 SEK (about $30) for an extra mattress.
Without a choice, I paid the money and was brought a single mattress that now sits on the floor. I’m glad I am only staying here for one night, but am severely disappointed in Chase. The front desk agent says it isn’t their fault, however I don’t agree. The “vendor” is selling the rooms on their behalf and somehow had a bad description. I blame everyone, although I do it with no rage or real anger. Life is too short to dwell on such small things.
The most interesting thing I noticed is that when I go to the Ultimate Rewards site to search for the hotel, all of the room descriptions have changed and now match the hotel’s website. This is great news for anyone who books from now on, but I guess I am out of
luck $30, at least for now.
So this is definitely a first world problems sort of thing and I am already over it as far as being angry. My hope is that Chase will reimburse me for the mattress and my son can certainly sleep on it. (God knows he has slept on worse.) The real takeaway here is that you have very limited recourse when you book through a company that uses an intermediary between them and the hotel.
In this case Chase had the contact the vendor who then contacted the hotel. The vendor then told Chase what the hotel said and they relayed that to me. Through that process no one claimed responsibility and the story changed several times. Basically, I lose out.
Did I Bring This On?
When I wrote my article about saving 50% on this hotel, I mentioned in a caption that I had confirmed the room description at other sites (that probably use the same vendor) and that it included two twin beds. (I wish I had screenshots.) In a caption of the Chase screenshot I said, “Lets hope we don’t get one tiny bed.” Perhaps I need to learn to shut my mouth. Maybe I brought this on myself just by merely thinking it! 🙂
Things go wrong when traveling. It just happens. The real value of companies like American Express is that they will stand behind their bookings. It doesn’t seem that Chase is quite within that camp. I am hoping for a reimbursement of my $30, but only time (24-48 hours) will tell. Either way with a 50% savings this was probably still worth it, but I would hesitate to use them again unless I was saving significant amounts of money.