Hotels.com promised me a refund years ago. Where is it?

Christopher Elliott
3 min readMay 4, 2023

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Illustration by Christopher Elliott

Michelle Sprekelmeyer is chasing down a missing $1,632 Hotels.com refund from the early days of the pandemic. What’s taking so long?

Question

We booked a room at the Oasis at Grace Bay Hotel & Lofts in Turks & Caicos through Hotels.com in January 2020 for accommodations in early April 2020. When we booked the reservation, we could not reserve the same room for our entire stay, so we made two separate reservations.

We had to cancel because of the pandemic. I emailed the hotel numerous times to resolve this, and the company finally issued a refund for one of the reservations but not the other. When I asked why, and they could not give me a straight answer.

I reached out to Hotels.com, and they responded that they would issue a voucher for the same hotel for the reservation I was not refunded. But I did not want this and just wanted a refund. I went back and forth with them for a while on this and have not received my refund.

Hotels.com now says my voucher has expired, and they can’t do anything else for me regarding this. None of this adds up. Can you please get my $1,632 back? — Michelle Sprekelmeyer, Costa Mesa, Calif.

Answer

Hotels.com should have refunded your stay three years ago. I think you’ve just broken the record for the longest wait for a refund.

Pandemic refunds were confusing. But the confusion started before the outbreak. It looks like you split your stay into two reservations — one from April 5 to April 8 and the other for April 8 to April 10.

Splitting a reservation means more paperwork and more of a chance that something can go wrong. If that ever happens to you again — and I hope it doesn’t — it’s better to find a way to make a single reservation. Complexity is the enemy of fast refunds.

Hotels.com should have helped you from the start. Asking the Oasis for a refund would have been your backup plan, not step one. Hotels.com is your online agent, and it should have taken care of you. If the regular customer service channels don’t work, you could have reached out to an executive. I publish the names, numbers and emails of the Hotels.com customer service managers on my consumer advocacy site, Elliott.org.

So why did the hotel refund just one of your stays? I reviewed the correspondence and also spoke with Hotels.com about your case, and it’s unclear why the hotel only refunded one of your rooms. I think in the chaos of the pandemic, the second refund got overlooked. Hotels.com tried to fix the problem with a voucher, but it expired.

I contacted Hotels.com on your behalf.

“When a customer has a concern regarding their lodging, we advocate to find the best and quickest solution possible,” a representative told me. “We regret that it took longer than usual to resolve the problem with the property.”

Hotels.com issued a full refund.

Christopher Elliott is the founder of Elliott Advocacy, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that empowers consumers to solve their problems and helps those who can’t. He’s the author of numerous books on consumer advocacy and writes three nationally syndicated columns. He also publishes the Elliott Report, a news site for consumers, and Elliott Confidential, a critically acclaimed newsletter about customer service. If you have a consumer problem you can’t solve, contact him directly through his advocacy website. You can also follow him on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, or sign up for his daily newsletter.

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Christopher Elliott

Award-winning author, journalist and consumer advocate. Read me in USA Today, the Washington Post and via King Features. Email me at chris@elliott.org