Get your money back: Third-party booking sites slow to refund money for hotels that were closed during the storm

HOUSTON – As families with no electricity tried to stay warm last week, some of them checked into hotels with heat. Others, though, paid for rooms they didn’t get. Now they’re calling consumer expert Amy Davis for help to get that much-needed money back.

Third-party booking sites like Travelocity, Expedia and Priceline let people reserve and pay for rooms online, but when people showed up at hotels last week, they found them closed with no power.

Getting the money back has been a challenge.

“We were already in a blackout. We had no lights,” explained Angela Worthington, who lives on Galveston Island. “And I have an 8-year-old at home and a pregnant daughter so we decided to just go ahead and look at hotel options.”

Online, they found a room through Agoda, a booking site owned by Priceline.

They paid $65.37 for one night at a Country Inn and Suites on the island. They immediately drove to the hotel to check in, but found it closed. A manager at the hotel tells KPRC 2 they were closed because they had no electricity for three nights.

Worthington’s reservation, along with dozens of others were canceled. The manager said they never received any money from Agoda for Worthington’s reservation. Any refunds will have to come from Agoda or Priceline. Worthington tried to cancel her reservation and request a refund online, but she says her refund was denied. She then filed a dispute with her card company, but since she used her debit card, the funds are not available to her now.

“Bills still have to be paid and that $65 is now out of my mouth,” said Worthington.

Worthington is not alone. The manager at Country Inn and Suites told KPRC 2 she answered almost 50 emails from Priceline Sunday as it is trying to get to the bottom of refund requests.

The same thing happened to me. While reporting in Pearland Monday morning, I booked rooms at the Hampton Inn for myself and a photographer so we wouldn’t have to brave the icy roads back to Houston. But at the end of our shift, we found the Hampton Inn closed because it had no electricity. Travelocity, which also owns Expedia, has been slow to grant our refund of $172.

Travelocity/Expedia Response

In an email, a representative wrote:

“As we assess weather impacts, Travelocity will provide updates from our hotel, airline, and other travel partners as they are made available to us. If you have booked travel and are unable to reach an on-site hotel representative, please contact Travelocity customer service representatives for immediate assistance. We can be reached at +1(855)-863-9601 or online at travelocity.Com for 24/7 service.”

If this happens to you, you should also dispute the charge with your credit card company. Agoda has yet to reply to my email about Worthington’s refund. We’ll follow up and let you know what happens.

About the Author:

Passionate consumer advocate, mom of 3, addicted to coffee, hairspray and pastries.