Advice: Check emails confirming travel plans for possible errors

Last August, Sandy Callahan booked a package tour with G Adventures. It started in Hanoi, Vietnam, on Oct. 29 and ended in Bangkok, Thailand, on Nov. 14.

The same day, she went to online travel agency Expedia to book a flight from Toronto to Hanoi and a return flight from Bangkok to Toronto.

Expedia suggested she find a hotel, so she reserved a room at the O’Gallery Premier Hotel & Spa in Hanoi in advance of the tour.

“I booked what I thought was a one-night stay,” she said. “I briefly noticed that the total was over $1,000, but I thought that my flight and hotel were combined. I normally book a flight and hotel with Expedia, but this was not a simple return flight.”

Six hours later, the hotel in Hanoi sent an email, confirming that she had a reservation for 17 days in total.

“I was shocked to discover the length of stay was not what I had input,” she said. “Expedia’s customer service rep tried to contact the hotel, but couldn’t reach anyone with the authority to change the reservation.”

A day later, Expedia sent her an email, blaming the hotel for making a non-refundable booking.

“We have advocated your case with O’Gallery Premier Hotel & Spa,” the online travel agency said. “Due to their policy, they have unfortunately denied your request of cancelling your reservation.

“We apologize for the inconvenience this may have caused. We hope you will give us an opportunity to assist you with your travel plans again soon.”

Callahan waited six weeks. Expedia told her it would plead with the hotel to change the refund policy in her case or find other travellers to take over her reservation. No luck.

She got a refund of about $1,300 a few days after I contacted Expedia’s Canadian office in late September. I’ve had excellent results dealing with this company on behalf of Toronto Star readers in 2019 and again in 2017.

“We connected with the hotel, advocated on the traveller’s behalf and have gone ahead and processed a refund for 16 of the 17 nights,” Expedia spokesperson Mary Zajac said.

Expedia’s advice for travellers is (1) Double check confirmation emails at the time of booking; and (2) Make sure everything you expected is reflected correctly when you check out or when the email is sent to you.

I agree. Reviewing confirmation emails ASAP lets you correct errors without incurring a penalty. But in this case, there was a gap of only six hours.

“This should have been a small enough lapse to grant me a change in what was obviously an error originating with Expedia,” Callahan said.

“I feel they should have been more persuasive in getting the hotel to change the reservation, since they have the full clout of Expedia.com, Hotels.com and more.

“I am an Expedia Gold customer and I expected more from them.”

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