Sorry, we've overbooked

So I pre-pay for a hotel room three weeks in advance online. Then I show up and am told:

  • They have no room for me because they overbooked
  • It’s not their fault, I’d have to take it up with Orbitz
  • Don’t worry, your credit card won’t be charged

This conversation took place through a glass barrier. They made no attempt to help me find another hotel until I insisted, at which point they grudgingly handed me the yellow pages. I ended up in a hotel costing more than $100 above the one I had reserved.

The next day I find out my credit card was indeed charged at the time I made the reservation. I call back the hotel and get the manager’s wife, who complains to me that they live at the hotel and work very long hours.


I’d appreciate suggestions on how to make their lives miserable. I’ve already protested the charge with my credit card company. Tomorrow I’ll be calling the better business bureau and the airline through which I made the reservation. I’m thinking a minor Facebook campaign, complete with their address and names? What else for these lying scumbags?

Well for starters, did you take it up with Orbitz? Many of those websites guarantee your reservations, and would have gotten you another room for the agreed upon price. Also, you’re probably not the only one to book them through Orbitz, and if they’re blacklisted by them, it will probably hurt they’re business more than a Facebook campaign.

Of course, by getting your own room instead of calling the booking agency, you might have made any other fixes impossible.

So it was MY fault that I actually took steps to get another room?! Seemed to me that if the first hotel was booked up I should move quickly in case the others nearby were getting toward full too.

A pre-paid reservation was not honored, I was lied to and treated rudely to boot. So look for another victim to blame, because I’m not the bad guy in this situation. I think it was either the douchebags who ran the place, the whole idiocy of “overbooking” (done by hotels and airlines somehow legally) or both.

There’s no conflict between taking steps to get another room and taking it up with Orbitz. a) Orbitz might have gotten you a room pronto, and b) you can *still *take it up with Orbitz.

Tell her to say hi to Basil for me.

Your contract was with Orbitz, not the hotel. This happens a lot with the online agencies. At many hotels, you can not even get a receipt for the room - since all charges were processed through Orbitz, and then a payment made indirectly to the hotel.

That said, if you are staying at a place with guarded entry - you do not get the conceirge level service of booking a replacement room.

Pretty much ALL hotels overbook. I’m not saying it’s fair or right or a good business practice or whatever, but the vast majority do it, so to be frank there’s little you can do that’s going to seriously affect them with the Better Business Bureau.

That said, when I was a desk clerk many years ago (nightmare job on bad days) and we overbooked (and Godamighty how I hated those nights), it was always our policy to find the person another room as close to us in quality/price as possible. When I worked for Marriott, which was generally a class act when and where I worked for them, they would pay for the room at the other hotel even if it wasn’t pre-paid so long as it was guaranteed.

The fact your reservation was pre-paid rather than just guaranteed is I think the best thing in your favor. The “not our fault, our policy is…” part is a line of bullshit that every single hotel owner knows is a line of bullshit and that they know the guest knows is a line of bullshit. There is never any excuse for selling a room that’s already been paid for and I would raise hell with Orbitz and with the hotel company (assuming this was a chain), but I’d go through the company rather than Ma and Pa Manager (which is one of the worst ideas on Earth but several chains still do it) as their hands really are tied and their answers will just be more scripted bullshit that’ll just piss you off anyway. I think you deserve some free room vouchers out of this.

Was this an America’s Best Inn or Extended Stay Inn by any chance? I got those a couple of times through Priceline and they have easily the shittiest customer service and go out of their way to hire the worst possible dumbasses to run them.
I think they were counted as 2.5 stars on Priceline and I’d had decent luck with 2.5 star properties (usually Holiday Inn level) but now I always go at least 3 (Holiday Inn Express level) to avoid those places.

um try again.

read up on fun fun terms such as:
-privity of contract
-assignment of contract
-delegation of contract
-third party beneficiary
before you start bleating about shit you clearly don’t know fuck all about.

is the practice of hotel overbooking relatively new in your experience? I am of the belief that it is, and it seems one of the Dumber Things in Life.

I can’t imagine a hotel that has fully booked up can make wise predictions about the show-up behavior of its clients as is the case in airline travel, and I can’t imagine that many hotels are booked up enough that this is a long-run smart idea.

It just seems like some stupid MBA type’s genius plan to increase top-line growth and synergize the chain’s core competencies.

missed edit window: yes, it is technically true that you don’t have a contract with the hotel, but it’s such a meaningless statement.

For a meaningless statement, it sure impacted the OP.

no, it sure didn’t.

Trip Advisor reviews can have a pretty negative impact on business, apparently.

I honestly don’t know whether the hotel owner/manager was at fault here or not, but…

In my experience - front desk and management with about a dozen hotels through the years - Orbitz is notorious for screwing up people’s travel plans. Some hotels receive (or don’t receive) their Orbitz reservations via fax, and the booking agency doesn’t seem to have any confirmation procedures for those reservations. If the fax machine is down or has a glitch, the front desk may not receive the reservation at all. Other property management system interfaces don’t always play well with the Orbitz system, so there can be anywhere from a 10 minute to a 24-hour delay between the time a reservation is made with Orbitz and the time it’s received by the hotel. (Meanwhile, of course, the rooms may resell.) Orbitz is also bad about overbooking their nightly allotments - maybe through simul-booking, maybe through incompetence.

And, of course, the hotel front desk may be at fault - even innocently. Sure, a lot of hotels overbook intentionally, because they are counting on a small percentage of cancellations. Other times, the manager is in the office punching in the faxed reservations while the front desk clerk is selling the same room to the walk-in or phone caller.

The point is? There are lots of things that can go wrong. Orbitz is the service that has your money - if you pre-paid, you paid them. Call Orbitz and figure out what’s up before deciding who’s at fault. (And, in my experience, take Orbitz’ rep’s claims with a grain of salt. They’re not always authorized to accept responsibility for something they screwed up…)

These days I always follow up an online booking with a phone call to the hotel in question to verify that everything’s jake.

Even when I go through my corporate booking website to the same Marriott where I stay on my regular trips to the Mother Ship, they drop my Marriott Rewards number as often as not, and that simple act will result in me getting whatever crappy room they have left over when I roll in late. So, I call ahead and verify that they have my reservation and the number, and they usually assign the room right on the phone (at least they pretend to).

Anyway, to the OP, if the hotel was a class joint, it’s inexcusable to treat a customer this way, no matter where the booking came from. You have my sympathy.
If it wasn’t a class joint, they still shouldn’t wash their hands of it, but that’s part of why they aren’t a class joint.

Then move out of your manager’s suite for the night and find yourself another hotel because you overbooked, I didn’t!

There is one thing you can do. What’s the name of the hotel? I’m gonna be traveling soon and I’d like to know who to avoid.

Seriously, TripAdvisor - lots of stories about that recently.

Bingo. The OP’s beef should lie with Orbitz, not the hotel. It’s entirely possible that the hotel never even received a request for a reservation, or if they did, that they ever confirmed availability with Orbitz.

If you used Orbitz to book the hotel, and you have an issue with the booking, you need to speak with Orbitz – not the front desk clerk who likely has no idea what you’re talking about.

For more Orbitz hotel-related horror stories (though there’s no shortage of incidents with Travelocity or Expedia, for that matter), check out