By Christopher Elliott Travel columnist
Tribune Media Services
updated 4/22/2008 11:14:52 AM ET 2008-04-22T15:14:52
TRAVEL TROUBLESHOOTER

I have two problems with Expedia that I was hoping you could help me sort out. I booked a stay at an all-inclusive hotel in Cancun called The Royal. We paid extra specifically for a corner suite, which, according to advertising on the resort’s site and Expedia, entitled me to a “two-sided ocean view” and an “assigned” beach cabana.

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When we arrived, our second side view was of the rooftop of another hotel. The assigned cabanas have been nonexistent for more than a year. All guests must battle it out for a cabana, first come first serve.

When I complained to the general manager he was unsympathetic and would not refund the difference in price between the next lower-priced room that did not offer these two features, and what we paid. The Royal has been unresponsive to me and to Expedia, which attempted to intervene on my behalf.

I tried to post a review on Expedia, but it flatly refused to publish it. I have followed its rules, but it has repeatedly told me it won’t post my write-up because I’m not following the rules. Expedia won’t tell me which rule I didn’t follow.

I firmly believe Expedia has a policy of not posting unflattering reviews of properties it represents. I know for a fact from other sites that others who rented my same class of room ran into the exact same set of lies and refusal to address the grievance and none are posted on Expedia. Can you help me get my money back and publish the post?
— Bob Ledford, Seattle

A: Expedia should have given you the room it promised, and if it couldn’t, it should have issued a quick refund and published your comments on its site.

When you noticed your accommodations were not what you had expected, you immediately asked the resort to address your problem. Good move. You also contacted your online travel agent, asking for help.

Expedia guarantees that the hotels it sells will meet your expectations. Have a look at its “Expedia Promise,” which assures you that “you can depend on our information.” To me, your story sounds like a promise not kept.

I think you could have been a little bit firmer with both the hotel and Expedia. Rather than working the phones from your room, you might have removed your belongings from your quarters, parked yourself at the front desk and politely requested that you be moved to your proper room and shown your private cabana. If there were no other rooms, then it was time to either re-negotiate your room rate with Expedia’s help or check into a resort that would meet your requirements.

I asked Expedia about its posting rules. The agency said it prohibits the use of “vulgar or inappropriate language, discussing refunds or pursuits of a refund, naming any Expedia or hotel staff or discussing your conversations with Expedia and/or hotel staff.” None of your comments appeared to violate its rules.

Expedia reviewed your case and determined that your review had been “temporarily declined” so that the online agency could verify the information you provided and make any necessary changes. It says your write-up was in the queue awaiting approval and by the time you read this, should be on the site.

The company also refunded $378 — the difference in price between the room you booked and the next room type down.

Christopher Elliott is the ombudsman for National Geographic Traveler magazine and the host of “What You Get For The Money: Vacations” on the Fine Living Network. E-mail him at celliott@ngs.org.

© 2007 Christopher Elliott ... Distributed by Tribune Media Services, Inc.

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