When booking a hotel for a stay in a foreign land, you have a lot of choices, unfortunately one of those choice that seems to pop up and tempt you with low prices is hotels.com. Let me start off by saying I have booked many stays all over the world, I usually use Orbitz for hotels or HostelWorld for hostels. I have never had any issue with these other services, they have always been top notch when there is a problem with a hotel and always resolve the problem in a satisfactory manner. This was the first time, and the last time I will ever use hotels.com as they are the exact opposite.
The reason I used hotels.com was simply because they had the lowest price by a wide margin. I will usually use Orbitz but because this was a last minute booking the price differences were huge. When we arrived in Berlin to try and get to the hotel we booked, we were shocked to find out the Berlin Marathon was happening that weekend. This meant a lot of road closures, even worse, the roads to our hotel, City Inn, were all closed. Usually this isn’t a problem but since we had a vehicle, we needed to park it at the hotel and weren’t about to park it at some seedy parking garage as the employee originally suggested which was 5 km away!
We tried calling City Inn to try and find a way to the hotel, we figured if anyone knew what roads would be opened, it would be the staff at our hotel. The staff member that answered the phone was helpful at first, originally suggesting a parking garage over 5 km away. This wasn’t acceptable to us, we booked this hotel specially for the parking garage, we weren’t about to leave our rental car so far away in an area that wasn’t safe. After a few minutes of explainig why we didn’t want to park so far away, he began guiding us towards the hotel from what was our current location but once again, we hit a road closure. After a few more minutes of him trying to navigate us around the closures, he simply gave up and hung up on us. We tried calling City Inn again and once the employee realized it was us, he hung up.
We called back once again to ask to speak to a manager and were yet again hung up on. The individual hung up on us a total of 3 times simply because he refused to assist us to get to the hotel! This was unacceptable and since it was getting late, we decided to stop at the first hotel we saw a little further from the city center which ended up being a Budget Ibis.
Since we no longer required the City Inn reservations, we sent an email to hotels.com explaining the situation but never received a response. After arriving home, I contacted American Express to reverse the charge since we had not received any response from hotels.com. Let me make this clear, if you cannot get to a hotel that you purchased and it is not the fault of your own, i.e. every road to the hotel is closed and the staff at the hotel refuses to assist, it is the right of the customer for a full refund. It is one thing to book a hotel and not show up because you decided you no longer want it but it’s another when there is no possible route to the hotel.
Hotels.com ended up fighting the chargeback (of course) and winning. Surprising because they didn’t seem to have any interest in responding to our emails but if it’s going to cost them money, all of the sudden they respond. We are out $221.98 as they charged us for the FULL booking. Neither City Inn nor Hotels.com have attempted to assist us in refunding the $221.98 for a hotel room we couldn’t use. Any other service would have gladly refunded you the full amount if the Hotel was not as described, not in operation, or there was no way to get to the hotel but not hotels.com.
I recommend never using hotels.com, they will not assist you in the least but should your booking have a problem, you will receive nothing but radio silence. Emails to their customer service department go unanswered and calling their only available phone number, in Ireland will cost a fortune. I would have called their customer service number had I thought the complaint would have yielded something but there are many other horror stories out there of being on hold for HOURS and then being hung up on when you do finally get through to a real human.
I would equate hotels.com to a scam, they are more than happy to take your money but if you need anything other than to pay them, they will have zero interest in assisting you. Stay away from hotels.com unless you enjoy flushing your money down the toilet and receive nothing in return. Customer service is awful from any European company, you are better off using an American company for booking hotels, you have more rights and they treat customers right.