We booked two hotel rooms in Amsterdam on the Expedia website. When the confirmation arrived it showed the wrong dates. We had double checked that we’d submitted them correctly and my partner rang within five minutes of the booking to get it rectified. Customer services said there may have been a computer “glitch”, but concluded the hotel would have taken the payment and there was nothing it could do.

The hotel said it had not yet received notification of our booking and that Expedia could stop the payment. They didn’t. The £689.72 was taken from my account three days later. Expedia said this was because the payment was non refundable under the hotel’s terms and conditions and relied on a screenshot of the booking confirmation rather than the original form to claim the fault was ours.

It’s incredible that a company as huge as Expedia does not allow amendments within, say, the first two hours. I do wonder how much money is made from such mistakes.

AP, Norwich

Under the Consumer Contracts Regulations, you have 14 days to cancel a service ordered online but the rules, unfortunately, do not apply to hotel or airline bookings.

If the online giant did make the mistake it’s not admitting it.

Nor does it explain why it insisted the hotel’s non-refundable policy applied when the hotel had yet to receive the reservation. Instead, it passed the buck to the hotel, insisting it should make any refund despite the fact it did not receive the money until three days later.

And it wouldn’t be drawn on why it does not insist all its providers allow a small window for amendments, merely stating that it knows customers “appreciate flexibility”.

“We know plans change and we do our best to work with customers to find a resolution,” it says. “However, cancellation policies are set by hotel partners, including non-refundable room rates. For non-refundable rooms, should you wish to change or cancel a room for any reason, the hotel may not refund your original payment. This is outlined in the booking process.”

However, happily for you, it decided to refund you as a goodwill gesture.

If you need help email Anna Tims at your.problems@observer.co.uk or write to Your Problems, The Observer, Kings Place, 90 York Way, London N1 9GU. Include an address and phone number. Submission and publication are subject to our terms and conditions


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