Question: I’m having a problem with a hotel honoring a room rate. I tried to book three nights at the Hilton Imperial Dubrovnik in Croatia, but for some reason the Web site wouldn’t accept my dates. So I phoned Hilton’s toll-free number, and was offered a rate of 181 euros a night. No one asked me how many people were staying in the room.
Hilton e-mailed me a confirmation and I prepaid the three-night stay for the room by credit card. Then I realized that I needed to add another night to my stay for the night before our return flight, so I called back. I was told that I could get an extra night at the same rate. They didn’t send an e-mail confirmation this time.
When my credit card statement arrived, I was surprised to see that the charges from Hilton were more than $260 higher than what they had quoted. The best explanation Hilton could offer was that there was a different rate for two people in the room. That didn’t make any sense. I had always planned to travel with my husband, there had been no mention of a “double” rate, and my reservation indicates nothing about the number of people in the room.
Why is Hilton not honoring my quoted rate?
— Sheri Siegel, San Francisco
Answer: I can think of several reasons why you were charged more for your room than you expected. None of them are valid.
Hotel reservations are managed by clever computer programs that set room rates according to demand. Maybe the fourth day of your stay fell on a holiday or a weekend, and the price of your room went up. But if that happened, a phone agent should have told you about the higher price.
It’s also possible that the hotel has a different rate when a room is shared. Some resorts in Europe do that. But if that were true, then the hotel would need to disclose that information when you called. I couldn’t find any evidence of a special double-occupancy policy on the Hilton Imperial Dubrovnik Web site, and an online search for its room rates found that they were quoted for two.
A third possibility is that the phone agenct misunderstood what you were saying or just typed your reservation wrong, maybe booking you in a higher room category. But if that had happened, Hilton would have been able to fix it easily.
You could have prevented this misunderstanding by asking for a new confirmation to be e-mailed to you instead of relying on the word of a phone agent. If you’d had a confirmation with your room rate, you could have easily adjusted your credit card charge. And if that didn’t work, you could have initiated a successful credit card dispute.
You might also consider using a travel agent next time. You’ll get a good rate — maybe even better than the one you find online — and you can be sure you’re getting exactly what you asked for.
I contacted Hilton on your behalf. A hotel representative apologized to you for the misunderstanding. You were told that the hotel charges a different rate for two guests, which is why your bill was higher. Still, since that wasn’t clearly disclosed when you booked your room, Hilton will honor the 181 euro rate and has even upgraded your room.