A worst western vacation


Q: I recently booked eight nights at the Best Western River North in Chicago over the New Year’s holiday. I selected a room with two double beds and was quoted a rate of $80.10 a night on the Internet.

New Year’s Eve was a nightmare. We were put up on the top floor with all the other rooms full of twenty-something guests, ready to party all night. We were up until 4:30 a.m. until all the doors stopped slamming and the yelling had died down.

At checkout, I was shocked to find out I had been charged $150 for that night. I also learned that our eight nights had been ineligible for frequent-stayer points because we got a discounted AAA rate.

We complained, but Best Western has been stonewalling us. How could it offer that room, with no caveats, at $80.10 per night and then change its rate?

— Eileen Glennon-Kean

A: Now that’s what I call a horrible hotel stay. First you get a room on a noisy floor. Then the property raises its rate and denies you the points you’ve earned. Never mind the part about giving you the cold shoulder.

Best Western? They should call it “Worst Western” after your experience.

Here’s how you could have prevented this from happening. When you made your reservation online, you should have made a printout of the rate, along with the terms. That doesn’t necessarily mean the hotel will honor the price, but a printout makes it far easier to adjust your bill.

There’s no excuse for taking your points away from you. Those were yours. Again, making a hard copy of your reservation might have made it easier to solve this problem. Most itineraries normally include the number of bonus points you received for your stay, and yours probably would have, too.

You should have also called the hotel before you arrived and mentioned that you wanted a quiet room. After all, New Year’s Eve is a time when most people cut loose. It’s also one of those holidays when hotels are running at full occupancy, so the sooner you let the property know of your preference, the better.

As for the stonewalling, Best Western should have been more responsive. And when I called, it was. After looking into your case, hotel spokesman David Trumble acknowledged that you had a “bad experience,” and apologized for it. “There were a lot of things that happened that shouldn’t have,” he told me.

No kidding.

Best Western credited your missing points and issued you a $75 gift card, which is valid for a future stay at one of its hotels. It also sent you a letter apologizing for any inconvenience you had while staying at the River North property.

Why not an outright credit for $69.90 – the difference between what you thought you’d be billed on New Year’s and what you paid? In speaking with Trumble, I was left with the impression that when you made your reservation, the Web site clearly indicated you would pay $150 per night on New Year’s Eve.

Since you couldn’t prove you were quoted a rate of $80.10 per night for all eight nights, it decided not to issue a refund. In other words, he offered a compromise.

That works for me.