Oops, wrong hotel


Question: I booked a hotel room directly through the Days Inn Web site. I thought I had reserved a room at the Days Inn in Franklin, Ind., but somehow I ended up with a room at the Days Inn in Franklin, Ky.

When I realized my mistake, I called the Days Inn in Kentucky and asked the agent to cancel my reservation. I was told there was nothing the hotel could do since my credit card charges are “handled by corporate.” I called the Days Inn customer service number, but was told that with the rate I was paying, I couldn’t cancel my room. As far as I know, the rate I booked was the only one offered on the site.

I did not get any help from customer service — just a plain “No” and an assertion that the CEO of Days Inn is very adamant about the “no cancellation” policy. But I didn’t want to cancel my reservation, only to change it to the correct Days Inn property. I won’t be able to use a room in Franklin, Ky. Is there a way to get my money back or to switch my reservation?

— Pradeep Sanghvi, Schererville, Ind.

Answer: Mistakes happen. And when they do, your hotel should help you fix them — not throw the book in your face.

To be honest, I’m not sure how anyone could have confused the two Franklins. When I request a room in Franklin from the Days Inn Web site, I’m required to enter a state from a scroll-down menu. In order to pick “Kentucky” as a state, I would have to fly past two selections: Iowa and Kansas. The Web site also displays a map of Kentucky before you make a reservation.

It’s possible that the booking interface was changed after you brought this error to Days Inn’s attention. Then again, it’s possible that you were in a big hurry when you reserved your hotel room.

Either way, most travel companies would make allowances for an honest mistake brought to their attention immediately. In fact, Days Inn’s nonrefundability policy for online bookings isn’t rigid. According to the Days Inn site, it’s up to the “cancellation policy outlined by the hotel for the rate and dates booked,” which suggests there’s more flexibility than you were told on the phone.

There are advantages to reserving hotel rooms directly through a company’s Web site. The company often offers more favorable cancellation terms or bonus award points. But if you want to be absolutely sure you’ve got the right hotel, you might consider hiring a competent travel agent.

I contacted Days Inn on your behalf and as I review the two versions of the story, I’m convinced that what we have here is just a failure to communicate. Either Days Inn didn’t understand what you were asking for or you didn’t understand what Days Inn was saying. Or both. That’s why it’s important to create a paper trail when you have a grievance — e-mail and letters to the company and its response — that spell out both your grievance and the company’s position.

In other words, next time, consider sending Days Inn an e-mail instead of calling on the telephone.

The Days Inn Franklin has canceled your reservation and your credit card will not be charged.