Q: I made a reservation on the Ramada corporate Web site for what I believed was an unbelievable promotional rate at the Hollywood Beach, Fla., Ramada. I tried it from two different computers, on two different days before booking my room, because I thought it was too good to be true. But the room was confirmed by e-mail and held on my credit card.
When I arrived at the property, the hotel had my reservation but when I was presented the room rate, it was $90 more than the price I had confirmed. The front desk refused to honor the rate I had booked, despite having proof of the rate and two printed confirmations. Then the front-desk employee refused to let me speak with a manager and asked security to take back the sign-in card I had which showed she was charging me $90 more.
I went to a payphone and called Ramada corporate customer service, which then called the hotel to tell them to honor the rate. Despite being told by Ramada corporate to honor the rate, she still refused and still would not let me speak with a manager. She said it was a mistake. I said, “It’s your mistake, not mine and you have to honor this.”
Ramada corporate refused to find me another Ramada property nearby which could honor the rate. I was appalled that it had no more influence over its franchise properties than it did and did nothing more than say the complaint would be registered and I could expect a response within a week. This despite the fact that Ramada corporate confirmed, again while I was speaking with it, that I indeed had a reservation at the rate given in an e-mail confirmation and in the Web site printout.
I ended up driving around for an hour, calling Travelocity and searching for a hotel property by cell phone in a place I’d never visited before. By the time I’d finished talking with Ramada customer service and trying to see what they would do, I ended up in Fort Lauderdale at midnight at a Days Inn, which, by the way, was much cleaner and friendlier.
I’ve never had such a terrible experience while traveling. It really put a bummer on the start of a vacation. Can you tell me what happened to that Internet rate?
— Matt Turner
A: Something went wrong at the Hollywood Beach Ramada. Very, very wrong. When the front-desk employee doesn’t call her manager and summons security instead, you know she’s watched one episode too many of “Fawlty Towers.”
“It appears that our franchisee simply did not honor the guaranteed rate, which, needless to say, is against our policy,” says Emanuel Naim, a spokesman for Ramada’s parent company, Cendant. “We’re investigating this instance of non-compliance.”
Naim is sorry for the way you were treated, but he’s also relieved that you found a better experience at the Days Inn, which also happens to be owned by Cendant. That’s a good thing for you, Matt, because in addition to offering you a $70 gift certificate, redeemable at any Ramada hotel in the United States and Canada, Naim is reimbursing you the $68.82 room charge at the Days Inn.
So that’s two free nights, which, after what you’ve endured, you definitely deserve.
You did everything you could to prevent this. You made a printout of your online reservation and brought it along. When the hotel employee wouldn’t budge on the price, you asked for a manager and then appealed to the corporate reservations department. When that didn’t work, you took your business elsewhere and then filed a complaint.
In retrospect, could you have done anything else to prevent this from happening? I doubt it. My standard recommendation – to leave the hotel and return when there’s a more agreeable front-desk worker – wouldn’t have done you much good, considering the time of day you were checking in. You might as well have slept in your car.
The only other precaution you might have taken would have been to call the hotel to confirm your rate over the phone. But that probably wouldn’t have prevented the disagreement – only given you more time to make other arrangements.