Bob Slattery booked a room at La Maltese Estate Villa, a hotel that exudes the ambience of a privileged “members only” private club in Santorini, Greece. The rate? An unbelievable $110 per night, snagged through the site Vacationist.com.
Too good to be true, right? Right.
It shouldn’t have been, though. A few weeks before his trip, he received a call from Vacationist.
She informed me that the dates I had picked — May 25 to 29 — should have been blocked out on their site when I booked the room.
She offered me two other hotels currently available on Vacationist that don’t compare to La Maltese.
What would you ask for, considering the circumstances?
Slattery says he was careful to check the La Maltese website before he booked the room with Vacationist. The Superior Double Room with a Caldera View room was available on the hotel website when he booked it with Vacationist. But it was priced at 340 Euro a night.
When I read that, I thought: Uh-oh, not another fat-finger rate.
Slattery contacted both Vacationist and the property, and he did some more digging. He found the room he booked was available on Venere.com and several other sites.
Also, almost every date in May is available on the Vacationist site except my dates and the Friday and Saturday before. Interestingly, the room price on Vacationist is $322 per night now instead of the $110 I paid.
My best guess is that someone loaded the wrong price at Vacationist and instead of honoring my reservation and taking the hit on the difference they decided to cancel my reservation.
Slattery is disappointed, and rightfully so. The terms on Vacationist say purchases are nonrefundable and no cancellations or notifications are allowed.
“I guess that only applies if the customer has to change something,” he told me. “Not when they have to.”
Vacationist responded to his inquiry with the following email:
I regret the misinformation you received. The incorrect rates were loaded into the system and when noticed was updated. As a customer service gesture, the Vacationist agent refunded your ticket and submitted $100 credit into your Vacationist account. Please email me after your next purchase and I will have it credited to you.
That’s a decent gesture, but is it enough?
I can see both sides. The hotel would be on the hook for several hundred dollars if it honored the rate. Offering the rebook Slattery in a different hotel and crediting him $100 seems like it’s meeting him halfway.
On the other hand, had Slattery decided he made a mistake and wanted to cancel, then Vacationist wouldn’t have been so understanding, and neither would his credit card, which would have almost certainly sided with the only travel agency in a dispute.
I might side with Vacationist if Slattery were one of those fat-finger trolls who hangs our on FlyerTalk and intentionally books zero fares, but there’s no evidence of that. He found this deal, fair and square.
Is a $100 credit enough?
Update: Vacationist responds:
At Vacationist, our member’s satisfaction is our first priority. We sincerely apologize for the experience this customer had with booking a hotel stay using our service.
We did make a mistake in loading our specially allocated inventory and rates on the site, and we’re sorry that this caused any inconvenience. Unfortunately the dates this particular customer chose were considered “black-out dates” and were never available to Vacationist. We immediately corrected the problem once we detected it, and informed the traveler as to why his dates were not available, and apologized directly to him.
Our Vacationist team has worked with this individual to not only assist with offering other hotels as options, but also offer him credit towards any Vacationist package. In addition, we worked with other luxury hotels in the area to secure these dates at the same rate and with an equal room grade for the customer so that the caliber of the booking would remain whole. Unfortunately, the customer chose not to take advantage of these offers, and we issued a full refund plus a credit on file.
We worked with each and every customer affected by this rate confusion honoring all bookings at the posted rated and absorbing the difference ourselves.
We value all of our customers and work diligently to ensure we provide great value and great service to each and every member of Vacationist. Despite our policy of no refunds, changes or cancellations, we work with customers every single day to resolve these types of issues when we’re able to ensure a pleasant travel experience.
(Photo: She lby PDX/Flickr Creative Commons)