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I used Hotels.com to book two hotels in New York one at the beginning of my holiday (in August 2007) and one at the end and I ended up with two very different experiences.
I booked the first New York hotel for one night while I was still in England and was pleased to have a smooth hassle free transaction. The hotel was excellent, I could not fault it for the price, clean, quiet, friendly staff and a lovely breakfast the next day.
After such a pleasant smooth experience I decided towards the end of my holiday to book another hotel near the airport the night before I flew back home and therefore used an internet café in New York to make my booking. Once again another smooth transaction online.
When I arrived at the hotel I was told there was a power cut and they were not checking anyone in. After speaking to a member of staff who was very rude (probably due to the situation) he told me to find my own alternate accommodation, when I asked him about my refund for this hotel he told me he had informed Hotels.com so a refund should not be a problem. I felt lost and confused as I did not know the area at all and was worried where I would find another hotel with a room available, lucky the driver from the free pick up bus found me another hotel near the airport.
When I arrived back in England I checked my emails to find an email from Hotels.com informing me of the power cut but this was too late as I had already paid for alternative accommodation. I then phoned hotels.com (on their 10p per minute telephone line) after waiting several minutes on hold I was told to send a fax explaining the situation with a copy of my invoice for the hotel I actually stayed at, which I did the following day from my local library (costing my £1.50).
I phoned Hotels.com the following day to be put on hold again for another several minutes to eventually be told the person dealing with my case was not working today. The following day I received a phone call from Hotels.com who informed me that they had not received my fax, I therefore faxed them again (another £1.50). I phoned Hotels.com the same day and after being on hold again I was told the fax had been received and I should have my refund by the end of the week/ beginning of next week.
After I week I still had not received my refund and my credit card bill needed paying soon so I phoned them again to find out what is happening. I was told that they were still sorting it out and she would phone me back within the next hour to tell what was happening with my refund. I waited and waited but now one phoned me.
After 2 faxes, 4 phone calls costing approx £20 to Hotels.com and promises of a refund I received nothing from them.
I then phoned my credit card company the following day and informed them of what had happened they very kindly told me they would take on my case, freeze the amount Hotels.com had charged and they would try and get this situation resolved.
I checked my bank account online on 12th December 2007 and I have received my refund through the credit card company. It has taken approximately 4 months but I am glad I have received the refund. I think if I had continued trying to get Hotels.com to give me a refund I would still be waiting and would have racked up a big phone bill.
My advice to anyone is use your credit card when booking though Hotel.com, when things are going well it is excellent but if things go bad don't expect a refund in a hurry!