A Small Travel Rant

I am, with great happiness, planning a trip to Argentina. I got all giddy and excited about it one day and sort of went off, unauthorized-like, and booked some hotels. I used Expedia, because I find their user interface very pleasant and easy and because they integrate reviews from TripAdvisor, which I tend to trust. I found a great, cheap hotel in Buenos Aries called the Art Factory that I’m so excited to see in person and then I found what seemed to be a great hotel near Iguazu Falls. Click, boom, done and done.

And then like three days later I took a look at my receipt for the Iguazu Falls hotel and saw a) that they had an “extra guest” fee on there (for a second person in a two-person room) and b) that I had booked our check-out day one day too late.

These things were both my fault. I should have checked the final price as I was busily clicking through during my purchase, and I definitely should have triple-checked my dates. These are things that I know but that I didn’t do because I got caught up in finding a great deal and being all happy about going on a big trip.

But there was a simple solution. It was a refundable room. I could just call Expedia and get them to fix it. So I did. And I got a real person on the phone very quickly. A real person who was completely unable to solve my problem.

The extra person fee, I know, is a thing the hotel tacks on. So I asked, but I knew there was little or nothing they could do about that. I wasn’t surprised to hear an “I’m sorry” there. But I figured making the stay one day shorter would be easy as pie. (OK, pie is actually very hard. Easy as cake.)

I was so, so wrong.

I was told that they couldn’t change my dates because there wasn’t another room available at that price. I explained that I didn’t need another room; I just needed the room I already had for a little less time. She said that the best she could do was that I could just show up at the hotel, leave early, and then when I came home from the trip, I could call Expedia and see if they would give me a refund for an early departure. That seemed… less than ideal. This was the point that I asked for a manager. She did not get a manager. She put me on hold. And then came back and said she’d call the hotel and see what she could do. OK, that’s progress. I was on hold for 10 minutes or so. She came back and asked me to keep waiting. Another 10 minutes. Again asked me to keep waiting. Put on hold again.

During this time, I was on their site, searching for other hotel options. I found another, slightly shoddier hotel, that was a little bit cheaper and did not have any “extra guest” fee. I booked it for the right dates this time. By the time the lady came back again to ask me to keep waiting, I told her to forget about it.

Now, I admit: this was a problem of my own making. I should have been more careful. But you’d think something as basic as changing one date on a hotel–especially shortening a stay by a day–should be really simple to accomplish. You’d think that. But you’d be wrong.