My Experience Canceling a Non-Refundable Hotel Room

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Every December, my parents usually take a holiday cruise to escape the Michigan winter. Surprisingly, this winter hasn’t even been severe (knock on wood), but any excuse to go on vacation is a good one. The funny thing is that the trip is almost always the same.

First, they fly down south and get a hotel for one or two nights before the cruise, to leave room for error. Then, they take a one week cruise to the Caribbean and/or Mexico, after which they fly home. There’s usually a lot of drinking, jewelry shopping, and monkeys involved somewhere in the middle (see last year’s trip report), but that’s neither here nor there.

This year was no different, other than the fact that we didn’t go with them. 🙁 Their plan was to fly down to Galveston, TX, stay there for two nights, then get on their cruise. Since, it was the holiday season, my wife and I bought their hotel for them in Galveston. It was a non-refundable hotel room at a Holiday Inn to finish my Into The Nights requirements. I’m sure you can guess where this is going…

Well, as surprises sometimes go, things changed. They now needed a hotel in Houston instead of Galveston, but as I mentioned before it was a non-refundable hotel room that I booked.

I found this information out about 24 hours after I booked the original room, so I was hoping there was some 24 hour clause or something to get me out of paying for two unused nights. There wasn’t, so I tried calling IHG. That went, uh, not so smoothly…

CSR: “Hello. Can I have your IHG rewards number?”

Me: “Sure it’s…”

CSR: “Okay, thanks. How can I help you?”

Me: “Well, I booked a non-refundable room for my parents and it turns out that I booked it in the wrong city. Is there anyway I could have that cancelled, have my money refunded, and book a different hotel?”

IHG CSR: “Sure, I can look into that. what’s the reservation number?”

Me: “It’s…”

IHG CSR: “Okay, let me pull that up… It looks like this was a non-refundable room, so by canceling, you will not be refunded. Would you like me to cancel it?”

Me: “I booked it about 24 hours ago, is there any way you can cancel it and refund the money as a one time exception?”

IHG CSR: “No.”

Me: “Can I talk to your supervisor please?”

IHG CSR: “He’s not in today.”

Me: “Do you have any suggestions for me?”

IHG CSR: “You could try calling the hotel, but I doubt they’ll be able to do anything.”

Me: “That’s not very reassuring, but I’ll give it a shot. Thanks.”

Then, I tried calling the hotel…

Hotel CSR: “Hello. What department would you like me to transfer you too?”

Me: “I’m not sure. I have a non-refundable hotel room that I was looking to cancel.”

Hotel CSR: “I’ll transfer you to Accounting.”

Me: “Okay.”

Hotel CSR: *Voicemail* “You’ve reached the accounting department. Our hours are Monday through Friday 9am to 5pm. Please leave a message or call back during those hours.”

Me: *Hang up*

This was a Sunday, but I didn’t want to wait until Monday to resolve it, so I Googled other options. Roomer came up (that’s an affiliate link). If you haven’t heard of it before, it’s basically a website that allows you to sell non-refundable hotel rooms. This is great for the seller and the buyer, since the seller gets out of the obligation and the buyer gets a really cheap room.

I started posting my hotel room, when I realized that this wouldn’t help me get the room taken care of any faster. So, I tried calling the hotel again.

Hotel CSR: “Hello. What department would you like me to transfer you too?”

Me: “The front desk please.

Hotel CSR: “One moment.”

Hotel CSR 2: “Hello, how can I help you?”

Me: “Hi, I made a non-refundable hotel reservation with your hotel last night and I found out that I booked the wrong city. This is a gift for my parents, so I would really appreciate it if you could help me cancel the room and refund my money.”

Hotel CSR 2: “What’s the reservation number?”

Me: “It’s…”

Hotel CSR 2: “It looks like it’s a non-refundable reservation, so if I cancel it, it will charge you.”

Me: “Is there anyway you can make an exception and not charge me?”

Hotel CSR 2: “My computer won’t let me.”

Me: “Can I talk to your manager please?”

Hotel CSR 2: “She’s not in on the weekends, but we have an acting manager in.”

Me: “Okay, transfer me to them then please.”

Hotel CSR 2: “Okay.”

Hotel CSR 3: “Hello, how can I help you?”

Me: “Hi, I made a non-refundable reservation yesterday for my parents and I found out that they needed a reservation in a different city. Is there anyway you could cancel the reservation and refund my money?”

Hotel CSR 3: “What’s your reservation number?”

Me: “It’s…”

Hotel CSR 3: “Unfortunately, that’s a non-refundable hotel room reservation, so you will be charged if I cancel it.”

Me: “Right, but, is there any…”

Hotel CSR 3: “Hold on, it looks like your card wasn’t charged yet, so I’ll just cancel it.”

Me: “So, I won’t be charged?”

Hotel CSR 3: “You shouldn’t be. I just cancelled it.

Me: “Great, thanks!”

Hotel CSR 3: “You’re welcome. Have a great day!”

I was super excited to hear this, but it still had me worried, since she just cancelled it willy-nilly. So, to be on the safe side, I checked my credit card account. There was no charge, but it still had me worried, so I called the bank and reported my card lost. They then sent me a new card with a new number.

I kept a watch on my account from then until the day of the old reservation and I’m happy to report that I wasn’t charged. One thing that was interesting was that I still received recurring charges to that account from the old number even after I had my new card. So, if they ended up charging me, it still would’ve likely showed up on my account.

Have you ever tried canceling a non-refundable hotel room? If so, what was your experience like?


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