Travel Troubleshooter: Help, my bed & breakfast doesn’t have a bathroom!

DEAR TRAVEL TROUBLESHOOTER: I booked a room at a bed-and-breakfast in New Albany, Indiana, through SuperTravel, an Expedia affiliate. When I arrived, I discovered that the room didn’t have an attached bathroom. You had to go downstairs to access the bathroom. The SuperTravel website did not tell us about this.

Christopher Elliott, the Travel Troubleshooter 

We asked for a refund, but SuperTravel refused, citing its no-refunds policy. I contend that what we purchased was not what they provided; therefore, it wasn’t subject to the no-refund policy.

I have initiated a dispute through our credit card company, but it sided with SuperTravel. I am appealing the decision. SuperTravel’s refund policy has a clause that says they make “no refunds for causes beyond their direct control.” But as an Expedia affiliate, they have access and control over the information that they provide to consumers on their website.

Expedia and Booking.com both list the same property on their sites, and they show information about the detached bathroom. I believe I’m entitled to a $469 refund because SuperTravel chose not to provide us with that information before we made the purchase.

Chris, you helped me in 2013 with an airline problem, and I’m appealing to you now. Can you help me?

— Evonne Hopkins, Livermore, California

ANSWER: It’s true — your accommodations at the historic bed-and-breakfast did not have a dedicated bathroom, which is not that unusual in an older inn. But SuperTravel should have told you about it before you booked. That was important information to disclose.

While it’s true that your reservations were “prepaid” (in other words, nonrefundable), it is also true you had a contract with the Expedia affiliate that implied you would have your own bathroom. A bathroom is a standard feature in a Western hotel room, like running water and electricity.

It looks like you did not stay at the historic inn and found alternate accommodations. That’s good because if you had stayed there, a refund would be all but impossible. And you would probably be surprised by how many readers of this column will stay in a hotel or vacation rental, then request a full refund. It doesn’t work that way.

I’m surprised that your credit card company didn’t side with you. This was a glaring omission by your online travel agency, and you should have received a full refund on appeal.

I list the names, numbers and email addresses of Expedia’s customer service executives on my consumer advocacy site, Elliott.org. A brief, polite email to one of them might have pressured SuperTravel to help you. I also publish a free guide on how to book the best hotel at the lowest rate that you can use the next time you are trying to book your accommodations.

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Could you have avoided this? Possibly. As you note, several other online sites noted the bathroom problem, so you could have run a quick search before booking. Incidentally, you could have called the property yourself and gotten an even better deal. Bed-and-breakfasts, like hotels, prefer dealing directly with their customers.

You reached out to my advocacy team, and we contacted SuperTravel on your behalf. In response, SuperTravel credited your card for the full amount of your stay.

“Whatever nudge you provided to SuperTravel was enough to do the trick,” you said. I’m happy we were able to help.

Christopher Elliott is the founder of Elliott Advocacy, a nonprofit organization that helps consumers solve their problems. Email him at chris@elliott.org or get help by contacting him at elliottadvocacy.org/help/.(c) 2024 Christopher ElliottDistributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

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