Kent York cancels his travel package in Norway that he booked through Expedia after the pandemic outbreak. But the hotel will not offer a refund or extend its credit. Is he about to lose $1,875?
Q: I booked a hotel stay at Opus XVI in Bergen, Norway in 2020 through Expedia. The hotel was part of a package. I had to cancel the trip due to COVID-19.
Expedia refunded our airfare and issued a $1,875 credit for Opus XVI that expires December 2021. Norway is closed to US travelers so we were unable to use the credit.
I called and asked for an extension or refund from Expedia. A representative told me that they would contact the hotel on our behalf, but we had to contact the hotel directly for a solution. Expedia said it had already sent the $1,875 to Opus XVI.
I emailed the hotel last summer and got an email in response saying my request was declined. Instead, the hotel offered a 50% discount if we booked a future stay directly.
I emailed Expedia the hotel rejecting our request and asked for their assistance in obtaining an extension. We have not received a response from Expedia. I understand that this was a non-refundable reservation, but as our stay was canceled through no fault of our own and we are unable to visit Norway, we believe that our credit should be extended. It’s unfair to pay for a stay we can’t assume. Can you help? — Kent York, St. Paul, Minnesota.
A: Opus XVI shouldn’t pocket your money. Expedia should have helped you get either a refund or an extension.
Your trip to Norway was part of a tour package that included airline tickets and accommodation. Technically, that makes Expedia your tour operator, and it bears some responsibility for ensuring that all components are in order and usable. Expedia is also your travel agent and should look after you as such, especially during a difficult time like this.
Telling you that you were dealing directly with Opus XVI was simply wrong. A good travel agent and tour operator takes responsibility for the products they sell. Expedia fell short.
I understand Expedia has already paid for the hotel, but that’s not your problem. And I also know that the rules say you can’t get a refund. But these are unusual circumstances, and companies like Expedia and its hotel partners have called upon them time and again during the pandemic. You can too.
I would have sent a short, polite email to an executive at Expedia. I list the names, numbers, and email addresses of Expedia customer service managers on my consumer advocacy website, Elliott.org. There’s little point in calling because you don’t have a recording of the conversation. You will need written proof that you have tried to resolve this through the appropriate channels.
At a time like this, companies shouldn’t be able to pocket your money. You may want to transfer your business to a travel agency or tour operator – as opposed to an online agency – that will fight for you during an extraordinary circumstance.
I have contacted Expedia on your behalf. The company agreed to extend your hotel voucher for another year.