A man called my desk at 1a.m. He said he wanted a better rate for his stay, before his arrival in a few weeks. I looked up the date of his arrival and I saw that he made the reservation on Hotels.com. Third-party reservations are prepaid and final. Nobody at the hotel can change anything on the reservation. That includes cancellations. Once you have the reservation made, and paid for, it is a done deal. There’s no turning back. “I have a friend, who stays at your hotels for work often. He gets a rate of $89.00 a night and you guys are charging me $109.00.” He said.
“Let me take a moment to review your reservation information.” I wasn’t actually looking at the reservation anymore. I was just giving him the impression that I am trying to oblige him. “I see that you made your reservation through Hotels.com.”
“Yeah, my wife made the reservation. She thinks she found the best deal, but I know I can do better. I want the $89.00 rate.” I politely replied to him.
“I would like to do that for you, but I am afraid I cannot.” I heard him huff into the mouthpiece. “You made your reservation online through a third-party. When you make that kind of reservation, you have to pay up-front. We, here at the hotel don’t have the ability to alter anything about the reservation. You already paid for the stay in-full. The only way that you can change anything, is to contact Hotels.com, and try to get them to change the reservation.” He did not like my answer.
“Listen, I already know you can go down, at least, as far as $89.00. I want that rate. Please don’t insult me with your bullshit excuses.” I head that loud and clear. Nobody likes a bullshitter.
“OK sir, I understand completely. Let me see what I can do.” I turned on my laptop’s webcam and started taking pictures of myself making faces while holding the phone to my ear. I also made typing sounds to give the impression that I was actually doing what I told him I was doing. After I took several pictures, I started talking to him again. “Well, sir, I looked through the entire system and tried changing your rate. Unfortunately, I am unable to access the rates to change them. I cannot alter anything.”
“You are the hotel person. I know you can override this.” He was truly angry with me.
“I assure you, sir, I cannot override this, not even my manager can do that. You will have to talk to Hotels.com if you think your rate is too high.”
“Well, I want to cancel my reservation.”
“I can’t cancel your reservation. You prepaid for the room. You need to go online or call their customer service number, and work that out with them.” He started shouting.
“I’m stuck with the room now?” Holding the phone away from my ear I said…
“Technically, yes.” I could hear him breathing through his nose, and I could easily imagine his nostrils flaring up with each strong exhale and then flex inward with each deep, strong inhale. I was glad it was just a phone call and not a face-to-face conversation. Those always suck. This sucks also, but at least I can put my feet on the desk, and not care. He yelled some more.
“I can’t believe this! Why is it that you can give someone an $89.00 rate and then charge someone else over $100.00 for the exact same room?” Good question. I don’t care. Welcome to capitalism, and the American way.
“I do understand how this can be frustrating. As far as a rate of $89.00; that rate was negotiated by our manager and the person who made arrangements directly with us. We cannot control third-party rates. When you make a reservation with a third-party, you are agreeing to pay their price up front. That payment is non-refundable, and the hotel has no can’t alter that. These are terms that you agreed to when you made the reservation. If there was a way I could lower your rate, I would, but unfortunately, there is nothing that I can do.” He took that as well as I could have expected.
“Asshole!” He hung up. I knew he would understand.