|by Mr Credit Card|
This is my third day at Las Vegas and all I can say is that it is really HOT. Too hot to walk down the strip in the day! But here is an experience that I want to share with you.
Regular readers will know that I’m a card holder of the Amex Platinum Card. American Express allows you to book your travel items with them. They also allow you to book with their travel site (which resides in the Amex site). Turns out that the travel site is powered by travelocity.
One incentive that they give is that you can earn “double points” if you book online with their travel site rather than calling their travel agents (or in my case the concierge service).
So for this trip, I did just that. Part of the reason we are taking this trip is that Mrs Credit Card canceled a US Airways ticket last year. Rather than refund her, they said she can book any other ticket within a year. Well, that one year is almost up! So I booked the trip with the online Amex Travel Site and essentially used up all my existing miles.
I also booked the Hotel through Amex. We booked the Luxor (at $50 a night with 2 queen bed) for 3 nights. The reason we did not want to book directly with Luxor was we can earn double points with Amex! After Las Vegas, we are going to the Grand Canyon and leave from Phoenix Arizona next Wednesday.
We also have a very good friend whose parents lives in Flagstaff (which is about one hour and a half) from the Grand Canyon. But they have always welcomed us to visit them if we ever visited the Grand Canyon. Well, they did not reply to the emails we sent them before booking and managed to get in touch with us after we had booked everything.
When we arrived two days ago at Las Vegas, we spoke to them over the cell phone and Mrs Credit Card said we should shorten our stay in Vegas. At Luxor hotel, I tried to do that but it turns out that I could not do so. I was told that since I did not book directly with them, they cannot refund me and that I needed to get the refund from Travelocity.
I was ignorant about how hotels and travel agents worked. So I proposed the following. I said that if I cannot get the refund, I would like to book two extra adjacent rooms for the two nights (but requested one be complimentary). That way, I would pay for 4 rooms in 2 nights, rather than 3 rooms for 3 nights. Win- win for both (or so I thought). Turns out that they cannot give me the complimentary room as well. (if you are wondering why I want extra rooms, let’s just say that 3 kids in a room means no private time for Mrs Credit Card and myself!)
I was pretty frustrated and so I called Amex. It turns out that I cannot get a refund if I reduce my stay for a day because under the terms and conditions, I have booked a “prepaid”. I really do not recall seeing that. Upon further probing, it turns out that most hotels booked under the Amex Online Travel site are under “prepaid booking” which means you cannot get a refund even if you requested a change 48 hours prior!
I also learned that from the hotel’s perspective, if I cut short my stay by one day, they will not get paid by travelocity (or whoever the travel agent is), it is my responsibility to get the refund back from the travel agent that I book from. That was why they were not willing to give me the complimentary room because they would not be getting the money for my “phantom third night stay).
I guess the lesson here is be very careful when you book hotels with Amex Online Travel site (or any online travel site for that matter). You have to check the refund policy. If I had booked directly with the hotel, I could have changed my dates (no problem) since the hotel had my money!