The W Lakeshore Chicago recently had a great sale on rooms starting at $67 per night. I read reviews and it sounded like a decent hotel; not the best but not bad. I decided I would book two weekends in February, one for my birthday and one for Presidents Day. The rooms were a bit more than the $67 rate but still pretty good for a weekend in Chicago.
I booked directly through SPG and noted that the reservations were fully refundable. I didn’t have anything to lose I thought. When I received the confirmation emails, they also noted that the rate was fully refundable up until 1 day prior to the stay.
The first reservation was for two nights at $74/night for a total of $174.64 after taxes.
The second reservation was for three nights at $88/night for a total of $309.94 after taxes.
The full amount for both reservations was charged immediately to my SPG Amex card. Seemed a bit strange, usually I am not charged the entire amount at booking, but didn’t think much of it.
I started looking for flights and they were all quite expensive. The weekends away were not looking so inexpensive after all.
I decided to cancel my hotel reservations. I did so online and received confirmation that they had been canceled. It included a cancelation confirmation number. The email again showed the cancelation policy — fully refundable.
That was on December 2, 2016. I checked my Amex statement and the charge was still there. On 12/8/16, I contacted the hotel to find out what was going on; why I hadn’t received my refund.
I received a response from the Director of Operations. It said:
Good afternoon –
I am following up on your questions regarding the cancellation of your stay. I apologize for the error. You are correct, there is a cancellation policy attached to your reservation. I can confirm that your reservation has been cancelled and the funds released.
Feel free to reach out to me if you need anything else.
I figured that it was taken care of.
I waited a while and the charge wasn’t taken off so I filed a credit card dispute with Amex.
Well, this week I got a response from Amex saying that my dispute had been denied. The W Lakeshore had provided a “bill” showing that I had a non-refundable reservation. Here is one of the two documents the W sent to Amex as proof — the quality is as I received it (however I cut out a few of the personal info bits). The second one is almost identical but for the other reservation.
I’m not even sure what these are that the W sent to Amex but apparently it was enough to convince Amex to deny my claim. Where would this document have come from? Why would the W go to all this work to “prove” that the money was non-refundable after I received confirmation that it was?
Today I called the hotel and they said they are looking into it. In the mean time, my credit card bill is due and I’m on the hook for $484.58 until the W gets their act together and refunds me my money.
What do you think? What other steps can I take if the W decides not to refund me my money? Has this happened to you?
UPDATE: Today the refund came through! It is a miracle. Now if I could only get the hours of my life back it took to fix this. I won’t be staying at an SPG property any time soon I can promise you that.
UPDATE 2: SPG deposited 3,000 points into my account after I asked via Twitter if they would offer any sort of consolation for my trouble.