Before we left, we arranged to stay with someone my husband knew until we could find an apartment. Unfortunately, a week before we left we found out that we could only stay with them for 4 days, so we needed additional accommodation. I booked a week with the Golden Bear Inn, via Expedia (they had a special on the rates that were quite a bit cheaper than the Inn's own website) and paid in full (because you have to).
Now, today is our check-in day, but we haven't checked in yet. This morning, we got a call from an apartment we viewed and were told we can move in tomorrow! Yay! So I looked up my itinerary on Expedia to see if I could change it to one night at the Inn and get some of my money back. The cancellation policy on the hotel's own website simply says that if you give them less than 24 hours notice, you're charged 1 night. Fine. That's reasonable. Expedia's website lists the hotel's conditions as above, but with an additional condition, which reads:
"Cancellations or changes made after check-in on 15 September, 2011 are subject to a hotel fee equal to 100% of the total amount paid for the reservation."
However, we haven't checked in yet. So I call Expedia, which is a pain because I booked it through expedia.com.au, and now I'm in the US, so it was an international call. I get through to Nigel, and I tell him my problem. I haven't mentioned my name or the hotel, by the way, because I figure he'll ask me. He said, flat-out, that I couldn't get any kind of refund because it was the day of check-in. I kept telling him I hadn't checked in yet, he kept saying that didn't matter. I said that the condition wasn't clear then, because it specifically says "after check-in". He said it was perfectly clear, and he offered to read it to me. I said I was reading it as we spoke. He was extremely rude to me, and he kept saying that it was the hotel's condition. He also kept saying that I shouldn't have left it this late, even though I only just found out about the apartment so I couldn't have done it sooner. It wasn't until I hung up that I realised that he couldn't possibly know the hotel's policy, because he never asked what hotel it was, or any of my personal details.
After he hung up, I composed myself, and called the Golden Bear Inn. I spoke to Chris, and explained the situation. He seemed extremely surprised that Expedia had told me it was the hotel's policy, because he said they didn't have that policy. He said they were happy for me to change the booking at no charge to me. He even said Expedia could call them and confirm this.
So I called Expedia again, and lo and behold, I got Nigel. Again. I explained the whole deal again, and he actually asked for my itinerary number this time, and read the condition out to me. I told him what Chris had said, and that he could phone them if he liked. He said he would, but he didn't know what time it was there. Since I'm here, in Berkeley, I told him it was 3:28pm. He acted like I hadn't said anything, and said he'd have to Google the time. I told him again that it was 3:28pm, and that I was in Berkeley right this minute. He ignored me again and then said "Oh, it's 3:28pm" and put me on hold for ages. Then he came back and said I was right, they didn't have that policy, and he would refund me.
So it was a good outcome, but he was so nasty to me the first time, he kept talking over me and arguing with me and speaking to me like I was a child. I was nearly in tears by the time the call was over, and I'm so glad I called the Golden Bear Inn, because if I hadn't I'd be out about $350 right now.