hotels.com hides taxes and fees, won’t disclose, has terrible customer service

By | July 8, 2021

[October 17, 2021 update here.]

July 8, 2021

Adam Jay, President
Hotels.com
5400 LBJ Freeway, Suite 500
Dallas, TX 75240

Dear Mr. Jay,

On May 5, 2021, I reserved a room through hotels.com for June 20-22 at the Washington Square Hotel in New York City. My confirmation number was [elided].

On June 22, I learned that NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio had suspended the city’s hotel occupancy tax June 1 through August 31. I therefore returned to hotels.com to check if I had been charged the occupancy tax; if so, then it should have been refunded. I discovered that unfortunately hotels.com does not provide an itemized breakdown of taxes and fees charged on reservations.

I therefore (again, on June 22) initiated a live chat with your customer service department and requested an itemized breakdown of the taxes and fees. The representative said they did not have access to this information but would “escalate it” and someone would get back to me “within ten days.”

It is now 16 days later, and no one has gotten back to me. Today, I tried initiating another live chat, and I was told that chat was unavailable and I would have to call instead. So I called, and I spoke to a representative and explained the problem, and the representative said he was looking into it, and then he suddenly put me on hold without informing me that he was doing so, and after 40 minutes on hold without any explanation, I finally gave up and disconnected the call.

Why is your customer service so terrible?

  • Your web site should itemize taxes and fees.
  • Customer service should be able to provide an itemized breakdown of taxes and fees.
  • It shouldn’t take ten days for someone to provide an itemized breakdown of taxes and fees.
  • When you tell a customer that someone will get back to them within ten days, someone should.
  • Customers should be able to get customer service by email rather than having to deal with a live chat or wait on hold forever.
  • Live chat should always be available during business hours.
  • Telephone customer service representatives should not randomly put customers on hold.
  • Telephone customer service representatives should not leave customers on hold for 40 minutes.

I need an itemized breakdown of the taxes and fees on this reservation, and if that breakdown includes NYC hotel occupancy tax, then I need a refund.

Sincerely,

Jonathan Kamens

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4 thoughts on “hotels.com hides taxes and fees, won’t disclose, has terrible customer service

  1. Pingback: Hotels.com refunds illegal New York City hotel occupancy tax after months of refusing – Something better to do

  2. Roland Nagtegaal

    Compensation for lost time and wages caused by having to deal with customer services should be the law.
    Or maybe it is…if you “lawyer up” as they say in the USA, you might be able to succesfully claim compensation for dealing with terrible customer services. It certainly would be a strong incentive for companies to treat their clients much better.
    I wonder if this has been tried often and where that went.

    Reply
    1. jik Post author

      Such a law would be a bad idea and wouldn’t work. The only people who would benefit substantially from it would be lawyers.

      In this particular case, however, hotels.com definitely has some legal exposure. If I’m right that they charged me NYC hotel occupancy tax when they shouldn’t have, hid that fact from me, and then failed to refund the spurious charge, then they did the same thing to a lot of other people, which means this is potentially a class-action lawsuit waiting to happen.

      Whether I pursue that angle depends on whether I get a satisfactory response from the company to my letter.

      Reply
      1. Anonymous

        I had a similar experience. We booked two rooms in San Diego. The rooms are the same, the price is the same, San Diego has a 10.5% occupancy tax. The taxes for the first room were about $50(10.5%). The taxes for the 2nd room was about $150(over 30%). These rooms were booked within minutes of each other and after talking with customer service I was told that “its simple, the tax rate clearly increased.” Tax rates don’t simply increase randomly half way through a day and triple in amount. Also, checking the next day, San Diego still had a 10.5% tax rate.

        Seems they are charging people taxes for rooms that don’t match the local regulations regularly. Those taxes then likely go to their bottom line and increase their profit margins. They are falsely listed as taxes so people don’t question them, but in my case it was obvious they were trying to sneak in charges. Same room, same hotel same base price, same number of days, one reservation has $100 more taxes than the other. They also told me they’d investigate and get back to me in ten days, so we will see if that happens or not.

        They are likely pocketing millions of dollars per year in these type of fees.

        Reply

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