UPDATE: Credit card company went to bat. In warp speed, they got hotel to remove second day charge and said the credit will appear on card in one or two business days. Bingo.
Aaaah, the joys of fighting corporate America. Hilton’s line Hampton Inn is the battle du jour. Specifically the Knoxville Downtown Hampton Inn. Let the fun begin!
We stayed at Hampton Inn the whole trip, our personal preference when traveling within the USA. Predictably clean. Free good breakfast. Priced right. And with so many stays under our belt, my elevated Hilton Honors status gets us some perks. I know, you’re thinking whoop-de-doo, they get perks at Hampton Inn? Aren’t they special.
The first night of the journey was in Knoxville, a city that we were really looking forward to seeing. I think I told you that the night we arrived and took a walk, we were the ONLY people on the main drag. Oh yes, one homeless guy too. I asked the woman behind the desk if we should be worried, and she said no, no problem. My city street smarts told me otherwise – safety in numbers is my motto, the identical feeling I had in Charlotte NC a year or so ago when walking back to the hotel from the NASCAR HQ and was the only one. No thanks.
The next morning I reported to you all that we took the several free trolleys the town has to get our Knoxville city bearings and to decide what to see first but after seeing the whole city was deserted AND hearing that a major thunderstorm was brewing overhead, we decided to bail. Calling ahead to Little Rock’s Hampton Inn to find they had room was first, then telling the Manager in Knoxville we were leaving early.
Here’s the rub. He told us that he would charge us the second night because that was his policy! I said whoa, the hotel is empty, the city is empty, it’s not a football Saturday, so why charge us? Besides, look at the forecast! We’d be sitting in our room all day. He didn’t care, said unless he could resell the rooms, we’d have to pay for the two nights. There wasn’t much we could do at that point so we left, got to Little Rock and because we arrived a day early there, we first told them we were ahead a day and would be changing the day of departure.
Their response? No problem. Come and go as you please. No charge.
While still on the road, we called Hampton Inn Customer Service and had a lengthy conversation with a man who told us we should NOT have been charged the second night in Knoxville. He read us the hotel’s specific cancellation policy, which logically says during UT football season and on any home game Saturday, cancellations mean paying anyway. That makes sense. I get that, but here we were practically the only people at the hotel and were being penalized, with bad weather coming to boot.
Unfortunately, during that cell phone conversation, we got cut off but I noted the date and time I called so I could continue the battle when we got home.
Fast forward to this morning. I got Sophia in Central America, who, like so many customer service agents today, had an accent so thick it was impossible to understand her.
Sophia’s tale was totally contrary to the first agent’s story. She said the other agent should be fired for lying to us, her exact words, that Hilton’s policy is the customer is always responsible for the full reservation unless the on site manager says otherwise.
The Knoxville Hampton Inn’s own webpage says we could leave with no charge and the first agent told us the same thing. We were NOT in town during any minimum stay period either.
So it came down to us being stuck with an ornery Manager, who probably wasn’t making his quota and was pissed his empty hotel was going to be one room emptier. He didn’t care one hoot that the storm was coming and you know, from my tale of woe, that the storms were awful, brutal actually!
Kicker, not only did we get charged the two nights, we got charged a second night of car parking (this Hampton Inn had secure indoor car parking, a modest fee of $10 per night but still, even if they felt they had to charge US, at least don’t charge us the car parking fee.
I got NOWHERE with Sophia – she said it is what it is, our only recourse is calling the manager directly in Knoxville and pleading our case with him. We all know how that will go. It’s not easy to call any hotel manager directly – you never know what days he’s working, what time he might be busy and not want to have a half-hour chat. so I asked Sophia is the manager had a direct email address. Nope. My luck.
I haven’t decided what to do next. Likely nothing, chalk it up to Knoxville sucking big time all around but still, I hate to be taken advantage of and in this case, the Manager definitely could have easily let us walk with no charge but he chose not to, for whatever reason. maybe he didn’t like we were New Yorkers or that we were worried about walking on empty streets? Live and learn. It wasn’t the most expensive mistake we’ve ever made.