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What to do when your Hotwire booking goes haywire

By Christopher Elliott
Travel Troubleshooter
Christopher Elliott
Have a travel problem? Want to avoid vacation hassles? See what Christopher Elliott has to say. The Charlotte native is also National Geographic Traveler's reader advocate, and Travel Troubleshooter is his syndicated consumer column.

When Jerry Shepard’s Travelzoo voucher for pet-friendly accommodations doesn’t come through, the resort agrees to extend the offer. Now it won’t honor the voucher. What gives?

Q. You are my last hope for a dispute I have with a resort. I recently bought a Travelzoo voucher for pet-friendly accommodations at Yosemite Lakes RV Resort. I made a reservation with the resort at the time I purchased the voucher.

Yosemite Lakes sent a reservation confirmation for a yurt (a large, dome-shaped, tent-styled structure) that did not allow pets. I called and pointed out this error to Yosemite Lakes. The proposed solution was to extend my voucher so I could reserve one of its pet-friendly yurts.

When I arrived, the resort would not honor the promotional value of the voucher. I explained the situation to several employees and eventually to a manager. They would not budge from their decision not to honor the promotional value of the voucher, and I was charged $48.

I called Travelzoo and was told that it could not get involved in this dispute since the voucher had expired.

I would have stayed at this property prior to the expiration date of the voucher had Yosemite Lakes not reserved a non-pet yurt. I think Yosemite Lakes should not have charged me the additional $48. Can you help me get my money back? – Jerry Shepard, Fairfield, Calif.

A. I agree that if the resort offered to extend the voucher, it should honor its promise. Unfortunately, you didn’t have that offer in writing, and that means it’s your word against Yosemite Lakes’. And guess which one of you will get your way? Right, not you.

That’s an important lesson – and at $48, a relatively affordable one – to always get a promise in writing. I can’t remember what I told someone a day ago, let alone a week ago. So unless someone from Yosemite Lakes extended your voucher in writing, by email or by sending you a new paper voucher, there’s no way to verify anything that anyone told you.

I might have circled back with Travelzoo, the company that sold you a voucher for a ”pet-friendly” room. After all, you didn’t get what you paid for. I would have started with an email query through Travelzoo’s form: www.travelzoo.com/local-deals/support.

Failing that, I might have reached out to one of Travelzoo’s executives. Their names are listed on its website: http://ir.travelzoo.com/bios.cfm.

It’s difficult to tell if the resort just decided to change its rules or if Travelzoo goofed. But no matter – you should have been able to use the full value of your voucher, as advertised.

I contacted Travelzoo on your behalf. The company investigated your claim and found that it had a ”miscommunication” with the resort. Travelzoo refunded your $48.

Charlotte-born Christopher Elliott is the author of “How to Be the World’s Smartest Traveler (and Save Time, Money and Hassle)” (National Geographic). He’s also the ombudsman for National Geographic Traveler magazine and the co-founder of the Consumer Travel Alliance, a nonprofit organization that advocates for travelers. Read more tips or contact him at his website: www.elliott.org.
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