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Hotel Europe St Severin, won't refund 4 cancellation due to volcano, ideas?

Hotel Europe St Severin, won't refund 4 cancellation due to volcano, ideas?

Aug 12th, 2010, 09:52 PM
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Hotel Europe St Severin, won't refund 4 cancellation due to volcano, ideas?

My best friend and her family were going to go to Paris this past Spring and unfortunately, the day before they were to leave, the volcano in Iceland erupted and their flights were cancelled like so many others. As soon as her fight was cancelled, she contacted her hotel in Paris, Hotel Europe St Severin, which I had stayed at before and recommended to her. Unfortunately, because of the time that the flight was cancelled, when she cancelled her hotel, it was only 36 hours before her arrival, and the hotel's policy is 48 hours. The hotel charged her for the whole stay because she only cancelled within 36 hours. This was a natural disaster and she didn't have much choice, her husband has set vacation time that he cannot reschedule, so they ended up having to spend their vacation at home.

She has been disputing the charges with American Express and today received a response, that "because she didn't cancel within 48 hours, they wouldn't refund her the money but they could use the money for any stay done before December 29, 2010."

Remember, her husband just can't take vacation whenver he wants and frankly, I think the hotel is being extremely unreasonable, they had NO way of getting to Paris. Does the Hotel Europe St Severin, not read the news, do they not know what was going on? Somehow, I think not, I think they are just being greedy and unreasonable.

Does anybody have any idea for her in fighting this, the amount concerned is $500, which is not pocket change. Her husband does speak French, he's from Belgium, he will call the hotel directly tomorrow to see if he can reason with them, and she will call American Express again and fight. I told her to fight it all the way to the top, it's surprising how writing to the CEO can get things accomplished even if he/she doesn't actually read the letter.

Any other suggestions?

Thanks in advance.
lyb is offline  
Aug 12th, 2010, 10:35 PM
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Sorry that happened -- but honestly, this is what travel/trip insurance is for. Why should the hotel eat the € any more than your friends?

"frankly, I think the hotel is being extremely unreasonable,"

IMO the hotel is being pretty reasonable offering they can use the money as a credit for a future date. Maybe they can contact the hotel and plead their case that they want to visit but can't possibly make it before the end of the year. Maybe the hotel will take pity and extend the credit. But being mad/angry won't help their case.

I'm not a lawyer, but AMEX's position would seem to be correct - they didn't cancel w/i the contract period.
janisj is online now  
Aug 12th, 2010, 10:38 PM
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Meant to add -- some hotels did bend over backwards to help folks during the volcano problems. But they did it out of the kindness of their hearts - not because they had to.

Just as many stuck to their rules/cancellation policies. Again -- insurance is your friend.
janisj is online now  
Aug 12th, 2010, 10:41 PM
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I have to say they are probably out of luck. It may seem harsh, but if you look at it from the hotels side - imagine how many people had reserved rooms and didnt show up and all the lost revenue. If they let everyone off imagine how it would hurt their business.

I would contact the hotel and see if they can use the credit next time her husband can use vacation.
jamikins is offline  
Aug 12th, 2010, 11:18 PM
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"Any other suggestions? "

Yup. Dump these whining scroungers and get yourself friends with integrity.

They had a contract. They were too mean or feckless to buy travel insurance - or assumed that if anything went wrong with their holiday they could fall back on emotional blackmail or bluster to ensure someone else picked up the tab for their problems. Now they're trying to wriggle out of a commitment they've made - and imposing costs on honest businesses that honest customers will have to pay.

But of course, you clearly approve of this kind of dishonesty, which is why you're encouraging them to keep on wasting AmEX's and the hotel's time.

So if you prefer crooks (because that's what they are) as friends, here's my other suggestion: stay on your own side of the Atlantic.
flanneruk is offline  
Aug 12th, 2010, 11:19 PM
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I'd wonder if that room actually was vacant. Seems like all the people stuck in Paris must have needed a place to stay...
lcuy is offline  
Aug 12th, 2010, 11:30 PM
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I understand the hotel doesn't have to, but it is greedy on their part. My sister has vacation rentals in Hawaii, during 9/11, several people couldn't make it for obvious reasons, no flights, it didn't occur to her to charge people for something out of their control.

British airways refunded their flights without a blink. These risks are the negatives of being in business. Also I plann on going back to Paris next year I was going to stay there, but now I won't.

I guess they can do the legal thing or the 'right' thing. I do think she has a tough ahead of her but she doesn't intend to give up personally I think it's a sad statement about business - greed vs the right thing
lyb is offline  
Aug 12th, 2010, 11:35 PM
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That's my thought as well.
lyb is offline  
Aug 12th, 2010, 11:41 PM
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I can't imagine that many people would have got their money back in that situation. The hotel have already given something they didn't have to ie. the offer of staying again....
Really life is too short, and I don't see why the hotel should do more.....and yes, that is the point of insurance.
alihutch is offline  
Aug 12th, 2010, 11:54 PM
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It does not make any difference whether the hotel was able to resell the room or not. The cancellation policy is the cancellation policy. Cancellation policies are clearly described either on the website or if booked over the phone it would have been explained and the email confirmation would have had the details.

The hotel has 2 cancellation policies, if the public or best available rate is booked and no show or cancel within 2 days of arrival, 1 night is lost. If the prepaid rate is booked, then there is no refund and the booking cannot be changed or modified and has to be prepaid in full. So not sure why the full amount of $500 had to be paid unless it was the prepaid rate because for the other rates the maximum loss would be 1 nights stay.

The hotel has made an offer where they can use the money before the end of the year which is generous as they did not have to do that.
Odin is offline  
Aug 13th, 2010, 12:15 AM
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My friends were not "no shows"! as soon as their flights were cancelled they contacted the hotel, it was 36 hours before arrival not 48 hours, which I'm sorry but given that flights to Europe were cancelled, I think they're being hard asses.

And to offer rooms before dec 29 is almost insulting, if they had at least offer 12 months from the original dates it would give them an opportunity to go next year.

Oh well I personally think that this way of business is part of what's wrong with the world. I guess I'll tell my sister she was a fool for being compassionate when she didn't charge people during 9/11, she should have told them too bad so sad
lyb is offline  
Aug 13th, 2010, 12:28 AM
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Most hotels have a policy of only charging the first night if you don't show up. Charging for the whole stay is outrageous.
kerouac is offline  
Aug 13th, 2010, 01:28 AM
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As with all legal issues, you should not rely on advice offered in public fora.

My advice (cf. para 1!) is as followed:

No contract has to be fulfilled unconditionally. The idea that either party has to commit unconditionally to a contract is already nonsense with regard to two professional parties, and becomes even more nonsense when a professional party gets into a contractual agreement with a "private person", i.e. the consumer. EU Consumer protection laws and national legislation (in this case: French law) tips the scale in favor of the consumer - not always, but in many cases.

There are certain factors or conditions which can nullify any contract.
In your case (ash cloud) "force majeure" is the relevant exclusion for either party's obligation to fulfill a contract.
Cancellation policies, as part of the contract, do not supersede the general conditions under which a contract gets nullified.

While "force majeure" voids the contract you have with your airline with regard to the ash cloud (i.e. you get your money back, airline has no obligation to fulfill obligation to bring your from A to B), the contract with the hotel is only affected so far as a Third Party (airline) is responsible for you inability to stay at the hotel, but is not part of the contract you have with the hotel.

The hotel's offer to reschedule your stay within certain time limits will probably suffice as an adequate response to your disproportional hardship to benefit from the contract.

Whether travel insurance would have covered this or related events will depend on your insurer's fine print (and the legislation in your jurisdiction). An exclusion of force majeure or force majeure-related conditions is pretty much the norm. TI is pretty good for cases of individual problems, e.g. illness of you or spouse, or other events covered.

A safer way to travel with regard to force majeure are package deals, i.e. when only ONE party (like Thomas Cook as a tour operator) is responsible for transport, accomodation, tours, etc.
But you have to check if you are dealing with a true tour operator, or just a "broker" who "sells" you in fact a contract with Delta, Hertz, and the hotel in Paris.

Coming back to your case, one could argue that the hotel has done enough by offering the alternative possibility to stay there. Nevertheless, it is not uncommon to have in national legislation the obligation for either party to minimize the negative impact of a contract that has gone south. If you could prove that the hotel was (since also many people had to overstay there due to the ash cloud) able to give your room to someone else, thus had not negative financial impact from your cancellation, you could be entitled to deduct a relevant amount from the hotel's claims.

But you have to take into consideration that you are not fighting an easy legal battle here, which is governed by foreign law and which, eventually, needs to be fought in France.
IMO, an amount of $500 does not justify cross-border legal action, though. You should not even think about it.

You could write some emails to the Paris Chamber of Commerce, or Office of Tourism, or to whatever relevant Consumer Protection Association in France, but that is as much as I would push it. (cf. para 1!)
Cowboy1968 is offline  
Aug 13th, 2010, 02:17 AM
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Thanks, that's the sort of info I was looking for. My friend dud tell me that if the hotel had said that they were keeping 100 or 200, she would have been ok with that. It's keeping the whole amount that she & I think is pretty unreasonable.

Again, thank you & I agree that the amount is not with a legal battle. We'll see what happens when the hotel speaks to her husband on the phone
lyb is offline  
Aug 13th, 2010, 02:30 AM
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Greedy? I can only imagine the reasons hotels have heard for not cancelling reservations within the SPECIFIED and AGREED TO timeframe.

I'm sure your friend's reason was legit; I'm also sure your friend could have been smarter and taken out trip insurance.
Dukey is offline  
Aug 13th, 2010, 03:26 AM
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The government office to which you can make a complaint is the

8 Rue Froissart
75003 Paris

(DDCCRF = Direction Départementale de la Concurrence, la Consommation et la Répression des Fraudes)
kerouac is offline  
Aug 13th, 2010, 04:14 AM
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...but it is greedy on their part...

You mean not buying travel insurance?
bardo1 is offline  
Aug 13th, 2010, 05:27 AM
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No one said they didn't show up. I was stating the policy of the hotel. Rates not prepaid are subject to cancellation policy of 1 nights stay IF someone either does not show up OR cancels within 48 hours meaning 48hours before arrival hotel local time. If this rate was booked the maximum liability would have been the cost of 1 nights room.

But because the amount is $500, this leads me to think might have been the 100% prepayment rate. If correct then the hotel would not refund it because the policy for that rate is no cancellation and no modification and no refunds. Or was it several rooms as it was the family travelling? Its very hard to know who is right or wrong without knowing what type of rate was booked.
Odin is offline  
Aug 13th, 2010, 05:54 AM
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Often people are happy to take lower rates with tighter cancellation policies and then are angry when the policy comes into play. Again: TRIP INSURANCE protects the buyer, cancellation policy protects the hotel. I have sometimes not taken a hotel because their policy does not appeal to me.
jubilada is online now  
Aug 13th, 2010, 07:01 AM
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Hi lyb,

>"because she didn't cancel within 48 hours, they wouldn't refund her the money but they could use the money for any stay done before December 29, 2010."

I think that that is a good compromise.

The hotel is not responsible for a guest getting to Paris.

Have they asked if the booking is transferable? Perhaps they could sell it to someone else.

ira is offline  

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