An extra night at the Hyatt

by Christopher Elliott on June 29, 2006

Question: I recently stayed at the Hyatt Regency Chicago for two nights while in town for a trade convention. After my second night, I decided to extend my stay by one day because of weather conditions at my home airport, Minneapolis.

But when I checked with the hotel about staying, a hotel representative told me they were sold out. I was given a bill for two nights and made arrangements to check into another hotel.

Imagine my surprise when I received my credit card bill and saw that I was being charged for a third night at the Hyatt. It turns out that my travel agent had made a reservation for the third night without my knowledge. But the hotel employee didn’t tell me about it when I tried to extend my stay. Can they just arbitrarily charge you for additional nights, after they have given you your bill?

Arlis Miller, Mound, Minn.

Answer: Obviously, you should pay only for the number of nights you stayed at the Hyatt.

It sounds as if everyone was a little confused. I can only imagine the scene at the Hyatt on the morning you asked to extend your stay. It was probably chaotic with worsening weather conditions and the hotel running at 100 percent occupancy.

Under those circumstances, it’s possible that your reservations agent didn’t notice that your travel agent had already confirmed a third night. I seriously doubt that the Hyatt intended to dupe you into paying for an extra night. This is very unusual at a major chain hotel (but alas, not unheard of).

Here’s what you should have done. First, you should have phoned the hotel to discuss your problem. A quick review of its own records would have shown that you weren’t at the hotel a third night, and the Hyatt would probably have issued you a credit. You could also have appealed to someone on the corporate level (to find out how, go to Hyatt’s Web site, and click on “About Hyatt”).

There are at least three other levels of appeal: your credit card company, through which you could have filed a dispute; a small-claims court, which could have remedied this with a brief court appearance; and, of course, me.

I’m pretty sure Hyatt would have fixed this if you had gone to them first. But I checked with Hyatt on your behalf. A representative called you and apologized for the misunderstanding, credited you for the extra day and sent you a voucher for a free night’s stay at the Hyatt in Chicago.

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