What to do if your hotel room looks nothing like described
It can really put a dampen on things if you’re excited for a weekend away and arrive to the hotel room only to see that it’s not what was advertised.
Luckily, there’s a few things you can do.
1. Identify the problem
Quickly identify which parts of your room don’t match up to the description of the room or photos online.
According to consumer advocacy group CHOICE, if there’s a difference in location, view, amenities or price advertised, you’re able to complain.
In most cases, you’ll only realise the difference when you arrive.
The next step is to decide whether or not you want to complain. Some people prefer to just quietly deal with it and never book there again, whereas others see no harm in speaking up.
Nicky Breen from CHOICE says if you’re Australian, your consumer rights are protected. However, depending on where you are, it can be hard to enforce them. He told the ABC:
"At a small bed and breakfast in Hawaii, you may have a very different experience there than say the Hilton in Hawaii, which is a huge multinational with headquarters in various parts of the world," she said.
2. Work out who you need to speak to
This is the easiest bit for some. If you’ve booked online directly through the hotel, you need to complain to the hotel.
If you’ve booked through Expedia or another hotel booking site, you need to take your complaints to the site.
3. Is it a major or a minor problem?
The difference between a major or minor problem is whether or not it can be easily and quickly fixed.
If the bathroom tap is leaking, this is a minor problem.
If you’ve booked a two-bedroom suite and arrive to a one-bedroom suite with no other rooms available in the hotel, this is a major problem.
According to Nicky Breen, the test for a major failure is:
- It would have stopped you booking the room if you’d known about it in the first place
- It doesn’t meet the specific purposes you asked for and can’t be fixed within a reasonable amount of time
- It creates an unsafe situation
4. Decide how you want it to be fixedIf there’s a major failure, you’re entitled to cancel the booking and ask for a refund. You can also keep the booking and negotiate a reduced price.
However, if the failure is minor, the hotel can decide how to proceed. In most cases, they’ll offer you a refund or a replacement.
Breen says that if you’re unhappy, you can take it further.
"If there's a disagreement, the best thing you can do is lay out your consumer guarantees and demonstrate why the problem constitutes a major failure," Ms Breen said.
"It's also worth bearing in mind that the staff member you're dealing with may not be aware of what the business's obligations are under consumer law.
"So, it's always worth asking to speak to someone who maybe a bit more senior or at least is aware of how the consumer law works and what the business's obligations are."
5. Escalate the complaint if needed
If the hotel or booking site refuses to respect your rights, you can contact the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission. You can also contact the consumer affairs body in your state.
Have you ever complained about your hotel room? Let us know in the comments.