Do you strictly enforce your cancellation policy?

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trishany's picture
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We've had two cancellations out of alot of guests in the time frames that we could charge.  These couples had very good reasons to cancel. Just couldn't enforce.   I sent both back their deposits.  We did fill their rooms, though.  

gillumhouse's picture
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When I sell a GC, it has no expiration date because it was purchased - all donations have an expiriation date (makes it easy to tell them apart). Because I do not sell a ton of them, I know how many are out and who bought it.

I do not care who uses it. If it was a donation, I have no clue who got it and likewise, when purchased I do not always know who is getting it as a gift although I do usually get a name. This has made me do some thinking and I am going to add to my Not valid Holidays, October, WVU home football games - a cancelled reservation makes this certificate invalid.

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JBJ wrote"Remember innkeepers if YOU PRINT YOUR OWN GC's - NO CASH VALUE, NO REFUNDABLE, NON TRANFERABLE and SAME CANCELLATION POLICIES APPLY"

I just want to throw this out for discussion: 

If you were a customer wanting to purchase a GC as a gift, would you be happy giving a gift with that wording on it?  Yes, you are wanting to give them a gift that they will enjoy and you think they will enjoy staying at XYZ B&B but there are those that would not be overjoyed for one reason or another. 

I agree with no refunds but I do not understand it not being transferable.  If one can not use it, why not allow someone else to use it?  It was paid for.  Just think of all the coffee makers given as wedding gifts that are either returned or 're-gifted'.

Now, for GC's given for charity, I place ALL the bells & whistles on them. 

 EDITED: Guess others beat me to my question.  HJ - I like your addtion and will add something like that to mineSmiling

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Copperhead wrote:

JBJ wrote"Remember innkeepers if YOU PRINT YOUR OWN GC's - NO CASH VALUE, NO REFUNDABLE, NON TRANFERABLE and SAME CANCELLATION POLICIES APPLY"

I just want to throw this out for discussion: 

If you were a customer wanting to purchase a GC as a gift, would you be happy giving a gift with that wording on it?  Yes, you are wanting to give them a gift that they will enjoy and you think they will enjoy staying at XYZ B&B but there are those that would not be overjoyed for one reason or another. 

I agree with no refunds but I do not understand it not being transferable.  If one can not use it, why not allow someone else to use it?  It was paid for.  Just think of all the coffee makers given as wedding gifts that are either returned or 're-gifted'.

Now, for GC's given for charity, I place ALL the bells & whistles on them. 

 EDITED: Guess others beat me to my question.  HJ - I like your addtion and will add something like that to mineSmiling

It is not in all caps like I had it there, it is in the small print.  These are the same as other gift cards.  I took the verbiage off of them.  Let me think back WHY I put the non transferable on them.  Other than that one time where they booked, cancelled, gave it to someone, they booked cancelled, gave it to someone...it was TERRIBLE!

But there was another reason for that.  I am not in a good state today, I will try to remember.

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Morticia's picture
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Copperhead wrote:

JBJ wrote"Remember innkeepers if YOU PRINT YOUR OWN GC's - NO CASH VALUE, NO REFUNDABLE, NON TRANFERABLE and SAME CANCELLATION POLICIES APPLY"

I just want to throw this out for discussion: 

If you were a customer wanting to purchase a GC as a gift, would you be happy giving a gift with that wording on it?  Yes, you are wanting to give them a gift that they will enjoy and you think they will enjoy staying at XYZ B&B but there are those that would not be overjoyed for one reason or another. 

I agree with no refunds but I do not understand it not being transferable.  If one can not use it, why not allow someone else to use it?  It was paid for.  Just think of all the coffee makers given as wedding gifts that are either returned or 're-gifted'.

Now, for GC's given for charity, I place ALL the bells & whistles on them. 

 EDITED: Guess others beat me to my question.  HJ - I like your addtion and will add something like that to mineSmiling

We ran into problems a couple of years into this when we started getting calls for 'just found' gift certs that had been 'misplaced'. We had no idea whether or not they were real gc's or not. We had not been paid for them. Called the POs and they had no record of them being purchased. Could have been that they didn't want to pay us, could have been truth. One GC holder faxed the GC to us and it was a blank form. Someone printed it off the web (the PO's used to let you do that) that had never been filled in. The other was actually on the right paper and had all the details so we accepted it.

All that to say, that the transferring part can sometimes get tricky.

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seashanty's picture
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bree, i don't give a gc ... if (hardly ever) i agree to apply the deposit to a future visit, i leave a credit balance on the books.

totally agree with the gc printing ... NOT REDEEMABLE FOR CASH

if that statement is not on the gc this couple had, i still would not give them money. i think i would tell them, when/if they contact you about a 'refund' that the gift certficates are not redeemable for cash.  see how it goes.  maybe someone else without allergies to whatever can come stay  the other night left on the gc.  

i have had a couple people leave who said they were sensitive to something here.  i didn't refund their money.  very sorry for their trouble, etc.

 

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I just thought this over...I had "not redeemable for cash", and added "non-refundable" and "inn policies apply".  I thought adding the policies part would capture deposits, cancellations, damages, etc. 

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Okay

this happened just yesterday.  A guest arrived with a gift certificate for their 2 night stay.  They stayed one hour, used the wine glasses, garbage, toilet, sink, air conditioner, bed, television, etc.   Then, there was a knock on the door of our private quarters.   The man said "We cannot stay, my wife has airborne allergies.  She must be allergic to something in the air, this being such an old house and all.  I told him that noone has ever been allergic to anything in our house before.

Then they asked for the money to replace the gift certificate.  I told him I would get back to him on that question. 

Now please tell me what to do?  Does he get a refund considering we have a three day cancellation policy?  I was able to rent the rooms, but do I just pay him the money for the gift cert. which was bought over a year ago?

 

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Morticia's picture
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knowlesl wrote:

Okay

this happened just yesterday.  A guest arrived with a gift certificate for their 2 night stay.  They stayed one hour, used the wine glasses, garbage, toilet, sink, air conditioner, bed, television, etc.   Then, there was a knock on the door of our private quarters.   The man said "We cannot stay, my wife has airborne allergies.  She must be allergic to something in the air, this being such an old house and all.  I told him that noone has ever been allergic to anything in our house before.

Then they asked for the money to replace the gift certificate.  I told him I would get back to him on that question. 

Now please tell me what to do?  Does he get a refund considering we have a three day cancellation policy?  I was able to rent the rooms, but do I just pay him the money for the gift cert. which was bought over a year ago?

 

Was it a gift? Did they buy it themselves? Where did they buy it?

Very good points were made here...if it is a bandb.com GC and they want face value, no way, they only paid $79 for it. If it was a gift from someone to them and it is YOUR gc, not something purchased from another company, I tell guests I can only refund the cc that paid for it. IF I want to refund it. My gc's DO say 'not redeemable for cash'.

Another innkeeper here got a guest with a DONATED gc who couldn't stay the weekend they wanted and they demanded that she pay them the money they had donated! How would she even know what that was if she even wanted to reimburse them for a donation??

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knowlesl wrote:

Okay

this happened just yesterday.  A guest arrived with a gift certificate for their 2 night stay.  They stayed one hour, used the wine glasses, garbage, toilet, sink, air conditioner, bed, television, etc.   Then, there was a knock on the door of our private quarters.   The man said "We cannot stay, my wife has airborne allergies.  She must be allergic to something in the air, this being such an old house and all.  I told him that noone has ever been allergic to anything in our house before.

Then they asked for the money to replace the gift certificate.  I told him I would get back to him on that question. 

Now please tell me what to do?  Does he get a refund considering we have a three day cancellation policy?  I was able to rent the rooms, but do I just pay him the money for the gift cert. which was bought over a year ago?

 

Lois, what gc? BandB.com?

We have had THAT same couple here who traveled and found every B&B unacceptable due to her allergies to carpet, to wood, to people...

I told them to go ahead and leave and good luck on a hotel that doesn't reek of bleach and cleaning prodicts!  I WANTED THEM GONE.

They should have told you this BEFORE BOOKING THE ROOM.  I would not let them off the hook for that.  But like me, you are better off getting their miserable butts out of your life.

Remember innkeepers if YOU PRINT YOUR OWN GC's - NO CASH VALUE, NO REFUNDABLE, NON TRANFERABLE and SAME CANCELLATION POLICIES APPLY.

Willowpondgj's picture
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Remember innkeepers if YOU PRINT YOUR OWN GC's - NO CASH VALUE, NO REFUNDABLE, NON TRANFERABLE and SAME CANCELLATION POLICIES APPLY.

 

I agree- and it sounds like a scam to me too.

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I agree with all you said..except... I would let my guest transfer the certificate to someone else. Someone paid for it..so I don't care who uses it. But there are no cash refunds for any gift certificates. you use it or someone uses it..or lose it.

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catlady wrote:

I agree with all you said..except... I would let my guest transfer the certificate to someone else. Someone paid for it..so I don't care who uses it. But there are no cash refunds for any gift certificates. you use it or someone uses it..or lose it.

That is something I add or delete per guest or per gc purchase.  What happened to me is so and so can't make it, so they cancel and then give it to the next couple, who books, then cancels and gives it to the next person.  Just like some GC are BOGO - those are donated.  They are transferable because I do not even know who ends up with them!

I did sell one on eBay in the winter/spring and the OWNER of the GC is completely transferable.  Whoever has it in their hand, can redeem it.

So I am the opposite of you on this, what about the IN-liue of cancellation charge - NON TRANSFERABLE on those as well.

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Likewise, I don't really care who uses the GC. Mine say "transferable with prior approval from innkeeper". That way they can't just show up with it and say "Joe & Sally gave me theirs". Joe and Sally would have to call or email me first.

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I think I have most of that on my gift certificate template, but I am going to double-check!  Thank YOU!!

swirt's picture
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Part may depend on the language of your gift certificate.  If it says non-refundable, then that helps with the decision and may encourage people to not try this in the future.

Re-issuing the gift certificate has its own risks, as it means you will likely see them again and they may or may not have the same response.  Sometimes if they are a true PITA it is worth it just to be rid of them.

In the end, the best suggestion I have is to handle it in the way that allows you to not fester over it in the future.  Go with what you are comfortable with and can live with.  Just make sure your written policies end up matching what you can live with.  Eye-wink

IronGate's picture
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swirt wrote:

In the end, the best suggestion I have is to handle it in the way that allows you to not fester over it in the future.  Go with what you are comfortable with and can live with.  Just make sure your written policies end up matching what you can live with.  Eye-wink

Smartest thing I've read all day.  Smiling

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IronGate's picture
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Refunding cash on a GC almost sounds like a scam to me.  I think I would be inclined to replace the GC with the same expiration as the original, minus a cancellation fee.  You have to reclean the room, but at least you could sell it again.

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IronGate wrote:
Refunding cash on a GC almost sounds like a scam to me. 

I agree...

=)
Kk.

YellowSocks's picture
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I had a cancellation (well within the timeframe) for our peak week in September... have yet to rebook and am kicking myself for not insisting on a deposit (it was a returning guest), or increasing the period of time for cancelling.  She did cancel early, but apparently not quickly enough as we've had no calls on the room.  OTOH, the last time we had this seminar (June) we had a "walk in" who stayed several nights, so all hope is not yet lost.

I've caved on cancellations within the no-refund time period, but fortunately haven't had many since I always kick myself afterward.

=)
Kk.

IronGate's picture
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Socks, I'm feeling too lazy to look at your website and find this out for myself, so I'll just ask:  how long is your cancellation period?  How far in advance do you find that people generally book?

YellowSocks's picture
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I double checked... 7 days, 30 if it's a full house (3 or 4 rooms).  But this cancellation was more than 30 days out, so even if I'd changed the policy for this week, it wouldn't have helped.

We rarely get same day bookings (although it happens).  Generally reservations seem to be 2-6 weeks out, or about the time that most people say, "hmmmm... that's wedding's next month, better make a reservation someplace."  The exception is for the peak weekends when we book several months in advance.  Our guests in July said they want to return, I told them they'd better book early because I expect to be booked by March or April.

The cancellation for next month is for a seminar that's held a block or two away.  It's held three times a year, and results in a full-house for four week nights (which is fabulous!) in June, September, and January.  It's still a couple of weeks off, but I feel like the attendees have all gotten their lodging in order already and I won't be able to fill this room.  Hopefully I'm wrong and some last minute guy will come, like last time.  I've already book a room for the one in January...

=)
Kk.

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I occasionally make exceptions ... I go with my instincts. A couple of times I have offered to apply the discount to a future stay (within the same year)

 

 

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noodle-inn wrote:

I occasionally make exceptions ... I go with my instincts. A couple of times I have offered to apply the discount to a future stay (within the same year)

 

 

Welcome Noodle-Inn have we met? 

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noodle-inn wrote:

I occasionally make exceptions ... I go with my instincts. A couple of times I have offered to apply the discount to a future stay (within the same year)

 

 

How does that generally work out? I've mentioned that I get the screamers when I try to enforce the policy. Just curious if they end up showing up later on or what? Do you issue a GC or just keep the info on file? Is the GC, if you do that, transferable? Cancellations are a big problem in the winter. Curious if this would help out or if I'd be inundated with guests showing up in peak season with GC's for substantially less money than the rooms cost at that time. How would you handle that?

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Bree wrote:

noodle-inn wrote:

I occasionally make exceptions ... I go with my instincts. A couple of times I have offered to apply the discount to a future stay (within the same year)

 

 

How does that generally work out? I've mentioned that I get the screamers when I try to enforce the policy. Just curious if they end up showing up later on or what? Do you issue a GC or just keep the info on file? Is the GC, if you do that, transferable? Cancellations are a big problem in the winter. Curious if this would help out or if I'd be inundated with guests showing up in peak season with GC's for substantially less money than the rooms cost at that time. How would you handle that?

Bree, you weren't asking me but this is how I do it. I don't issue a GC. I email them a PDF of the paid invoice for the cancellation fee and--if I'm so inclined--I tell them in the email that they may apply the fee to a future stay within my parameters. I don't have to do this often. I've had four cancels so far this year. Here's the verbiage I used for one of them:

"As per our cancellation policy, I have charged 50% of your booking amount to the credit card number you provided at the time of the reservation. The cancellation fee is $XXX + GST for a total of $XXX. I am attaching a pdf of the invoice for your records.

I would be very happy to apply the full amount of your cancellation fee toward a future stay within the next four months. This offer is eligible with a stay of two consecutive nights or more (excluding long weekends and holidays) before [date].

trishany's picture
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This happens very, very  seldom. You shoudn't be afraid of this. I think you would know if it's a sob story or not, anyway.    

Willowpondgj's picture
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We had one where the guest got their confirmation with the policies and replied on accident to us, when they meant to forward to the other people in their party, making snide comments about the policies. I replied, saying I wasn't sure if they meant to contact us . Their "grandmother" died that next day and they had to cancel! (Out of embarrassment I guess!!) We gave a full refund, I didn't want them after their remarks anyway!

IronGate's picture
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As an aspiring, I've not yet faced this situation in real life.  It is probably the one thing I am most afraid of, because I know I'm a sucker for a sob story.  I'm hoping that with clearly stated policies -- online, in the confirmation letter/email, and in marketing materials -- it won't come up too often.  We'll see.  Just have to keep focused on the fact that this person, who promised to pay you, is taking food off your table, and possibly preventing anyone else from replacing it.

Morticia's picture
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IronGate wrote:

As an aspiring, I've not yet faced this situation in real life.  It is probably the one thing I am most afraid of, because I know I'm a sucker for a sob story.  I'm hoping that with clearly stated policies -- online, in the confirmation letter/email, and in marketing materials -- it won't come up too often.  We'll see.  Just have to keep focused on the fact that this person, who promised to pay you, is taking food off your table, and possibly preventing anyone else from replacing it.

You'll get them all...you'll be surprised how many grandmas die on Thursday before a big weekend. We have become sticklers this year because we average 100 cancellations/year. One woman, with no excuse at all, canceled something like 12-13 room nights on a peak weekend this year. Because she canceled in good time, there was no charge, but we never rebooked those rooms. Now I take a deposit for peak weekends to make sure guests are serious and not just 'holding' rooms.

Maybe Trish can tell a liar from someone else on the phone or in an email, but I can't. They're all guilty of scheming in my eyes.

Morticia's picture
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If I took deposits and I did not rebook the rooms, I would not send the deposits back. Because you rebooked, you are probably doing the right thing.

I had a cancellation this week for Saturday. He feigned, 'I didn't know,' about the cancellation policy. He called today to see if we had rebooked the room. We had, and I had sent him an email telling him that. He didn't read his email. Sounds like a pattern...

JunieBJones (JBJ)'s picture
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See it happened again. I saw that!

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