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Breakfast Diva

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A week ago I took a phone reservation where the daughter was making the reservation for 2 rooms for 2 nights (only because we have a 2 night minimum). 1 room for she and her husband, and the other room for her parents. By the way, she phoned first time, we discussed our 2 night minimum, she hung up, called her parents, then called back to make the reservation. She was using her credit card (we take a 1 night deposit when making the reservations), so I did both rooms on her credit card and made the Reservation Key system do both rooms at once with her info. I charged her card the deposit which was both rooms, but one charge.
On the phone after taking all her info, I asked if she had read our cancellation policy on our website. She said no, so I told her what it was and then told her if they cancelled at least 10 days in advance, we would charge a $25 cancellation fee per each room. Of course she probably wasn't listening, but she grunted that she understood.
Yesterday, she called and left a message that she had to cancel both rooms. I called and left a message on her voice mail that I was sorry she wasn't going to be able to stay with us, that I would refund her deposit minus the $25 cancellation fee for each room.
Today, I get this e-mail from her: I noticed on your website under policies it says that the charge is $25 per reservation and not per room. I think $50 to cancel is a little steep, especially considering that I cancelled 8 weeks from the reservation, and also it is a weekend you will certainly be booked. Also, it does seem your are charging me in a manner different from what the website suggests is the policy.
So, now I have to address this issue. First, our policy on our website does not say "per reservation", it's more nebulous than that. Here is what it reads: "Cancellations require ten days notice prior to arrival, or deposit will be forfeited and you will be charged for the entire length of your reservation. A $25 cancellation fee applies to all cancellations with a 10 or more day notice. Early departures WILL be charged for the reserved time period. Because last minute cancellations greatly affect us, our cancellation policy is strictly enforced."
So, my question to you all is, even though I specifically addressed the cancellation policy on the phone, should I back down? I'm still reeling from the last TA review which was bad because I made the horrible mistake of overbooking a room and I'm afraid another bad review (no matter the reason) would be very harming to us. Or should I do what's "right" and stick to my policy. I'm usually hardnosed about sticking to our policy, but I need a little help with this one!
 

Samster

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I would just let it go since it's 8 weeks out. But I had a 72 hour cancellation policy.
 

Alibi Ike

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$25 on this one and adjust your website policy to state 'per room reserved'. Thank her for bringing the discrepancy to your attention. Seriously. You have no idea how far that goes with guests. Bring nothing else into the conversation...amount of time from date of arrival, you'll surely be booked, all of that is irrelevant. The wording on your site is very relevant. And it says nothing about 'per individual room reserved'.
Change it in your confirmation as well if it says that same thing.
Guests do read when it is in their own interests. Make sure it's clear.
Edited to add that I had an experience along the same lines...my online calendar had one rate and the website had another ($5 difference). A guest called me on it. 'It says right on your website...' Yeah, well, the calendar is part of the website as well, but I was not arguing over $5. I gave her the lower price and thanked her for 'saving me a lot of trouble down the line!'
 

Generic

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Since your policy is not specific, you are better off to err in her favour, because she can do a c/b and then your processor will discuss the specific wording. Fix the wording, so this doesn't happen again and there is no ambiguity.
As for pricing on the website, it clearly says "+ up" after each price. And then below it, "Rates may vary (including holidays and special events.) Discounted rates usually require a minimum two night stay."
 

Don Draper

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Eat this one and change the wording to $25/room on your website and your confirmation. You'll rebook it, let her have her moment and just move on.
 

seashanty

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Eat this one and change the wording to $25/room on your website and your confirmation. You'll rebook it, let her have her moment and just move on..
ditto ... $25 ... graciously
hope you've changed your policies on website and other places ... she found a loophole, now you have to close it.
 

JBloggs

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I looked at your website and rez program and do not see where it is PER ROOM, only per booking/reservation. Isn't this a processing fee, so shouldn't it apply PER RESERVATION not per room?
I dont think she found a loop hole, she is only disputing what she feels is a fair policy. She is cancelling with in notice and still being charged $50, that is very steep. Unless it is a "Group booking" but two rooms is not a group.
I would not change it, I would keep it per booking (with a diff policy to group bookings, ie 3 or more rooms). Just my take.
 

Breakfast Diva

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I looked at your website and rez program and do not see where it is PER ROOM, only per booking/reservation. Isn't this a processing fee, so shouldn't it apply PER RESERVATION not per room?
I dont think she found a loop hole, she is only disputing what she feels is a fair policy. She is cancelling with in notice and still being charged $50, that is very steep. Unless it is a "Group booking" but two rooms is not a group.
I would not change it, I would keep it per booking (with a diff policy to group bookings, ie 3 or more rooms). Just my take..
I have now changed the website to say "per room". Yes, $50 is steep, and I do consider it a "group" since it's 50% of my rooms. If she had given me just 11 days notice, I would be up a creek.
I don't consider it a "processing fee", I consider it a penalty. Yes, it will cover the additional fees I have to pay to the processor, but my main reason for charging a "cancellation fee" is that I don't want people to make a reservation unless they are sure they will/want to be here. The situation with this guest is just what I'm trying to avoid...I think she found another place that did not have a 2 night minimum, so she figured she'd cancel with me. She and her family are in the area only because of a special function happening on Sat. THAT'S why I told her over the phone that the cancellation fee was per room, because I wanted to avoid this exact situation.
I've changed the language on the website and will now change it on confirmation letter and Reservation Key.
Thank you all for your input! I've credited her $25 and will send a delightful e-mail, while cursing under my breath! LOL
 

Proud Texan

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We apparently split the difference. Our cancellation fee is $35.00 if the cancellation comes 7-14 days of their scheduled arrival whether the reservation is for one or both cottages (we only have two).
If it's less than 7 days they forfeit a full nights lodging fee. Our cancellation policy and fees are clearly stated on the confirmation that we send each guest. So, far no problem.
 
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