Always Reconcile your Hotel Bill!

My daughter and I were just on vacation in Oregon. We spent our first 3 nights at a Hyatt hotel Downtown.  Because we had a long travel day and came in late and were tired, we decided to utilize the Valet Parking at $39 (plus tips) for just the first night.  This would allow us to figure out our best alternatives the next day when we were a little more fresh and rested.

First of all let me say that I prefer to be billed 1 time at the end of my stay for all charges listed on the bill.  This allows you a clear and accurate picture of what you are paying for.  While staying at this Hyatt, they were charging my credit card for random amounts every day during my stay and the amounts didn’t match the expected charges.  This made it nearly impossible to reconcile costs vs charges.

After receiving a notice from American Express after the first night for a weird amount, I stopped at the front desk in the morning to see if they could explain what was happening.  The girl disappeared into the back office and came back out saying there was a problem with their billing system and she would make sure it got straightened out that day for me.  I was ok with that answer, so we went on to breakfast and our days activities.

When we returned for the day, we parked in a nearby self service garage for less than 1/2 the cost of the Hyatt Valet Parking.  The next morning American Express sent me another alert for an even larger charge to my account from Hyatt.  When I logged into my credit card account, there were actually 3 charges now.

My room rate was supposed to be 6000 points plus $99.50 per night (plus taxes).  My total charges were supposed to be $344.17 plus one night of Valet Parking.  This was just not adding up.  To make things worse, when I reviewed the current room charges on the Hyatt app, they listed new Valet Parking charges.  Now I was upset.

I composed myself then went downstairs to the front desk and politely asked to speak with the Manager since I didn’t feel that the first gal had an understanding of how to correctly fix the issue.  The gentleman at the desk was in fact the Manager and I asked if we could sit down some place and reconcile the credit card bill vs the room charges.  He was understanding and super professional right from the beginning and took me to a little office where we could sit and discuss what was happening.  He agreed there was a definite problem with the bill.  Apparently the girl the day before had meant to charge me for my entire stay as a way to correct the first wrong charge.  Unfortunately, neither amount was right and the first charge was never credited to my card.

The $15 charge was just a customary hold for incidentals which was fine with me. It would fall off at check out if we didn’t have any additional purchases during our stay.  The parking is ran by a company other than Hyatt.   The Manager told me that the fee is supposed to be assessed only to cars physically counted in the parking garage and that the Valet company told him they “assumed” I would be parking there so they charged me.  Wait, what!  The Manager was as angry about this as I was and planned to speak with a Supervisor of the Valet company later on.

The Manager offered to credit all my points back for my stay and I assured him that I all I really wanted was for the bill to be correct.  He said that he would contact me before we headed out for the day after he removed the Valet charges and got the billing corrected.  About 30 minutes later, he called the room to let me know it was now all straightened out.  Not only had he removed the Valet charge, he fixed the initial 2 incorrect room charges and credited me for the cost of 1 nights stay plus returned 6000 points to my account.

This was super generous of him.  I thanked the Manager and assured him he did not need to do this as long as the bill was now correct.  He said that it was not the way that Hyatt likes to do business or how they want to treat guests so he insisted on crediting me. A very nice gesture and a great service recovery to this issue.

The moral of the story is to always reconcile your hotel charges vs what you are being billed. I suggest you review them daily so you have a chance to get any issues corrected before final billing. In this case it was partially a system issue and partially human error combining to create a very big mess that almost cost me extra on my hotel bill.  Thanks to American Express for the alerts that made me scratch my head and look a little harder at the numbers to see that they didn’t match and to the efficiency of the Manager who solved my problem quickly and curtiously.

A Few last Thoughts

I think it helps when you have an issue at a hotel to go into it calmly and not just blindly yelling at someone in front of other guests.  I am sure that he appreciated me asking to sit down somewhere and calmly go over the bill together.  There was never a need for me to be angry or nasty during our discussions which is where a lot of people go wrong when attempting to resolve a problem.

I have seen people tie up the front desk for long periods while dealing with a problem keeping other guests from getting help they need.  Some are loud, nasty and make disparaging comments or threats before Customer Service actually has a chance to find out what has happened and fix it.  Give them a chance before loosing your cool.

We like to think our bills will just always be correct, but many things can happen that can create a discrepancy.  It only takes a minute to do a quick look over during your stay and it can save you a lot of headaches in the end.