[CUSTOMER SERVICE] How to get your nonrefundable hotel stay (or anything) refunded

Estimated read time: 3 minutes

My favorite rule is always the one that says: You may disregard our 5,252 rules when it helps you provide better customer service. And – just for the record – this is not a post about how to cheat businesses out of what you owe them. It’s about how to get refunded what you didn’t use, can’t use or that was canceled.

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Hotel charges and other nonrefundable charges

Even though hotels and others are good at getting people to buy nonrefundable rooms or other services-and often they are nonrefundable – until you call them and explain that you really have to cancel the stay. It helps to be a member of the particular hotel chain’s loyalty program. Hotels are often accomodating. Airlines usually aren’t. Sometimes, airlines allow cancellations if there was an emergency in the family, for example.

Getting refunds through the credit card company

I try to use reward credit cards for everything. The money I spend also earns me points toward air travel, hotels, rental cars, etc. I’ve also claimed refunds through the credit card company before when I couldn’t get something resolved with a company. Careful with this, though. I did read an article once where somebody did this to get a partial airplane ticket refund while still on the trip. The airline company promptly canceled that person’s return trip.

Check with your bank or credit union for the correct process.

Being helpful outside the normal rules is also customer centric

When a company allows me to cancel a nonrefundable stay, it actually makes me feel more connected to that company. I won’t travel any less because I cancelled one hotel stay, but I might choose another hotel, airline, rental car company, etc., for my next trip. Maybe they know that and that’s why they are being helpful. Either way it’s nice and makes me – the customer – feel like that it’s about me and they are being fair to me.

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It’s easy enough to hop on social media to see people’s complaints about feeling they were wronged. Some indeed end up changing who they fly or stay with.

It builds trust and connection when rules are more used as guidance.

That also reminds me of the time we spent a family vacation out west and the hotel charged us for one room service charge three times. I simply called and they refunded not just two – but all three of them. It was such a small percentage of the whole trip’s cost, but still felt nice.

Whether companies do it to be truly customer-centric, or because they realize the cost is minimal when compared to the customer’s lifetime value, as long as the customer feels that they were treated fairly it’s chalked up as a customer-centric experience.

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