Destinations

Citi Journey canceled this couple’s Bora Bora overwater bungalow. What may they do?

When Junewon Lee and his accomplice, Alex, determined to go to Bora Bora for his or her anniversary, they’d their hearts set on staying in an overwater bungalow. Scrolling by means of the Citi journey portal, Lee discovered a spectacular deal on a Presidential Overwater Villa on the Conrad Bora Bora Nui and shortly made a reservation.

It wasn’t till months later — and simply weeks earlier than their journey — that Lee found one thing uncommon about that overwater bungalow when he double-checked his reservation: It was on the seaside, not over the water. Worse, after many unsuccessful makes an attempt to get Citi Journey to appropriate this error, an agent canceled the couple’s reservation altogether.

With time working out and no overwater bungalow or some other lodging booked, Lee turned to TPG for assist.

Might we save this much-anticipated journey and get this couple the overwater bungalow in paradise they’d been dreaming about?

Utilizing Citi Journey with Reserving.com to plan a particular journey

CONRAD BORA BORA NUI RESORT (BORA BORA FRENCH-POLYNESIA)/FACEBOOK

Again in October 2023, Lee was perusing the Citi Journey portal, which is powered by Reserving.com. He was particularly in search of resorts with overwater bungalows in Bora Bora.

“We instantly noticed the Conrad, and it seemed lovely,” Lee recalled. “The overwater bungalows had been accessible for our dates, and we had been ready to make use of the Citi Status fourth-night-free profit.” The couple would primarily be capable of take pleasure in 4 nights on the resort for the price of three, making this a good higher deal.

The data for the Citi Status® Card has been collected independently by The Factors Man. The cardboard particulars on this web page haven’t been reviewed or supplied by the cardboard issuer.

A sidebar for these unfamiliar with the Citi Status fourth-night-free profit:

  • Cardholders should guide a minimal four-consecutive-night keep at a collaborating lodge by means of ThankYou.com or by calling 1-800-ThankYou.
  • The value you pay throughout reserving contains that profit, and the financial savings are equal to the typical nightly charge of your reservation for one night time, excluding taxes and charges.
  • The client can use this profit as much as two instances per calendar yr.

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Together with the Citi Status profit, the ultimate charge for the Presidential Overwater Villa ended up at $852 per night time. That most likely ought to have been trigger for concern.

It wasn’t only a spectacular deal. For one of many prime room classes on the Conrad Bora Bora Nui, in excessive season, that charge was merely unbelievable.

However Lee says he had no thought the speed ought to have raised his eyebrow since he had neither booked an identical journey up to now, nor finished very a lot lodge analysis on the vacation spot.

“We by no means even checked out some other properties,” Lee advised me. “As quickly as we noticed the Presidential Overwater Villa on the Conrad was accessible and at a charge that was effectively inside our value vary, we had been offered.”

When Citi Journey even allowed the couple to make use of their Status profit to avoid wasting much more on the keep, it appeared just like the anniversary journey was coming collectively completely.

A minimum of, initially.

Citi Journey confirms: The Presidential Overwater Villa on the Conrad

JUNEWON LEE

If Lee and his accomplice had any suspicions concerning the validity of the value for the Presidential Overwater Villa, these fully dissipated when the e-mail affirmation arrived from Citi Journey.

“Our card was charged the complete price for the 4 nights and Citi Journey despatched our affirmation by way of electronic mail,” Lee defined.

With their Presidential Overwater Villa on the Conrad confirmed, the couple turned their ideas to how they’d get to Bora Bora.

“We redeemed 160,000 American Airways miles for 2 business-class seats on Air Tahiti Nui,” Lee advised me. “Then, for our return flight, we had been capable of snag two business-class seats on Air France for 210,000 [Flying Blue] miles. We actually could not imagine how completely the complete journey got here collectively.”

Sadly, issues with this good journey lay forward — huge issues.

“The room wasn’t over the water. It was simply behind the seaside dealing with the lagoon,” reported Lee. “As a result of we had booked by means of Citi Journey, the lodge simply referred us again to our reserving agent.”

Lee was then trapped in a round battle between the lodge and Citi Journey, with neither keen nor capable of appropriate the reserving mistake.

“It was irritating,” Lee recalled. “Even with my confirmed reservation from Citi Journey, I used to be getting nowhere quick.”

We will not repair it, so we’re canceling it

For the following two weeks, Lee tried to repair his reservation on his personal. The Citi Journey brokers had been well mannered however noncommittal. Every electronic mail from Citi Journey supplied an apology for the issue with the reservation however no resolution.

As Lee continued to electronic mail and name every day, the perspective of the customer support brokers started to shift.

“They [Citi Travel representatives] weren’t being pleasant anymore. One supervisor advised me on the telephone to take it or go away it. He mentioned we had been now confirmed in a backyard room and that he could not attain anybody on the lodge who would put us within the overwater bungalow. He advised us to hope for one of the best, and we could get upgraded once we arrive. I advised him our affirmation from Citi Journey says a Presidential Overwater Villa, so why would we settle for a backyard room on land? We do not wish to try this.”

Lee says the consultant then knowledgeable him that the couple’s reservation was nonrefundable. Subsequently, the Citi Journey agent suggested, the almost $3,000 pay as you go deposit could be forfeited in the event that they canceled.

Not sure what to do subsequent, Lee and his accomplice mulled over their choices. One of many main causes they’d chosen Bora Bora was to expertise an overwater bungalow. Now, the Citi Journey agent had given them an ultimatum: settle for the garden-view room or cancel and lose their cash.

Neither selection was interesting to the couple, however it seems they did not should determine. That Citi Journey agent selected to handle the error by canceling the complete reservation and refunding their deposit regardless of the earlier point out of its nonrefundable standing.

“We didn’t ask him to cancel the reservation,” Lee clarified. “We had been nonetheless occupied with what to do when the cancellation got here by means of.”

This anniversary journey was beginning to seem like an entire bust.

Nevertheless, Lee wasn’t keen to surrender simply but. He had yet another thought: to ask TPG for assist.

Can TPG assist these troubled vacationers?

When Lee’s request for assist landed on my desk, he was determined. The couple had their airline tickets to French Polynesia and nonetheless held on to some hope that an overwater bungalow was within the playing cards.

However with lower than three weeks earlier than departure, their hope was dwindling.

“Do you assume you’ll be able to assist us?” Lee requested me. “Citi Journey says there aren’t any overwater bungalows to guide. I referred to as the lodge, and there are [overwater bungalows], so I do not know why Citi Journey cannot simply appropriate its mistake. Costs are skyrocketing as we get nearer to the vacations.”

I definitely hoped we may assist. However as quickly as I began trying on the particulars of the case, I had my considerations. All of the traditional hallmarks of a “fats finger” deal had been there — that is when a charge is a results of a human knowledge entry error.

After I checked charges for overwater bungalows for a similar dates throughout Bora Bora, it was instantly clear to me that Lee’s authentic reservation was the results of an enormous pricing error.

The nightly charge throughout the atoll for an entry-level overwater bungalow didn’t dip beneath $1,400 at any of the resorts that I may see.

Lee had booked the Presidential Overwater Villa for $852 per night time — not together with tax — with the Citi Status fourth night time free, bringing the ultimate price all the way down to a mere $714 per night time. That exact room sort can go for greater than $6,000 per night time through the vacation season, although. Undoubtedly, somebody goofed once they loaded that charge into the Citi Journey system.

When the Conrad Bora Bora Nui acquired the reservation from Citi Journey with the bargain-basement charge of $852 per night time, the lodge merely positioned the couple in a room that corresponded most carefully to that charge: a garden-view room on the seaside.

Lee requested the lodge to honor his authentic reservation and make sure the Presidential Overwater Villa, however the Conrad referred him again to Citi Journey, the reserving agent that had supplied the mistaken charge for that room class.

JUNEWON LEE

That is not a shock. If a reserving agent or journey portal makes a pricing error and the lodge shouldn’t be keen to honor the mistaken charge, the traveler has three decisions:

  • Cancel for a refund: The reserving agent should let the traveler cancel for a full refund if the speed shouldn’t be legitimate for a similar room class on the reservation. That is true even when the speed that’s on the affirmation says “nonrefundable.” Ultimately, that is why Citi Journey refunded Lee’s pay as you go reserving for the Presidential Overwater Villa that it couldn’t present for the value he paid.
  • Settle for a “downgrade”: On this case, the Conrad looked for a room that extra carefully aligned with the speed the couple paid. This sort of downgrade may be a suitable decision for vacationers who’ve booked a mistaken charge.
  • Pay the value distinction: The reserving agent could try to barter one thing affordable with the property for the shopper — and there could also be a value concerned.

However Lee says he was introduced solely with a take-it-or-leave-it possibility … after which an involuntary cancellation. Nevertheless, canceling wasn’t the decision the couple wished, nor wouldn’t it have been a good final result.

Can Reserving.com discover this couple an overwater bungalow?

Though a third-party reserving agent shouldn’t be required to honor a pricing mistake, typically a traveler will get fortunate if the error is not too outrageous and the shopper made the reserving in good religion. That is to say, the traveler wasn’t making an attempt to recreation the system and benefit from an simply identifiable pricing error.

Based mostly on my conversations with Lee, I used to be satisfied that he had made the unique reservation in good religion. So I hoped Citi Journey with Reserving.com may appropriate this drawback by discovering some class of overwater bungalow for the couple, albeit not essentially a $6,000-per-night Presidential Overwater Villa.

I despatched Lee’s request to our government contact at Reserving.com and requested for a fast overview because the clock was ticking. This isn’t a customer-facing consultant, however somebody I’ve entry to as a shopper advocate and member of the media.

This is an excerpt of what I wrote:

As they checked their reservations just a few days in the past with [the Conrad], they discovered that their reservation with Reserving/Citi Journey does not match what the lodge has them confirmed in. They particularly booked the lodge for the over-the-water bungalows, and it appears like Reserving/Citi confirmed them in a land-side bungalow.

Can your workforce take a look and see what may be finished now? Thanks!

Michelle Sofa-Friedman, Shopper advocate

After the Reserving.com workforce received concerned, excellent news finally got here for Lee … in an enormous approach.

Overwater bungalow confirmed — on the 4 Seasons Bora Bora!

ANDRE KLOTZ/FOUR SEASONS

About 10 days after Lee first contacted TPG together with his overwater bungalow reserving drawback, some excellent information arrived.

Citi Journey confirmed the couple in an overwater bungalow on the 4 Seasons Resort Bora Bora as a substitute and absorbed the value distinction — round $5,000.

Lee wrote me, ecstatic:

Michelle!

Lastly, excellent news!

Earlier than we contacted TPG, we had been about to throw within the towel and quit – particularly after the Citi Journey agent canceled our reservation. I am so grateful we did not.

Thanks a lot in your assist. Junewon Lee

And I am pleased to report that regardless of the tough begin, the couple had a superb journey to Bora Bora. The overwater bungalow on the 4 Seasons was every part they hoped for, and the journey was an entire success due to the intervention of TPG.

What to know earlier than reserving a lodge by means of a 3rd get together

JUNEWON LEE

To scale back your possibilities of ending up in an identical fiasco, listed below are some issues to recollect when reserving resorts, airfare, cruises and automotive leases by means of a third-party web site.

Take screenshots

Descriptions and images you see on a third-party web site aren’t all the time present. It is best to take a screenshot of the small print as you are reserving. That approach, ought to there be an issue later, you may have the proof to indicate precisely what you booked.

Evaluate your affirmation instantly

After you obtain your affirmation from the third-party reserving agent, be certain that to overview all the small print completely. Keep in mind, when you do not guide straight, there may be an additional layer between you and the lodge to work by means of if issues pop up, resembling in case your reservation is for the unsuitable dates or room class. Will probably be as much as you and the third-party agent, not the lodge, to appropriate these points, so all the time overview your affirmation as quickly as you obtain it.

Contact the lodge straight

This subsequent half is essential to efficiently navigate a possible mistake with a reservation booked by means of a 3rd get together. After receiving the affirmation from the reserving agent and checking its accuracy, contact the lodge. Since you’re coping with two reservation programs, be certain that the lodge’s affirmation particulars match yours. You would possibly discover, as Lee did, that they do not match. The earlier you discover out you’ve got received an issue, the higher your probability of correcting that drawback with minimal expense and disappointment.

What if the lodge and the reserving agent affirm a pricing error?

Pricing errors on third-party reserving websites aren’t unusual.

Vacationers ought to all the time be cautious of too-good-to-be-true offers supplied on third-party reserving websites for airfares, resorts, cruises, and automotive leases.

It’s best to know that there are at present no legal guidelines or rules that shield customers and require a reserving agent to honor a data-entry pricing mistake.

In case you efficiently guide a deal that seems to be an error, it will likely be topic to cancellation. Sometimes, when these charges are detected, the traveler’s plans are voided, or a better charge is imposed.

So, customers beware.

I reached out to our government contact at Hilton about Lee’s case and about pricing errors. Right here is the corporate’s official response:

At Hilton, we’re a enterprise of individuals serving folks, and it is our prime precedence to care for our prospects and company all through their complete journey expertise – from reserving to billing – whereas additionally providing them selection and management. We encourage our company to guide direct by means of official Hilton channels, together with Hilton.com and the Hilton Honors app, for one of the best accessible stock and charges.

If reserving errors happen with third-party distributors, our lodge groups work onerous to search out one of the best options with their accessible stock, which fluctuates each day.

On this case, one of the best resolution the Conrad Bora Bora Nui discovered was giving the couple a room regardless of Citi Journey’s mistake, albeit one which was not in the identical class the couple had meant to guide.

What are you able to do if neither the lodge nor the reserving agent will honor the speed?

JUNEWON LEE

There aren’t any legal guidelines that require a journey supplier to honor a pricing error. So what occurs if you happen to guide a charge that seems to be invalid — and you’ve got already invested in different components of the journey?

The hot button is flexibility; be open to compromise.

Most journey suppliers do not wish to wreck their prospects’ holidays. However these are for-profit companies. As such, since journey suppliers and reserving brokers aren’t compelled to honor a mistakenly added charge (which could additionally price the corporate hundreds of {dollars}), for essentially the most half, they will not.

As an alternative, a good reserving agent will most likely give you an inexpensive compromise that ought to come at little to no price to you. If that does not occur, you’ll be able to escalate your grievance from the essential customer support stage.

You are most likely questioning, on this age of synthetic intelligence, the right way to attain a customer-facing government together with your message. That half is simple.

In case you’re having no luck, as Lee was, discovering an actual individual on the firm who has the power to repair your drawback, my advocacy group Shopper Rescue might help. You inform us the title of the enterprise you are battling, and we’ll provide the title of somebody there who we all know has a constructive observe file serving to prospects. This service is freed from cost to customers.

With that data in hand, you’ll be able to write a brief, well mannered request for reconsideration.

The place to file a proper grievance

Lastly, in case your finest efforts to return to an inexpensive decision are futile, you may need just a few extra choices. If the info of your case are in your facet, submitting a proper grievance with a shopper safety company will typically give the corporate concerned the nudge it must do the best factor.

Listed here are a few of the locations you would possibly begin:

Backside line

Though the spectacular charge that Lee booked on the Conrad Bora Bora Nui was merely the results of a human error, it was not an apparent mistake. Lee had no cause to imagine Citi Journey’s affirmation was invalid, regardless that it was. If he hadn’t checked with the lodge a number of weeks beforehand and uncovered the discrepancies, this couple would have been in for a disappointing shock at check-in.

As Lee found, when reserving errors like this occur, the buyer often finally ends up with the quick finish of the stick.

However Lee reached out to TPG, in order that wasn’t this couple’s destiny. As an alternative, they celebrated their anniversary precisely the place they all the time meant — over the water in a tropical bungalow in French Polynesia.

Pleased anniversary, Junewon and Alex!

In case you are in a shopper battle with a cruise line, lodge, automotive rental firm, airline or trip rental company, ship your request for help to ombudsman@thepointsguy.com, and I will be pleased that will help you, too.

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