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My Extreme Hassle Getting Double Charged at the Driskill Hotel

by on June 11, 2013 · 25 comments

in Hyatt

Back in mid-April I attended a friend’s wedding in Texas and stayed two nights at the Driskill hotel and one night at the Hyatt Place Austin Downtown. While the Driskill is nice in an Old West Victorian kind of way, my less-than-satisfactory experience with their billing department after my stay is what completely ruined my perception of this beloved hotel, which is now part of the Hyatt brand.

The Driskill Hotel in Austin, Texas.

The Driskill Hotel in Austin, Texas.

In addition to the one room I had already booked, a few days before my trip I called Hyatt Gold Passport to see if I could book another room using 18,000 points for one of the nights. Originally the representative told me the hotel was completely sold out, but I had contacted the hotel directly a few minutes prior and was told there were around 35 rooms still available. The representative placed me on hold quickly while she called the hotel herself to see if that was the case.

Once the rep returned she said there were in fact rooms available and the hotel just had to open up the inventory so that my room could be booked with points. Again I was placed on hold while they took care of this. Several minutes went by before the representative kindly explained that the Driskill is new to Hyatt and using Gold Passport points so they had to assist them with booking the room correctly.

The first confirmation I received was booked incorrectly as a paid rate of $289.

The first confirmation I received was booked incorrectly as a paid rate of $289.

Eventually the process was completed and I received two emails confirming my stay. The first email showed that the room was booked at a paid rate of $289 per night. The second email was a “reservation change,” which showed that the room rate was booked correctly under points instead of cash. To my understanding everything had been resolved and successfully booked the way I wanted it.

The morning of check out I was in a rush to get to my friend’s wedding so I left in a hurry without reviewing my bill. Had I done that I would have seen that I was being charged the paid rate for the room on top of already having the 18,000 points deducted from my account when I initially made the reservation. As always, I’d double check the folio on hyatt.com to make sure I wasn’t charged for anything like WiFi, but never have I been charged a revenue rate when using points.

The Drama Begins
About a week after my stay I noticed that I had a charge on my credit card statement from the hotel for $320.95. I knew that I hadn’t incurred those charges since I had used only points so I immediately called Hyatt Gold Passport to try to have it reversed. They informed me that I would have to take the issue up with the hotel’s accounting department as they had no control over that charge. Here’s where the extremely frustrating three-week runaround began.

After several phone calls and voicemails left for an employee in the Driskill’s accounting department I finally heard back and was able to explain the situation to them. She seemed to understand and told me she would look into the reservation. A few days went by and I hadn’t heard back, I was persistent and would leave voicemails asking for her to please let me know what was going on. When she finally called back she told me that the reservations manager would be calling me to discuss the issue and get it resolved.

At this point I was annoyed, but hopeful that the manager would be able to quickly fix the issue. Once he called me, I again had to go through the entire situation and he had me forward him the emails that confirmed my reservation and the rate and he assured me that he would get it taken care of after and said he would let me know if he had any questions. This was on May 7th…and I had originally contacted the hotel around April 22nd, so you could imagine my patience was wearing thin.

The following day I followed up with the an email asking if the refund was being processed and to see if he needed any more information. Fast forward to two weeks later when I still had not heard back from him or the employee from the accounting department after having sent multiple emails and left voicemails for both of them.

On May 22nd I decided enough was enough and called the hotel and requested to speak to whatever manager was on duty. For the third time I explained the situation and how frustrating it has been being ignored for weeks. This employee was very apologetic, but once again I was told that they had to look into it because it was accounting that had to process the refund. This time he emailed several employees with my information and reservation details asking someone to please take care of it.

Miraculously that evening the originally employee from the hotel’s accounting department called me. She acted like she vaguely remembered what the issue was, which further confirmed that I was not even remotely on their radar, then looked up my transaction and within two minutes said I would be receiving a refund receipt. Seriously? That’s it? How come that couldn’t be done the first time we spoke over three weeks ago?

I managed to keep my cool and thanked her for finally getting this taken care of, but I asked if it was possible to be awarded some Hyatt points for having to deal with such an aggravating situation. Of course she told me she would need to “look into it,” but I haven’t heard anything yet and don’t expect to after seeing how uncommunicative they were throughout this whole process.

Screen Shot 2013-05-28 at 5.54.07 PM

The biggest lesson learned here is you must always check your folio and statements to make sure that nothing pops up that isn’t supposed to be there. Had I not gone over my credit card statement I would have never seen the charge so I would have been out $320 and 18,000 Hyatt points.

That brings me to another good point, which is that in cases like this, your credit card is your ally. When I noticed the charges on my statement, I should have called the hotel to see if they could rectify the situation in a timely manner and issue a refund, but when it became clear that they couldn’t or wouldn’t, my other option was to call my credit card and ask them to dispute the charge. That way they get the headache of dealing with it and I wouldn’t have to pay the charge in case my statement closed before the resolution of this.

Unfortunately, I can’t get back the hours of hassle, but I do hope Hyatt Gold Passport does me good and gives me at least 10,000 points for the hassle!

Disclaimer: This content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuer. Opinions expressed here are author.s alone, not those of the credit card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through the credit card issuer Affiliate Program.

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  • Daniel

    Why not just call your credit card and have them investigate? This would have likely led to a very quick resolution.

  • bluecat

    Agree with Daniel. I believe you were probably your worst enemy on this. You should do ONE phone call to them and if they do not react in a positive way within a couple of business days, you contest it with the card issuer.

    With you being a credit card guru, I’m really surprised by the way you patiently (!) waited for them to get their act together instead of using the power of the card.

  • http://www.briandesmond.com Brian Desmond

    I’ve been nearly caught by this once – I glanced at a bill for a one night stay while rushing out the door and discovered that somehow I’d picked up charges for every single item in the mini-bar. Easily fixed at the front-desk but would have been a whole process had I not noticed.

  • Matthew Smith

    I usually go the way of card dispute and shift the burden of repeated calls to the credit card company. When you use one of the major cards such as those you highlight, they almost always reverse the charge immediately and you can forget about it…

  • Andrew

    Agreed. They were stealing from you 3+ weeks… Why not just contact CC company?

  • thepointsguy

    Yea- I should have gotten the credit card company involved, but naively thought the hotel would do the right thing. Good tip tho- will add that into the post for anyone else who might have a similar problem

  • stealthradar

    I don’t mean to pile on the “why didn’t you contact your credit card” bandwagon, but when a financial dispute arises, I take advantage of a credit card’s customer service, especially with the cards that I am required to pay an annual fee. My time is more valuable than chasing down incompetent people who just pass the buck.

  • Christian

    I booked my sister a room at the Driskill in April using points as she and her husband were also there for a wedding. Everything during the stay was fine but they ended up getting hit with a $703.00 charge for allegedly smoking in the non-smoking room. Neither of them smoke, though they admitted a lot of people at the wedding were smoking, so it is possible the smell came back with them, although no one smoked in the room. Like you, my sister tried calling Hyatt before getting stuck with the accounting department. After a little bit of research, I called the hotel and asked for the general manager by name. He looked into it and had the charge taken off later that day. Often, you just have to have the person with enough authority to deal with the issue. The odd thing is that the Driskill was actually purchased by Hyatt earlier this year and is not a franchised hotel. It would seem that the right person at Hyatt could have also likely addressed the issue.

  • thepointsguy

    I wanted to see how long it would actually take them to do right without getting the CC company involved for the sake of the post. But you’re absolutely right- you should normally get the CC company involved and I added that into the post as a tip for anyone else in the same situation.

  • Betsy

    Although I agree the follow-up was poor, the hotel had just joined Hyatt, and it’s quite possible they had a switch in res, billing, and other systems, which makes such mix ups somewhat understandable. It takes time for staff to be re-trained on things.

    Demanding 10,000+ points through the blog feels a little greasy.

  • thepointsguy

    I never demanded the points- I left it up to Hyatt to do what is right. I just personally think the value of my time (and assistants time) is worth more than 10k points, so thats why I put it in as a baseline reference of what I’d expect.

  • LR

    LOL you have an assistant? For what??

  • Zeke Kersey

    That was exactly my thinking. In my view, you, as a travel/points blogger, handled it in exactly the right way to see how THEY handled it. It’s good information to know when a particular hotel or chain is lackadaisical in their response to a customer concern.

  • thepointsguy

    Doing stuff like this?? ;-)

  • Brian L.

    I had this happen at the Hilton Times Square in NYC in 2004. They asked me if I wanted a copy of my bill while I was checking out, and I almost said no, but said yes to be safe. While I was looking it over, I saw that they had added a charge for parking for every day I was there, even though I didn’t have a car! They removed it when I pointed that out, but ever since then, I’ve always asked for a copy of the bill at the front desk when checking out, and reviewed while standing there in front of the agent.

  • Jake T.

    The points request is absolutely justified relative to what other hotels/airlines in the industry offer in similar situations. 10K pts should be nothing to preserve a valued customer.

  • http://david.ulevitch.com/ davidu

    You only have so many chits to play with the card issuer. It’s not unlimited. $320 isn’t worth it in my book. Better to resolve this the direct route, and not with the card issuer.

  • Kacee

    Everyone’s a critic. I would have handled same as you. Except I probably would have escalated to a letter to the hotel’s general manager after the second or third phone call. That tends to get people’s attention. Disputing charge with credit card issuer is the last resort and I disagree with those who say you should have done that immediately. It’s much better to work it out with the hotel.

  • http://www.comediandan.com/ Dan Nainan

    Indeed, successful people have an assistant. In fact, delegation is critical when you work for yourself – many successful people have told me their careers really took off when they got an assistant. If anybody would need one, I imagine TPG would.

  • http://www.comediandan.com/ Dan Nainan

    Are you kidding me? 10,000 point is the LEAST they should give TPG, because of the hassle that he went through! Especially considering this is a first class hotel.

  • AK

    That is why I try to stay with Hampton/Homewood or any other brand that offers 100% Satisfaction. If their is an issue, they resolve it on the spot because you can always call the 800 number. If the Central office gets involved, they will give you full refund and will charge the hotel $100 intervention fee plus the refunded amount – which will boil GM,s blood for days. Might not be the same level as Driskill but the Hampton in Downtown Austin is nice…Again, assuming you have points, etc…

  • John K

    It’s a VALID dispute. Doesn’t matter how many “chits to play”, a dispute is a dispute. If the vendor won’t resolve the issue in a timely manner, then a dispute filed with CC is NOT unreasonable. It’s certainly ONE way to get the vendor’s attention REAL quick.

  • John K

    +1

  • TheDriskill

    Hi there — we at The Driskill are incredibly sorry to hear about your experience here during our transition, and offer our most sincere apologies for the mix-up with redeeming points, and the confusion in trying to decipher what went wrong & where. We do understand your frustration at the amount of turnaround time. In that light, we’d love to credit you with 18,000 Gold Passport points, and of course invite you back for a much more seamless experience. Please do contact us at 512-439-1234, and our PR department will arrange the details.

  • Brian Kavanaugh

    Wow points are getting contentious. Seems like somebody in the “board” room is finally taking notice of these things. Don’t know why I’m even commenting on it, but having been down this road decades before in life, this might not be good. What we all have to remember is these perk programs are all voluntary on behalf of the underlying issuer, they can be REAL $%^*@’s if you start using words like theft and stealing. Not the route I would go. Have a great week.

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