I’ve had a few IT issues with Starwood and Chase in the past, but nothing like what happened with Hilton this weekend. When trying to switch a Twin bed reservation to a King bed for the same night, I was charged $920 and lost over 20,000 Hilton points because the customer service representative made a mistake. I’m not sure how I could have prevented this but nonetheless, here’s my tale of woe.
Next summer I’ll be traveling to Italy for the first time. I’m excited about the hotels I’ll be staying in, especially the Waldorf Astoria Rome Cavalieri. Not only does the property look beautiful, but my two night stay will be free thanks to the Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve credit card. Well, almost free; the Hilton Reserve card has a $95 annual fee.
Even so, with rooms going for about $550 per night, this is a pretty sweet deal. I made the reservation back in November, when award availability was very limited. I was able to get a King Deluxe for the first night but would have to switch to a Twin Deluxe on the second night of my stay. Not a huge deal, but my boyfriend and I definitely prefer to have a king bed over two twins. I set an alert with Hotel Room Alerts and forgot about it.
This weekend, I received an email saying a King Deluxe was available for the second night of my stay (Hotel Room Alerts, FTW!). I called up Hilton and requested to change the room from a Twin Deluxe to a King Deluxe. I told the customer service representative that I had used a free night certificate for the booking. She said she would need to cancel and re-book in order to change the room and asked for a credit card to reserve the room. I clarified that I wouldn’t be charged for anything and she confirmed, so I told her to proceed.
I got an email for my canceled twin bed reservation and the new king bed reservation. If only it was that easy…I also received a receipt for a purchase of over 57,000 points costing about $920. Sure enough, this charge has since posted to my credit card.
Apparently, the representative used my point balance of about 23,000 and purchased an additional 57,000 points to make the reservation (the Waldorf Astoria is 80,000 points per night). When I called Hilton to say I never authorized this and I was using a free night certificate, they explained that even if you are using a free night certificate, you need to have a point balance equal to the cost of the reservation.
Given that I made two free night certificate reservations without ever having a balance of 160,000 points, I don’t really get how this is true. Regardless of Hilton’s screwy infrastructure, I needed to get my money and points back! They had to cancel my reservation (again) and wait for the system to return my free night certificate. The representative was nice and had me stay on the line until everything was all set, but it took about an hour for my certificate to reappear and for the 80,000 points (57,000 purchased and 23,000 that were my own) to return to my account.
The representative didn’t have the ability to give me a refund. She submitted a case stating what happened. If all goes well I should receive a refund in 3-5 days. Right now my account has 80,000 points, 57,000 of which will be returned to Hilton. In the meantime, I’m stuck with 57,000 points I don’t want and a $920 credit card bill…all this for a king-sized bed! I’m not really sure how telling this story can help someone avoid this; I asked a zillion questions in an attempt to make sure something bad wouldn’t happen. If there is a lesson to be learned, I guess it’s to monitor your credit card accounts closely…it definitely pays to do so.
Has anyone else experienced something like this when using a Hilton free night certificate?