Monday, April 22, 2013

How to solve a hotel billing problem

Lately, several people have asked me how to solve hotel billing problems. I have successfully dealt with this in the past and hope it does not happen again. Most of the time vacations go well. The check-out slip slides under the door just after midnight. In the morning the hotel guest picks up the check-out sheet and tucks into the laptop bag.

That's most of the time. The reality is that anyone who travels frequently will face a billing issue. It may be as simple as clearing up a misunderstanding about incentives or discounts. If so, then the situation is usually fixed easily. If it's a more complicated matter, then these tips should help.

Be nice
Hotel desk clerks are just like everyone else in that they are often overworked and underpaid. It may be tempting to take your frustrations out on them but don't. Resolving the billing problem swiftly will often require some assistance from the desk clerk.

Prevention is the first step toward resolution.
It's simpler to prvent a billing issue than to resolve it. The best way to solve this hotel problem is to carefully read your check-in paperwork before signing. Resolve any questions about the rate before walking away from the desk. Once you sign, you may be locked in. Have the desk clerk provide you with the updated paperwork or a photocopy of the update

Read the check-out paperwork.
Room and tax are usually posted to your account by the night auditor. To streamline check-out, many hotels slide the check-out paperwork under the room door during the night. Mistakes can happen so always compare both sets of paperwork. You can solve many hotel billing problems by going to the front desk immediately.

Post check-out concerns

Call the hotel
Your first step is to call the hotel and explain the problem. The front desk won't be able to help you. Expect to be transferred to accounting or to the general manager. Give them your reservation number, name and the date of your stay. Hotel billing problems that are caught after check-out can take a couple of months to resolve. Expect to spend time making phone calls, faxing or scanning paperwork or sending emails

If the hotel can't (or won't) fix your concern

Most hotels have a number for customer service or the reservations center. All of the chains have protocols in place to deal with customer satisfaction issues which include hotel billing problems. Sometimes all they can do at the central number is register your complaint and contact the general manager on your behalf.

Credit cards
You can dispute the bill with the credit card that you used at the hotel. The funds will be tied up until the dispute is resolved. Policies and procedures for solving hotel billing problems vary by credit card company.

Better Business Bureau
BBB has an online complaint system. If all else fails, then this may be your best option. You can
also use the site to search for a business or company by using the name, address, url or phone number. They will notify the business that a complaint has been filed in an attempt to help you resolve the hotel billing problem.

Another article that may interest you is Hotel amenities that travelers deserve. It should be required reading for anyone who is in the hospitality industry. Travelers may also get something out of it.