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July 31, 2017

Hotels Tighten Cancellation Policies

Filed under: Travel — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 6:05 am

Many people are used to canceling hotel reservations sometimes at the last minute without penalty or cancellation fees. Not anymore.

Several major hotel chains quietly imposed stricter cancellation rules recently, including Marriott, Hilton, and Holiday Inn.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Buried on the Marriott website is their announcement:

Marriott International is implementing a cancellation policy at hotels in the Americas including the United States, Canada, Caribbean and Latin America, across all brands with the exception of MVW and Design Hotels.

In an effort to better serve guests seeking last-minute accommodations, guests will now be required to cancel their room reservation 48-hours prior to arrival in order to avoid a fee. The revised cancellation policy will take effect on June 15, 2017 for reservations made on or after June 15, 2017.

So the old 24-hours policy is giving way to 48-hours advance notice (and at some locations, 72-hours) or the traveler will be charged for the first night’s stay.

Hilton followed suit announcing that reservations made on or after July 31, 2017 would incur a cancellation penalty of the first night’s stay if not cancelled at least 48 hours in advance. Some of their hotels will also have a 72-hour cancellation requirement as well.

And last, IHG, which runs Holiday Inns, Crowne Plaza, and Kimpton Hotels is imposing a 24-hour cancellation rule as of August 4 in the United States.

Once upon a time it was common for a hotel to allow cancellation as late as 6 PM on the expected date of arrival. No more. So be sure to check the reservations page so you know what policy applies at your particular hotel.




• • •

May 29, 2017

Payless Car Rental’s Shady Practices Get National Spotlight

Filed under: Travel,Uncategorized — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 6:21 am

Last year, Mouse Print* brought you a story from Consumer World reader Marcie S. alleging that Payless Car Rental engaged in various shady practices that often left customers with much higher bills than they bargained for.

Complainants said they reserved a car at one price, but were charged more at the counter. Others said they declined optional charges like roadside assistance, gas refills, and additional insurance, but were charged for them anyway.

We tipped off our friends at Good Morning America about the issues and they took on the case. ABC News went undercover, hidden cameras and all, and discovered similar things happened to them too. Their story aired last week.



After receiving more than 800 complaints, the Better Business Bureau has now issued a national warning about Payless and given the company an “F” rating. (Text version of ABC story and BBB warning is here.)

The class action lawsuits filed last fall against Payless continue. The question remains, however, what are our state attorneys general and the Federal Trade Commission doing about Payless?




• • •

April 3, 2017

Thanks for Nothing #5

Filed under: Humor,Retail,Thanks for Nothing,Travel — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 5:48 am

In honor of April Fools’ Day a few days ago, we first offer you an ad to make you chuckle, and then two ads in our series of ones that don’t quite offer what they claim (but which throw in a chuckle at no extra cost).

Example 1:

Retailers are notorious for advertising that “everything” is on sale when there are many exclusions. Old Navy tried to play it straight(er) by advertising a big sale this way:

Old Navy "everything-ish"

Thanks for trying, Old Navy.


Example 2:

Southwest Airlines recently offered an airfare sale with “no gotchas.”

Souhtwest Airlines

Then what’s this?

*MOUSE PRINT:

Southwest terms and conditions

Thanks for nothing, Southwest. But thanks to Richard G. for the submission.


Example 3:

Our last “deal” is at Ace Hardware. Just use your loyalty card and pay $3 more than the regular price!

*MOUSE PRINT:

Ace Hardware

Thanks for nothing, Ace.


If you find an ad that screams “thanks for nothing,” please pass it on to Edgar(at symbol)MousePrint.org . Thanks.




• • •

November 21, 2016

Thanks for Nothing: United Airlines Intros “Last Class” Service

Filed under: Thanks for Nothing,Travel — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 5:38 am

United AirlinesWe all know what first class air travel means — priority boarding, bigger seats, fancy food, quick exiting, etc. Now United Airlines is introducing what we have nicknamed “last class” service. As our moniker implies, this is at the opposite end of the spectrum of fares.

According to United’s website, “basic economy” as they call it will be their least expensive fare (with unspecified extra savings, if any), but will come with some new and severe limitations:

*MOUSE PRINT:

  • You will not be able to reserve a particular seat.
  • Seats will be assigned automatically at check-in, and presumably you will have no choices offered.

  • If you buy multiple seats for your family, sitting together is not guaranteed.

  • You can make no voluntary changes to your ticket.

  • You will earn miles, but not earn “segments.”

  • You will not be allowed to upgrade.

  • You will be automatically placed in the last group to board the plane.

    And the biggest (and nastiest) new restriction:

  • You cannot carry on any luggage except a small personal item like a laptop that fits under the seat in front of you.

  • So… during this Thanksgiving week, we say to United Airlines, thanks for nothing.




    • • •

    October 24, 2016

    At Payless You Could Pay More Because of Dirty Tricks

    Filed under: Autos,Travel — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 5:44 am

    Consumer World reader Marcie S. is one determined consumer. She says she was ripped off by Payless Car Rental, which is a low-priced subsidiary of the Avis Budget Group. She was determined to get satisfaction not just for herself, but for the hundreds or perhaps thousands of other consumers who may have had similar problems with them.

    Marcie says when she rented a car from Payless, they did something unusual:

    Payless Car Rental pre-charges the customers’ credit card for a full tank of gas, stating the charge will be reversed once the car is returned with a full tank of gas. Upon return, they inspect the car and if the gas tank is full they note it on the return receipt. They do not automatically reverse the charges. Rather, you are directed to call 1-800-Payless where they open up a customer service ticket. There, the claim is classified as a fuel charge “dispute.”

    They reply via ticket that they require ALL of the following to be met in order for your fuel charge “dispute” to be considered for review:

    1) A physical receipt from the gas station noting the address and number of gallons purchased;
    2) Gas station must be located within 5 miles of rental drop-off;
    3) The receipt must have a time and date stamp. They will only accept the claim if the purchase was made within 30 minutes of drop-off time.

    These requirements are non-contractual and extremely unlikely to have been met, especially with no knowledge of said requirements beforehand. They will NOT accept the rental return with the fuel reading marked “FULL” as proof. The ticket is then closed. There is no recourse and no way to escalate this situation.

    Wow. Could Marcie’s experience be unique and came about as the result of a rogue agent’s actions? Apparently not. There are hundreds of complaints online about Payless, which average consumers never see until it is too late. Here are some of their alleged practices:

    *MOUSE PRINT:

  • Issuing reservations at one price, but charging more at the time of rental;
  • Cramming charges, such as optional insurance, onto bills after the customer has declined the coverage;
  • Cramming charges such as for roadside assistance onto bills without oral disclosure or permission;
  • Misrepresenting insurance charges as being required when in fact they are optional;
  • Failing to refund fuel deposits after representing that they will be credited upon return of the car fully fueled;
  • Failing to fully disclose fuel refilling requirements prior to rental;
  • Representing there was no charge for an additional driver, then assess such charges;
  • Representing that certain fees are refundable upon return of the vehicle when such is not the case;
  • Provide the customer with one receipt with a certain price, and subsequently provide a receipt with a higher price;
  • and many others…

    Many customers report they were charged hundreds of dollars more than they bargained for. Some would even call Payless’ actions bordering on criminal behavior.

    Marcie got her money back from her credit card company but she wasn’t going to let Payless keep ripping off customers. She was able to collect the complaints of other consumers, complained to state AGs without much success, organized a private Facebook group with over 250 members who had complaints, and searched dozens and dozens of law firms until she found one to take the case.

    Last month, two law firms filed a class action lawsuit against Payless, alleging many of the things mentioned above.

    The New York Times asked Avis Budget (Payless’ parent) to comment on the lawsuit, but they declined. But we welcome your views below.

    And to Marcie… we need more consumers like you who don’t take no for answer.




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