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    travel troubleshooter

    Charged twice for my Marriott room. How about a refund?

    Q. I booked one night at the Courtyard Marriott Miami Downtown/Brickell before a cruise. When I checked in, I told the clerk I was using a Marriott gift card, which he charged for one night.

    When I checked out, the hotel charged a second night on the gift card. I called customer service at Marriott to get the charge removed. I also called the front desk manager at the hotel. The best he could offer me was Marriott points or a credit at the Courtyard Marriott Miami Downtown/Brickell.

    It’s been almost a month, and this is still not resolved. A statement I received shows the credit, but the gift card balance does not.

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    Can you help me get a $210 credit to my Marriott gift card or the same amount in another Marriott gift card? Or maybe just a refund?

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    ELIZABETH MAGLIONE, Mount Pleasant, S.C.

    A. Marriott should have charged you for only one night since you stayed for only one night. I think you deserve a full refund — not credit at the Marriott Miami Downtown/Brickell.

    Overcharges are common in the hotel business. I’m still trying to resolve one of my own for a hotel in Santa Maria, Calif. You’d think that being a consumer advocate who specializes in travel would help. But no. I have to wait in the same line as everyone else.

    Here’s where I went wrong with my case: I didn’t check my folio immediately when I left the property. If I’d reviewed my final bill, I would have caught the error and fixed it right then and there. Actually, as I review the many double-billing error cases I’ve received over the years, that’s the biggest mistake guests make.

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    Don’t go for the “instant” checkout, bypassing the front desk. That removes the ability to check your bill for accuracy and to appeal it to a clerk or a manager if necessary.

    You can find executive contacts for Marriott on my consumer-advocacy site. After appealing to the hotel and corporate customer service, you might have shared your problem with these executives in writing. For a problem like this, a phone call is less effective than a brief, polite e-mail.

    I contacted Marriott on your behalf. It reviewed your case and agreed that it charged your gift card a second time by mistake. It again offered a credit, which is a common hotel response (after all, it wants to keep your money). A representative said it was having a problem refunding the purchase to your gift card.

    I said you wanted a full refund. Marriott sent you a check for $210.

    Christopher Elliott can be reached at chris@elliott.org.