As a graduation present, my parents partly sponsored my first solo trip and I booked the Sandman for a night in Vancouver. With every hotel I stayed in, they reserved the room with their credit card and I paid cash at checkout (or charged it to their card). This was not a problem at any hotel I stayed in until I arrived at the Sandman Vancouver. Upon arrival, they informed me I was not allowed to check in unless I physically showed them the credit card the room had been booked with, which was several thousand kilometers away with my parents; they called the hotel but the clerk refused to accept anything less than the physical card or a faxed image they couldn't possibly provide. While the hotel would have been quite capable of charging that card for a no-show (it being a guaranteed room), they claimed I couldn't actually check in unless I presented the card OR purchased a pre-paid gift card to use in its stead, as they apparently couldn't accept cash. Thus began a two-hour odyssey around the sleaziest parts of Vancouver at some terrible hour trying to find someplace that could sell me the $250 prepaid gift card I apparently needed to check into a guaranteed $130 room. At long last, I procured the necessary plastic and checked in, at this point with an understandably foul mood, at which point the same clerk threatened to kick me out for being rude!
When I checked out the following morning, the (new) clerk asked if I wanted to charge the prepaid card for the room, as apparently they did accept cash after all.
Oh, and the kicker? The $250 "authorisation hold" the hotel placed on the prepaid card didn't expire for several weeks, leaving me with a prepaid card denominated in Canadian dollars that I couldn't use until I returned to the US, at which point it became subject to currency conversion fees.
In the hotel's defence, a very stern letter to the manager after my stay did yield a partial refund, dropping the final bill to about $80 post-tax; still mind-blowingly expensive considering what I had to put up with. Furthermore, the refund was issued months later and was posted back to the prepaid card that I'd already used up and discarded as worthless; I only discovered it because I found the card while cleaning out old papers and compulsively checked its value before chucking it in the bin.
Now I don't suppose this particularly unique problem will arise to normal people who book hotels with their own credit cards, but the obnoxious attitude and complete disregard for its customers that produced my problem is liable to manifest in other ways.
- Also Known As:
- Sandman Hotel Vancouver
- Sandman Vancouver
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