When a Moneywise reader booked to go to the Riu Arecas Hotel in Tenerife earlier this year, it was set to be an emotional trip.
VO of Leicester had spent several happy holidays there with her husband of 60 years, who sadly died last year.
It was to be her first holiday without him, so family members agreed to fly out to keep her company at different points during the three-week trip.
VO booked accommodation for two people and emailed the hotel with the names of the family members who would be joining her. The first week went well, but when her daughter tried to check in for the second week, she was told that she couldn’t stay in the hotel because the booking was in the name of the first guest for the entire three weeks.
VO’s daughter was only allowed to stay if VO paid another €648 (£577) for the booking, which was described by the hotel as a ‘walk-in fee’.
VO’s grandson told me: “We think this is unfair and the hotel is exploiting a vulnerable customer. All their guests at this time of year are elderly people.
“It’s not about the money – it’s more the principle. We’ve tried to complain, and it has offered points to use in the hotel in future, which is not helpful as she won’t be going there again.”
When I contacted the hotel, it responded: “We would like to point out that our guests are the most important to us.
“We strive every day to give them our best service. We can assure you that our hotel team always follows the established protocol, rules and company’s regulations.”
In other words, it didn’t seem to think its staff had done anything wrong. This sort of attitude from big companies really angers me. Yes, it had not broken any rules, but it hadn’t shown any customer care.
I told the firm: “I’m sure your hotel team followed established protocol, rules and regulations, but they showed no understanding and compassion for my reader’s grief and situation.
“At the very least, I would have thought you would have wanted to refund the needless extra charges.”
I then pointed out that I would warn Moneywise readers that the hotel chain appeared to be a company that puts profits before customer happiness, which is not a good look for a hospitality business.
While the hotel still defended its staff’s actions, its stance then softened. On the basis that there was “a misinterpretation or misunderstanding” by VO, the company said that it would refund the €648 reservation fee charge as a gesture of goodwill.
I’m glad that the hotel finally saw sense and I hope that it tries to be more understanding with loyal customers in the future.