About a week and a half after the cease fire in Israel, Mr. Deals and I decided to continue with our already scheduled trip to the holy land. At that point I still had not made any hotel reservations for our time in Jerusalem and a few days prior to leaving booked through hotels.com.

Originally the rate I booked with was $147/night, but two days later went down by about $20/night. While there is a specific hotels.com best rate guarentee policy where they can adjust the rate, I didn’t really look into it and instead booked another reservation with the thought of just cancelling the first one. I knew the cancellation policy allowed a full refund up until 11/29 local time. On the night of 11/28, I went to cancel my original reservation to find out that I was past the cancellation policy – I was pretty in shock I must say, but maybe I misread it.

I went back to the confirmation email and found out that the cancellation policy in fact was 11/29, but the time to cancel by was 12:00am! This means it was one second past 11/28! I’ve never in my life seen such a deceiving cancellation policy ever. I immediately called hotels.com to see what they could do about this. Since they were essentially the travel agent, they were the ones that needed to contact the hotel, explain the situation, and see if they could get the cancellation fee refunded. Well three weeks later and I am still battling this one out with hotels.com as they are doing very little to help, but that is a story for another time.

What do you guys think? Technically I cancelled at 5:00am 11/29 local time (which was 11/28 US time) so I was past the cancellation policy. But this is extremely deceiving and I am actually shocked that hotels.com would even allow a hotel to implement this sort of cancellation policy. In this particular scenario, if they want the hotel cancelled by that time/date, they should make the policy 11:59pm 11/28. While I understand that many hotels have a 4pm or 6pm deadline, I’ve never never never witnessed 12am!!

Sorry for the rant, but I guess this is a reminder to look at the cancellation policy time and date in full detail!

Editorial Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews or suggestions expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer.

  • dhammer53 said,

    I don’t mean to be off topic, so please excuse me. How come you didn’t book a room using your points? That’s what I plan on doing.

  • Mike L. said,

    You went past the agreed set time/date. Suck it up big boy. Your fault.

  • David said,

    Rules are rules – next time learn them and follow them. You constantly push the line, so don’t be surprised when you accidentally stumble over it.

  • Alan said,

    I think this one is on you. You waited until the last minute and got burned. Live and learn.

  • Kalendil said,

    I’ve seen that with major hotel chains in the states. I’ve encountered cancellation deadlines of midnight with Marriott, Hyatt, and Holiday Inn. I actually don’t mind those; the 4PM times seem worse to me, because I’m usually still at work and must quickly dash to the break room to cancel on my smartphone.

  • Matt said,

    Based on a highly unscientific study of my last 2 years worth of refundable Hotels.com bookings, it looks like this is common outside the US:

    USA – 3 bookings with cutoff of 6PM; 1 with 3PM
    Mexico – 2 bookings with cutoff of 12AM
    Europe – 4 bookings with cutoff of 12AM
    Asia – 1 booking with cutoff of 11:59 PM

  • CodeAdam10 said,

    T&C, cancelation policies, legal mumbo jumbo is usually deceiving. I would have to say I’m surprised you didn’t pay attention to the date AND time of the cancelation policy more carefully. Further, you might have jumped the gun (in excitement) by making a brand new reservation because we all know 3rd party bookings can be tricky at times so it made more sense to modify your existing reservation. I hope it wasn’t an expensive lesson and Hotels.com help you out! I would also reach out to a manager at the hotel and ask them to intervene on your behalf (you still gave them business under the (new) 2nd reservation, right)?

  • Eric said,

    I’m not a big fan of these “gotcha” type policies either. By working with Hotels.com for three weeks it sounds like you’ve exhausted all your options and it’s time to file a cc dispute. At least that’s what I would do at this point.

  • dealswelike said,

    @dhammer53 – no problem at all. In Jerusalem there really is not a great usage of point redemption hotels. The only two options currently are the ramada and crowne plaza, both which are far from the city center.

  • dealswelike said,

    @codeadam10 – I’m with you, surprised I didn’t check the date and time as well. Absolutely my fault and fully admit it. Definitely a lesson learned Hotels.com isn’t being too helpful but the hotel themselves is.

  • dhammer53 said,

    @Deals, now That information very useful to me for my trip. Sorry to ride your coattails on this.

  • dealswelike said,

    @alan – agreed. Lesson learned but hopefully a reminder for everyone.

  • Lauren said,

    definitely worth trying to fight it! at the very least it’ll never happen again to you OR your readers!

  • Ivan said,

    Cancelation times can even be different within the same group, for example, Hilton can be different from Hampton Inn and so on.

  • monster said,

    Technically, 12 AM (or PM) is not even a valid time designator. It should be specified as 12 Midnight (or 12 Noon) since it does not belong to either AM or PM, but rather, sits between them.

    Likewise, 12 Midnight does not belong to either the day before or the day after, but again, sits between them. Therefore 11/29 12 AM could refer to the midnight following that date just as easily as the one that precedes it. It is inherently ambiguous which is why you’ll often see deadlines referred to as either 11:59 PM or 12:01 AM.

    In short, you could try arguing that you thought the cutoff time was the end of 11/29 rather than the beginning. Good luck!

  • Pointsandtravel said,

    @ Mike L, David and Alan: If this happened to you, you would be all pissy, but, my, how the tables turn when it is someone else.
    It is deceiving and it is meant to be that way.

    Basically it $@#%$. Sorry that this happened to you Deals we like.

  • bluto said,

    did it say 12am in the email? if not then I would be a little mad too. if it did say that then it is overboard to say it is deceiving.

  • Mike L. said,

    Pointsandtravel, I wouldnt be pissy to anyone else but myself. And I definitely wouldnt write a blog pist with a title like this post.

  • Unhappy 1K said,

    It’s definitely deceiving, I’m all for 23:59 instead; that said you obviously had time to cancel and you waited till the day before to do it.

    Should you fight it, yes, should you suck it up if you lose the battle? Also yes.

  • GetToThePoints said,

    You think that is ridiculous, St Regis is going to charge me over $10,000 if I cancel a reservation I have at Deer Valley. That my friend is ridiculous.

  • timmer1001 said,

    to me this is probably less deceit and more ignorance. They probably just messed up AM and PM, like some many non-US cultures do.

  • craz said,

    If I see a CX 11/29 12am it means to me that before 11/28 is over Hotel time I need to CX if I expect a full refund. There is only 1 12am on any given day theres a 11:59:59pm then 1 sec later its 12 am and a different date, no way to have more then 1 12am on any given date at 1 location

    this is a SOL case if I ever saw 1, you can dispute it but once the Hotel sends in that the request for CXing was done hrs after the Deadline, I just dont see any CC siding with you

  • Sarah said,

    I booked with Bo oking.com a few months ago in Lugano at a small place, where it said the cancellation policy is 7 days in advance. So, when I tried to cancel online on the prior Sunday afternoon before 6 pm….I was told it was too late. I called the hotel and booking.com and it was all straightened out immediately Nd I was not charged. But most places outside of the States that are not big chains like Hilton, do say….if you cancel before (for example ) September 22 there is no charge….. I like to give myself the leeway of remembering now to cancel at least a few days before the deadline, and am using more and more my reminder section on my iPad.

  • Ron said,

    I’m not sure what you’re claiming to be deceptive. Different chains and travel providers have different cancellation policies. If it’s adequately spelled out when making the reservation, this is not deceptive and it’s up to the traveler to adhere to the rules.

  • mrs K said,

    ARE YOU FOR REAL ? A DEAL IS A DEAL AND A POLICY IS A POLICY YOU SHOULD HAVE KNOWN BETTER

  • Truthiness said,

    No sympathy for you. You could have cancelled the first reservation immediately after booking the second. You waited, and waited, and waited. Now you want the hotel to eat the cost of your waiting? And someone suggested filing a CC dispute? That’s crossing the line in my view. You argue, present a justified position, and see what hotels.com does. Getting the CC company involved seems unnecessary. And I say this as someone who just tried, unsuccessfully, to get about $80 back in a best rate guarantee from hotels.com.

  • MSP Bill said,

    Have noticed that with Hilton a lot recently. Midnight day of arrival. Sneaky if you ask me.

  • jason said,

    you said something about Israel trip. just refresh your memory and remember the ELAL error they had $500 tickets o Israel and that’s a REAL mistake . did they cancel all? no they did not > why? coz people pay for there mistake rite? so as much that i love what you do for us , i think you should eat it quietly.

  • dealswelike said,

    @jason – Yes, this was the El Al error. Let’s get something straight first though. I absolutely admit to have making an error. Not once did I state that hotels.com or the hotel should reimburse me, although if they do that would be nice. All I was trying to point out is that a) I do think that a 12:00am cancellation policy is ridiculous (whether I needed to cancel the reservation or not), and b) make people aware to keep a close eye on their own hotel’s cancellation policy so they do not fall into the same mistake I made.

  • dealswelike said,

    @Truthiness – No sympathy needed. But just to ensure you have the right info – the 1st reservation was cancelled immediately after booking the 2nd reservation, there was NO waiting involved. I have not yet suggested getting the cc company involve, nor would that be an approach I would take as this was fully my fault, not the hotels fault, I just think it is a ridiculous policy.

  • dealswelike said,

    @monster – really?! that is very interested to hear just in general.

  • Grado said,

    6 years ago I booked a San Francisco hotel with hotels.com. When I got there, the hotel said they had no knowledge of the booking..the town was full but luckily they cramped all four of us into a small room. I have, and will never, use hotels.com again. You are confirmation of that. Sorry for your troubles with them and good luck!

  • jdaking said,

    unfortunately rule is rule, we can not complain because they make the deadline at 12am. Would we complain why this hotel set a deadline at 6pm but others make it at 4pm? Of course we will not complain because this is to our favour. Again rule is rule and we learn.

  • Jacob said,

    can you please remove @brew through’s anti-semitic comment?

  • noltian said,

    The title of this write up is not appropriate as their policy is not ridiculous but just confusing.that is provably why many here does not agree with you. As a person running a travel blog, you should know better

  • dealswelike said,

    @Jacob – It has been removed.

  • M Rille said,

    Thanks for the rant! To me, it is unfair and sneaky. I do not think it is a fair deal to the customers. It’s intention is to keep the money in their pockets. There is a tremendous amount of “fine print” we the public are expected to read in this world. And lots of travellers have a lot less money to throw to the wind than the big corporate wheel.

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