Home Money Can I move my non-refundable booking.com hotel reservation? Consumer rights attorney DEAN DUNHAM responds

Can I move my non-refundable booking.com hotel reservation? Consumer rights attorney DEAN DUNHAM responds

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A family's half-term trip to France was ruined when their children fell ill, but the hotel refused to change the reservation to another date

Our children were unwell during half term and we had to cancel our hotel reservation in France. We booked the hotel through booking.com and it was clear that it was non-refundable. We called the hotel and asked if we could change the reservation to another date, without getting our money back, but the manager refused. Is there any way to get our cash back? TR, Kent.

Consumer attorney Dean Dunham responds: Let’s start by dispelling a myth. Many people believe that when they make a reservation with companies like booking.com, they are contracting with that entity and will be able to file a claim against them if something goes wrong.

This is generally not the case as booking.com and other similar entities are simply a platform to facilitate your booking and therefore bring you and a service provider or seller of goods together. Here, booking.com facilitated your booking with the hotel and therefore your contract is between you and that hotel.

A family’s half-term trip to France was ruined when their children fell ill, but the hotel refused to change the reservation to another date

Even when a reservation is “non-refundable,” you sometimes encounter limited circumstances in which you can cancel or change the date. The starting point of your question is to review the hotel’s terms and conditions, specifically their cancellation policy.

If the policy gives you the right to “change the date”, you will have the right to do so and the hotel’s refusal will constitute a breach of contract. However, this is unlikely to be the case, meaning you will have no contractual right to cancel or request a date change.

So, at first glance, you have no rights here. However, in this situation I always advise consumers to ask the hotel if they will refund them if they manage to resell the room reservation. If the hotel were based in this country there would be some legal basis for this as under English law a trader must not “double recover” and the Competition and Markets Authority has previously commented that it agrees with this principle.

The same principle may not apply in France, but of course it’s worth asking.

Your only other recourse is to turn to your travel insurance, if you purchased a policy. However, you may find that you won’t be covered if you want to change the date simply because you changed your mind. If, on the other hand, you need to change the date for a medical or similar reason, you may have a better chance of being covered.

I rented a tent for my daughter’s wedding and it rained that day. The water leaked and dripped onto the guests. I want to get some money back but the company says the weather was exceptional. There was no contract, do I have any rights? ES, Gloucestershire.

Consumer attorney Dean Dunham responds: I often hear traders who rent goods, such as tents, say that the rental agreement is not covered by the Consumer Rights Act 2015 because they have not “sold” the goods to the consumer. So let me dispel another myth. This is not true: Article 6 of the Consumer Rights Law makes it clear that rental contracts are covered by this law.

As with the sale of goods, the Consumer Rights Act states that goods “rented” to consumers must be of “satisfactory quality” and “fit for their purpose.” Therefore, it does not matter that you did not have a written contract, as these provisions of the Consumer Rights Act automatically form contractual terms between you and the company that contracted the tent from you.

Unless the rental company has specifically told you, before agreeing to rent the tent, that it may leak in bad weather, you will not be able to rely on this and will therefore be in breach of contract (i.e. the contract entered into under the Consumer Rights Act) due to the canopy leaking.

Therefore, this will give rise to a remedy under the law. The usual thing that follows when you have made some use of the good or service (as is clearly the case here) is a price reduction. This right is granted to consumers under Section 24 of the Consumer Rights Act. The amount of the reduction is more complicated, since the law does not help in the calculation. But the greater the inconvenience caused by the leaky tent, the greater the price reduction.

Finally, if the rental company refuses to listen, you may have an alternative avenue of redress if you paid with a debit or credit card. If you paid by debit card within the last 120 days, you can file a chargeback claim by contacting your bank and requesting a claim form or a link to an online method to file a claim.

If you paid by credit card, contact your card provider and tell them you want to file a Section 75 claim. In either case, you will need to cite the breach of contract I mentioned above and you will need to say that you are asking for the money back to have take into account your right to a “price reduction”. Do not say you are claiming “compensation” as none of these claims pay compensation.

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