DEAN DUNHAM: Can I get money back for a hotel room that looks nothing like the photos on the website?
I booked two rooms in a London hotel to celebrate my daughter’s 18th birthday. I used the hotel website and chose two ‘Studio Suites’. This room type was also described as having a minibar with a wide selection of drinks.
When we checked in, the rooms we were given looked nothing like the pictures on the website and instead of a minibar there was an empty refrigerator.
In fact, the rooms were surprisingly similar to another cheaper room on the website. However, when I complained, I was simply told that they were ‘studio suites’, which was completely wrong. The hotel is also described as five star, but in reality it is very tired and in need of renovation.
DD, by email.
Dean Dunham responds: It is a common complaint that hotels and hotel rooms look nothing like the photographs on a website.
If the hotel has been booked as part of a package holiday, it would be best to lodge a claim through the booking agent, based on the Package Travel Regulations. However, as this is a UK hotel, the Consumer Rights Act 2015 applies here.
This law says that property, including rental property like a hotel room, must be “as described.” In this regard, the law also provides that the photographs shown of the goods form part of the description. Consumer laws also make it clear as a basic principle that consumers should never be deceived.
“When we checked in, the rooms they gave us looked nothing like the photos on the website and instead of a minibar there was an empty refrigerator” (File image)
It’s a common complaint that hotels and hotel rooms look nothing like the photographs on a website, writes Dean Dunham.
Therefore, if the room did not have a minibar and did not look anything like the photographs on the website, it will be considered a breach of contract on the part of the hotel. This means you have the right to appeal.
Put your complaint in writing and accompany it with screenshots of what the hotel website says and photos of the room it shows. Also, take a look at sites like Tripadvisor to see if other guests have made similar complaints, as this will be good evidence to support your claim.
Ultimately, you want the hotel to offer a price reduction to account for the fact that the room you stayed in was worth less than what you paid for it. You could also claim compensation for loss of enjoyment. There is no set formula for this and it would be calculated based on individual circumstances.
If the hotel continues to ignore your complaint, you can ask your card provider (if you paid with a debit or credit card) to refund some of the money through a chargeback claim. When you make a chargeback or Section 75 claim, your bank/card provider refunds you (in whole or in part, as the case may be) and then claims the money back from the merchant.
Can I file a Section 75 claim after the retailer failed to repair my defective watch?
I bought a watch online in April and paid through Google Wallet. It stopped working so I returned it to the retailer. I was then told there was a problem with the mechanism which is a common problem with this watch.
Since then, the retailer has not communicated further or returned the watch. It’s been four months, so I contacted my card provider to ask about a Section 75 claim, but they told me I couldn’t claim because I paid through Google Wallet.
Simon Grant, by email.
Dean Dunham responds: It’s a common response from card providers, but the good news is that it’s wrong. Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974 allows you to make a claim against your bank or lender for breach of contract or misrepresentation by the supplier of goods or services. When you use Google Wallet, you can use Section 75 if something goes wrong, because unlike other payment platforms like PayPal, you pay the seller directly.
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