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Refund nightmare: Expedia user can’t get money back for hotel after pandemic cancels spring trip

Consumer reporter john Matarese shows us a big downside of prepaying during this pandemic, so you don't your money.

HOUSTON — By now, most people who have had to cancel a spring vacation due to the pandemic have received a refund or credit. However, some people who booked non-refundable hotel rooms are still fighting for their money back.

Sara Pruitt and her best friend had planned a St. Patrick’s Day trip to Savannah, Georgia back in March.

"We booked a hotel through Expedia,” Pruitt said. “Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, our events got canceled."

Trying to get her $400 back turned into a nightmare.

"We attempted to cancel the room through Expedia,” she said. “We were on and off hold for eight hours with Expedia, to no avail, so we decided to dispute the charge through the credit card company."

But her card refused because it was a non-refundable room.

These days the lowest price on a hotel room is almost always a non-refundable price — no matter where you get that room.

That means if you have any issue or problem, it can be almost impossible to get your money back.

Expedia and other travel sites started refunding trips affected by the national shutdown. However, Sara's trip was a week earlier, so she tried the hotel, but no luck there.

"The manager at the hotel stated they sold the room to Expedia, and Expedia owns the room for that night," she said.

Travel forums have hundreds of complaints about people unable to get money back from prepaid discount rooms, but non-refundable means you lose what you paid if you cancel.

"Non-refundable rooms, I would not suggest them at all,” Pruitt said. “They put a lot of loopholes on them where you cannot get your money back."

It’s a great remainder of the risk of grabbing the lowest price, especially this pandemic year, so you don't waste your money.

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