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Should I try a chargeback?

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cestmoi123 said:   It seems to me that credit card chargebacks are for cases where you've been harmed by the merchant. In this case, you haven't been harmed in any way - you made just as much use of the hotel as you would have (none), had the hotel kept the Best Western affiliation.

As an analogy, say I'm in a restaurant.  I order a steak medium rare, but decide, when it's brought to the table, that I really don't want steak, and would prefer lobster, so I tell them to take the steak away uneaten. I'm still on the hook to pay for the steak, even if it turned out that it had actually been cooked well done (a fact of which I was unaware when I sent it back).  

  So I disagree with the premise that it's about being harmed by the merchant. There are situations where you're harmed by a merchant where a chargeback would not be appropriate. E.g. if something is stolen from your room. Just as there are those situations, there are situations where a chargeback is appropriate even if you haven't been harmed by the merchant. E.g. if you order hamster food and right after you place the order your hamster dies and you don't plan on getting another one, so your plan is simply to throw the food away. The merchant fails to send the food. A chargeback would then be appropriate if the merchant fails to resolve the issue.

All of this is theoretical though. In this case OP asked the merchant to resolve the issue. The merchant not only refused to directly resolve the issue but informed OP that the only way the issue could be resolved is through a chargeback thus inviting OP to dispute. For all we know, chargebacks are the sole avenue the hotel uses to handle complaints. Unlikely, but that is what the hotel is telling OP. Maybe they lost their brand affiliation because Best Western's merchant processor refused to work with the hotel anymore because the chargeback rate is too high (this is mostly a joke).

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I think a better analogy would be if I ordered a NY strip and the restaurant ran out of NY strip after I ordered. Instead of telling me, they started cooking a sirloin. Then I decide to walk over to their glass steak display case and I see that there is no NY Strip left, so I ask the waiter if they ran out. He fesses up and tells me they are making me a sirloin, but promises it will be just as good. I consider canceling because I really don't want sirloin, but I'm not sure because I don't know if I want to wait for a whole new entree. Then I just completely lose my appetite, to the point that even if they had brought me the NY strip, I wouldn't have eaten it (but my appetite is none of the restaurant's business). I asked if it was too late to just cancel the order, and they said it was, because the steak was already cooked. I cancel anyway because I'm not eating and I'm hopeful the restaurant will do the right thing. They don't. They still charge me. And for all I know, they got paid twice for that steak because I didn't have them bring it to me and then throw it away after I didn't eat it, I told them I didn't want it before it even left the kitchen.

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marginoferror said:   
cestmoi123 said:   It seems to me that credit card chargebacks are for cases where you've been harmed by the merchant. In this case, you haven't been harmed in any way - you made just as much use of the hotel as you would have (none), had the hotel kept the Best Western affiliation.

As an analogy, say I'm in a restaurant.  I order a steak medium rare, but decide, when it's brought to the table, that I really don't want steak, and would prefer lobster, so I tell them to take the steak away uneaten. I'm still on the hook to pay for the steak, even if it turned out that it had actually been cooked well done (a fact of which I was unaware when I sent it back).  

  So I disagree with the premise that it's about being harmed by the merchant. There are situations where you're harmed by a merchant where a chargeback would not be appropriate. E.g. if something is stolen from your room. Just as there are those situations, there are situations where a chargeback is appropriate even if you haven't been harmed by the merchant. E.g. if you order hamster food and right after you place the order your hamster dies and you don't plan on getting another one, so your plan is simply to throw the food away. The merchant fails to send the food. A chargeback would then be appropriate if the merchant fails to resolve the issue.

All of this is theoretical though. In this case OP asked the merchant to resolve the issue. The merchant not only refused to directly resolve the issue but informed OP that the only way the issue could be resolved is through a chargeback thus inviting OP to dispute. For all we know, chargebacks are the sole avenue the hotel uses to handle complaints. Unlikely, but that is what the hotel is telling OP. Maybe they lost their brand affiliation because Best Western's merchant processor refused to work with the hotel anymore because the chargeback rate is too high (this is mostly a joke).

  On the hamster analogy (which I like, the world needs more hamster-based debating tools), I don't think it's quite on point, since, while the hamster food would have been of limited use to you, it still had some value, and the vendor clearly failed to deliver.  To tweak it slightly, if you had paid in advance for hamster food, but then your hamster died, and you never picked up the food from the pet store, I don't think you'd have much of a claim if you later heard that the pet store was planning to substitute Brand X Hamster Chow for the Fuzzyface Hamster Chow you had ordered.  

Also, regarding the issue of the hotel's response, it was unclear to me whether the hotel staff, unprompted, said "call your credit card company," or whether meade18 said "I'm going to start a chargeback," and the hotel staffer said "good luck with that."  If the former, then that's weird, but, if they're suggesting that he chargeback, then he should go ahead.  If the latter, then it's more of an "I'll sue!" "Well, then I'll see you in court!" scenario. 
 

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TravelerMSY said:   It's got to be pretty bad if they can't even maintain the Best Western brand. Their standards are pretty low and it's the low end of hotel branding.
  
Oh I don't know about that.  I've stayed at a number of nice Best Westerns - the best one was a few months ago in Vienna (Austria).  It bordered on being a luxury hotel and was significantly better than many doubletree or Hilton properties I've stayed at.  BW gives the local franchisees a lot more latitude to run the hotel the way they like - this usually results in better free breakfasts, hotel rooms that aren't cookie cutter, and better customer service.  BW is my chain of choice for rural areas where Hilton/Marriott either lack a presence, are out of whack price-wise, etc.

Rodeway Inn?  Motel 6?  Econo Lodge?  Now those are significantly worse.

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I submitted the chargeback request this morning on Citi's website. If it was more money, I would have done it via a mailed letter, but since it was only $80, I didn't want to put in that much effort.

I will update the thread when I get a response. I gave green for everyone that posted. Thanks!

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The brand means that if I have a problem, I can talk to corporate. If the hotel lost their brand and became a no-name hotel, I wouldn't want to stay there.

The fact that they won't refund you based on that fact alone sounds like you're dealing with a guy who's going to tell you to pound sand if anything happens.

Everything you're talking about doesn't mention what happens if/when you actually stay at the hotel. It's not worth your risk to know you will have no real recourse should you have a bad experience. And you don't get any potential points. It's a fair cancellation/charge-back.

If you booked and later didn't want to book, that's just a lucky coincidence and doesn't matter in this situation.

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stop using the brand change as a way to scumbag you're way out of it.it's pretty pathetic.

if you had a problem with the room then that would be the time for a chargeback. the room is exactly the same as the one you were paying for. they didn't hack it to bits and throw garbage all over the floor bc of the brand change.

saying you want to cancel on the off chance their is a problem you can't complain to best western management is an absurd stretch.

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Let's say you had booked directly through Best Western's website, what would the T&Cs have said with regards to brand affiliation and the loss of it between the time of booking vs staying? BW is really just a "sales channel" but like someone else said they pay the franchise fee (or rather consumer pays it) to have some assurance of a minimum standard and escalation access if something goes wrong. Without knowing the T&Cs it seems like you have a case but the devil is in the details.

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cestmoi123 said:   
marginoferror said:   
cestmoi123 said:   It seems to me that credit card chargebacks are for cases where you've been harmed by the merchant. In this case, you haven't been harmed in any way - you made just as much use of the hotel as you would have (none), had the hotel kept the Best Western affiliation.

As an analogy, say I'm in a restaurant.  I order a steak medium rare, but decide, when it's brought to the table, that I really don't want steak, and would prefer lobster, so I tell them to take the steak away uneaten. I'm still on the hook to pay for the steak, even if it turned out that it had actually been cooked well done (a fact of which I was unaware when I sent it back).  

  So I disagree with the premise that it's about being harmed by the merchant. There are situations where you're harmed by a merchant where a chargeback would not be appropriate. E.g. if something is stolen from your room. Just as there are those situations, there are situations where a chargeback is appropriate even if you haven't been harmed by the merchant. E.g. if you order hamster food and right after you place the order your hamster dies and you don't plan on getting another one, so your plan is simply to throw the food away. The merchant fails to send the food. A chargeback would then be appropriate if the merchant fails to resolve the issue.

All of this is theoretical though. In this case OP asked the merchant to resolve the issue. The merchant not only refused to directly resolve the issue but informed OP that the only way the issue could be resolved is through a chargeback thus inviting OP to dispute. For all we know, chargebacks are the sole avenue the hotel uses to handle complaints. Unlikely, but that is what the hotel is telling OP. Maybe they lost their brand affiliation because Best Western's merchant processor refused to work with the hotel anymore because the chargeback rate is too high (this is mostly a joke).

  On the hamster analogy (which I like, the world needs more hamster-based debating tools), I don't think it's quite on point, since, while the hamster food would have been of limited use to you, it still had some value, and the vendor clearly failed to deliver.  To tweak it slightly, if you had paid in advance for hamster food, but then your hamster died, and you never picked up the food from the pet store, I don't think you'd have much of a claim if you later heard that the pet store was planning to substitute Brand X Hamster Chow for the Fuzzyface Hamster Chow you had ordered.  

Also, regarding the issue of the hotel's response, it was unclear to me whether the hotel staff, unprompted, said "call your credit card company," or whether meade18 said "I'm going to start a chargeback," and the hotel staffer said "good luck with that."  If the former, then that's weird, but, if they're suggesting that he chargeback, then he should go ahead.  If the latter, then it's more of an "I'll sue!" "Well, then I'll see you in court!" scenario. 

  Continuing with the hamster , I would accept that analogy, but in that instance a chargeback would be appropriate in my opinion.

Without trying to delve too much into my limited recollection of contracts, let's say it wasn't a prepaid reservation and instead the hotel sued OP for refusing to pay. Wouldn't an acceptable defense be that the hotel wasn't able to perform and thus OP would not be held liable? I don't think OP's intentions should come into play unless OP starts talking about his/her own damages. Whether the name change is sufficient or not would be a different question, but at least that would get us past the point of OP's intentions playing a role and straight to the question of whether a brand loss would constitute the hotel's failure to perform?

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bxlefty23 said:   stop using the brand change as a way to scumbag you're way out of it.it's pretty pathetic.

if you had a problem with the room then that would be the time for a chargeback. the room is exactly the same as the one you were paying for. they didn't hack it to bits and throw garbage all over the floor bc of the brand change.

saying you want to cancel on the off chance their is a problem you can't complain to best western management is an absurd stretch.

  
Don't mistake my green for agreeing with you - it's merely a courtesy for adding to my thread.

I understand your view that it's pathetic, but it's really more of just turning an unlucky situation into a lucky one. Keep in mind here that the hotel did actually lose it's brand affiliation AND they had no intention of telling me. Yes, I am "using" the brand change to get out of a late cancellation fee. But wouldn't you say they "used" the Best Western brand name to get me to book the room, even though I wouldn't have been able to stay at a Best Western? Wouldn't me canceling and not being charged be the fairest outcome here? It's not like I am trying to get the room comped.

Yes, they claim the room is exactly the same as the one I paid for, but there is absolutely no way to know if that is true. I paid for a room that meets Best Western standards. I have no idea if they lost their brand affiliation because Best Western requires a refresh every X number of years and this hotel went way past that. If that is the case, they DID ruin the room based on the brand name change (figuratively speaking). Why should I have to show up and dispute it AFTER check-in if I find out about the brand name change before hand?

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bxlefty23 said:   stop using the brand change as a way to scumbag you're way out of it.it's pretty pathetic.

if you had a problem with the room then that would be the time for a chargeback. the room is exactly the same as the one you were paying for. they didn't hack it to bits and throw garbage all over the floor bc of the brand change.

saying you want to cancel on the off chance their is a problem you can't complain to best western management is an absurd stretch.

  Seriously? The only time a chargeback is allowed is if you have a problem with the room? That's a ridiculous assertion. On an international trip, I'm not going to risk staying at a hotel that isn't vouched for or isn't branded. On trips, people don't want to experience problems.

Brand names mean something, especially in the travel industry. Just to provide one example of a situation where a name change is absolutely reason for chargeback: OP's one Best Western stay short of elite status (assuming this exists with BW) so he picks a cheap room just to pick up elite status because its worth more than $80 to him. The hotel loses affiliation and that reservation is now useless to OP- would you agree that in that instance a chargeback would be acceptable?

As another example outside of this industry, let's say you order Grey Goose online and the delivery guy shows up with Kirkland Vodka and says - don't worry, it's the same thing. Are you okay paying the Grey Goose price for the Kirkland Vodka? Even if you don't care about brand name, you know you paid a premium for the Grey Goose because the place you ordered from didn't sell Kirkland. Would you not want a discount?

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Generally in contract law a contract can be freely assigned. In this case, the new (unbranded) hotel is the assignee of a contract, and is an obligor to you just the same as if it were the original party. Your obligations under the contract remain the same, and the new hotel's duty to provide is the same as the original. So really, in a court of law you're likely on the hook. Whether a chargeback would be granted is uncertain.

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highmktgoods said:   Generally in contract law a contract can be freely assigned. In this case, the new (unbranded) hotel is the assignee of a contract, and is an obligor to you just the same as if it were the original party. Your obligations under the contract remain the same, and the new hotel's duty to provide is the same as the original. So really, in a court of law you're likely on the hook. Whether a chargeback would be granted is uncertain.
  Emphasis mine. So the pertinent question becomes whether the new hotel can provide the same as the original. Many would argue, myself included, that the new hotel cannot provide that. At the very least, there is some value to the Best Western points received with the reservation. So, at the very least, the new hotel should get less for the room than under the original reservation. The question just becomes how much less. Hypothetically, if OP said "I ONLY ever stay at Best Western hotels," it seems there would be a colorable claim for a full refund.

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highmktgoods said:   Generally in contract law a contract can be freely assigned. In this case, the new (unbranded) hotel is the assignee of a contract, and is an obligor to you just the same as if it were the original party. Your obligations under the contract remain the same, and the new hotel's duty to provide is the same as the original. So really, in a court of law you're likely on the hook. Whether a chargeback would be granted is uncertain.
  What contract is bring assigned?  It's the same hotel, he is receiving a room with different features than what he paid for.  It's a breech of contract, not assignment.

If you order a brand name TV and get delivered a generic knockoff of that model, I'm sure you'd still agree that your contract just got assigned to a different manufacturer and since you still got "the same" TV you ordered there's no grounds for a chargeback?

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highmktgoods said:   Generally in contract law a contract can be freely assigned. In this case, the new (unbranded) hotel is the assignee of a contract, and is an obligor to you just the same as if it were the original party. Your obligations under the contract remain the same, and the new hotel's duty to provide is the same as the original. So really, in a court of law you're likely on the hook. Whether a chargeback would be granted is uncertain.
  
You can't unilaterally change the contract then assign it.

A better example would be if the Best Western was a franchise and it was sold to another owner. That's not what happened here.

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Is the charge on the credit card Booking.com or the hotel?

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Rcracer2017 said:   
EradicateSpam said:   
dcwilbur said:   One might just assume that it happens because the hotel didn't meet corporate standards or something like that, but here are 5 reasons a hotel might deflag itself.  
  
People assume they lost their affiliation, vs voluntarily giving it up.  Best Western is such a prestigious brand after all...   

IMO, OP has no leg to stand on.  Had he gone and stayed and found the hotel was below some standards of acceptability,  maybe.  

  Aquafina and Dasani are both municipal tap water people still buy it vs. drinking water straight from the tap because of brand loyalty. Doesn't matter that its a convenient excuse because of OPs changed plans. He has the right to cancel due to a material change in product and service.

Way off topic but they are not just municipal tap water, they are purified so it is not the same as just drinking from the tap

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dasani 

"Coca-Cola uses tap water from local municipal water supplies,[l=[2]]https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dasani#cite_note-Soft_drink_is_pur...[/l] filters it using the process of reverse osmosis,[l=[2]]https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dasani#cite_note-Soft_drink_is_pur...[/l] and adds trace amounts of minerals, including magnesium sulfate (Epsom salt), potassium chloride and table salt (sodium chloride). "  

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user1337 said:   Is the charge on the credit card Booking.com or the hotel?
The hotel
Unfortunately for me as far as the chargeback is concerned, the hotel is still listed as a Best Western in their system so it says I was charged by Best Western on my statement.

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Then a chargeback of Not as Described is appropriate I think. They said they were a best western and they weren't.

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meade18 said:   
user1337 said:   Is the charge on the credit card Booking.com or the hotel?
The hotel
Unfortunately for me as far as the chargeback is concerned, the hotel is still listed as a Best Western in their system so it says I was charged by Best Western on my statement.

  That only supports your claim of misrepresentation. 

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highmktgoods said:   Generally in contract law a contract can be freely assigned. In this case, the new (unbranded) hotel is the assignee of a contract, and is an obligor to you just the same as if it were the original party. Your obligations under the contract remain the same, and the new hotel's duty to provide is the same as the original. So really, in a court of law you're likely on the hook. Whether a chargeback would be granted is uncertain.
  When Assignments Will Not Be Enforced

An assignment of a contract will not be enforced in the following situations.The assignment materially alters what's expected under the contract. If the assignment affects the performance due under the contract, decreases the value or return anticipated, or increases the risks for the other party to the contract (the party who is not assigning contractual rights), courts are unlikely to enforce the arrangement. For instance, if Tom's local, organic dairy assigned the contract to a factory farm dairy, this would be considered a material alteration.

OP can't earn Best Western points at a non-BW hotel.  So that's a decrease in value.

Without the BW brand, the hotel could lower standards, since any complaints wouldn't result in penalties from BW corporate.  So that's an increase in risk to OP.

 http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/assignment-of-contract-ba... 
 

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The timing of this de-branding is pretty suspect. I've seen hotels brand and de-brand but generally that is done with a lot of advance notice, and the hotel reaches out to people saying 'Hey, we'll still honor your reservation but you won't get points' (since often the latter part is a key driver). Points may not have mattered as much, but I agree with those who see de-branding or re-branding as a material change. I have a reservation at a hotel that's supposed to be a Four Points by Sheraton by the time I get there -- but currently is not. I booked it as a Four Points by Sheraton hotel. If it's not a Four Points by the time I get there, I don't want to stay there (again, points, benefits, other considerations).

The cancellation policy is where things get hairy here -- I have a 3 day one, so I expect this hotel to be Four Points three days before.. and if its not (it has been delayed from earlier this year) then I'll move to something else. Not sure how I would react if the morning of I find out its not really a Four Points yet.

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meade18 said:   I submitted the chargeback request this morning on Citi's website. If it was more money, I would have done it via a mailed letter, but since it was only $80, I didn't want to put in that much effort.

I will update the thread when I get a response. I gave green for everyone that posted. Thanks!

What was the outcome?  

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The last communication I received from Citi was on July 1:

"We wanted to let you know we're still working on your $80.41 dispute.
We've contacted the merchant, they have until 08/25/17 to get back to us. We'll let you know if any additional information is needed."

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Update:

"We wanted to provide you an update on your dispute for the $80.41 transaction. We've heard back from the merchant. We're reviewing the information they provided and will get back to you within 10 business days."

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