Running around for refunds

Johan Murphy is not a happy camper. The Welcome Glen resident said he booked “multiple rooms” at the Protea Hotel, King George, in George, in November 2016, for January, but when he realised that it would cost too much, he cancelled his reservations.

“I received confirmation of cancellation and then in January I noticed that two deductions went off amounting to almost R9 000. I immediately contacted the hotel and was then refunded half.

“The hotel manager said if I can provide proof of cancellation then the other refund would be made. I was told that they will not refund me because I booked multiple rooms.

“When I called to cancel in November I gave them the dates of my booking, cancelled it and also received cancellation confirmation,” Mr Murphy said.

“When I received the confirmation of cancellation, I believed that the reservation (four rooms) had been cancelled.

“I have been telling Protea that when I cancelled the rooms they should have informed me immediately that I had booked four rooms. How should I know how their system works? Please help me I cannot afford to lose R4 500.”

Protea’s guest relations spokesperson, Gillian Bachmann, apologised to Mr Murphy for any inconvenience.

“Our management team at the hotel followed standard industry procedure regarding the cancellation policy being applied to this booking, especially in light of this booking falling over a high-demand period.

“Mr Murphy had initially made four bookings at the Protea Hotel by Marriott King George over the high-demand period, the festive season. As a result of this being a high-demand period, all booking rules and conditions – pre-payment required to guarantee booking, non-refundable if cancelled – were communicated to Mr Murphy,” Ms Bachmann said.

“Two of the four bookings were cancelled by Mr Murphy before he arrived at the hotel.
“These two bookings were cancelled by the hotel without any penalty. The third and fourth bookings were guaranteed with pre-payment. But when he arrived at the hotel, Mr Murphy asked to cancel his bookings as he had found alternate accommodation.

“After much discussion between Mr Murphy and general manager, Berneace Nel, the hotel agreed as a show of good faith to refund the one booking; while the pre-payment for the fourth booking was retained by the hotel,” Ms Bachmann concluded.
However, the answer didn’t satisfy Mr Murphy.

“In my opinion I booked for a certain date and for a certain number of people, and when I cancelled I gave them the dates and stated the number of people and received cancellation confirmation. Again it would have been acceptable if I only cancelled a week or so before check-in, but I cancelled more than a month in advance.”

Well, according to Protea, Mr Murphy only cancelled the last two bookings when he arrived at the hotel.

Sounding alarm

Dudley Wilson tried for months to get a refund of R596.79 from Chubb Fire and Security after he cancelled an order for a gate intercom at his Tokai home. Mr Wilson said it was such a small amount that he debated contacting me.

“But I am so appalled at the lack of communication or any sort of action from Chubb that they only have themselves to blame should you choose to name and shame them.”

Well, Chubb’s communications skills do leave much to be desired.

“Briefly, I cancelled the order on February 2 and I received a letter from them on February 9 advising they would refund the deposit and requested my bank details.

“I gave it to them, but they then wanted a certified letter from my bank which I thought was pretty stupid and time consuming and told them so.

“Eventually I sent it to them on March 15, and they said they would make the refund asap. Three weeks later I emailed them again on April 4, but there was no response. So I phoned them on April 19 and asked for the regional manager’s address and they SMSed the address: cancellations.cpt@chubb.co.za and I sent them the details again,” Mr Wilson said.

But there were the sounds of silence.

I asked Chubb why it was taking so long for Mr Wilson to get his refund. Anthea Sedgewick in administration did not acknowledge my first email. But then she sent a one-line comment. “We have been in contact with Mr Wilson.” Not even the trite we apologise And my email asking for an explanation went unanswered. Talk about communication skills.

However, the Chubb agent who called Mr Wilson gave him such “a rubbish story”.

“They could not pay the refund to ‘Craig Wilson’. I said what has my son got to do with it, he lives in my house and his name has never cropped up in any correspondence. I was very angry and told the agent that over eight weeks had gone by since their email telling me that, now that they had received my bank details, certified by my bank, that they would refund me immediately. Also, they had not communicated with me since then and he promised that the refund would be made.”

Which was eventually done.