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Make sure you check cancellation small print

Q Michael contacted Smart Consumer because he wants to warn readers to double-check the cancellation policy when booking a hotel room.

He writes: "I have used agencies like Orbitz, Expedia and Priceline to make hotel reservations in the US, each of whom have very clear [cancellation] policies.

"I had made a reservation with an agency based in the UK. Due to unforeseen circumstances I had to cancel and did so on June 6, 2011, for a hotel reservation commencing on June 20."

Michael says that he was advised verbally that if the cancellation was made within a 14-day period a full refund would be issued. However, his refund was refused with the explanation that had the cancellation been made a day earlier, ie 15 days before, he would have received his money back.

Michael concludes: "Your readers should be aware of this practice which is totally at odds with the agents already mentioned."

He adds, "I intend to seek recovery of the full amount through the small claims court but it would be better all round not to have to go to this trouble."

A This was certainly annoying and it is always the case that various cancellation policies will apply.

The lesson here is that just because one booking agent allows you to cancel within a few days of your arrival at the hotel, it does not follow that all will.

A look at the terms and conditions on the website Michael booked with confirmed their cancellation policy.

It states that a refund (minus deposit) will be issued if cancellation is more than 14 days in advance. This means that Michael did miss his chance for a refund by just one day.

These are harsh terms but are clearly stated. However, if Michael wishes to make a claim, the fact he says he was verbally misinformed will form his argument.

Irish Independent