Lesson Learned: The Importance of Getting A Cancellation Number

Posted on
Aug 6, 2012

Some of the replies to last Thursday’s post (via the comments, Twitter, and Facebook) hit me pretty hard. I have figured that several years of blogging would have thickened my skin, so my reaction surprised me (also surprising: when I got teary over an Olympics-themed Visa commercial. These damn steroids have turned me into a moody softy). I curled up into a ball and when Rand asked me what was wrong, all I could mutter was, “People on the internet are upset with me.”

And he had a good laugh, because when the sum total of your problems can be expressed thusly, THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH YOUR LIFE.

But in the midst of the occasionally-heated discussion, an important point came up: this sort of reservation-mishap happens a lot (a big thanks to reader kokopuff for making me aware of this). Sometimes it’s an intentional scam. Sometimes it’s just an honest clerical mistake (I want to give our hotel the benefit of the doubt). Either way, you need to protect yourself.

The scenario goes something like this:

You make a reservation at a hotel. You call to cancel it. The hotel fails to give you a cancellation confirmation number (and/or you fail to ask for it), and when they later call you and claim that you are a no-show, you have no proof that the reservation was cancelled. And there is virtually nothing you can do about it.

Heck, not even Christopher Elliott, consumer advocate extraordinaire, could help when someone wrote in with the same problem. Unless you have a cancellation confirmation number, you can’t dispute the credit card charges. It’s apparently a general rule that the only proof you have is that number.

It looks like this sort of thing happens often when booking through certain sites. So you have to protect yourself.

Bottom line: no matter what happens, if the hotel cancels on you, or you cancel on them, get a number confirming that the cancellation took place. It’s the only proof that you have. Without it, Rand and I couldn’t have contested the charges, even if we wanted to (I was incorrect when I presumed otherwise). We’re simply lucky we didn’t get dinged for the entire, staggering amount.

And I realize a lot of folks have taken umbrage over the fact that I made my husband out to be a good person for not contesting the charges – as though his morality was somehow tied to financial privilege. That is not something I ever intended to imply. I simply wanted to communicate how calm he was through the ordeal, and how much I respected him for it. How he doesn’t hold grudges. How he never loses his cool, even when there is plenty to lose his cool over.

And how he’s pretty much the bestest husband in the whole wide world. Something which, to me, is pretty uncontestable.



Leave a Comment

  • Wow, I didn’t even consider that someone could have a problem with your reaction! Sheesh, opinions really are like assholes, not just because everyone has one but also because they should usually be kept to themselves unless they’re asked for. And even then…this metaphor got wierd. But I do think you guys were great for the way you handled it. 🙂

  • kate

    I totally got that – the point you were making about Rand’s reaction, I mean. And I found the whole article inspiring and strangely calming. People were writing bad stuff? Really? I’m not going to read those comments – it’ll spoil the nice feeling you left me with.
    For what it’s worth – I think you both sound bloomin’ awesome.

  • I have one of those husband’s too..we are two lucky women! To have the patience and sweetness under pressure is a fine trait! I’m afraid my Irish comes out when I get heated up…but I try to let go and move on.

    I will always get a confirmation number henceforth that’s for sure and can thank you for that!

    P.S. I just love your site…the wealth of information WOW!!!! You rock it! I’m just beginning mine…but after I hit the road full-time RV’ing I’ll get lots better O:) Peace and TRANQUILITY O:) ~cozygirl

  • I am new to your blog. I loved your post and shocked that you got mean comments! I would be pissed if a hotel tried to stick it to me after they messed up. A persons word should count for something. I thought you guys were way too understanding even agreeing to pay for one night. I so would have posted the name of the Crap Ass Inn. That was the name right;)? I saw no wrong doing on your part, but thanks for the tip. I will get the confirmation number, and hopefully the name of the person who I spoke with. That way I know who to get mad at if Crap Ass Inn ever screws me over! You are great, and mean people suck!!

  • I was actually mad for you at some of the people who made this a “financial privilege” issue. I am happy for you that you have 1400 dollars in the bank and that it wouldn’t have broke you guys if you had to pay that. I am poor as heck, but that doesn’t give me the right to be mad at someone who isn’t. I wanted to respond to so many people on your behalf. I think you did a great job of portraying how Rand handled the situation with grace. If people personalized it and got offended, that is their issue not yours.

  • Beth

    I was also amazed at the comments. I got nothing but pride and love for your calm husband out of your writing and how much you respect him by not slandering the hotel after he requested it.

    I can’t thank you enough for writing that post and this one. I just canceled two hotel stays and am armed with the cancellation number in case there is an issue.

  • Don’t let it get you down too much! You were writing an honest account of the story, which is all readers can ask for–whether it’s good or bad! You raised an important point about always writing down confirmation numbers, in addition to getting someone’s name (if you’re dealing with someone and not just online), dates, etc. Keep sharing your stories the way you want to share them!

  • It’s unfortunate that some readers were unable to see the subtleties of your original post.

    Your story was inspirational. Since reading it, whenever I feel overwhelmed by something objectively trivial, I try to remember the example you (and Rand) have set forth here.

    Thank you for sharing your experience.

  • Jealousy makes ugly people say even uglier things. The end.

  • Katie

    Aw I’m sorry people were so upset with you! I personally loved your post about the Dick Move Inn and I definitely commend Rand for being so calm.

  • DenaJ

    Don’t pay attention to all the idiots on the interwebs… including me. When the idiots get you down, just turn on the tv, tune in to Olympic diving, and enjoy the lack of clothing.

  • christine

    Geraldine, you are flat-out fantastic, amazing, beautiful, hilarious, entertaining, etc. etc. etc., so please just let the negative-nellies (as my mom would say) just roll right off your back. For crap’s sake, you had a BRAIN TUMOR removed just a couple of weeks ago and people are giving you shit about some lousy hotel situation that YOU had to face and that YOU had to deal with? Uh no.
    And I also totally got that you were just trying to show how incredibly patient and calm Rand is. I did not get any vibe or pretentiousness or entitlement or any of those other trendy words that people really love to throw around these days. When people want to find fault, they will. And if it’s on the internet, they’ll then proceed to say lots of ridiculous, sometimes rude, often narrow-minded things about it so they can blow off stress from their own lives from the relative safety of the anonymity of the interwebs.
    Anywhoodle. Don’t let any of it upset you. Ever. It’s just not worth it. Your life is AMAZING and people are going to be envious of that, that’s human nature. But just keep being you and your readers will continue to love you and your blog – because how could we not? You’re awesome!!!

  • Flea

    Retired lawyer here. Retired lawyer who hates fights. (Go figure. Maybe that’s why I retired.) I try to avoid getting into a fight if at all possible, since most of the time, for me, it just causes stress over small stuff for no good reason.

    I totally understood where Rand was coming from–he wanted a great weekend, you all could afford the money, and at the end of your life, it’s unlikely you’ll remember the time you triumphed over the lowlifes at the Dick Move Inn. But you will remember the time your husband thought that having a loving, serene weekend with you was more important than showing the Dick Move Inn just who they were trying to screw over.

    I came here directly from Time Magazine’s top blogs of 2011, and am really glad I did. Thanks for writing–you make me smile everyday.

    • Laura

      100% agree! It’s so nice to have a person in your life who can put things in perspective, and you’re lucky that you have your husband for that. Sometimes when situations are a bit out of your control like this, it’s just not worth the additional stress you would have to deal with to get the money back. It sounds like you guys have both been dealing with more than your fair share of stress, and I don’t think anyone could fault you for wanting to be rid of it. I probably would have made the same decision, and TRUST me when I say that I would be feeling that $500.

  • I’ve been using the site booking.com for hotels and have been quite happy with them. The thing I love most is that they don’t charge your credit card when you make the reservation. Instead you pay in local currency at the hotel when you check in. (The exception is if you are reserving a non-refundable room rate – I try to avoid those.) The site makes it incredibly easy to change your reservation. I’ve needed to change my dates of stay and even cancel outright sometimes and have never had a single issue (and I’ve been using them exclusively for years.)

  • Skippy

    Twitter and FB must’ve been heinous if you felt that people were upset with you. I just read the other post and all the comments and with the exception of one minor, nicely stated disagreement – everyone was singing yours and Rand’s praises, deservedly so I think.

    And that was a boat load of really nice comments – so take heart. I never got the impression that anyone was upset with you. I think you did great. 🙂

    Take care and glad you got to go on a vacation. Very nice. 🙂

  • ChristineinWY

    Boo, people can suck sometimes. I thought that post was hilarious. I also would have been pissed, confirmation number or not that was a totally unfair situation. Also I think most people who read your blog probably understood what you were trying to get across about your husband and didn’t think you’re a rich bitch (sorry, had to use the phrase it’s my favorite). I think your amazing, don’t let critics get you down.

  • Ah humans … they are what they are. Warts and all. The good thing is – you learned a great a valuable lesson. Get that number. The other great thing? once again you saw firsthand how awesome your man is. I’d say it’s all good.

  • Your original post was completely clear and very understandable. People say mean things on the Internet–they suck, and clearly have far too much time on their hands.

    • Everywhereist

      Thanks, Erin! I love it when you comment on the blog, because your name sounds like a famous author’s. “And now, we hear from Erin Seabolt Bond …” 🙂

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