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I made a non-refundable hotel room booking through hotels.com. The hotel has contacted me to inform me that they will not be open for business during my stay because of the Coronavirus. I know I made the booking under the title "non-refundable", but my understanding is that I am not entitled to a refund only if I am the one to cancel the booking. I assume that, given the fact that the cancellation is not being made at my end and instead my order is not being fulfilled, I am entitled to a refund under EU contract law.

Edit: The hotel did not charge me for the booking. My card has been charged by hotels.com. If I cancel the booking through hotels.com's website it says I will not be refunded any money.

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    What did the hotel say about a refund? How did you pay - by credit card? – Traveller Mar 16 at 1:19
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    The hotel says that they will accept free cancellation because they didn't charge anything. The charge has been made to my card by hotels.com. – John Mar 16 at 1:24
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    Have you contacted hotels.com? And/or your credit card provider? They will raise a chargeback claim if you do not receive the goods or service you’ve paid for from a supplier. – Traveller Mar 16 at 3:26
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    Are you sure it was an actual charge and not just an authorisation? Also, did the hotel post the cancellation on hotels.com? – jcaron Mar 16 at 8:26
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    "Non-refundable" means in case you cancel. In case they cancel, of course it's refunded -- otherwise all hotels would operate exclusively on the basis of getting paid for reservations and then cancelling them without consequences. – Sigma Ori Mar 16 at 11:42
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If hotel is cancelling, you will get refund. Since hotel said that they didn't charge, you have two things to do.

  1. Contact booking site, hotels.com and explain the situation and ask them to reverse the charge.
  2. If they are non responsive, contact the credit card provider and say that you are disputing the charge, as you didn't get the service. Mention that you didn't initiate the cancellation.

You will get your money back by then.

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    Start by asking the hotel to make sure they posted the cancellation (correctly identified as initiated by them) to the booking site. – jcaron Mar 16 at 8:28
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    The OP doesn't mention timescales; it's likely refunds are taking a while at this time, but sooner or later there should be a refund. – Stuart F Mar 17 at 14:15
  • "You will get a refund" is a little too categorical. For example, the hotel may go bankrupt and while you're entitled to a refund you may never get it because the money is simply not there anymore. – user2705196 Mar 17 at 19:02
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    @user2705196 Even if agency refuses, you can dispute with credit card company and they are bound to give back the money, if you didn't receive the service you paid for. – Anish Sheela Mar 18 at 0:22
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    [Even in case of insolvency] you would only stand to lose out in this if your booking was paid by debit card, which is not protected. This is one very very good reason to always pay by at least credit card, but better still, PayPal. When Monarch went down we had our money back from PayPal in 3 days. Credit cards took 6 weeks, debit… didn't happen; maybe they'll get something once the administrators have paid everybody else off. – Tetsujin Mar 18 at 10:33
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It might actually depend on where the hotel is.

Yes, EU contract law normally guarantees that you are entitled to a refund, but there are some EU governments that have taken extraordinary measures in order to reduce the monetary stress on the hotel and culture sector. For example, the Belgian government has taken some measures that allow the travel sector to forego the refunding of package tours and stays, on the condition that they provide a travel voucher for the same value that's valid for at least 1 year. You can find information in https://www.vrt.be/vrtnws/nl/2020/03/18/minister-muylle-maatregelen-reizen-en-evenementen/ (It is Dutch, yes, but Google translate works well enough for a readable translation).

I recommend you check the official site for the health department of the country you are visiting as well as their news sites to verify if there are any active measures in the relevant country that may impact your right to a refund.

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    I beg to differ. Regardless of location he will get the refund. Booking.com is a reputable organization and there is no way they won’t refund the money when they find out it’s not the travelers fault. – user 56513 Mar 18 at 9:40
  • @user56513 I'm not saying he might not get the refund. I'm saying he might have to prepare for a delay in the refund, or for a refund through a voucher or other non-transferable value holder. – Nzall Mar 18 at 10:32
  • @user56513 I would challenge your assumption that they are a reputable organization and thus there is no way they won't refund the money (at least without strong pushback from your part). Besides, the OP said it was in hotels.com, not booking.com Those sites belong to different groups. – Ángel Mar 18 at 16:30
  • @Ángel Sorry for the wrong name. I use hotels.com extensively. They do not have top notch customer service however my position stands. This is such a clear cut case there is no way they won’t refund the money with minimal prodding. – user 56513 Mar 18 at 16:47

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