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I booked a hostel on a cheap non-refundable rate via Hostelworld, for a stopover of one night only.

Hostelworld charges a small deposit. The remainder is to pay at the property once there, even in the case of non-refundable rates.

In the meantime, I missed a train connection due to a delay and cannot make it to the city where I booked the hostel.

I initially asked the railway company to compensate me or arrange accommodation but they refused, saying that I can take a later train connection that involves a change a 3am - seats only, no proper couchette - and arrives at 5am the next morning. If I made the connection I would have arrived there by 11pm. But this is not the main topic of the question.

Instead, I arranged a plan B to be able to have a good night's sleep in another city that I can still reach.

I suppose the hostel still expects the payment of the nonrefundable reservation in full. But they do not have my card information as I cannot get there. What happens next in this case? Do they have a way to collect the payment in some other form?

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  • what's the geographical area? In the EU I'd expect the railway company should at least compensate the 6 hours delay, and possibly put you up for the night if you can't reach your destination, but usually that's when there are no more trains. I've never been in the case where they offer an alternative route that involves a seat in a night train
    – njzk2
    Aug 11, 2023 at 21:56
  • Never book the last train of the day as a connection! If you miss it, companies must give you alternatives, but they don't have to give you reasonable or comfortable alternatives. They just have to get you there. And trains missing connections is becoming quite common in some countries...
    – wimi
    Aug 12, 2023 at 8:44

2 Answers 2

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If the hostel notices and is run by a competent company, they'll charge your card for the price of the first night booked with them. As per the official HostelWorld guideline for hostels:

How to Charge a No Show and Minimize Losses at Your Hostel

A no show can be a frustrating experience for any hostel owner. It happens when a customer fails to arrive or cancels their reservation upon arrival. In this article, we'll provide information on how to handle no show policy and credit card access to minimize losses at your hostel.

To protect your business from customers not turning up, you are entitled to charge a fee equivalent to the cost of the guest's first night's stay in case of standard booking and the full cost in case of non-refundable booking. This fee will help cover some of the losses incurred due to the no show.

You can try to call them and see if they'd be willing to cancel or move your booking free of charge.

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  • "they'll charge your card for the price of the first night" - How? Per the question, they don't have the card info. Does Hostel World forward that info? Are they even allowed to?
    – Midavalo
    Aug 10, 2023 at 22:16
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    @Midavalo OP did specify that they've paid Hostelworld for the reservation, so yes, they have the card details. And yes, if their T&C say so, they're allowed to give it to the hotel.
    – JonathanReez
    Aug 10, 2023 at 22:26
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    This is what just happened! My card was directly charged by the hostel.
    – DavGin
    Aug 11, 2023 at 5:07
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You should call the hostel and arrange for them to be paid. You committed to it at the time of the booking.

In some cases a hostel will not charge if you call and explain why you can not make it if it is still early enough for someone else to use the bed, but that is up to them.

If the booking agency has your card details they might charge you that way.

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  • This is correct. When you don't/didn't show, the hostel will contact the booking agency, and ask that your card be charged and the balance due sent to the hostel. Willeke's right: you contracted to pay this charge (that's what "nonrefundable" means) when you made the reservation. Aug 10, 2023 at 21:00
  • Not used to hostels, but in hotels, I’ve never seen a non-refundable rate where one isn’t charged up front, and for more flexible rates, without a credit card on file to pay for the first night(s) in case of late cancellation or no-show. Is that a thing in hostels? That seems like a terrible idea (for them).
    – jcaron
    Aug 10, 2023 at 21:34
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    @jcaron I've seen at least one hotel that operates this way - it's more likely for small operations in developing countries.
    – JonathanReez
    Aug 10, 2023 at 22:02
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    To reassure all, the goal was not to evade the payment but be clear about how the hostel is able to charge me.
    – DavGin
    Aug 11, 2023 at 5:09
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    @StuartF, that is the legal side, but collecting that money is harder if your card is not on file.
    – Willeke
    Aug 11, 2023 at 11:51

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