I haven’t paid much attention to Accor as a rewards program, partly because I’ve been loyal to Hyatt and Hilton and because Accor’s rewards program confused me a bit. However, when I was searching for hotels in Calais, I came across several Ibis Hotels and discovered they were part of the Le Club Accor Rewards program. I ended up booking a total of four nights at the Ibis Calais while volunteering with Help Refugees/L’Auberge de Migrants, mainly because in my experience, staying with a chain hotel ensures that if an issue arrises, the chain will take care of it if the hotel refuses to. That turned out to be far from the case with Accor.
I checked into the Ibis Calais, initially for a two night stay, then decided to extend it for another two nights. Following the fourth night, I wasn’t sure whether to stay another two nights or to move to a hotel closer to the city center. I woke up that morning and made yet another two night reservation through Hotels.com, which was supposed to be cancellable until 6 PM that night. I had my bag packed just in case, dropped my key at the front desk (they had physical keys, with giant keychains that you can’t fit in your pocket) and then went to the Help Refugees/L’Auberge de Migrants warehouse for the day.
I talked to my friend Kristin and she advised me to move to the city center, which was closer to necessities like laundromats, restaurants, grocery stores, and that coordinating rides to and from the Calais Jungle would be easier. So I called the hotel and asked if it would be possible to cancel my reservation. The agent told me that was fine. I told her I likely would come back around 5 PM and she said that would be ok. I arrived at the hotel around 5:30 PM due to issues with the bus, picked up the key, grabbed my packed bag, and came downstairs to check out. I again confirmed that I wouldn’t be charged for that night and the agent assured me I would not. She gave me my final bill, showing I would be paying for four nights, I gave her my credit card, then headed to the Holiday Inn Calais, where I had made a reservation during the ride over.
About a week later, I came home and noticed something odd on one of my Barclay Arrival Plus credit cards. I have one of these cards in my name and am an authorized user on both my dad and brother’s accounts. I had provided my card at check-in, but paid for the stay with the card linked to my dad’s account. Yet, my card had been charged $95.87. I reached out to the hotel to resolve this and they claimed that since I had checked out late, I was charged an extra night. The matter was escalated to the manager, who refused to issue a refund. I pointed out that the front desk agent told me specifically I would not be charged for an extra night and that a sort of late checkout was being extended. I also explained that if I hadn’t been told this by the front desk agent, I would not have made another hotel reservation at the Holiday Inn for the same night.
When it was clear this conversation was going nowhere, I submitted an enquiry on the Accor website. Crickets. Then I reached out to the Accor Twitter team. They responded quickly and asked for all of the details, which I provided. I was given a case number and told I would hear a response soon. A week passed and after following up two more times and being told someone would be in touch shortly, I gave up and contacted Barclay about resolving the claim. This is by far the worst way to handle a customer complaint, let alone a billing issue.
As a comparison, a few years ago I had an issue with a rate I booked at the DoubleTree Istanbul. Before my stay, I had an email exchange with the hotel staff, in which they ensured me if I booked two rooms and a child (by their definition anyone under 18) was staying in one of the rooms, the second room would be discounted by 50%. At checkout, the agent refused to honor this rate and even when I emailed the hotel, management was uncooperative because whoever told me the rate would be honored was “mistaken.” I reached out to Hilton corporate and within a week, they sent me a check for the extra room charge after the hotel manager again refused to honor the rate. That, in my opinion, is how good customer service is executed: Acknowledge a mistake, take responsibility, and make it right. That’s simple enough for any hospitality professional to understand, yet that isn’t the case with Accor.
I left a negative review on Tripadvisor, which was met with more hostility from the manager, who claimed “the evening staff member” had informed me that while my two night reservation would be cancelled, I was still liable to pay for the first night. Not only did no such conversation occur with “the evening staff member” (remember, I called the front desk after I made the reservation that morning) but that explanation is simply not what any employee told me.
Anyway, this experience has taught me a few things. First, don’t trust Accor Hotels to do the right thing and step in where the hotel staff is dishonest. Second, if you’re going to stay with an unreliable chain like Accor, always charge your hotel stays to an American Express credit card. Barclays is handling this claim and based on past performance, I don’t have a lot of faith in the process. American Express, on the other hand, is known for handling claims exceptionally well and in a timely manner. Lastly, when a hotel staff member makes an exception to a hotel policy for you, get it in writing in case it isn’t honored later.
Have you ever had a bad experience related to billing with a chain hotel? What has your experience been like with Accor Hotels customer service?
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