Disappointing accommodations-can i ask for a refund?
June 27, 2007 3:42 PM   Subscribe

I just paid a lot of money for what turned out to be unhealthy and substandard accommodations while attending a weekend-longfundraiser-do I have a right to ask for a refund?

My wife, who has Multiple Sclerosis, and I raise money for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. I participate in the MS Bike Tour (MS-150), and she fields a team for the MS Walk. Together, we combined to raise nearly $10,000 for the MS Society.

Last week was the Utah MS Bike tour-Local hotels were booked so the MS soceity made arrangements to house the overflow crowd up in dormitories at a local college. The price was $125/night. Especially when you consider that we needed two nights for my wife (I camped), and another room for 2 nights for a nanny-because of my wife's MS, she needs the support. It was important for my wife to be out in support of me and the MS Society. So we're looking at $500 for 2 rooms for 2 nights. The $500 was paid to the MS Society, not the local college.

Well, the dormitories turned out to be a nightmare. No air-conditioning combined with a near-100-degree Logan made my wife's situation miserable. People with MS are typically intolerant of extreme temperatures - I dont know anyone else who would be comfortable in that kind of heat with no air conditioners.

In addition, the boilers(pipes) were rattling loudly at all hours overnight, which got her (and the kids) up a bunch of times. The toilets had issues, things were just miserable. The whole whole situation left a bad taste in my mouth.

When the dorm rooms were made available, there was no mention of lack of air-conditioning. I wasn't exactly expecting a 5-star hotel, but I also wasn't expecting for my wife to be made miserable by attending.

Do I have the right to ask for a refund? Yes, we were up there to raise money for the MS Society. Yes, the money that we spent for lodging went to the organization that we support. But I'm discouraged with how dismal the whole situation was, considering our motives(fund raising) and the amount we paid.
posted by neilkod to Travel & Transportation (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
of course you do. you might not get it--i don't know what the legal obligations are here or where this fits into consumer law--but no one would fault you for trying. it sounds like a miserable time.

keep your note simple and sane, and reiterate your disappointment because you are such a strong supporter of the organization.
posted by thinkingwoman at 3:47 PM on June 27, 2007

I can't believe that the non-AC dorm rooms actually cost anything like $125 a night. Consequently, I'd have to believe that this was another fundraiser for the MS Society - even if they didn't tell you.

You could ask for a refund, but there's a good chance you can't get one. They didn't actually lie to you, although I think you're about having the expectations you had.

I think the most important issue here is that people with MS were put into a situation stressful to people with MS - on behalf of fundraising for people with MS.

Personally, I would write a letter expressing your displeasure, but most of all the problems the dorm rooms caused MS sufferers. Word it strongly and hope for the best. They may or may not do the right thing, but at the very least perhaps they will be "smarter" about it next year. I'd also call the school and find out what it would cost to rent a block of rooms at the same time of the year . . . just because I'm curious that way.
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 3:48 PM on June 27, 2007

My feeling is that it's fairly well-known that the heat + MS = misery especially in this crowd. I'd consider your accomodations unacceptable.

I'd focus on that, and skip the issues like pipes and whatnot. Explain that you are surprised that they would put someone with MS up in those conditions and ask for a refund for your wife's room. I do feel that you may have missed a window of opportunity complaining about this the first night instead of staying both nights (I see why you did it, I'm just using my ultracritical skills). Try to stay level headed, explain that you bring in a lot of money for their organization and while you understand having to go with overflow rooms, this was unacceptable, etc etc.

Really if they decide to accomodate you it's going to be at their total discretion, so how you play this is going to make all the difference.
posted by jessamyn at 3:52 PM on June 27, 2007

I'm sorry you and your wife had to go through that. But getting your money back won't undo the discomfort your family endured those two nights, and it will be taking money away from an organization whose mission you hold dear. Instead, I would write a letter explaining the situation and how it makes you wary of participating in future MS Society events. I'm sure they don't want to lose your support, so they may very well offer a refund or at least an adequate explanation.
posted by kitty teeth at 3:56 PM on June 27, 2007

I agree with the idea of writing a letter more to alert them that the accommodations were medically unsound, and that it makes you wary of further involvement with the organization in any capacity. Since the payment does seem to be more like a donation than a payment for services, asking straight-out for a refund seems a little awkward.
posted by occhiblu at 4:02 PM on June 27, 2007

I'd write a letter explaining the situation. Tell them you're wary of them. Instead of asking for a refund, ask for your payment to instead be treated as a charitable donation. You'll be getting a tax write-off and they'll still have the money. It might not be the same as getting a refund, but at least it's acknowledging that paying $125 for those conditions is really a donation.
posted by acoutu at 4:26 PM on June 27, 2007

Wait, MS fundraisers put you up in accomodations that were intolerable for MS sufferers?! Shades of Pallotta Teamworks...
posted by rhizome at 5:49 PM on June 27, 2007

Hey, I've stayed in those USU dorms! And yes, they're crap. And yes, they're hot as hell.

But...they're dorms. There's no doubt that $125 a night is completely ridiculous to stay there...I'm having a hard time believing that number.

But anyway, there should have been better expectation management, and you paid way too much.

And I'm saying this as someone who has stayed in the USU dorms something like twenty nights in all. Maybe thirty. More than 15, less than 50.
posted by SlyBevel at 5:59 PM on June 27, 2007

Did you pay to the National MS Society or the local chapter? Whichever one dropped the ball on this be sure you cc both on your letter.

Also, it might be fun to mention that on the first page of Nations MS Society homepage there is a link that reads as follows: "Don't let the heat ruin your day. Learn to stay cool and manage MS symptoms, get tips for traveling, and have fun!"
posted by 26.2 at 6:02 PM on June 27, 2007

Of course you should request a refund. Your wife was given miserable accommodation at an inflated price. Before you ask, decide what amount you want, and ask for it. You may not get it, but I find it more effective to be specific.
posted by theora55 at 6:15 PM on June 27, 2007

It's over now. You are sadder, but wiser. The right people have your money. Voice a complaint, offer to help in whatever way possible to make sure the same mistake isn't repeated next year.
posted by hermitosis at 6:42 PM on June 27, 2007

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