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Italy -Hotel refuses to give refunds

My sister and I planned a trip to Italy in Sept. We both had concerns about going to Italy at this time because of health reasons (My sister had cancer and I have a comprised immune system.) In addition, I lost my job and so did my sister’s husband. Therefore, when United contacted us and offered us a refund because they cancelled our flight, we felt it was omen.
We paid for cancellation insurance for 2 of our hotels thru Hotels.com. They are giving us a refund. We directly booked the third hotel and we thought we had insurance for cancellations. On the hotel website they stated “Be-Safe. Rate Carefree Journey- Book & Pay Now at the best available rate and get refunded in case of cancellation ". Therefore, we contacted the hotel and asked for a refund. The insurance and the hotel refuse to give us a refund. We explained we intend on going to Italy in future but we do not know when, therefore we want a refund. They refused.
Does anyone have a suggestion on how we can get a refund?
It appears to me that the hotel is hurting their business in long run, when we do set a new date, we will not be making a reservation at that hotel. In addition, we will be telling people thru reviews what occurred and in future we will not recommend that hotel at our church’s convention.

Thank You for any assistance.

Posted by
1933 posts

Some of the smaller, independent hotels are strapped for cash and just not in a position to offer the refunds that - under normal circumstances - they could easily give. They simply may not have the money. Or they may be using it to pay their necessary bills to ensure the property survives the crisis.

I had 1 non-refundable night at a property in St Petersburg. I exchanged very pleasant emails with the staff. They shared their cash-flow difficulties, which precluded a refund. I shared my realities of timeframe uncertainty, and (oddly) exchange rate concerns. We came to a very amicable agreement that was a bit outside the standard they were offering, but addressed both their concerns and mine.

I found that by being very genuine with them, we both came away happy with the exchange and (for me) hoping we might stay with them in the future to thank them in person for their kindness in our exchange. And able to get a refund (at some point) if we cannot.

Even if your hotel is not able to offer a refund now, perhaps by sharing your concerns and allowing them to share theirs, you might find a place where you could both feel that you've been treated fairly - even if you don't get your own ideal outcome.

Posted by
5640 posts

Did you print out (or still have in your emails) the confirmation from the hotel which includes the cancellation promise? Usually the confirmation will specify cancellation details (dates and percentage)

Posted by
20 posts

Thank you all for responding so quickly.
I sent the a very nice e-mail telling the hotel staff how we were looking forward to staying at their beautiful hotel . I explained the situation and the hotel told us to contact the insurance. The Insurance company sent me the e-mail below.

From: Info Besafe info@besaferate.com
Sent: Tue, Apr 28, 2020 3:20 am
Subject: Re: Cancellation of Reservation

we are very sorry to know that you have to cancel the trip you arranged, in these crazy days we are trying our utmost to help the guests that choosed to make their reservations with Besafe Rate.

Before the declaration of Pandemic and Quarantine we always proceeded with a refund. The many satisfied Hoteliers and Guests are proof of this. This is our strong point, to compensate the customer immediately if the conditions to do so exist.

Unfortunately, like standard travel insurances available worldwide, the coverages included in Besafe Rate don't include refunds for flight cancellations (for this you should directly ask your airline company), pandemics declared by WHO and/or quarantines, nor for fear of travelling to a potentially dangerous country. The decision to reject requests for refunds related to exceptional cases such as pandemic and quarantine, unfortunately, don't depend on Besafe Rate.

Luckily the Italian Government is taking care of travelers' interests and is currently in force a government decree of the Italian State stating that hotels have to issue vouchers, valid for one year and with the amount of the purchased stay, for their guests who, in this particular historical moment, are unable to travel to Italy.

Having said that, you can ask the accommodation structure to change the dates of your stay, we are sure that the professional staff of Hotel will be able to find the better solution for your needs. If the hotel has availability for the new dates requested, the same insurance coverage and conditions will remain guaranteed.

However, it's possible to request the refund if you are unable to travel due to cases, such as an illness that can be certified by the doctor, job loss, new hiring, hospitalization, etc. We invite you to view the insurance conditions for coverages and exclusions applied: www.besaferate.com/insurancepolicy/

We trust that this chaos will resolve shortly and that you'll be able to come to Italy and enjoy the local culture, meanwhile we remain at your complete disposal for any further questions.

Best regards,
Besafe Rate Team

After I received the insurance companies’ response, I contacted them again. Upon receipt of that e-mail the insurance company sent me another e-mail telling me to ask the hotel for a refund. I did contact the hotel and they told me to contact the insurance company. Therefore, I contacted the insurance company again but I did not receive a response. I am hoping to receive a positive response but I doubt it.

My sister did receive a response and she is not getting a refund.
My e-mails were pleasant (as a social worker I know it is better to be nice).

Posted by
3334 posts

I guess I’m seeing the positives. You got a full refund on your airfare and two of your three hotels. If you read many of the posts about refunds on this forum, often people come off far worse.

It is sad to have to cancel trips. Sadder still to lose money. I get it. I hope that you and your sister remain healthy and are able to travel in the future.

Posted by
5640 posts

On the other hand, it looks like job loss ("redundancy of Insured Person" in your contract) is an acceptable reason for cancellation, triggering an insurance payment ... if you lost your job after buying the insurance, have you advised the insurance company ??

Posted by
4522 posts

Ann - I'm sorry for the "shame on you for asking about a refund" posts. They are unwarranted and unhelpful. I am a little confused about your situation. Was your reservation refundable? Or did you reserve a non-refundable rate? If it was the latter, you really are at the mercy of the hotel - if they are open at the time of your visit, you are not entitled to a refund whatever your reason. If it was the former, you are in murkier waters. Normally you would get a full refund per the hotel's policies, but Italy is allowing one year vouchers instead due to the severe economic crisis. My understanding is that after one year, if you have not used your voucher, you can get a refund. Is that what the hotel/insurance agency has told you? If so, I'm afraid that you are stuck with that deal.

Posted by
20 posts

Our reservation was refundable . When we asked for a refund the hotel referred us to the insurance company , When we contacted the insurance company they said our money was not refundable. When we contacted the hotel , the hotel told us to contact the insurance company and the money was refundable.
I looked up the insurance company and it appears to be a major company . We did send documentation that we lost our jobs ,
I realize this is an upsetting time for everyone but when we booked the reservation it was with understanding the money was refundable .
It appears $2000 may not be a lot of money to some people but working as a Social Worker it took me years to save that money . Since I no longer have a job I can use that money to pay bills.
People should not judge other people because they do not know their circumstances . When I distribute food at the local food bank today ,I am not going to judge the people picking up food based on the car they are driving .These are hard times . I thank you for your kindness.

Posted by
2530 posts

Ann,

I'm really sorry to hear about your situation. Job loss, disappointment of a canceled trip, frustration of a non-refunded service that promised to be refundable. Challenging -- if not scary -- times.

It sounds like the hotel contracted with the insurance company to cover refunds, but the insurance company's interpretation of the reason for your cancelation doesn't fall within the fine print of the contract. I like the idea mentioned above of going back to the travel insurance company and saying that job loss is a primary reason for canceling the trip (if true, of course).

Outside of that, patience may be your best strategy. If all goes well and Italy re-opens, drop a line to the hotel to see if they happen to be full of local guests during your stay in September (or have a friend inquire about a room during that time immediately before the stay). If they are booked, appeal to their good and kind spirits to refund your payment. Toward that end, I would encourage you to avoid threats of negative social media posts and ratings.

Since you mentioned church, I will add that I hope you are feeling a divine embrace during these hard times.

Posted by
2530 posts

It looks like you posted a response while I was posting mine. One more option for help may be the Elliott Advocacy website.

Typically, they like for you to try to resolve the issue yourself by writing to "higher ups" in the company first, using their recommended method for doing this (read the whole article!). They have a list of executives for most companies on their website. Maybe you will find a sympathetic ear inside the insurance company?

If that doesn't work, you can seek Elliott Advocacy's help in advocating for you. I imagine they are overwhelmed with people looking for help right now, but the size of your loss, along with the apparent promise of it being refundable (plus your job loss), may bump your situation up to a level that would prompt them to take your case.

Edit: Added "inside the insurance company" to paragraph #2 for clarity.

Posted by
20 posts

Thank you for the information . I was just going to write what occurred , However now I have another avenue to pursue.

Posted by
4351 posts

People should not judge other people because they do not know their circumstances . When I distribute food at the local food bank today ,I am not going to judge the people picking up food based on the car they are driving

Thousands of hotels and other establishments relying on tourism are going to go bust as a result of this pandemic and it's not just the owners who lose their livelihood but also the staff and the knock on effect of suppliers etc. Threatening to cause harm to a struggling business simply because the insurance company has absolved their responsiblity is just downright unacceptable.

Posted by
4522 posts

I guess I am still a little unclear. So you paid a deposit or the full reservation fee, but what was the advantage of doing that? Usually when you reserve a room, you pay when you arrive and the policies typically allow cancellation within 72 hours or such. But if you pay in advance, you get a discount with the catch that the reservation is not refundable. In those cases, people do buy insurance to cover their costs, but of course those policies exclude acts of God and pandemics. Yet the insurance seems to be from the hotel?

My guess is that you will get this worked out. But it will take some effort and patience to work through at least two entities and all the fine print.

PS - I've reported the negative posts. There really is no need for treating you like that.

Posted by
20 posts

The statement below was on the site when we booked the hotel. In order to receive the insurance you had to pay in full so we did.

Offer applied: BeSafe Rate - Carefree Journey - Book&Pay Now at the Best available Rate and get refunded in case of cancellation!
BeSafe Rate is a prepaid rate including a INSURANCE TRAVEL to enjoy a safe travel with peace of mind, with added value included for you and your family!

We did not think we would ever cancel but just in case we had insurance so we paid in full.
Thanks again

Posted by
2530 posts

Here is how BeSafe sells itself to properties:

https://www.besaferate.com/en/what-it-is-besafe-rate/#includes

From that webpage:

Besafe Rate is the non-refundable rate for your Hotel and refundable
for your Guest.

Your accommodation structures will offer a complete and innovative
product which will eliminate the cumbersome management of requests for
refunds by a clientele impatient to be refunded: the insurance company
will take care of this aspect.

The Assistance provided to your guests
who have to cancel the reservation will be completely taken care of by
our staff, who will manage all the statuses of the refunds from A to
Z, allowing you to resell the accommodation a second time, therefore
earning twice.

Posted by
2530 posts

Ann,

Time to name names. What is the name of the hotel? I (and probably others) would like to look at their website and see what it says and how it sells the BeSafe product (which may have been changed since you booked your room).

It's also worth looking at your original e-mail to see if there is any fine print (or a link to fine print) related to BeSafe on it.

It may be advisable to reach out to the hotel, let them know you know how BeSafe works, and ask them to contact their vendor who uses their website to sell its product for you (since you are making no progress with their vendor). BUT I would like to look at the hotel website before recommending that.

Posted by
2530 posts

And... the current policy on BeSafe's website (underwritten by AXA -- French company headquartered in Paris)... https://www.besaferate.com/insurancepolicy/

The document's wording about cancellation starts on page 10 and indicates that acceptable reasons for canceling include "Certifiable impediments of a professional nature," including "redundancy of Insured Party, not for disciplinary reasons." So... job loss because you are no longer needed would seem to qualify.

Exceptions on page 11 include pandemic and quarantine.

The contract indicates you only get an 85% refund if the reason for cancelation is not death or hospital stay lasting 5 days.

Do you have any documentation indicating that a different policy was in effect at the time of your purchase? Some of the hotels link to an AIG summary sheet.

I think the wording on the website makes a difference, too. Viminala Hill Inn and Hotel in Rome, for instance, says on its website...

BESAFE PREPAID RATE – Safe Travel for you and your loved ones! On
our website the "Not-Refundable" rate becomes REFUNDABLE!

Hotel Flavia in Rome is more cautious; it's website hints at exclusions (emphases mine)...

Besafe Rate covers up to 100% of the refund of your stay in the cases
provided and includes free of charge a cancellation insurance for
unexpected events, such as: flu, injury, hospitalization or natural
disasters.

When I played with booking at hotels with BeSafe rates, most (but not all) hotels provided a link to the insurance policy on the booking page.

Posted by
4522 posts

Ok - Now it is more clear. What you did was pre-purchase a non-refundable rate, which are normally not refundable for any reason. But the hotel (maybe to encourage the pre-payment) links you to Be-Safe for you to purchase travel insurance in case you cannot visit and then apply for a refund. So even though it seems linked to the hotel, it really is 3rd party travel insurance. So you really are at the mercy of Be-safe and their policies. It seems like they exclude pandemics, like most other policies. But they do cover job loss, injury etc... So this falls in a murky water of everyone knows the reason is the pandemic, but you also have a valid reason under their coverage.

What is clear is that the hotel has nothing to do with it. Your policy is with Be-safe and it really doesn't matter what the hotel says, unless they are closed and unable to offer you the accommodations you paid for.

There may also be Italian regulations in effect on refunds that travel insurance agencies are required to follow. Again, the regulations will have to relate to insurance, not hotels. So know what those are. It is possible that the government is allowing vouchers instead of refunds, just like they are for airlines and hotels. Or there may be no special policies in place and you are subject to their interpretation of their terms and conditions. Perhaps one of our Italian volunteers will have more information on that.

This is going to be a tricky one to work through for you. Insurance companies can be notorious for not wanting to pay out claims, and will use the fine print to back them up. So you have to be really well prepared with knowing the policies and government rules in effect, as well as have documentation to back up your claims. I know people that have filed claims with travel insurance companies, and they definitely make it difficult. Good luck to you.

Posted by
20 posts

When we reserved our hotel room, we were under the impression it was all thru the hotel. However, it appears from Dave’s explanation we were wrong. We will see what happens. It is a learning lesson for us and the hotel.
At first, I was upset with some of the responses I received. I was mad at myself for writing on the forum. However, I am glad wrote on the forum because some peoples responses very helpful.
Thanks everyone who did not judge and helped me. Hopefully my misunderstanding will help other travelers.
Be safe

Posted by
5652 posts

The added complexity of dealing with an insurance company may be that your Be-Safe policy is apparently governed and regulated by Italian laws and regulators. When I purchase travel insurance here in the US. for foreign travel, the policy is typically regulated by an agency in my state of residence. When I search for a insurance quotation from either the insurance company (e.g. AIG Travel Guard) or a broker (e.g. InsureMyTrip), I will be asked for my state of residence. The policy sold will then conform to my state insurance regulation agency.

Posted by
4351 posts

At first, I was upset with some of the responses I received.

The reason for my response was because, as a former business owner that relied on public trade, I know just how damaging false reviews can be. In the online age it is easy to write anything you like about a business, person etc and often there is little opportunity for those businesses to correct any false or defamatory reviews.

Your threat to write a scathing review about the hotel was wrong and unjustified and potentially very damaging for the hotel and those who rely on it for employment and trade. It is now apparent that the hotel is not at fault but rather the, always more likely scenario, insurance company.

I'm sure you didn't like my response but it angers me when people threaten to write bad reviews when in fact the fault lies in their failure to understand the issue at point. Much like the perpetual complaints about ZTL violations and speeding fines etc it is important to do some homework and ensure you understand exactly what you're booking at what you're protected against. I never take out an insurance policy of any sort without knowing exactly what the cover includes, insurance companies are renowned for trying to weasel out of paying out so why give them the opportunity?

Posted by
2530 posts

JC,

I understand where you are coming from. The interesting thing that happened in this thread, though, is that gentle voices resulted in the OP understanding the situation much more clearly and finding a constructive plan of action. Gentle words helped the OP and resulted in your intended outcome (no hotel bashing); harsh words did neither.

The BeSafe product, in my mind, is a deceptive product. It makes consumers feel like they are getting a Marriott-like refundable rate when they are not; the limitations of the rate often are not clear to consumers on hotel websites. A consumer shouldn’t have to comb through a 15 page document to understand what „refundable“ means.

Posted by
4522 posts

JC - The whole point of someone coming to a forum like this is to get good guidance and help them through things they do not fully understand. Lashing out about her wanting to blame the hotel wasn't helpful because she, and many of us, didn't know whether it was the hotel's fault. Also, there were several other posters shaming her for even trying to get a refund (since removed).

Ann - Thanks for sticking with us. Internet forums can be rough, but this one generally tries to be really helpful. But sometimes otherwise good posters here get impatient with people and forget that while the regulars here know a lot about travel, the visitors with questions probably do not.

Posted by
130 posts

On my own I booked and and pre-paid (all non-refundable) 4 nights in a Venice hotel, 1 night deposit at the Villa Serbelloni in Como, and 1 night at the MPX Sheraton. This is all for next month.

I almost pre-paid everything. Thank goodness I did not! I know what “non-refundable” means, that’s why it’s cheaper. I’m hoping for, but not expecting anything. Especially from the Venice hotel as prior to COVID they dealt with flooding for several weeks.

Id be thrilled with vouchers at this point to be realistic.

Posted by
20 posts

I want to thank everyone for their assistance . I learned a lot from this forum.

Posted by
6699 posts

Doesn't it say something about the hotel itself that it cooperates with a third party with the aim of confusing the potential customer and prodding them into buying an insurance product that may not be in their best interest? The relationship between the hotel and the third party is not disclosed anywhere on the website, is it? The takeaway here is that there are plenty of hotels that don't trick you into buying non-refundable rooms and then regretting it (while simultaneously cross-selling their partner's product - for which they probably share some revenue).... it should be a choice made with eyes wide open.

Posted by
4351 posts

JC, I understand where you are coming from. The interesting thing that happened in this thread, though, is that gentle voices resulted in the OP understanding the situation much more clearly and finding a constructive plan of action. Gentle words helped the OP and resulted in your intended outcome (no hotel bashing); harsh words did neither.

Dave, you are indeed correct. Gentle words are often not my forte!

Posted by
2530 posts

Agnes,

The set up is that Besafe takes 6% of the purchase price, part of which is used to buy the insurance product. The hotel gets the rest of the prepayment for the stay. BeSafe manages refunds, theoretically freeing the hotel from having to deal with customers seeking refunds while allowing the hotel to keep the prepayment. There is no cost for a hotel to joint the program. Given the exclusions of the program, I imagine BeSafe has created far more headaches for lodging establishments than it has eliminated.

Posted by
2530 posts

I learned a lot from this forum.

I learned a lot from this thread! Thanks for starting it and good luck in your journey to try to get your money back!

Posted by
20 posts

Again I want to thank everyone for assisting me.
I am getting a refund from the BESAFE Insurance Company.

Posted by
20 posts

If I decide to travel to Italy in the future I am going to book through hotels.com. Hotels.com returned my money immediately.
Be safe