COVID-19 caused us to cancel a long-planned extended family trip to Sicily. Myriad reservations were cancelled—flights, hotels, tourist attractions, restaurants. Italians and Sicilians were largely gracious and friendly in refunding all purchases immediately upon request, with the notable exception of the Quintocanto Hotel. Despite being directed to issue the refund from authorities and encouraged to do so by everyone from the local business bureau to the area consulate, they have kept over $1000 USD of my family’s money. We are stunned by their disrespect and lack of consideration and wanted others to be aware. Multiple booking sites for them say free cancellation, but that is not what we have experienced.
I'm sorry to hear about your situation. It's very frustrating to spend money (especially a lot of money) on a service you don't receive. I have to admit, though, I'm left scratching my head at a couple of your comments.
Multiple booking sites for them say free cancellation, but that is not
what we have experienced.
What booking sites say is markedly less important than the terms of the rate to which you agreed. Many hotels have both non-refundable and refundable rates. Booking.com, for example, has both free cancellation (no pay in advance) and discounted non-refundable (pay in advance) rates for the stated hotel. Was you rate refundable?
Despite being directed to issue the refund from authorities and
encouraged to do so by everyone from the local business bureau to the
area consulate, they have kept over $1000 USD of my family’s money.
Hmmm... the EU FAQ website for cancellations due to COVID-19 indicates that individual countries can regulate cancellation policies for accommodations. I see multiple references online to a March 17 (2020) decree passed by the Italian government that allows Italian hotels to provide a future credit in lieu of a refund for pre-paid accommodations, including in this New York Times article. I also see multiple threads on travel boards from consumers saying this was referenced by a hotel in Italy in denying a refund. Unfortunately, I can't find a current policy on an official Italy website. Which authorities directed the issuance of a refund?
In your TripAdvisor review, you have this quote:
Violating local, national, and international policies, they hold onto
these funds without ever having provided any service.
Now I'm super interested!
...and looking forward to you substantiating the local, national, and international policies that were violated.
So, I sent a link to this review to the hotel. Its response was that the hotel has been closed for a year, the staff has not worked for a year, and the staff has not been paid for a year. Pre-paid customers have been given a credit with no expiration.
It sounds like there is not money to give refunds. As the old saying goes, you can't get blood out of a turnip.
Thanks so much for your swift and thoughtful reply. To be circumspect, we received full refunds from every other vendor or business with whom we had reservations and made prepayments. This included airlines (Lufthansa and Delta), rail passes, rental cars, other hotels in Sicily and Abruzzo, museums, boat rides, guided tours, even a villa rental. For the most part, there guiding principle was we did not cancel our plans, but rather, they were unable to deliver the promised services on the dates reserved. At least, that is how I read the policies. We experienced a few delays with some until travel was officially banned and honoring the reservation became impossible. Once that happened, everyone was more than accommodating and swift in issuing full refunds.
This is a wise business practice, taking the short term pain for the long term good will among a customer base. If and when we are able to return, we will certainly be more amenable to patronizing those who treated as so and avoiding that one took a short, rather than a long view of the situation.
rnuzzi is this a recent development, or are you now reporting something from early last year?
When was your trip?
EDIT: I saw that I had spelled your name incorrectly - I had read "r n uzzi" as "m uzzi" - on my laptop they look really similar. Sorry.
When I was checking the spelling I realized that you were the poster whose first post from a couple of years ago was about being robbed twice at your villa. I remember that issue. Did anything more come from that?
Thanks for the well-reasoned, intellectually honest 2nd post. Thanks, too, for removing the deceptive red herring argument from the first post.
I will observe that the hotel continues to offer prepaid, non-refundable room rates on Booking.com, though not on its own website. I‘m not sure if that is an oversight or an intentional consumer-unfriendly practice.