No motel refund for Okanagan tourist’s wildfire smoke woes

Tourist was asking for reimbursement for motel cancellation

A series of miscommunications was not enough to get a tourist to Penticton his money back from a motel, according to a tribunal ruling.

Araz Mehrabani reserved a room through Expedia for the Granada Motor Inn for the August long weekend in 2017, but tried to cancel after Health Canada raised the air quality advisory in Penticton from a level four to seven because of wildfires.

Mehrabani said he contacted Expedia to cancel and receive a $524.20 refund, charged to his credit card by Granada Motor Inn, for the three nights he booked because the air quality was unsafe for his pregnant wife.

Related: 2017 the third-worst B.C. wildfire season

According to the court documents, Mehrabani claimed Expedia told him they had contacted the motel on his behalf to cancel the reservation, however the Granada Motor Inn refused to provide a refund. Mehrabani said he then received a phone call from the Granada who stated they could not issue a refund because of Expedia’s policy, but assured him there was no significant smoke affecting Penticton’s air quality. He claims he was instructed to contact Expedia directly if he wanted to receive a refund.

Related: 2018 now B.C.’s worst wildfire season on record

Mehrabani said he contacted Expedia again a few days later and was told his reservation was a “pay later” booking and they had not charged him for the room. Once again he was told to turn back to the Granada to speak to them about the cancellation.

Mehrabani decided that since he already paid for the room that he would travel to Penticton and make use of the reservation with a friend. On Aug. 4, 2007, he called the Granada explaining that since he could not get a refund he would be driving to Penticton to make use of the reservation. He said the Granada told him that they cancelled his hotel room on instructions from Expedia and there were no rooms available. He then called Expedia who told him the reservation had not been cancelled on their end, so he made other plans for the weekend.

The Granada Motor Inn said that morning they checked Expedia’s website and found notice of the cancellation and printed it out. The print out showed the reservation cancelled on Aug. 4, 2017 at 6:44 a.m. and the penalty was the full cost of the room. The tribunal finding said it is unclear whether this was the cancellation policy of Expedia or the Granada.

The Granada also submitted an email it received from Expedia on July 29, 2017 with a list of cancelled reservations between Aug. 1 and 15, 2017 and Mehrabani’s reservation was on the list next to a column indicating it had been cancelled.

Mehrabani said on Aug. 8, 2017 he received an email asking him to rate his stay at the hotel and he contacted Expedia to inquire about his reservation. He said Expedia informed him that it had not cancelled his reservation and their account showed that he was a no-show at the motel.

“In the circumstances, I am not satisfied that the applicant is entitled to a refund of the cost of the hotel. The evidence before me indicates that the charge for the hotel room was non-refundable, as booked through Expedia,” said tribunal member Sarah Orr in the documents.

Orr said Mehrabani did not name Expedia in the dispute and declined to comment on any claims the applicant may have against Expedia in that regard. Orr found that the Granada established it received notice from Expedia the reservation was cancelled and the penalty was in accordance with their cancellation policy.

Mehrabani, from Vancouver, also asked that the Granada reimburse him $120 for fuel for “gas wasted for driving halfway to Penticton and back.” He claimed to have turned around and drove home when he found out the room was no longer available on Aug. 4, 2017. The court documents state that his phone records show he made many calls from Penticton between Aug. 4 and Aug. 7, 2017.

Given that the Granada was not responsible for the hotel refund and conflicting evidence to Mehrabani’s whereabouts that weekend, Orr dismissed the claim for fuel reimbursement.

To report a typo, email: editor@pentictonwesternnews.com.


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