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Need Some Help About Unwarranted 'Cancellation Charge' by Hotel on Visa Card


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Hi...first time on the forums. I have an issue which I'd appreciate some help with..... issue occurred in hotel in Berlin. I am UK citizen but Visa Card concerned was my Spanish one.


Beginning of August we booked a family self-catering apartment (within an actual hotel) for 11 days and left credit card details as requested.


On arrival we found that the room was dirty and substandard and next-door to a not very salubrious pub/bar with drunks spilling out on to the street at all hours – our room was on the ground floor. As a family with a young daughter we were slightly perturbed by this but worse was to come….we were unable to sleep at all that first night due to the loud music and constant traffic of visitors to the room above us. We later found out on our return home that this room above was in fact a brothel.


Obviously in the morning we realized that we could not continue in this way for the full 11 days so we paid for that first evening and left.


The problems arose when the hotel debited our credit card 600 Euros (80% of the 11 days) on the basis that their cancellation policy was 0% within 3 days and 80% thereafter. Visa seem to claim this is within their rights as it is a stated (but extortionate) cancellation rate but my argument is that this was NOT a cancellation – we stayed one night and would have stayed all had it been appropriate. In fact we had to find alternate accommodation for the remaining 10 days and thus effectively paid for our holiday twice…. We would not have cancelled and gone somewhere more expensive had the accommodation been as described and suitable for a family.


What are our options in this situation?

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Hello and Welcome,


I have moved this thread to the appropriate Forum.






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Unless Spain has an equivalent to Section 75 of the CCA, which allows UK credit card holders to reclaim for shoddy good and services directly from the lender, or you want to sue the hotel in a German court for misrepresentation, this is going to be difficult.


Maybe your travel insurance could help? Failing that, maybe the agent you booked it through, assuming you found the place via some kind of internet travel site?


Berlin is certainly a city of surprises, both good and bad.

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Trouble with Booking things yourself, aspects of Hotels unless you investigate on net etc then you are at risk especially in Germany as a few Countries where Legally operated establishment operate under a smoke screen sometimes.



The use of Agoda and other on line booking sites help in a lot of ways to establish Bono Hotels and great discounts/upgrades some times, I have found them so helpful in the past in the Far East, cheaper than local rates. Think you are on a loser here but hope not. See if anybody can come up with any further ideas/knowledge.

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Hi Madridist,


This is taken from a post on tripadvisor:


As you can see it is not easy to get a refund - you may be better off raising this as a dispute (i.e. Room/Hotel not fit for purpose) with your CC company






> under basic German law


Don't mix up the German Basic Law (Grundgesetz - which is the constitution for Germany) and the Civil Code (BGB (Bürgerliches Gesetzbuch)). The latter deals with such things.






> Cancellations up to 31 days before the due date of arrival - no charge; cancellations up to 21 days before - 20% of the room costs; up to 11 days before - 40%; up to 7 days before - 60%; and 6 days or less - 80% of the room costs.


This is the recommended cancellation policy of the DEHOG, the German federation of hotels and restaurants. Often used. But not what's in the law. And the law is pretty simple on this: short term contracts cannot be canceled. By neither side. For no reason.




This means that if you cancel you have still to fulfill your part of the contract. I.e. to pay. Subtracted are typically 20% for breakfast (if accommodation was booked with breakfast). Albeit either side is free to proof different costs on this (but not something I would recommend). If the hotel can re-let the room you even have to pay nothing. But if it's not during big trade fairs or the Oktoberfest this is difficult to proof for the customer. With a general hotel beds occupancy rate of 35% this is at other times not that likely.




> Surprisingly enough, a hotel does NOT have to publish this policy anywhere. It is apparently the consumer's responsibility to ask or to be aware of German law.


Rather the latter. If nothing is defined the law applies. Towards private consumers one can define also only rules which are more favorable to the customer than the law. But also for contracts between companies this means you can make really short contracts in Germany (esp. compared to countries with an Anglo-Saxon law history). It is much easier to know one law and how the courts deal with violations of it, than individual conditions and how the courts will interpret these.



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