Accor’s Epic Customer Service Fail

I haven’t paid much attention to Accor as a rewards program, partly because I’ve been loyal to Hyatt and Hilton and because Accor’s rewards program confused me a bit. However, when I was searching for hotels in Calais, I came across several Ibis Hotels and discovered they were part of the Le Club Accor Rewards program. I ended up booking a total of four nights at the Ibis Calais while volunteering with Help Refugees/L’Auberge de Migrants, mainly because in my experience, staying with a chain hotel ensures that if an issue arrises, the chain will take care of it if the hotel refuses to. That turned out to be far from the case with Accor.

Hotel front desk check-in bell

I checked into the Ibis Calais, initially for a two night stay, then decided to extend it for another two nights. Following the fourth night, I wasn’t sure whether to stay another two nights or to move to a hotel closer to the city center. I woke up that morning and made yet another two night reservation through Hotels.com, which was supposed to be cancellable until 6 PM that night. I had my bag packed just in case, dropped my key at the front desk (they had physical keys, with giant keychains that you can’t fit in your pocket) and then went to the Help Refugees/L’Auberge de Migrants warehouse for the day.

I talked to my friend Kristin and she advised me to move to the city center, which was closer to necessities like laundromats, restaurants, grocery stores, and that coordinating rides to and from the Calais Jungle would be easier. So I called the hotel and asked if it would be possible to cancel my reservation. The agent told me that was fine. I told her I likely would come back around 5 PM and she said that would be ok. I arrived at the hotel around 5:30 PM due to issues with the bus, picked up the key, grabbed my packed bag, and came downstairs to check out. I again confirmed that I wouldn’t be charged for that night and the agent assured me I would not. She gave me my final bill, showing I would be paying for four nights, I gave her my credit card, then headed to the Holiday Inn Calais, where I had made a reservation during the ride over.

About a week later, I came home and noticed something odd on one of my Barclay Arrival Plus credit cards. I have one of these cards in my name and am an authorized user on both my dad and brother’s accounts. I had provided my card at check-in, but paid for the stay with the card linked to my dad’s account. Yet, my card had been charged $95.87. I reached out to the hotel to resolve this and they claimed that since I had checked out late, I was charged an extra night. The matter was escalated to the manager, who refused to issue a refund. I pointed out that the front desk agent told me specifically I would not be charged for an extra night and that a sort of late checkout was being extended. I also explained that if I hadn’t been told this by the front desk agent, I would not have made another hotel reservation at the Holiday Inn for the same night. 

When it was clear this conversation was going nowhere, I submitted an enquiry on the Accor website. Crickets. Then I reached out to the Accor Twitter team. They responded quickly and asked for all of the details, which I provided. I was given a case number and told I would hear a response soon. A week passed and after following up two more times and being told someone would be in touch shortly, I gave up and contacted Barclay about resolving the claim. This is by far the worst way to handle a customer complaint, let alone a billing issue.

As a comparison, a few years ago I had an issue with a rate I booked at the DoubleTree Istanbul. Before my stay, I had an email exchange with the hotel staff, in which they ensured me if I booked two rooms and a child (by their definition anyone under 18) was staying in one of the rooms, the second room would be discounted by 50%. At checkout, the agent refused to honor this rate and even when I emailed the hotel, management was uncooperative because whoever told me the rate would be honored was “mistaken.” I reached out to Hilton corporate and within a week, they sent me a check for the extra room charge after the hotel manager again refused to honor the rate. That, in my opinion, is how good customer service is executed: Acknowledge a mistake, take responsibility, and make it right. That’s simple enough for any hospitality professional to understand, yet that isn’t the case with Accor.

I left a negative review on Tripadvisor, which was met with more hostility from the manager, who claimed “the evening staff member” had informed me that while my two night reservation would be cancelled, I was still liable to pay for the first night. Not only did no such conversation occur with “the evening staff member” (remember, I called the front desk after I made the reservation that morning) but that explanation is simply not what any employee told me. 

Anyway, this experience has taught me a few things. First, don’t trust Accor Hotels to do the right thing and step in where the hotel staff is dishonest. Second, if you’re going to stay with an unreliable chain like Accor, always charge your hotel stays to an American Express credit card. Barclays is handling this claim and based on past performance, I don’t have a lot of faith in the process. American Express, on the other hand, is known for handling claims exceptionally well and in a timely manner. Lastly, when a hotel staff member makes an exception to a hotel policy for you, get it in writing in case it isn’t honored later. 

Have you ever had a bad experience related to billing with a chain hotel? What has your experience been like with Accor Hotels customer service?

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Ariana Arghandewal


  1. I wouldn’t put too much faith in using your Amex card and getting a hotel dispute resolved, as they left me hanging for a four night $680 bill, and sided with the hotel who claimed I signed the receipt when clearly the receipt was signed “front desk agent”. I had cancelled the room. I disputed three times before Amex refused to allow an additional dispute, even though they kept misunderstanding my dispute and claiming it was a valid charge simply because the hotel replied, regardless of how stupid the reply was.

    In regards to Aacor. I also had an issue in London and when I complained the desk clerk lied, and the manager sided with him. It was a minor dispute that left a bad impression with how hostile the team got over my small complaint.

    • My experience with Amex has been positive in regards to claims, though I’ve never disputed a travel charge with them. I think the hostility over the complaint is almost worse than the initial lie/screw up. Your experience confirms my negative impression of the chain.

  2. I have never disputed a charge with American Express but I have done so several times with Citi and they have always handled quickly and in my favor. unfortunately I cannot say the same for Chase.

    • I like Citi too – from what I remember, I was able to submit the claim online. I don’t know about Chase – my sister was very happy with how they handled a couple of disputes she had over the years.

  3. We had problems with Dreams Costa Rica and were so upset with the property, experience and staff and arguing with management that within hours of checking in, they called the police and threw us out!. Certainly a scary experience not knowing if we should just go to the airport to fly home or what to do. Not that we did anything wrong. And I think proof of that is that THEY refunded us the money for our 3 nights there, paid for a 2 hour taxi ride to Andaz Hotel (where we had no problems / complaints) AND paid for the 3 nights at the other property.

    Calling the parent company of Dreams – AMResorts about getting thrown out of one of ‘their’ hotels, we were told each one is owned privately and do what they want. AM Resorts just does the marketing for them. We’ve sworn off any of the AM resorts and set up http://dreamsisanightmare.com

    • That’s awful! I think this attitude is prevalent among chain hotels that 1.) Aren’t as well known as, say, Starwood or Hilton and 2.) Don’t own any of the properties in their portfolio. I feel like even if a hotel chain owns some of the hotels in their portfolio, they want to protect their image by making customer service a priority. It’s really just bad business when they don’t.

  4. Accors biggest Customer Fail….. the fact that they still exist means a fail. Accor just don’t get it, period. I hate the chain.

  5. You checked out at 5:30. On what planet is that not considered late checkout? My credit card comes with 4pm checkout but of course there’s a fee if you don’t leave until 5:30. Also, why are you surprised they charged the penalty on the card you provided for incidentals? That’s not unusual. They allowed you to cancel your reservation that night without penalty. That has nothing to do with a late checkout.

    • Actually, there was a penalty: They charged me for another night even though they said they wouldn’t. So rather than honor the late checkout they had offered me, they counted it as another night and charged my credit card.

      • Had you checked out at noon as required and stored your bag in downstairs, this would not be an issue. You checked out at 5:30. They charged you, not for the cancelled reservation but because you never left your prior reservation. You told the woman you would be back at 5. She said ok. She didn’t say there wouldn’t be a cost. Checkout was noon. It is counted as another night. Had someone else booked the room that night and arrived at one to check in they would’ve had to put them somewhere else. You tried to leverage the cancellation policy with your booking to get more usage of the room while you finalized your plans. That’s smart but they figured it out and charged you. It’s not a billing error.

        • You seem extremely invested in defending the hotel and disregarding the facts. The entire time I was going off what the hotel’s employee said to me. If, when I called her on the phone that morning, she had told me a late checkout wouldn’t be possible, I would have accepted that. But she told me I could check out at 5 PM and not pay for an additional night. If, when I arrived at 5:30 PM and asked her once again to confirm that I could check out without being charged for that night and she’d said “no,” I would have accepted that and just spent the night at the hotel. But she once again told me the opposite, which is why I moved to another hotel and made the reservation on my way over. Moreover, the bill at checkout was only for four night – not five. And how exactly was I leveraging their cancellation policy? I wasn’t even using the room and would have been happy to return and store my bags at the front desk if occupancy was the issue. You’re right – it wasn’t a billing error as much as a screw-up (if not a blatant lie) by the hotel staff.

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