A chargeback is the method of last resort when you're taken advantage of by a business that does not offer what it promised. You can seek a chargeback for a canceled hotel room, but whether or not you win your claim depends on the precise circumstances of the cancellation.
How Chargebacks Work
Many credit card companies specifically require that you first attempt to resolve your dispute with the merchant prior to requesting a chargeback. If that fails, contact your card company and tell it about the problem. You may receive a provisional credit as your card company investigates your claim. Focus on documenting each complaint you have about the charge, and provide any evidence you can -- such as photos of the hotel room, an email indicating the room was canceled or evidence that the hotel did not follow its own policies.
When You Cancel
When you book your hotel room, the hotel might place a hold on your card. After you cancel, the hold may remain for a few days, and you can't dispute it until it becomes a charge. If you cancel because the hotel room was in unacceptable condition, make sure you tell the management about this and take photos if possible. Ask to move to another room, and don't stay at the hotel. Doing so could constitute acceptance of the room's condition.
When the Hotel Cancels
If the hotel cancels your room, you have a right to a refund, even if the cancellation was because of something you did. You may, however, have to provide proof that the hotel canceled, so be prepared to provide this. A hold can appear on your account for a few days after you book the hotel, so you'll need to wait until this hold is permanently charged to your account to initiate a dispute.
When you file a chargeback, your credit card company may look at the policies of the merchant. For example, if your hotel requires that you cancel hotel rooms 24 hours in advance and makes this policy clear, you might not win if you canceled after this time had lapsed, particularly if there was not a compelling reason for the cancellation. Consequently, it's wise to refer directly to hotel policy in your chargeback. Point to any ways that the hotel violated its own policy.
Van Thompson is an attorney and writer. A former martial arts instructor, he holds bachelor's degrees in music and computer science from Westchester University, and a juris doctor from Georgia State University. He is the recipient of numerous writing awards, including a 2009 CALI Legal Writing Award.