offers only a voucher for canceled Hawaii vacation

DEAR TRAVEL TROUBLESHOOTER: I booked a family trip to Hawaii for May 2020. Then COVID-19 shut everything down. Everyone refunded my money fully except, which issued vouchers for the three rooms I had booked.

Christopher Elliott, the Travel Troubleshooter ...
Christopher Elliott, the Travel Troubleshooter 

The vouchers expired before Hawaii even reopened. Then I received an email that they were extending the vouchers to this December. Hawaii didn’t reopen fully until the end of July. I can’t get to Hawaii before December because some of my children are in college.

I never agreed to a voucher, and I didn’t cancel my trip by choice. I have spoken to the customer service reps at both and Expedia (which owns, who say the hotel denied my request for a refund because of the hotel’s policy.

The hotel claims that its policy is to fully refund customers in this situation. I investigated, and it turns out that the hotel never even received the money from It only gets the money the day before I check in. had my money.

I feel that has stolen my money. Can you help me get my $4,000 back?

— Beth Tananbaum, Plantsville, Connecticut

ANSWER: You booked a nonrefundable reservation at the Outrigger Waikiki Beach Resort (great hotel, by the way). Nonrefundable means that you can’t get your money back if you cancel your travel plans. But if the hotel cancels your reservation, you definitely are entitled to a refund.

You forwarded your paper trail between you, the hotel and It looks like you contacted a revenue manager at the Outrigger, who opened a case with Expedia. As a result of that investigation, Expedia promised to issue a full refund within 7 to 10 days. But you never received the money.

Hawaii closed to tourism during the early days of the pandemic. Most hotels canceled their bookings and issued refunds. So something went awry with your canceled vacation. I think Expedia’s promise to refund the money makes this an open-and-shut case.

If you run into a problem like this in the future, you can always reach out to an executive at Expedia or I publish the names, numbers and email address of the Expedia and customer service contacts on my consumer advocacy site at

I think contacting the Outrigger’s revenue manager was an excellent idea, because it led to opening a case with Expedia. You also kept a meticulous paper trail and all of your receipts and records. claimed that Outrigger denied your claim because it’s against the hotel’s policy to refund a nonrefundable room. However, an Outrigger representative said the hotel did refund all hotel guests.