I never stayed at the Howard Johnson Express on 8100 Lundy's Lane. So I cannot tell you about their cleanliness or rooms. But, I can give you a word of caution about their professionalism and organization. Here's my story:
I made a reservation on February 16th, 2010. This reservation was for two rooms (two adults per room) on Friday, July 16th, 2010 with a checkout date of Sunday, July 18th, 2010. The total cost of this reservation was $192.10.
On March 19th, 2010, I purchased the Niagara Parks & Great Gorge Adventure Pass. This pass gave me a discount on a hotel reservation through Best Western. After realizing this, I booked the adventure pass (along with the Best Western reservation) and called to cancel my HoJo reservation. I was given a cancellation number and I documented it on my reservation printout.
The months rolled by and around the beginning of June 2010 I called to verify my Best Western reservation. I also called to verify my HoJo cancellation (I didn't want any nasty $200 surprises during my first trip outside the country. I was informed that all my reservations were done properly The Best Western was there with the days and rooms I ordered. And the HoJo reservation was canceled.
A month later my trip finally came. I only took a weekend trip. July 17th and 18th 2010 was my reservation dates for the Best Western.
Well, on my way up through NY state around 6am, I tried to pay for my Denny's meal out of my checking account#1. My card was declined so I was forced to pay for it out of my checking account #2 (which I did not plan on using at all.) After I paid I called my bank and found there was a hold placed by Howard Johnson effective July 17th, 2010 in the amount of $78.10 with an expiration date of July 20th, 2010.
Confused and on the road I contacted the Howard Johnson and asked why was there a hold on my account when I had a verified cancellation. Well, I had to wait until after 10am when the reservation office people were open.
I called back after said time and repeated my question only to be told that there was no reservation under my name (which meant that it was canceled.) Now here is where it gets weird.
The Howard Johnson told me that they don't put holds on bank accounts. But, then I informed them that there is in fact a hold on the account. After being told again and again they don't put holds I finally stated that they must put holds because it's there. It didn't magically appear out of nowhere.
They asked for a cancellation number after that banter came to a close. I obviously don't bring my important financial documents with me on vacations to a foreign country. They told me that without a number they can't do anything.
The representative then said "I will give you a call back in 30 minutes after I found your cancellation."
40 minutes elapsed when I get a return call and am now told that I DO have an ACTIVE reservation in their system that was never canceled and that I was "supposed to arrive on Friday." So, a reservation that wasn't there (because it was canceled 4 months ago) mysteriously popped up in less than an hour. Then the representative said that I was going to be charged for the room.
At this point I was completely exasperated and with the threat of an overdraft from my Checking account #1 I threatened legal action in the form of a lawsuit for damages (total charge to the card plus the overdraft fee.) The rep repeated that nothing can be done until I give a cancellation number.
Well, that just soured my entire vacation for a couple reasons. I know had $78.10 less to spend than I budgeted AND I was worried that both checking accounts would be overdrawn (HoJo would overdraw Checking account #1 and the unplanned purchase at Denny's brought checking account #2 in danger of being overdrawn as well.) I travel on a budget so things have to be pretty planned out.
I tried to have a good time as best as I could given the financial worries that I now faced. So, the weekend passed by and when I got home, I set about correcting this mess.
I called my bank and was told that Howard Johnson would have to fax a hold release authorization in order to get the hold lifted. I then contacted HoJo and told them the situation and then gave my cancellation number. Mysteriously over the weekend my reservation, that materialized in the 40 minutes in took for a rep to call me back on Saturday in Canada, disappeared and my cancellation was found.
The representative said "I will have your money returned to your account and everything will be made right in the next 20 minutes. I will call you back once that is done." This was at 04:37pm est Monday July 19th, 2010. (by this point I am documenting EVERYTHING) Well, I ended up having to call them back at 05:54pm est Monday July 19th, 2010 to find out that the hold is not being lifted.
No, instead of lifting the hold which would automatically return the funds to my account they decided they would issue a refund in the amount of $81.20. I was given a trace#, Invoice#, and Auth# for the refund and the approximation of 1 to 2 business days for processing the refund.
Thankfully none of my checking accounts bounced. Though one was spared by only 6 dollars.
Even as I type this the $78.10 that was on hold was actually debited from my account in the amount of $77.94.
I will post the results of this 'refund' as I get information on it. If the situation hasn't been rectified then I will be sure to make good on my threat of legal action.
All in all, stay away from Howard Johnson period. They are not professional nor organized in the least. It really is worth your money to save up and get a nicer hotel for the peace of mind you'll get. Heck, I'm a tight-budget traveler and I learned that hotels is something you don't want to get cheap.
Howard Johnson, you just lost a customer and all his friends and family.
*Update* I have a resolved this issue with Howard Johnson. As of July 22nd, 2010 a credit was applied to my account that covered the funds lost. Luckily I didn't have to take legal action or go through too much more of a hassle than I already have. I will be posting a formal review on the Hotel Reviews section of TA.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.