Eli Orzessek finds the answers to your travel questions.

In August, I booked two nights at the Ibis in Wellington and paid up front. It was explained that this was non-refundable. Two days later I had to cancel - and I understood the conditions. However, I did think a gesture would have been nice. The one thing they did say when I asked whether I could transfer the booking to Auckland - where I live - was that it had to be the Wellington hotel. The weekend also coincided with WOW so they could easily fill that room.

It irks me that Ibis have made double for those two nights. Also, I am a member of their loyalty club. I received a courteous but short email from head office on questioning this, but no reply from the hotel itself. I have to accept I'm $600 out of pocket, but the double-dipping leaves a nasty taste.

Is there anything I could do? Is this treatment unusual? Or is it a case of "non-refundable buyer beware"?


Travel Editor Winston Aldworth swears by social media in these circumstances. "Many travel industry brands seem to be more likely to offer a bit of extra compensation if you contact them on social media," he says. "It's a forum where their behaviour and responses are witnessed publicly, so it's understandable they'll go the extra mile. If you don't have social media accounts ask a friend or relative to contact them for you. And as with all things, always be polite about it."

I have to agree - I've battled with many companies privately and got nowhere, but the moment I post on their Facebook page or send out a tweet, it gets fixed right away.


Readers respond:

Alan Blair wrote in to share his experience at Johannesburg airport, in response to Max Farquhar's question ["Ask Away", October 31]. He found it a good place to spend a six-hour stopover when travelling from Zimbabwe.

"The International side in the transit area is superb," he said. "Even though I was travelling Business Class, I spent at the most two hours in the lounge. Reason being, there is great window shopping to be had and even better views of planes coming and going. There are two very good bookshops and the prices are considerably less than NZ. Having spent a week in SA at the commencement of the trip I was keen to learn more about the country, hence I bought a couple of thick paperbacks."

We've included a picture from Alan's trip - thanks for writing!