Booked a room at the Holiday Inn Express in Oneonta, NY for a college visit directly on the HIE website. They had several room rates posted and I chose the least expensive option.
After contacting the local university I was visiting, they suggested the HAMPTON INN in the same same town and provided a code to book with, which I used and saved over $25 off the HIE rate. I was able to cancel my reservation with a single click and received an email confirmation of the cancellation. After receiving my credit card statement, I was charged a full night as a "deposit" which I learned was non-refundable. Since I had rarely heard of this option and it never happened to me before, I expected a call would resolve the charge.
It did not, the local hotel would not refund and the main office would not either. The Amex used to book also could not have the charges removed. I recognize this as my fault for not reading the fine print closer, but it is terrible business practices, as when you book, you only have to check off that you read the policy (and who doesnt check it off) and when you cancel, there is zero indication until after that you will not get your money returned.
As such, I will never again stay at a Holiday Inn or Holiday Inn Express.
Monetary Loss: $126.