If your travel agent doesn’t pay your bill, should you have to pay again?

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By | November 5th, 2014

Two months after Ionela Sufaru stayed at the Best Western Atlantic Beach Hotel, she noticed a mysterious charge on her credit card. The hotel was making her pay for her stay again.

Sufaru contacted her travel agent, with whom she’d booked her hotel. She wanted to know why the double billing? And, more importantly, why didn’t anyone warn her in advance?

What she found out — or, more to the point, what her agent found out — may interest you. A hotel doesn’t care how you booked your room. It just wants to get paid. And if it doesn’t, it could just charge your credit card.

“The hotel was aware that the guest had paid for her room once already,” says her agent, Dorian Harris. “It even accepted her voucher at check-in.”

But it billed her again, anyway. Best Western outlined its reasons in an email to her:

We sincerely apologize for any unexpected charges to your account.

When you make reservations the hotel does ask for a credit card at check-in in case of any incidentals not covered by the cost for the room and tax. The credit card is also their assurance of payment for the room.

When you have paid another booking source for your reservation in advance, the hotel expects that payment to be made in a timely manner after your stay. If the payment due is not received from that booking source, the hotel can charge any payments due to the guest’s credit card.

The guest then must go back to the booking source to get their money refunded that they paid in advance for the reservation.

We regret we are not able to assist you any further with this matter.

In other words, go after your travel agent for the money. He didn’t pay his bills.

Related story:   "Recently, your column has become a bitch session"

Harris insists he did pay his bills, and has been trying to reach someone at Best Western to settle the matter. He even wrote a funny (though not funny in a “ha ha” way) post on LinkedIn that explains the steps he took to fix this.

Here’s an excerpt from his complaint-resolution odyssey:

Rita in customer care wanted to know what she could help me with today, but not that much because she hung up halfway through my spiel. That could have been an accident, I guess.


I thought, this is getting silly. I’m just going to call the hotel itself.

Nick answered. There was something in his tone, an air of mild confusion, and I immediately pictured not a receptionist but an over-worked bell-hop. ‘Go get that will ya, Nick. If it’s a shouter, tell ‘em to call back’.

Needless to say, he got nowhere.

“I’ve stayed in a million hotels, as I’m sure you have, and I’ve always felt a bit uncomfortable giving them my card at check-in if only because it suggests they don’t trust me which doesn’t make for a nice introduction,” he says. “I’ve done some hunting around and it seems that everyone’s of the opinion that credit cards are held against incidentals. That was my impression, too.”

But no. The hotel charged his client’s card for the room. Again.

I asked Best Western to have a look at Sufaru’s bill. In response, it sent Harris a clarification, explaining that because his wholesaler, TransHotel, hadn’t paid its bills, his client was on the hook. It also sent Sufaru an almost identical letter.

The matter would have to be resolved between yourself and Transhotel since the hotel never received payment and was not able to redeem the vouchers. Any billing disputes for a reservation that was booked through a third party must be resolved with the third party and hotel. Our office is not the merchant and we are not able to offer any refunds or compensation in this matter.

As if, somehow, saying it again would make it more clear.

Not. Our. Problem.

Best Western is right about that. I think it’s our problem. Yours and mine.

If a hotel can do whatever it wants with our credit cards — even when it claims it’s only using the card for “incidentals” — then we have to be very careful about monitoring our statement after we check out.

Clearly, Best Western and Harris need to talk and get this worked out. But beyond that, I think Best Western’s cavalier attitude toward a customer’s credit card should be troubling to all of us.

If your travel agent doesn't pay your bill, should you have to pay again?

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Update (Nov. 25): After Sufaru threatened to sue Best Western, it offered a full refund and apology.



  • PsyGuy

    See this is why you SHOULDN’T use a travel agent, it’s just another possible scammer and thief in the transaction chain. The shorter the chain between the money (you) and the product/service (them) the better you are.

    The hotel is MOST certainly the merchant, they provided the service or goods, that makes them the merchant. The third party is just that a THIRD party, the hotel and the traveler are the primary and secondary parties.

    I always put hotel reservations on a credit card with a small credit limit. Then as I reach the cap of my credit card I make a payment though online bill pay (that gets posted in a day). Then when I return from my stay I contact my credit card company to get a new card with new CC account number. If they try to charge the card it gets declined.

  • Bill___A

    That’s in pretty much every hotel sign in sheet out there. The guest has the ultimate responsibility. That’s the way it is. Are we to assume that this is Best Western’s fault? They supplied a room, they paid their staff, fixtures, mortgage, heat, light, etc. They should get paid. The travel agent the guest picked is not their problem. I believe any hotel chain would do this.
    I have actually stayed in a few Best Westerns lately and received wonderful service.

    I am sorry that the guest went through this but it is between the guest and the travel agent, isn’t it…

  • Bill___A

    Seems like a lot of trouble. Just deal with reputable hotels.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    I understand the confusion, but Best Western really is correct in this. Best Western has an arms length relationship with the travel wholesaler which was chosen by the guest’s travel agent not the hotel. That means that it doesn’t have any special cozy relations with TransHotel. Best Western provided a service which the guest utilized and thus is entitled to be paid.

    Put another way, the guest paid, via its travel agent, TransHotel. TransHotel failed to perform and thus the obligation to repay the guest lies with TransHotel.

    It would be a different story if you booked the room with an entity closely affiliated with Best Western, e.g. the corporate chain. The terms and conditions in which Best Western accepts third payers is that you are responsible if the payer fails to pay. This is true whether that third party payer is your credit card, your employer, the airline, etc.

    It’s the same as when you go to the doctor. If your insurance is rejected, you are responsible for the entire bill, even if the rejection was not your fault.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    You do that after every stay? Seems like an awful lot of trouble. But in any event, that doesn’t necessarily work. Since the authorization predates the cancellation of the card, the charge can still be put through.

  • FQTVLR

    Best Western is not responsible for this. The travel agent/agency needs to pay the bill and then go after Transhotel for the refund. i am not sure if a dispute on the original charge to the travel agent would work or if they LW made the original payment by card. But clearly, this is not the LW’s fault and she should not be financially responsibile for the failure of the wholesaler and travel agent to see that payment for the pre-paid stay was made.

  • ArizonaRoadWarrior

    “The hotel charged his client’s card for the room. Twice”.

    Chris, please provide the OP’s credit statements showing two charges from this Best Western hotel.

    Best Western did NOT charged the OP’s card twice. The OP paid Harris for the room with a credit card (if that was the form of payment that the OP used) and the card was charged by Harris individually, Harris’s agency or Harris’ wholesaler NOT Best Western. Harris allegedly paid his wholesaler, TransHotel. It seems like TransHotel did NOT pay the Best Western hotel. Then the Best Western hotel charged the OP credit card..since they have not received payment from TransHotel.

    The Best Western hotel provided services and is expecting payment for the night(s) that the OP stayed there. They don’t care if the money comes from the OP, the travel agent or the travel agent’s wholesaler…they want to get paid.

    Here are my thoughts, questions, etc:

    1. How could the OP receive a voucher from Harris if TransHotel did NOT pay Best Western?

    2. If Harris is a good travel agent, why doesn’t he reimburse his client, the OP, for the room and he can work out the issue with his TransHotel?

    3. To me, the problem in this situation is TransHotel since they didn’t pay the hotel. Chris or someone from the blog should have contacted TransHotel on why they didn’t allegedly paid for the room but the article has no response or etc. from TransHotel. Why did TransHotel receive a free pass in this article? Why were they not contacted about not making payment?

  • You’re right. I should have said “again.” I’ve fixed it.

  • PsyGuy

    They haven’t authorized my card for the entire stay, just a minor “block” of my available credit usually $200 for incidentals.

  • I’m not sure I agree with the ‘arm’s length’ assertion. Best Western has a commercial agreement with the wholesaler to pay for its rooms. It doesn’t anywhere have an agreement with the customer to pay for the rooms in the event that its relationship with the wholesaler breaks down. Remember, the customer already paid once and the hotel knows that.

  • I can help answer those ARW:

    1. Because Best Western and Transhotel have a credit agreement. All rooms are paid for after check-out (typically around 30 days after).

    2. We did offer the guest that, of course. The greater concern for both the guest and Skoosh was the notion that Best Western took it upon itself to charge the guest knowing that she’d already been charged once.

    3. Of course Transhotel should have paid the hotel. It doesn’t deserve a pass. But that’s the problem for Transhotel and Best Western, not the for the guest.

  • Imagine you bought a car from a distributor and then the manufacturer charged you for it again some months down the line because it didn’t receive payment from its distributor…and told you to sort it out.

  • Blackadar

    No, that’s a problem for Transhotel, Best Western and YOU.

  • I accept that. Just not a problem for the customer.

  • Kairho

    Actually, in the fine print signed at check in to most hotels I’ve seen, there is a clause saying that the renter guarantees payment if any intermediary fails to pay. Also, the hotel has no knowledge of whether prepayment has been made or not; most domestic agency bookings are for payment upon arrival.

  • Kairho

    Exactly. The customer would have to pursue (or even sue) the travel agent for compensation. That agent would then have to go after the wholesaler.

  • Jim

    Carver I am in the position of completely disagreeing with you, call me PsyGuy.

    This is an issue between the hotel and the agent. I would wager that it was not disclosed to the customer by the hotel or the TA that he was on the hook if the TA didn’t pay the hotel.

    Don’t forget that the TA is acting as an agent for the hotel as well by selling it’s rooms at a discount and setting up a payment arrangement with them.

    The hotel accepted the voucher for the stay, therefore it’s between the TA and the hotel.

    Your insurance claim is off base on this one. With insurance your providing info to the doctor that the insurance may pay for services rendered (and you sign paperwork that you will pay if the insurance does not pay). In this case you pay for a room, you are provided with proof of payment (ie the voucher), and the voucher is exchanged for the room.

  • It would appear that, if this article refers to the same TransHotel, there may be problems with anyone collecting from them. Time to find a new wholesaler…

    http://www.ttgdigital.com/news/transhotel-enters-three-month-period-of-administration/4692968.article

  • TonyA_says

    Which part of BOOK DIRECTLY WITH HOTEL do people not understand?
    These wholesalers are leaches and do nothing to add value to your stay.

  • I’m just back from the World Travel Market and I asked around but no-one in the industry is aware of this clause. Not even Best Western.

  • TonyA_says

    Really? If you booked directly with the hotel, then what is the point to your whole scheme? I can see the hotel cancelling your reservation if the credit card authorization hold fails. Now what?

  • Other than better prices and they’ll help you out in the event that the hotel tries to charge your credit card without authorization.

  • TonyA_says

    Better Price :-) ROFL. Of course, that’s how the hook the suckers.
    Help you out? HOW? Even one of the oldest and largest one in the industry does not come close to make those promises.
    gta-travel dot com/en/buy-from-us/why-work-with-us/support

  • TonyA_says

    How can you be so sure that a Spanish Hotel Wholesale like Grupo Transhotel has an agreement with this individual property?
    They could be using another wholesaler in the whole process.

  • Lily

    I work in Reservations for a hotel chain in Australia and I can confirm that Transhotel did go into administration in October. We had to cancel all of their bookings at our properties because we wouldn’t get paid for them. The guests were also left without accommodation however many of the reservations were picked up by other wholesalers. I wonder how long ago this incident occurred with Best Western. Perhaps one of the reasons they didn’t get paid by Transhotel was because they were in the process of going under…

  • I’m not sure why you’re so angry. It wasn’t your card that was charged.

    This really isn’t a discussion about distribution models. The question is whether hotels have the right to charge customers’ credit cards without authorisation. If they’re found to be doing that the only winners here are airbnb.

  • TonyA_says

    Bravo!
    www dot 02b dot com/en/notices/2014/10/transhotel-applies-for-administration-after-talks-collapse-8142.php
    Another reason to stay away from wholesalers.

  • Perhaps, but that’s not what the customer was concerned about. She was concerned that she’d already paid a travel agent for her room and the hotel charged her again.

    I’m surprised you’re not surprised. I’ve been in this business for 20 years and never heard about it before. If it was common practise I imagine Christopher would never have written about it.

  • Helio

    In this case, is like someone bought from an independent salesman who bought from the distributor who didn’t pay the manufacturer.

    You, as salesman, is also putting the hook at the customer.

    I believe you had received your cut at the deal. Are you going to give back your commission to the customer? You are also responsible because of your choice of distributor.

  • TonyA_says

    Didn’t you work for travelweekly a long time ago?

    travelweekly dot co dot uk/articles/2014/10/08/49649/transhotel-enters-voluntary-administration-as-it-seeks.html

    So hotel not going to get paid by wholesaler ???
    That’s the problem here.

  • TonyA_says

    Apparently you did not read Lily’s post below.
    She did not have to go to a hotel “conference” to know about some impending bankruptcy. :-)

  • Helio

    In this case, it seems they are not helping with the unauthorized cc charges…

  • You cancelled the reservations? Why? That’s pretty tough on the guest isn’t it?

  • Helio

    Best Western is entitled to receive for the service provided, but not what it charged LW of her stay.

    If the things had happen smoothly, Best Western would not receive the full amount, its cut will have the deductions regarding the TA & TransHotel commissions.

    Chris might have some ground to ask Best Western at least some vouches to give to LW.

  • TonyA_says

    Who would pay Lily’s hotel?

  • Helio, I didn’t put this on the guest at all. I offered to refund her and then take up the issue on my own and would never profit from a customer’s misfortune.

    Her bigger concern was unauthorised charges to her credit card.

  • The customer isn’t concerned about how or why the hotel didn’t get paid, only why she’d been charged for a second time.

  • Lily

    It’s all a bit complicated. We were instructed to by our parent company. For our properties, Transhotel booked rooms through another wholesaler we have a strong relationship with and we were also instructed by them to cancel all reservations. This wholesaler then worked with guests to either try and provide accommodation from their own allotments or with other wholesalers. All guests should have been notified of what happened with Transhotel however this was not the hotels responsibility to contact the guest to let them know as they would have paid Transhotel for the booking, not the hotel. Any refund would have to be processed with Transhotel. This is the chance you take when booking via a wholesaler.

  • TonyA_says

    How about the hotel’s concern?
    You mean they will let the guest stay without being sure to get paid?

  • If it were my hotel I would have contacted Transhotel to find out the names of the retail agencies which had made the bookings and I would have contacted them directly to arrange payment. Some of the more respectable hotels did that so it was clearly possible.

    It’s never okay to place the burden on the customer.

  • TonyA – it’s never the guest’s concern, that’s all you ever need to remember.

  • Helio

    You never read Tony angry…

  • Helio

    You should have stated it earlier! Your status increased with me now.

  • TonyA_says

    Sure, you want a Miami hotel to call Spain to figure this out :-) Really?

  • I want the hotel to do everything humanly possible to make sure the customer is not affected. That’s all.

  • TonyA_says

    You are the agent right? Why didn’t you use another wholesaler. I think you’re in the UK, right? Why not Miki?

  • Lily

    With the Best Western case, I do agree though that the guests credit card shouldn’t have been charged. The travel agent should have stepped in and covered the accommodation and then tracked down the refund from Transhotel. Best Western should have contacted the agent and guest first before charging the guests credit card.

  • Alan Gore

    Another third party problem. TransHotel is not a travel agency of the normal kind, but a Spanish wholesaling operation that recently filed for “administration,” which is the European equivalent of bankruptcy. Good luck trying to get your payment back in a situation like that.

    Bear in mind also that Best Western is not a chain, but a marketing brand, just as IGA is for supermarkets. Each Best Western is individually owned and can have totally different policies.

  • Jim Doll

    A chargeback against the Travel Agents Credit Card transaction, is the appropriate action to take, Sounds like the OP has the doc needed to support the credit card company to successfully do the chargeback against the Travel Agents merchance Credit Card account.

  • TonyA_says

    Wow you said something I could agree with. It’s a miracle!

  • TonyA_says

    Well Dorian, the hotel is just protecting itself.
    If that Spanish wholesaler does not pay them, then how can they get paid by a Spanish Bankrupt company?
    So it became the guest’s problem. Too bad. She took the risk of buying from a hotel wholesaler.

  • Raven_Altosk

    Once again, never use a third party.

    Just sold my house…my buyers used a mortgage broker with the professional integrity of a coat-hanger abortion doctor.

    This shady business stopped answering its phones when the papers were due at the lawyers office and pushed the close into another month.

    Had the buyers used a normal lender and not a mortgage broker run out of someone’s garage, there wouldn’t have been a hold up and answers would’ve been coming in a timely manner.

    Needless to say, buyers were pissed at the company, too.

  • I’m not sure any sort of anger is appropriate in this context. If I were a traveller reading this discussion I’d really wonder about the hotel industry.

    Hello airbnb.

  • John Baker

    Ah… the downside of paying a third party. Looks like someone is out of luck since Transhotel filed for bankruptcy. Who is out of luck is really going to depend on who the LW paid exactly. If they paid their agent and then the agent paid Transhotel, the agent is on the hook. If they paid Transhotel directly, it on the LW. Either way, I’m starting a CC chargeback today on the original transaction based on non-fulfillment of the contract.

    Edit: I’ll add this too… The one party not on the hook in this entire screw up is Best Western as long as Transhotel wasn’t acting on BW’s behalf. My read on this is that they weren’t.

  • TonyA_says

    Sure, the hotel let her stay instead of kicking her out. Hotels also have a right to get paid and not get sucked in to some bankruptcy payment problems.
    Essentially, her voucher was no good.
    And that is the KEY to this story.
    People should understand that there is a risk to buying from a wholesaler. Their money is with the wholesaler and NOT with the hotel.

  • TonyA_says

    I see a problem with your logic Dorian.
    YOU chose the wholesaler. I doubt you disclosed your source to your client or gave a choice of merchants to your client.
    If you knew or SHOULD HAVE KNOWN that Transhotel was financially shaky, then it was your duty to inform your client and not to put your client at risk.
    If you had been in this industry for as long as you say you have been, I am sure you have seen a number of bankruptcies and how travelers were affected.
    I think it is really shameful for you to pass the buck to the hotel. You could have charged your client a booking fee and simply used your GDS to book the room directly. So what if you will have a hard time collecting commission from the property. At least you know the booking is sound and direct. You still will make the service fee.

  • tomg63

    It seems the final step is to do a chargeback for the payment to the Travel Agent with the Credit Card. You have documentation from Best Western that they never received the payment. This is the travel agent’s issue to fix and your credit card should be on your side.

  • MarkKelling

    I would think your bank/credit card issuer would get tired of you doing this after a while.

    You normally have to have a good reason for getting a replacement card. Theft, fraud, loss of the card, etc. Not wanting a valid charge to go through is not one of those reasons.

  • Sure Transhotel was acting on behalf of the hotel. It’s a commercial partner.

  • MarkKelling

    The hotel had an authorization. The card was provided at check in and the check in form was signed by the customer stating the card could be charged for all amounts due related to the stay. (At least that is how the last form I signed at a Best Western property read.)

    Should the hotel have charged when they had the voucher? That is the real question. Maybe they have had so many of these vouchers that were never paid they gave up on collecting from the wholesaler.

    The customer is rightly angered that they were charged twice for the stay. One of those charges should be refunded. If you offered to refund as stated in one of your postings, then why the problem? The issue then becomes one between you and the wholesaler.

  • MarkKelling

    If you have been reading this blog for any time at all, you will see all of the complaints against Airbnb and similar companies from customers who paid and the owner of the property claims they know nothing about any payments or reservations. Not a good business.

  • Fishplate

    But it appears that the charge was authorized, as approved by the customer at check-in. Not the hotel’s fault if she didn’t read the pages of tiny type.

  • MarkKelling

    Whenever I check into a hotel, the hold on my card is for the full amount of the stay plus a secondary hold for a couple hundred for the extras. Never causes me any issues because I will leave the entire stay on the card. Never had any problems with this.

  • John Baker

    Where do you see that they act as the hotel’s agent? All I could find is that they buy blocks of rooms and resell them. In that business model they aren’t acting on the hotel’s behalf.

    Its the difference between Ticketmaster that has a contract with the venue to sell their tickets and 333Seats or Stubhub that doesn’t. If there’s an issue with a Ticketmaster ticket, the venue needs to make it right. If there’s an issue with a reseller’s ticket, its on the reseller to make it right.

    If a TA purchases a ticket from a reseller instead of the venue, its the TA or the reseller that needs to make it right. Not the venue or the client.

  • Mark, are you sure that’s what it says on the hotel authorisation form? I suspect it isn’t. I’ve asked the hotel many times now to send me proof and for some reason they won’t.

    Why the problem? Because the guest received a charge on her credit card 2 months after she left the hotel. There was no correspondence from the hotel explaining the charge and she’s confident she never authorised such a thing.

    If anyone can post a copy of the form here that would be great.

  • “Where do you see that they act as the hotel’s agent?”

    I’ve worked for wholesalers before so I’m familiar with their contracts.

  • “Not the hotel’s fault if she didn’t read the pages of tiny type.”

    That’s not the sort of line I use with my customers.

  • Lindabator

    As a travel agent myself, I can attest that we would have ponied up the funds immediately – looks like the hotel was booked thru TransHotel, which is going thru bankruptcy protection. This was the LARGEST hotel booking group in Europe, so a lot of problems there potentially. We would have dealt with our lawyers and TransHotel ourselves.

  • Fishplate

    Nope. And to your credit, you took over the problem, and issued a refund to your client.

    But the fact remains that your client was not unfairly treated by the hotel, according to what we read here.

  • Lindabator

    True – but as the agent, I would have made them whole, THEN dealt with the vendor with our lawyers.

  • Lindabator

    Not pre-paid vouchers, as this is. This was booked thru a hotel wholesaler.

  • James Babb Ⓐ

    You aren’t paying for the hotel again. The first time, you got ripped off by a third party. Why should the hotel pay for this mistake?

  • The hotel made an unauthorised charge on her credit card. She definitely feels that she was treated unfairly.

    I didn’t issue a refund. I offered to but the client said her issue was with the hotel not my company.

  • Lindabator

    Or I would just pony up the refund, and have our lawyers pursue.

  • John Baker

    Both @TonyA_says:disqus and @Lindabator:disqus, who also happen to be agents, seem to disagree with you.
    Why do you accept responsibility for giving your client bad advice and make them whole instead of blaming everyone else?

  • Lindabator

    Not always true, Tony. I use several that I have a close relationship with, which can save my clients substantial amounts, or offer availability when the hotel itself is sold out (happens during conventions). You just have to ensure they are properly bonded, and you are as well.

  • TonyA_says

    Well that is the answer here. Give your TA credit card to the hotel and arrange for them to bill you instead.

  • Fishplate

    The following was said by the hotel:

    “When you make reservations the hotel does ask for a credit card at check-in in case of any incidentals not covered by the cost for the room and tax. The credit card is also their assurance of payment for the room.”

    Do you dispute this statement?

  • TonyA_says

    The hotel is reputable but is the wholesaler?
    Why would anyone need a wholesaler anyway?
    So a travel agent can make their own markup and get paid before the stay, damn.

  • Fishplate

    I note that the charge was issued by the hotel a convenient 61+ days after she paid the original bill.

  • TonyA_says

    That’s what happens when you have a Spanish deadbeat wholesaler as your merchant.

  • Bill___A

    That is commendable but there is a chain of companies involved and one has to consider what might happen if, for example the travel agent’s company fails.
    There is supposed to be a multitude of fail safe mechanisms, such as charge backs, insurance, etc. I believe that in Canada, there is a fund to which travel companies contribute, which is to address this type of thing (I might be wrong but I think there is).

    I think the takeaway from this article is that the guest is ultimately the one liable to pay the hotel.

  • PsyGuy

    Because it’s always “something” that gets slapped on my card a few weeks or months later. They had to steam clean the room despite the fact I don’t smoke, or i negotiate to NOT pay the resort fee, and then a few weeks later they charge me anyway saying it’s a non-negotiable fee. They charge me for parking despite not parking in their lot or not even having a car (it’s an assigned space to the room). They add some charge for daily housekeeping, claiming the room rate doesn’t include housekeeping. The latest one was a fee for a utility supplement, literally their electricity, gas, water, etc.

    My holds don’t fail, but I’ve never used a TA to book a hotel. What my routine does is eliminate the need for phantom charges later. If a hotel property has an issue they feel is something I owe them for they can bring it up with me personally and then if it is merited i tender payment. If they don’t like my resolution they can go to court.

  • Lindabator

    AGREED!

  • Lindabator

    Not always – use a couple for those sold out rooms, or for a substantial savings – but only use those properly bonded, with the caveat that WE take responsibility in the end. 20 years without a problem. :)

  • PsyGuy

    Well of course I lost my card, but financial fraud and identity fraud is so common now, a bank thinks nothing of replacing a card which costs them next to nothing. Having your card out of sight in the hands of a “sketchy server” is enough. Using a card online is enough, banks would rather replace the card then deal with any potential fraud. Whats the pay off a new card that costs them nothing or handling a fraud claim that could have potential for 10’s of thousands of dollars? No CSR wants to be in the position of explaining why they recommended against replacing a card when a client expressed “concern” over the cards security, in the face of a fraud claim.

    It’s not a valid charge though thats the issue, and it doesn’t go through so it never becomes a dispute, they have to deal with. Having an account and presenting a card for payment is not a license for a merchant to help themselves because they want to.

  • Lindabator

    True – I only use bonded wholesalers, so this is NOT a problem. And only for certain circumstances (sold out during a convention, or nice savings during peak travel times)

  • Alan Gore

    I should have added: OP should dispute his payment to TransHotel, on grounds of non-consummation.

  • TonyA_says

    That’s the problem Linda. As a Worldspan user, I now see more and more of these wholesalers being offered as a travel source (especially if I use Travelport Rooms and More).

    I have made a personal choice which I believe is best for me and my clients. I find it a lot safer just to make a direct (or via agency GDS) booking and charge the customer a separate service fee. To me this is the least troublesome way. The client is the customer on record and he sees his booking immediately.

    I definitely understand that this might not be possible if you sell a package tour. But that was the real intention of having wholesalers do FIT travel for individuals and not this online merchant model discounting nonsense.

  • Charlie

    The traveler is trusting the travel agent to pay his bill and, in effect, is asking the hotel to trust the voucher. The travel agent is in turn trusting the wholesaler (TransHotel – never knew companies like that existed, I’ve learned something).

    The traveler’s obligation is therefore to pay the hotel for the service rendered.

    If the travel agent or wholesaler fails to do so, then it’s on the traveler. The traveler then has a legitimate claim with the travel agent who took their money.

    The travel agent should refund the traveler first and foremost, and THEN go after the wholesaler. (Not wait to get the refund from the wholesaler before paying back the traveler… it’s not the traveler’s fault that the travel agent trusted a bum wholesaler.)

    Best Western has not obligation here, but if they place any value in travel agents (i.e. want to build good will), they might lend their considerable weight to the pursuit of the wholesaler to straighten up and fly right.

    If the traveler paid the travel agent by credit card, I’d suggest they dispute the charge from the travel agent (not the charge from the hotel) if the travel agent doesn’t make good ASAP.

  • emanon256

    You’ve been staying at some pretty shady hotels.

  • I’m not blaming anyone. I’m suggesting that Best Western may have defrauded a guest by making unauthorised charges to a credit credit given in good faith. That’s all I’m trying to solve here.

  • TonyA_says

    OP paid the agency in this case, I would think.
    Then the agency pocketed its markup and then paid the wholesaler. So disputing would create a mess (a chain of comedies).

  • PsyGuy

    Wow this is a looney day, I have to completely agree with Carver. The hotel industry has pretty decent lawyers, and I’m sure that any contract or agreement at check in is going to have language that the guest is ultimately the one responsible for the hotel charges. It makes little sense for them to limit their access to who they can collect from.

  • The customer doesn’t feel she was ripped off by her agent.

    It’s probably best to look at this from her perspective as she is the customer.

  • emanon256

    And this is why I believe in using real travel agents, despite the people saying travel agents get in the way. Thank you for offering the refund and taking it up. This is the type of service I expect with real travel agent.

  • Lindabator

    And I agree that this is not actually an agency “wholesaler” in the sense that the ones I use are. Mine are bonded and insured, members of NTA, ASTA, etc, and sell more than just hotels. But as we (sadly) know, ANY travel vendor can go bust, so having the correct procedures in place to ensure the client is made whole IMMEDIATELY is of paramount importance – and why booking with a reputable agent is to the client’s advantage. In 20 years, I’ve never had an issue like this come up, and the majority of the business I arrange is FIT. But I only work with a couple of companies I have a GREAT relationship with, and trust completely.

  • Why convenient?

  • Annie M

    I’d like to know where LW found this travel agent. As soon as I read this I knew whatever supplier the agent used didn’t pay the hotel. And the issue needs to be fixed by the TA. And the TA’s snarky email was ridiculous, he needed to go back to rhe wholesaler he used, Trans whatever, and get a refund for the client.
    But if the supplier is going through a bankruptcy process, the agent should be refunding the client and dealing with wholesaler.

    The TA should also have had so e knowledge of the financial condition of this company and stopped using them.

    Client needs to go back to his cc company and try to dispute the first charge the TA did to the card. Many credit card companies will go back further rhan 45 days and dispute a charge when something like this happens.

    And I am sorry that this LW seemed to have found a bad TA.

  • Fishplate

    No chance to charge back the original payment.

  • TonyA_says

    Not all agencies are part of a GREAT consortium.
    You are lucky.

  • PsyGuy

    That’s cheap, you could have made the call over Skype and it would have cost almost nothing.

  • Annie M

    I have never heard of the wholesaler the agent used, are the outside the US.?. And the agent should have known immediately that the wholesaler didn’t pay instead of contacting the hotel and should have called the wholesaler.

    This is why I will never use new wholesalers and only use ones I know arecreputable.

    These are the kind of agents that make the professionals look bad.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    Can one of the finance guys weigh in on whether this method works?

  • Bill___A

    Every hotel form I have signed in the last 30 years has had the clause that says the guest has responsibility if other payment arrangements have fallen through. This is obviously something the hotels have thought out. Anyone who hasn’t read these terms and conditions should start reading them. Best Western has a well established business model and from what I can see, they cover all the bases.

    I would expect the charge from the hotel would have matched exactly the amount on the receipt when the guest checked out, so it would not have been some random charge picked out of the blue. From the hotel’s perspective, they have this in their sign in sheet so they don’t have to fight with the guest about it. If they aren’t paid, it is a credit card charge, period. Are they going to send a note about it so the person can cancel their credit card? I doubt that.

    As far as the customer is concerned, they are incorrect in having a dispute with the hotel, this whole thing would have been made clear at check in.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    That’s commendable. Great customer service. Unfortunately, by by the contract, the charge is 100% authorized.

  • PsyGuy

    Because 60 days is the typical time a card holder has to file a dispute for a charge back. After the 60 days it’s very difficult for a bank to accomplish anything, and most banks just say “sorry, its pass the dispute resolution date”

  • Annie M

    I have never in all my years of traveling had a hotel add anything unauthorized on my stay. Ever. And I travel almost monthly.

  • James Babb Ⓐ

    If you don’t pay for your service, you aren’t a customer.

  • TonyA_says

    Dorian, let’s keep this simple.
    Guest stays in hotel using a merchant’s voucher.
    Merchant does NOT pay hotel.
    Guest still used the room and hotel expects payment.
    Hotel charges guest credit card used as a guarantee.
    What’s wrong with this?
    Let the guest sue the merchant or you (the agent).

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    Actually, that’s exactly what an arms length relationship means. There is a contract for good or services. Neither party has any special influence.

    As juxtaposed with say, a hotel and chain that it joined. That relationship is not arms length because of the closeness and the ability of corporate to influence the local franchisee.

    The TransHotel company, as a vendor who deals with multiple hotels is in an arms length relationship.

  • PsyGuy

    I travel monthly as well, but a lot of my travel is international.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    And that is the best customer service for which I commend Harris.

  • ArizonaRoadWarrior

    It is my guess that Dorian Harris doesn’t want to be a creditor in the TransHotel’s bankruptcy.

  • PsyGuy

    The majority are your typical large chain hotels (Marriot, etc). I have almost no problems with the lower end of the scale hotels/motels.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    Except when you sign into a hotel, the language is pretty clear that you are responsible for the charges if the hotel is unable to obtain payment from any third party. How is this different?

  • HRTraveler

    Using a travel agent is stupid. End of issue.

  • PsyGuy

    That’s where the profit is. In a globally accessible market where inventory is available to everyone the only way for “middle men” to make any money is to buy below the going value of the market, otherwise your working for free.

  • TonyA_says

    Remember, the customer already paid once and the hotel knows that.

    No. YOU know that because you collected your client’s money. The hotel does not know that. They might ASSUME it.

    In the USA, many hotels get paid (by large OTAs) with the use of a one-time credit card near the day of check in.
    Maybe this is a better model.

  • PsyGuy

    They aren’t completely useless. When you need something unique or exotic or complex a TA can be a lifesaver (much like a wedding planer). The issue is you don’t need a TA for routine travel transactions like booking a room or a flight.

  • Lindabator

    I agree. :)

  • The guest did pay for the service. She paid my company which is why I’m trying to resolve this issue for her.

  • All this discussion is making think customers should only book through travel agents. At least someone listens.

  • PsyGuy

    So essentially a franchise?

  • TonyA_says

    Yes @kairho these vouchers are not the hotel’s.
    They are nothing but a piece of paper printed from (or by) the merchant – in this case Transhotel.
    If you ever traveled (on a FIT package), you would be given a bunch of these by your travel agent.

  • Annie M

    Credit card companies will usually allow a dispute with situations like this even if it beyond the chargeback period in situations like this and that is what LW should do. That is pretty much the only protection that one has when a bankruptcy occurs with a supplier unless you have purchased an insurance policy that covers supplier bankruptcy.

    He still should go back to his cc and try to do a dispute for the original charge.

  • TonyA_says

    NO, Read up on MERCHANT model.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    Per the contract, the charges are not unauthorized.

  • Miami510

    Incident: I found via the internet, the rack rate for a room for a specified date. I found via Expedia (or was it Hotel.com???) their discounted rate. I then called the hotel directly and got a quote between the two. I asked them why I couldn’t get the Expedia/Hotel.com rate directly through them and offered to give them my credit card information right then. I phrased it, “If I can buy it from them, why
    won’t you let me buy it from you for the same amount?” They did….end of story.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    TranHotel? No. They are a middle man, a reseller if you will.

  • There appears to be some question here as to whether hotels notify guests at check-in that their card may be charged in the event the hotel does not receive payment from its travel partners.

    I can find no evidence of that for any hotel, Best Western or otherwise, but I can find plenty of evidence to the contrary including this one: http://goo.gl/IgXD23

  • TonyA_says

    Ha ha. The credit card dispute will be on his agency not the hotel because they took the money originally :-)

  • ArizonaRoadWarrior

    It is my guess that Dorian Harris did NOT disclose to his client that 1) she was “buying” a room from a wholesaler not from the hotel; 2) the risks of getting a room from a wholesaler; 3) that the wholesaler was located in Spain and the risks of dealing with a wholesaler outside of the United States (I am assuming that the OP lives in the US) or your country that you live in.

    I don’t know when this transaction took place or the size of TransHotel or if TransHotel was a corporation that was traded on a stock exchange in SpainEurope….but other questions are 1) “was the financial condition (i.e. losing money) of TransHotel know to the publicindustry?” and 2) did this transaction occurred after TransHotel filed bankruptcy?

    I have dealt with wholesalers in two other industries and I had to review their viability on a regular basis to insure that there were no interruptions in the flow of supplies, etc.

  • TonyA_says

    So why didn’t your end pay for the stay.
    If your merchant/wholesaler paid then there would not have been any trouble, right?

  • TonyA_says

    Sounds like to me it was Transhotel who took money and did not pay the hotel. So who is defrauding who here?

  • PsyGuy

    Sorry my mistake I meant, a franchise would be an example of a business arrangement that was not at arms length?

  • TonyA_says

    Interesting. The guest actually has 2 contracts.
    One from the Wholesaler and another from the Hotel (property).
    I wonder what her contract with the wholesaler says about the wholesaler’s failure to pay the hotel :-)

  • ArizonaRoadWarrior

    That is why I only book tours with tour companies that are members of the USTOA so that they are participants in the USTOA $1 Million Travelers’ Assistance Program as well as buying travel insurance to insure against financial insolvency.

  • ArizonaRoadWarrior

    I can see now why TransHotel was given a pass in the article, wasn’t contacted for a response; why the travel agent, Dorian Harris, didn’t contact them on why they didn’t pay and/or when they are going to pay; etc. since TransHotel filed bankruptcy.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    Np. Yes. insofar as a third party (you the guest) is concerned, it’s all one entity. You think Marriott. You rarely distinguish between the individual property and the chain.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    BWAHAHA

  • TonyA_says

    Actually a travel agent has the option to help their clients REDUCE RISK (even with Transhotel).

    People should really wise up to these options because I believe many agencies are really more concerned for their own profits rather than for their clients.

    Note that many Wholesalers can offer 2 payment options.
    Usually the PREPAID one is cheaper and the travel agency makes money IMMEDIATELY (no need to wait for a commission) since they can simply MARKUP the wholesale rate.
    In this case the agent collects the whole payment and then pays Transhotel for the rate (see below). All the guest has is a voucher that says bill Transhotel for guest stay. The guest paid the agency and the hotel does not have her money.

    As you can read below, Transhotel also offers a POST PAID option. The problem with this model is the travel agent has to wait to get paid a commission (sometimes it does not come at all).
    However it is much safer for the guest because the HOTEL itself charges the guest’s card during her stay. There is no risk on the wholesaler defaulting on its obligations to the hotel.

    What are the payment methods I can offer my clients?
    Transhotel currently offers 2 methods of payment:

    Payment made in agency: The agent provides clients with the voucher for the service booked. The clients do not need to pay the service provider (hotel, theme park, ski station,
    etc). Payment is done by Transhotel.

    Payment directly to hotel: With this method the client pays the hotel directly at the end of stay.

    The client’s credit card is required during the reservations process as a guarantee (for issues related to no-show,
    etc). Through the Booking Express brand, Transhotel guarantees the commission for sale.

  • PsyGuy

    Was that laughter or evil maniacal laughter?

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    So, If I ever use a travel agent, how do I ensure that I receive a post paid booking. What’s the magic word?

  • TonyA_says

    Even with proper bonding, the client still has to sue or make a claim. So there is still lots of problems with this model when a wholesaler fails to pay up.
    As a consumer, why should I take on more risks?
    Sold out rooms? Pick another hotel :-)

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    no comment
    :-)

  • TonyA_says

    ***EDITED** Misread Annie’s post. Sorry
    Yes Annie, they are in Spain.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    Here’s my problem.

    The guest checks into a hotel with what ends up being a worthless payment instrument. The hotel holds up its end of the bargain. The hotel is entitled to be paid. The most logical person is the person who received the benefit of the hotel stay, i.e. the guest.

    The voucher was dishonored much like a bad check.

  • TonyA_says

    Have you ever heard of one time use credit cards.

  • Lots of companies don’t get paid by their commercial partners. They don’t pass the cost on to their customers.

  • So, one shouldn’t use a travel agent?

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    Ahhhh. But, (pause for dramatic effect) the payment was dishonored, much like a bad check.

    If your check is dishonored, even by error, you, not the bank, owes the hotel.

  • PsyGuy

    What! Of course they do, they charge more for their products and or services. Business’s don’t stay in business operating at a loss.

  • PsyGuy

    Yes, I have but they are much harder to get when out of the country, and many of them are not valid for purchases made outside the USA. My bank use to provide virtual one time use credit card numbers for online transactions, but the cost became prohibitive, as that cost would have to be passed on to customers, and with “Zero Liability Fraud Protection” programs, many customers simply weren’t buying. My bank discontinued the product more than a year ago.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    Then you aren’t familiar with commercial transactions. I do them routinely.

    When you present a payment instrument (such as check) the vendor accepts it. However, if that payment instrument, in this case a voucher, is dishonored, then the party to the contract (usually the recipient of the services) remains liable. There are exceptions, none of them relevant here.

  • TonyA_says

    Dorian is a real travel agent.
    Unfortunately he used a Spanish wholesaler that filed for some kind of bankruptcy protection (in Spain) to book a hotel for his client.
    So simply using a real travel agent does not protect you since you PREPAID for the hotel.
    The only real protection is POSTPAID direct to the hotel. There is no spinning around this issue.
    So many people have lost airline tickets because their agency supplier did not pay the airlines :(
    It can happen for hotel stays, tours, etc.

  • PsyGuy

    Purely aside, since you made the reference, could a dishonored voucher such as the one in this case be prosecuted under a states “bad check” or theft by deception statues?

  • $16635417

    I used a mortgage broker to finance the purchase of a home this summer. He came highly recommended by several colleagues at work and the transaction went flawlessly. He figured out several ways to keep bringing the interest down and therefore the reduce the monthly payments.

    Now…this guy has been in the business for 30+ years and relies on a lot of word of mouth and refinancing of existing clients to make his money.

    Just like in any profession, I think there are good and bad one out there.

  • PsyGuy

    Not for a simple hotel stay, one room a couple of nights, I wouldn’t.

  • It’s my understanding that merchants can only charge cards for things the customer has expressly authorised. That wasn’t the case here.

  • Does not say, in this case. Perhaps a travel agent was necessary for this trip, perhaps not. Still, the blanket assertion that “book directly with hotel” seemed to be all inclusive.

  • Fred

    With very few exceptions, the pre-paid hotel voucher will have fine print advising the hotel were to send it for payment after the guest’s stay.

    I use a very large London based hotel wholesaler who has at least 8-10 smaller companies funneling hotels to them. But the actual voucher tells me, and my client, who the payer is.

    FYI: Transhotel was one of their suppliers and they are covering the defaults in order to not have their reputation harmed in this mess.

  • DavidYoung2

    I’m very confused. What part of “dispute the charge on the credit card used with the consolidator, Transhotel” is difficult? You paid for something, they didn’t provide it, dispute it and be done. Pay BW because you DID stay there.

    Of course, BW accepted the reservation through Transhotel, so perhaps BW needs to do their homework as well. If they don’t have confidence in the consolidator, don’t allow them to sell your rooms. So IMHO, BW should eat this one and the OP should pay for their room. They authorized Transhotel to sell their rooms on their behalf, so they accept the responsibility for collecting from Transhotel.

  • PsyGuy

    The part about it making sense. The LW VERY likely doesn’t have a charge from Transhotel on their credit account to dispute. They have two charges one to the TA and one to the Hotel. The LW authorized the charge to the TA, where as its an easier case to make that the charge from the hotel was unauthorized.

  • TonyA_says

    The top picture is what you see using Expedia.
    The bottom picture is what I see using Worldspan GDS Hotel Source.

    The key is to get a post paid, cancel-able rate and to know your cancel by date/time.

  • TonyA_says

    Of course simply booking with an AAA cancel-able rate is much cheaper.

  • TonyA_says

    Why bother with a wholesaler then?

  • TonyA_says

    Really, with a swipe on the card?

  • PsyGuy

    Cheaper rate. A wholesaler can at times get very deeply discounted rooms. Even after adding the mark up it can still be a very attractive price.

  • TonyA_says

    And then this mess? :(

  • Fred

    Do you only book directly with the actual “end provider” or do you book online?

    If you book online, you are booking with a “travel agent” who is about as accessible as the “help desk” at Microsoft. Now that is a real problem.

    If you book with an agent local to you, I think you will likely get a little better results. If this were my client they would be advised of the following: “It is my responsibility to fight with the supplier. If I cannot get you a refund within 30 day, I will write a check from this agency on day 31.”

    In over 20 years, I have only had to do it twice…but I did it. HRT, who do you get to talk with when the provider of our direct booking or your OTA does not deliver?

  • TonyA_says

    I wonder if PsyGuy will share that adventure with us.
    He’s in Japan and they have those fantasy looking short time hotels there :)

  • PsyGuy

    In this case if you dispute the transaction with the TA, the TA (assuming they don’t want to refund) is going to send a copy of the signature on the invoice for $X. That was the price charged thats what you agreed to pay, from that point on the bank is going to say you have a contract dispute go to court or settle with the merchant. If you dispute the charge with the Hotel they aren’t going to be able to send an invoice with your signature for the late/second hotel charges. They are going to send a copy of the room agreement and some contract/policy language and infer that you agreed to the additional room charge. The card holder is going to say I didn’t sign for that I gave them a voucher they accepted, their issue is with the voucher company. That’s a better position than the position with the TA.

    Banks don’t like being arbiter of contracts and agreements, there is another venue for that and it’s court. Banks don’t like pretending to be courts.

  • PsyGuy

    If there is one thing I have learned on this site, is that there is no shortage of “frugality” when it comes to travel options.

  • PsyGuy

    Chris Elliot

  • Fred

    I would rather book hotels in my GDS directly with the hotel. This usually only requires a credit card guarantee. AND that is where I look first.

    But when a wholesaler has a large contract with a hotel and the final price to my client is 10-25% less than the hotel is offering for direct sales; a major part of my job is getting my client the best price.

    The only problem I have ever had related to a pre-paid hotel voucher was when the hotel could not find the reservation at check-in. It was 8pm my time, 11pm client time, 4am wholesaler help-desk time (24/7 wholesaler). The problem was solved in 10 minutes. FYI: I got a call from the hotel GM the next morning, advising me that the hotel had made the error of not properly posting all the reservations from this wholesaler. She wanted to make sure I know my wholesaler had not “failed me”.

  • IGoEverywhere

    There is no question in my mind as a life long travel agent that it is in every way shape and form the right of the hotel to rebill ! It is the travel agent’s responsability to IMMEDIATELY refund the client in full ! Then the fight is between the agent and Transhotel. That is the policy of this agency and probably most legitimate store front ASTA agencies that I have associated with over the decades. On-line conflicts are a whole different game, you have no idea of who or where you are talking too. We protect our client’s travel. I have never encountered this situation in 40+ years, but I also know my wholesalers and their reputation. Never having heard of Transhotel, I have no idea of their reputation.
    The credit card validation when you check in? There is a fairly high amount of damage, room bar abuse, pay per view abuse, and 1000’s of other fraudulent ways of bilking a hotel, pre-paid or not. They must protect themselves, so if you want to stay at a hotel, get the card out or figure on a large cash deposit.
    Why use an agent? Because most of the time we can get better promo’s than you, upgrades for our clients, and most important of all, a high percentage of travelers do not know if they are getting a good deal or not when on-line as Chris would have no travel articles to post if they did. If you came to me and had a great rate, I would tell you, not sell them up.

  • IGoEverywhere

    Really? This is part of the survey?

  • AJPeabody

    HAHAHA is laughter.
    BWAHAHA is evil maniacal laughter.
    LOL is false laughter.

  • IGoEverywhere

    I am sorry that I did not read all of the responses first before my post, as I repeated your sentiments 95%. You are so correct.

  • TonyA_says

    Carver, now here is what a BtoB search will look like for the same property using TRAM.
    It is offered PREPAID by a wholesaler.
    It is not necessarily cheaper than Expedia PrePaid.

  • MarkKelling

    Is it always that something was added later, or it it only a belief that something might get added that leads you to do get a new card every time you stay in a hotel?

    I have paid for 1 star to 5 star hotels, motels, B&Bs some grandma renting out a room, and so on in 47 different countries over the past 25 years with various credit cards and have had exactly zero of these types of charges added. Lucky? Maybe.

    I have argued about parking fees, resort fees, towel fees, and so on. But the arguments were always settled before I completed the checkout process and that has always been the end of the matter.

  • PsyGuy

    It’s the might, I really only have about 1 surprise a year, and i don’t get a card after each stay. I get a new one routinely each month.

  • PsyGuy

    Bias much?

  • Shops don’t take a credit card authorisation from you on the way in to protect themselves against theft and damages.

    I kind of understand why hotels do this but only just. In essence it’s bad faith and I think bad faith breeds more of the same.

    What hotels don’t have the right to do is make unauthorised charges on the customer’s credit card. And if they made it clear that they reserve the right to charge guests in these instances it would really scare customers.

  • MarkKelling

    Don’t know your bank or what card you might use. But for the majority issued in the US the new card is linked to the old card. This way any pending charges or outstanding authorizations or refunds have somewhere to go when the merchants post the items. Even completely closing one account does not prevent outstanding charges from getting posted to your bill and you owing that amount.

    If you have not seen any charges from the hotels you stayed at making it onto your bill after the fact it only means there were no additional charges.

  • MarkKelling

    Wow, if I was your bank, I would probably not renew your card account.

    You must have a very large amount of money at that bank for them to issue a new card monthly.

  • TonyA_says

    Sounds like you are churning cards for miles/points or intro offer.

  • y_p_w

    I’ve stayed in several Best Western locations. Almost all are franchises, each with its own forms. I’ve found some pre-authorization forms that are to be send by FAX or email, and those are definitely individually created – possibly by a simple word processing program. I wouldn’t be surprised if the arrangement with the wholesaler wasn’t made directly with the franchisee and not Best Western corporate.

    The hotel should at the very least be able to show whatever paperwork they have that authorizes a charge for the lodging.

  • Alan Gore

    If there was an agency involved, then OP should still dispute his payment to the agency and have it eat the loss. It promoted TransHotel as a viable wholesaler.

  • y_p_w

    I would like to see the form – preferably signed by the guest. If that’s not provided, I would be suspicious that it doesn’t exist.

  • Helio

    We have this kind of short time hotel here too! ;-)

    (Why am I bragging about?!?)

  • Fred

    See my longer reply to another thread on this item.

    But briefly, wholesalers often have a better end-price for my client. I still book at least 50% of hotel reservations in my GDS, which usually only requires a credit card guarantee, not an advance payment.

  • Fred

    In a hotel, the product is time in the room. The minute you walk in the door of the room, you have custody of the product. You are not shopping, you own the product (a day and night in the hotel room.)

  • TonyA_says

    The problem is the best price does not come free of additional risks (i.e. wholesaler stupidity, bankruptcy, etc.).

    Also I have to be honest as a TA myself…

    There’s plenty of times I see that I can make a lot more money (faster) selling the wholesaler’s B2B rate rather than booking as an agency on GDS. So it’s not just saving my client money, it’s making MORE money for the TA.

    Also bookings like these always make it difficult for guests to make changes because everything must be done through the agent.

    I have decided to stayed away from this model and the bulk fare model as much as I can because when there is trouble, there is too much headache. I now simply charge my customers a Service Fee and book published rates. Every traveler should really know the difference and I hope Chris Elliott explains it.

  • ArizonaRoadWarrior

    The AAA rate is still cheaper ($ 123.67) than the prepaid rate from a wholesaler ($ 148.33) and the AAA rate is NOT pre-paid and it is cancelable.

  • My best guess would be that shops lose out every bit as much as hotels to theft and breakages.

  • Fred

    I would agree, but I see no way to collect in advance for that risk. It has been reasonably and customary to collect in advance for these travel products for decades.

    If you walk into Men’s Warehouse to look at a suit, are you willing to give your credit card to the guy at the door, as you walk in? I think not!

    You may not like it, but if you want to travel you are going to pay in advance for many travel products. For some that is way in advance. For others, that will be upon arrival. It may not be the way you would prefer it worked, but it is not likely to change.

  • LFH0

    Let’s look at this scenario. Guest books directly with hotel and pre-pays for room. Between booking and arrival, hotel is sold (perhaps foreclosed), with buyer not taking on the liabilities of the prior owner. Guest arrives at hotel and is asked by new owner to “pay again.” Is this not the same situation as with wholesalers? That is, the former owner is holding the pre-payment and is neither forwarding it to the new owner nor refunding it to the guest.

  • justmeeeee

    BW sold the room to a third party. The third party didn’t pay. It’s not the customer’s fault, so BW needs to go after whoever they sold the room to. Maybe they should have asked for payment up front, but it’s not the customer’s problem.

  • justmeeeee

    Unfortunately most hotels don’t have their best prices, or anywhere near their best prices, offered directly to the public. With airlines, I always buy directly from the airline for customer service purposes, after doing my research elsewhwere. For hotels, it doesn’t work that way as their advertized prices tend to be 20-40% higher than what you can find from third parties.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    That’s almost certainly not true. The check in form would have authorized the charges.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    Unlikely.

    A check is what is known as a negotiable instrument. A voucher probably isn’t. A negotiable instrument has tons of rules and protections which are not applicable to a regular contract.

    For it to be theft, there would have to be some sort of specific intent, e.g. the guest procure a fake voucher or one that was obtained through some fraudulent means.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    With respect the the amazing TAs here, I would say that book directly with the hotel is a reasonable generalization. Like most things there are exceptions.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    The takeaway is not book with 3rd party but rather don’t prepay unless 1)the discount is huge and 2)the travel date is near.

    I generally book a prepay rate from the lobby of the hotel or in my guest room if I’m extending my stay

  • Charlie

    Oh, no worries at all – this story seems to have generated a plethora of comments – impossible to read every one of them! (Plus, if you independently echoed my sentiments, it just makes both of us look smarter!)

  • Charlie

    And actually, reading more of the comments, it looks like the travel agent in question is a decent guy who’s trying to do the right thing for his customer – but she’s more upset about the hotel charging her. Apparently the root of the problem may be that TransHotel is going through bankruptcy proceedings.

  • y_p_w

    I generally find there’s no prepay rate that close to a stay. It usually requires something like a week or longer advance purchase.

  • TonyA_says

    Yes exactly. That’s why I don’t bother using a wholesaler. I am a AAA fan :-)

  • TonyA_says

    What is ROFL then?

  • Ionela

    Because it’s about me, I will detail the story for all you to understand that the issue is way beyond money, it’s about principle and property right and this is what I’m fighting for. On June 9th 2014 we made the reservation and paid in full for our stay at Best Western hotel. We arrived on September 7th and nobody said anything about the room not being paid. We were informed about the policy of the hotel during our stay, to which we agree to and signed. It reads: “I agree to vacate the room by 12:00 Noon on my scheduled date of departure. I agree that the hotel does not allow pets and that food preparation that involves cooking of any kind other that areas
    designated for such purpose is strictly forbidden. Should I violate the pet, or
    the cooking policy, I understand that I will be charged no less than $250 per
    room per event and be subject to immediate eviction without refund of any
    money. Notice to guest: a safe is provided for the deposit of money and jewelry at a fee of $2.00/day. This hotel is a 100% smoke free environment. A $250.00 Room Recovery fee will be charged for smoking in your guest room. The hotel cannot be responsible for valuable left in the room. I authorize you to charge my credit card of agree to make immediate payment upon receipt of statement and to be held personally liable to pay for any part or the full amount of these charges.” On September 13th we left the hotel and when checked out nobody said anything about the payment for the room. We came back at the hotel on September 20th and nobody said something about the hotel not being able to redeem the voucher for our first stay. The hotel had a week to redeem the voucher and inform us in case of problems. We staid 4 more days and left September 24th when, again nobody said something, we checked out and everything was ok. On October 17th my friend sees that her card was used by Best Western and sent them several message asking for clarifications. Of course, as any THIEF, nobody from the hotel replied. On October 20th my friend realizes that money was missing for her credit card. First, she assumed someone mixed things up and an error occurred, but when things got serious (missing money from her credit card!!!) she called the hotel and someone said something about the hotel not being able to redeem the vouchers etc. etc. On October 22nd I go to the bank and realize Best Western made transactions with my credit card, specifically the hotel charged my credit card on October 16th, without no message sent, no call or other sort of information in order to get the authorization for the transaction.

    In my view this is a story about FRAUD made by Best Western and THIEVES managing/working at Best Western. They had plenty of time to
    bring to our attention this issue during our stay at their hotel. But why do
    so, as long as their behoviour is of a common CRIMINAL? They instead decided to use our credit cards as they were their own property, without even battering to inform us. As far as I know HACKERS act like this alone!

    The most outrageous part comes now: I did not sign anything at the hotel, they did not even know I exist, they just accepted my credit card and then used it as their own.

    So, my sincerely advice, never ever hand over your credit card to
    representatives of Best Western, just pay in cash!

  • emanon256

    Good point, I have never had a travel agent have me pre-pay for a hotel, and I have stayed at a lot of hotels via agents.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    My guess is that the hotel, having been paid, sees no reason to spend further time and effort on this matter

  • Fred

    Lonela, did you arrange the booking with a local travel agency / agent (local to you), an online travel site or directly with TransHotel?

    In the state of California any travel provider based in the state is part of a registration program / restitution fund. This includes online sellers of travel products marketing to CA residents. If you live in CA and worked with a CA travel agent, it is likely they have legal liability to cover your loss. The same may apply in some other states.

    Based upon your explanation here, you may be able to challenge the charges with your credit card bank.

    While I know it does not make any difference to you or this situation; all Best Western properties are individually owned. The Best Western licensing group, just provides naming and marketing services. They own no hotels.

  • y_p_w

    So it’s your contention that you were never asked to sign any document that authorized a guarantee against your credit card should the voucher be declined.

  • TonyA_says

    The real question is whether you or your travel agent should use a wholesaler? If you want to do the work, then book it yourself directly with the hotel. If you don’t want to do the work, then let your travel agent do it. But you want to be the customer on record and not a wholesaler or merchant. I don’t believe the dogma about what other TAs say about wholesalers. Many of those are blown out of proportion. You can always test it, pick a hotel you want and compare the rates. See if the small difference is worth it.

  • TonyA_says

    The second (last) paragraph is definitely gaming the channel distribution (discounting) system. :-)

  • TonyA_says

    I never want to prepay unless I am forced to because I am part of a group.

  • TonyA_says

    If you examine the Expedia rates for 1-2-3 or more days (from today) in comparison to the hotel’s online rates, you might get shocked some of Expedia’s rates are even more expensive :-)

  • TonyA_says

    Exactly. Why would anyone use a travel agent?
    What did the client gain because the travel agent used a wholesaler in this case?

  • LFH0

    I agree with not wanting to prepay (though I would add being able to get a significant discount for pre-paying as another reason for doing so). But then isn’t the issue more about pre-paying–be it a hotel or be it a third party–than it is about dealing with a hotel directly or introducing a middleman wholesaler? Either can become insolvent, in which case the traveler loses. Isn’t the safest method to pay with cash at the time the service is provided?

  • TonyA_says

    That’s not the issue here. Do not confuse between using a travel agent and booking a room from a wholesaler or merchant.

  • TonyA_says

    According to the news, Transhotel filed for some kind of protection on 08OCT. I can only assume they were not paying the hotel for your stay. Hence, the hotel charged your credit card.

  • TonyA_says

    No hotel will take your reservation without a CC guarantee.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    Gaming, LOL. Nah. If I want to extend my stay there is no particularly good reason why I should choose one rate over another, assuming I am qualified to utilize that rate.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    Is it possible to use a wholesaler and get a post paid rate?

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    I found a Hampton Inn that did. This was maybe 10 years ago. No CC is you checked in before 6pm. Amazing

  • Ok, I think that makes a little more sense. Until today, if someone had mentioned “Travel Wholesaler” to me I wouldn’t have really know what was being discussed. Shows what I know….

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    Here is a sample check in document, the first one that I found with a very simple search. Note paragraph 2. If it shows up. :-)

    http://{delete}setupmyhotel.com/images/Registration_Card_Sample.png

  • ArizonaRoadWarrior

    Chris wrote a similar article back on 01/03/2002, http//elliottorg/the-troubleshooter/can-they-charge-me-for-that/

    Chris wrote “A: Yes, your hotel may charge your credit card without first notifying you. It happens all the time.”

    I don’t know why Chris use “That’s Ridiculous!|” for this article when he wrote about this practice in the past.

  • Bill___A

    Well, had you chosen to pay Best Western directly in the first place rather than pay someone else, who paid someone else again, and that second someone else didn’t pay them – which is where your problem is. Someone you trusted to pay Best Western – didn’t. Why should they be on the hook for that? Go read Best Western’s website, they encourage you to get their best internet rates.
    I’m very sure that not one person who has paid Best Western directly has ever had a problem where they had to “pay twice” for the bill.

    These concepts are not so difficult to understand, I don’t get why you are so upset with the hotel. They are simply doing what just about every other hotel does – which is get the money from the guest as a last resort. It is not fraud., it is not hacking and it is not stealing. I think everyone gets that you are not happy…no one would be. But the thing to do is to let your travel agent handle it and not refuse their offers to help. This simply is not likely to get resolved any other way, you are wasting your time.

    Do you really think people are going to stop handing over their credit cards to a hotel? I have stayed at quite a few hotels, many of them chains, and most of them do a very fine job. Although I have the odd complaint, I would say that over the years, things have gone extremely well in the hotel department.

    The other thing for you to understand is that whenever a bankruptcy proceeding happens, that means that there is not enough money to pay obligations and pretty much somebody doesn’t get paid…

  • Rebecca

    FYI- Getting a new credit card number won’t always prevent a future charge from the merchant. They can force post to your account and it will transfer over to the new card number. The accounts are linked, even if you issue 10 new numbers in between. I spoke to a lot of angry people that reported a card lost to receive a new credit card number to stop automatic payments. The automatic payments were processed with the old number; the charges were approved after being force posted by the merchant and just showed up on the new card. The only way to stop them on the banks end was to actually close the account.

    Also, banks tend to frown upon this practice. It costs them a lot in overhead to constantly send new cards. When they suspect you do this more than a couple times, they will just close your account. I personally closed the accounts of people that did this, which can be done at the banks discretion at any time. It’s a credit card, not linked to a deposit account, so the bank doesn’t need to even provide you with a reason, they can just shut it down and not send a replacement. I would suggest you not keep reporting you lost your card. It will be seen as a liability to the bank and they will just close your account. It doesn’t actually protect you from anything anyways. They can run more than the $200 hold amount and charge you $2000, it doesn’t matter how much the preauthorization is for and the charge can carry right over to the new card number even after the old card is cancelled. Basically, you’re going to a LOT of trouble for no reason. What you are trying to prevent can happen just as easily as if you didn’t go to the trouble.

  • Rebecca

    See my post above. I personally closed a pretty significant amount of credit card accounts when people did this. It is not as inexpensive as you would think to replace a card over and over. The overhead plus the cost of the card itself and postage make it so the bank would consistently lose money if they replaced a card each month. If a customer did it (say they “lost” a card when they really just wanted a new number, I’m not talking about legitimate fraud claims) more than 3 times in 2 years, I closed it. For a high profit customer, 5 times, if that gives you an idea. I was a supervisor and trainer in the department that reissued the cards at one of the largest banks. The statement that a rep will encourage this is patently false, they were trained to get a supervisor to close the account if someone called in repeatedly to get a new card number and to reassure people that everyday use of their card was safe. The comment that using a credit card online is cause for extraordinary concern is, again, patently ridiculous. A good rep would tell the customer that millions of online purchases are made every day and their card is no more likely than anyone else’s to be compromised because of this. (In fact, your credit card number is much more likely to be compromised in a number of different ways than making an online purchase).Additionally, a customer that truly believes their card number is stolen that often and their card is charged additional amounts it shouldn’t be (which would initiate a dispute) will cost the bank potential monetary losses in the charges they may end up writing off and significant costs to pay employees to initiate chargeback, communicate with the customer, etc.

    As a side note, I don’t think this is an honest posting. No credit card company would reissue a card each month. It would be closed permanently long ago (unless he is an executive at that bank or a high level government official, which I presume he is not). Additionally, if a hotel had an approved preauthorization, they could relatively easily place a charge on the card several weeks later even if the card number had been reissued. The charge would just transfer over to the new card number. The hotel wouldn’t need the new number. Even if the hold the hotel placed “falls off,” they can still charge the card. It doesn’t make sense to me that these phantom charges occur when he still has that credit card number, but it’s never happened when he has the credit card company issue a new number. I suspect that none of this is true. The statement that “using your card online is enough” screams paranoia. If everyone got a new credit card number each time they made an online purchase, millions of cards would be issued every day, sometimes several in the same day to the same person. If it doesn’t make sense, I don’t believe it’s true. I hesitate to call someone a liar, but this just can’t be the truth.

  • Rebecca

    The $200 doesn’t mean they can only charge up to $200. They can charge any amount they want, so long as its valid. If you order $300 in room service, they wouldn’t need to run another $100 authorization. They can easily use the $200 authorization to create a $300 charge.

  • bodega3

    The travel provider has to have registered with the State of CA and only CA residents can apply to the fund.

  • bodega3

    You last line is not a good one. The hotel didn’t screw up, the company that you booked through did and you got left holding the bag. Why didn’t you book directly with Best Western? Was there a savings by going through a fly by night online company?

  • bodega3

    This wasn’t a travel agent that she booked with. Chris Elliott is using the incorrect term.

  • bodega3

    This was not a travel agent. This is what we call in the industry a wholesaler. Is this company a member of USTOA? Is this company registered to sell in the various states that have a Seller of Travel Law? Any Tom, Dick or Harry can start an online company. Know who you are buying from and what their credentials are.

  • bodega3

    I have used wholesalers for 30 years with great success. One I use for Europe goes through one of the largest hotel brokers in the world.

  • bodega3

    Your company owes the client the money. I have never heard of the company you booked the BW through. Why didn’t you just book the hotel through BW? BW pays commission….very promptly.

  • bodega3

    Actually you can make a hotel reservation, but you have to cash qualify and put up a large chunk of change.

  • Rebecca

    Seriously? You think that using a credit card to make one online purchase is a good reason to have the credit card reissued with a different number? If banks reissued credit card numbers every time an online purchase was made, they wouldn’t be in business! In fact, if this were necessary, they wouldn’t allow purchases in the first place.

    If there is a merchant that has a very high instance of fraud claims, the credit cards companies (visa, MasterCard, amex, etc) will eventually not allow you to take their cards anymore. That is why a gas pump requires a zip code in most places. People test stolen and counterfeit cards at gas pumps and the gas station isn’t normally at a chargeback risk due to limits on the amount you can pump. But they are at risk of visa saying they won’t be allowed to accept their cards anymore because so many fraud claims have been reported. If a hotel had a significant amount of disputes or fraudulently used credit cards, the credit card company would step in. Same goes for a restaurant; if a lot of cards were compromised there, it is very easy to trace back. That is one of the many reasons your posts make no sense.

  • The customer wants the money back from BW because she believes it was an unauthorised charge on her card.

  • If your travel agent doesn’t pay your bill, should you have to pay again?

    And Chris’s survey says….

    No (71%, 569 Votes)
    Yes (29%, 233 Votes)

  • PsyGuy

    But its not “one” online purchase, and its not some vast number of fraud claims.

  • PsyGuy

    All very true, but weeks a month or more later their are no more legitimate pending charges from a hotel stay, and nothing that was already authorized.

  • PsyGuy

    Sorry no, no CSR is going to decline issuing a new card with a client that has an issue. Too much potential liability. You also didn’t “read” my post, this isn’t a continual case of reported fraud.

    No authorizations are removed one transactions are posted. You have an authorization while you stay, you check out you settle your bill, the authorization is now a transaction, and any lingering remnant of the two is gone in a few days. Authorizations aren’t modifiable after the transaction is posted.

  • PsyGuy

    Not miles/points but rewards.

  • PsyGuy

    Possible

  • Charlie

    Yes, there WAS a travel agent involved, Dorian Harris, and he in turn used a travel wholesaler. From the comments posted here (from Dorian), it seems he did his best to help resolved the situation, so this isn’t an indictment of him as a travel agent. My suggestions above would be what I’d recommend in a general case of this sort.

  • Fred

    That is what I said in the second paragraph. And I also said there are many other states with similar programs.

  • stella

    Re: The PsyGuy’s maneuver of getting a new credit card number: this does not always work. A credit card company may issue you a new number, but “automatic” charges, or “recurring” charges, may carry over to the new number automatically. This has happened to me. I had fraudulent charges on my card so I asked for a new number, and the fraudulent charges continued! After wondering what the __ was going on, and complaining to the credit card company, I found out that I was in the Automatic Billing Updater (ABU), whereupon I asked to be “opted out” of that program. This was with Citibank and the ABU is applied on new accounts for Mastercard and Visa. So in the future if I ask for a new number I will have to notify any recurring payment vendors of the new number, but the fraudulent charges will not be made.

  • bodega3

    The survey poll and comments don’t usually match.

  • bodega3

    How long have you been in the travel business? She booked with you. You are the responsible party. In my state, we have a fund that clients can access, provided I sell (which I do) vendors that have registered to do business and have a Seller of Travel number. Why did you boo with this vendor? What was the benefit to you?

  • bodega3

    It wasn’t BW that defrauded the client. You have a responsibility to your client to pay her and then YOU go after the vendor.

  • bodega3

    Her concern is your responsibility. You need to cut your client a check.

  • bodega3

    Have you ever heard to that vendor? I haven’t. Wonder why the agent used it?

  • bodega3

    Tony, Kairho has owned a travel company, he knows about hotel contracts.

  • bodega3

    Exactly! Here in CA, I only book with companies that have CA’s SOT’s.

  • TonyA_says

    Sorry I did not know that :(
    @kairho my apologies

  • bodega3

    Don’t be naïve. Your vendor didn’t pay the bill. YOU are responsible for letting the client know you are booking through a vendor who passes the payment on. You haven’t answered the question as to why you used this fairly unknown vendor that went belly up?

  • TonyA_says

    Because you use the good ones!
    This is the second large Spanish travel source to fail.

  • bodega3

    I have asked him twice, why did he use this company. Never heard of them and when you use a nonUS company you are taking chances with your client’s money.

  • Skeptic

    Pay the hotel, then do a credit card charge back on money you paid the travel agent (including processing fee if there was one). Also file a complaint about the agent with your state AG and the FTC (assuming agent and hotel are not both located in the state you live in). The hotel deserves to get paid for the service it provided and should not have to expend the time and energy pursuing your agent.

  • bodega3

    You stated that any travel provider in the state is a part of the program. That isn’t correct. A travel provider in the state must sign up and pay into the fund. Travel providers outside of the state must also register to sell to CA residents.

  • y_p_w

    I get that there are check-in sheets that include such contract language. My question of the LW is whether or not she was specifically asked to sign such a document, or whether or not this hotel could produce such a document.

  • bodega3

    This folks, is why you shouldn’t book with any OTA. That is what this TA’s company is after looking him up online. He isn’t standing behind what his company sold. He should be paying the traveler and dealing with his vendors behind the scene. Just because he has an OTA, doesn’t mean he understands how the hotel will protect themselves from these fly by night outfits. I fully understand why the hotel did what it did. He should tell his clients, on his website, that they back all products they sell. OTA’s are a dime a dozen and I hope the lady learned something in all this.

  • Ionela

    Those of you, who advised me, thank you very much.

    For the representatives of the hotel I just have one message: BACK OFF!
    I can smell you and I KNOW TO WHOM I’M DEALING WITH AND I DO NOT NEED YOUR ADVICE! You not only outshamed the name “BEST WESTERN”, you jeopardized your country’s image. I used my credit card in Indonesia, Mexico, Singapore, Russia, countries all around Europe and Middle East and never happened something like this to me. First time in your country, and I’m robbed BY YOU. Shame! FYI, on my credit card reads: “Misuse is a criminal offence.” Rings any bell?

    For all you I attached the form my friend signed (Behold I didn’t sign anything!). Maybe someone can highlight for me where in this form states
    that the hotel reserves the right to charge our credit cards if they will not
    be able to redeem the vouchers. The representatives of the hotel were not able to do this for me, though I asked them several times.

    And once again, they had plenty of time while we were there to inform us in the event they faced problems redeeming the vouchers. As I told them, if their payment arrangement with their partners (i.e. Trans Hotel) is 30 days after guest left, then they take the risk of not being paid. It’s not our arrangement. We paid on June 9th.

  • bodega3

    Did you get paid by Mr Harris’ company? If so, you were made whole. Please note, and his is something Mr Harris should have told you, vendors (the hotel) often do not get paid until after your stay. Your anger should not be with the hotel that provided you a service, but with the company Mr Harris used. If Mr Harris has been proactive and paid you, then you have learned a lesson about using an OTA service. Book directly next time or use a local agency who will use reputable companies that you might be protected with in your country.

  • bodega3

    A local travel agent, not an online one.

  • bodega3

    She should be asking for the money back from you. Your vendor didn’t pay, yet she got her stay.

  • bodega3

    Wow, look at the many layers of who is making money off this and how many places this could fail before getting to your hotel.

  • bodega3

    I agree. This says volumes for companies like yours. They are a dime a dozen, which you already know your competition, and there are too many layers which can lead to a failure for the traveler.

  • bodega3

    Obviously it was.

  • bodega3

    You actually speak to your online shoppers?

  • Ionela

    No, I haven’t been paid by Mr Harris’ company. And I have
    the right to be furious on the hotel. Don’t you get it? They used our credit cards without any prior notice, without asking for our permission to use it. No one in this world, not even GOD, has the right to use my credit card without my permission. Yes, I learned a lesson and this is: BEST WESTERN is filled with
    THIEVES/HACKERS! I sincerely hope you’re not from the hotel, if so, I’m sorry for answering you, you DO NOT DESERVE MY
    ANSWERS!

  • TonyA_says

    Here’s another proof why you should simply book directly with the hotel.
    I chose a random date of 10DEC for the same hotel in this article.
    If you book directly here is the rate. It is POSTPAID and CANCEL-ABLE.

  • TonyA_says

    Here is the same hotel and date with Expedia.

  • TonyA_says

    Finally here is the same hotel and date with Dorian’s company.

  • TonyA_says

    He runs a popular online hotel (aggregator) booking site in the UK. He is really not your typical travel agent doing some FIT itinerary or something like that.

    Very big difference Bodega. Just my 2 cents.

  • TonyA_says

    I have a correction to make. Dorian is an ONLINE travel agency.

  • TonyA_says

    Higher commission maybe?
    When I go to Travelport Rooms and More I see that wholesaler.

  • bodega3

    No, your anger should be with Mr Harris, not BW. BW has the right to be paid. We stay in BW’s all over the world. They are independently owned and operated. You are responsible for paying for your room. The hotel didn’t get paid through the online company you used and the hotel had your credit card for incidental charges…which your room rate is one when they haven’t been paid. Buy a phony gift certificate at a restaurant, eat and try to use it for payment. You will still be responsible for you meal. Lesson learned lonela…don’t use an OTA vending machine for your travels.

  • TonyA_says

    You really should be mad at the outfit that sold you that hotel stay, collected your money originally, and DID NOT PAY the hotel. That is the reason why the hotel billed your credit card instead.

    Furthermore, I don’t think it is right for you to say the BW is filled with thieves and hackers. If you chose to book with them directly, this would not have happened to you.

  • bodega3

    Yes, she is slandering them. I get that she is mad. She should be going after Mr Harris.

  • emanon256

    The plot thickens

  • Cristina

    I’m the other one robbed by Best Western. Of course we are able to learn from our experience but we also want to share our experience as to prevent you to be in such situation ever.
    The hotel behavior was far more outrageous. After my credit card was used without my authorization (AND THIS IS ILLEGAL ANYWHERE IN THIS WORLD) I wrote 6 emails to the hotel and they never responded to them. Finally I called them and they put me on hold for 15 minutes till they decided to provide me with an answer. And I was calling from the other part of the world. I asked them kindly to provide me with a written answer in order to forward it to the travel agency and wrote them again. They never did it, even if they promised to do so. Is this normal? Is this a hotel where you would like to stay?
    I want to be accommodated in hotels where if the reception and forms say they use my credit card only for incidentals then they are bound to do so. If they say at check out that everything is ok, then I expect everything to be ok. If they have a commercial partner then they are the one urged to check the financial viability and moral integrity of their partners, cause they have huge departments for this. It is so much to ask? Do you prefer something different?
    PS And Best Western has ants all over the place. Lot of ants.

  • bodega3

    Go after Mr Harris, not BW. BW gave you your room. Mr Harris took your money.

  • Ionela

    I hoped I made myself clear: I DO NOT TAKE ADVISES FROM REPRESENTATIVES/ AFFILIATES OF BW.

  • bodega3

    We are not with BW. I am a travel consultant in the US and deal with wholesalers all the time. Mr Harris is responsible. Quit complaining and go after him. He sold you something that didn’t get paid for. Plain and simple.

  • bodega3

    This is YOUR concern. Pay the ladies

  • Cristina

    Indeed, Best Western charged me twice for a room full of ants, fraudulent practices with credit cards and deep rooted lack of respect.

  • bodega3

    No,BW charged you once You paid Mr Harris the first time who didn’t make sure your payment got to the hotel. You are confusing how this all works.

  • Ionela

    Sure and let other customers to go through this mess in the future. Thanks but no thanks. Will you be comfortable if someone else use your credit card without you knowing? Sincerely, I do not buy this with “travel consultant”. You look like more BW advocate. Sorry

  • Ionela

    As long as the hotel accepted our vouchers and said nothing about payment, we assumed and we still assuming the hotel redeemed the vouchers. Here is the problem! Why didn’t they say something, why didn’t they noticed us prior to ILLEGALLY use our credit cards? It’s this a common practice in the US? ‘Cause from where I coming from there is no such practices.

  • bodega3

    Are you trying to run a scam? Go after Mr Harris. He took the money for the reservation that didn’t get to the hotel.

  • Cristina

    You are biased and please don’t patronize me again!

  • Ionela

    I’m an honest, jeopardized customer from Europe. BW is running scams and you support them so please back off!

  • TonyA_says

    The last sentence says you the guest authorizes the hotel to charge your credit card for the aforementioned room and the other charges.

  • TonyA_says

    The voucher is essentially a promise by Transhotel to pay the hotel in your behalf. If Transhotel is bankrupt then it won’t be able to pay the hotel for your stay. The hotel has all the right to charge you since you used their services. If you want to recover your money, then go after the party that did not perform.

  • Judy Serie Nagy

    Why would someone use a travel agent o book a Best Western room? Granted, BW’s website is pretty lame, but it’s not that bad. It’s becoming more clear every month that people think anything that comes up on the internet is OK to deal with. Wake up folks! Start to actually pay attention when it comes to entering your credit card information. ANYONE can make up a website, I’ve actually created one myself. Make it your policy to deal only with reputable vendors.

  • y_p_w

    However, it sounds as if the contention of the LW and this poster is that they were never informed that they were guaranteeing the payment. I know what this paperwork looks like from medical payment authorizations (although they’ll usually bill later).

    I understand that a credit card can be used as a guarantee against a voucher being bounced, but these two are claiming that they were never informed of this in writing or orally.

  • bodega3

    You are not understanding how this all works. You would rather rant, degrade and remain ignorant on how to fix this. As the saying goes, can’t fix stupid.

  • bodega3

    They aren’t understanding how this works and don’t want to listen to it. They only wish to complain. But when you use a voucher, that only tells the hotel you have made a payment to the vendor and that the vendor has a room reserved under that name. Sadly, the vendor never sent the payment but the ladies got their room. Their beef is with Mr Harris, not BW and I am glad that BW charged them. They aren’t being reasonable in understanding where their beef needs to be places Mr Harris is at fault.

  • bodega3

    “Assumed” all was fine, but it wasn’t and the hotel at least was able to get paid. Legally, Mr Harris is the one to go after. But you won’t listen, so now you can be out twice.

  • bodega3

    No sweetheart, Mr Harris scammed you. Get with the program and demand he pay you back.

  • y_p_w

    TonyA_says:
    The last sentence says you the guest authorizes the hotel to charge your credit card for the aforementioned room and the other charges.

    Read it again. It’s only about specific violations of their policies – pets, smoking, or cooking. It says nothing about the the room rate. Where does it mentioned or imply that “these charges” include the room rate? I see at least $250 for violations of the pet or cooking policy and a $250 “room recovery” fee for smoking. Also $2/day for use of the hotel safe.

  • y_p_w

    He’s been participating on this thread and claims that he offered to refund the charged amount. However, she seems to be sticking to her guns and wants to go after the hotel. Seems far more personal than just about the money.

  • bodega3

    No, he has an OTA and there are many layers to his hotel bookings. He is not a travel agent but regardless, he has not resolved this, as he should pay the ladies, as he didn’t make sure the travelers hotel was actually paid for. He has the responsibility to make this right. If he doesn’t, he is a scammer.

  • bodega3

    A scam?

  • y_p_w

    The LW posted a copy of the actual form she signed, but with her signature redacted. I am not a lawyer, but I didn’t see anything in it that authorized a charge for the room rate. It mentioned several possible charges and that a credit card or immediate demand for payment could be charged. It seemed to only authorize certain cleaning charges for violations of their smoking, pets, or cooking policies.

  • y_p_w

    She showed us a copy of the form she signed. I saw nothing that says she guarantees payment of the room rate – only for certain violations of hotel policies (pets/cooking/smoking). It’s on the hotel if their form doesn’t include a contract for a personal guarantee if the wholesaler fails to pay for the room.

  • bodega3

    If he is a decent guy, he writes a check to the ladies.

  • y_p_w

    I’m guessing part of a package tour.

    Granted I’ve been on package tours outside of the US, and in one case the hotel was switched on us without our knowledge. We even had a tour guide, but he didn’t tell us when we took a taxi rather than going somewhere with the rest of the group. That was fun sorting it out. In the end, the hotel staff at the place we didn’t stay was spectacular and professional.

  • bodega3

    You go out to dinner with a voucher you bought online. You present the voucher as payment for meal. The restaurant says the voucher is worthless. Do you get to eat for free?

  • TonyA_says

    I made a comment that the last sentence of the form the LW attached somewhere looked like a blanket approval for the credit card to be charged.
    That said no one should expect more verbal warnings or disclosure from a hotel.
    Bear in mind the charge happened many (~60) days after the stay. Usually hotel bills are submitted for payment each 15/30th of the month. So it does appear the wholesaler did not pay for her stay. News reports from Spain said at least 70% of the wholesaler’s workforce were furloughed immediately. Maybe they simply just froze paying their hotel partners.
    The LW might be irate, but she is mad at the wrong party. She should get mad at the seller because they provided her nothing.

  • y_p_w

    Not the same. In this case the voucher was determined to be invalid well afterwards. They provided the lodging believing that the voucher would be serviced and frankly didn’t request a guarantee of the room rate against the LW’s credit card.

    A better analogy would be a $50 meal voucher that is accepted on its face by a restaurant to be compensated later on credit by the issuer. The diner then proceeds to rack up a $70 bill and pays the $20 difference with a credit card. Should the issuer default on that voucher, can the restaurant pull the credit card days/weeks later and charge the $50 they didn’t get paid?

    I’m not saying that it’s their fault if they don’t get paid, but they can’t charge a credit card without proper authorization. In this case I don’t believe they have that authorization.

  • bodega3

    From my hotel receipt from yesterday:
    I agree that my liability for this bill is not waived and agree to be held personally liable in the event that the indicated person, company or association fails to pay for any part or the full amount of these charges.

  • bodega3

    I disagree. The voucher was prepaid to be used at that restaurant. The voucher is invalid, therefore the customer has to pay up before leaving.

  • TonyA_says

    Can’t they simply dispute their credit card bills and let the bank decide?

  • y_p_w

    In the hotel case, the voucher was essentially on credit and the issuer defaulted on that credit. So how does one pay up before leaving if the issuer hasn’t defaulted on the credit yet.

    Of course it sucks for the hotel that it didn’t get paid. However, charging against a credit card requires specific authorization for those charges. If I walk into a restaurant, pay for a meal with a credit card, they can’t pull up that credit card if they think I damaged the furniture. However, a rental car company can, since they make sure to have that right in their terms.

    It’s on them (or their attorney) to draft contract paperwork that guarantees the lodging payment should a third party default.

  • y_p_w

    I think we all understand that there may be contract language in hotel forms that includes a personal guarantee that the hotel will be paid. Yours seems almost word for word what is in the standard Holiday Inn terms. However, I’m not quite sure that I see it in this case after the LW decided to post what she signed.

    I’ve certainly stayed in some less than pricey motels where I didn’t sign any personal guarantee except against damage to the room.

  • bodega3

    I also stayed at a BW in the last few days. The form I signed isn’t the form they give me as a receipt. There could be more to this that they don’t have.

  • y_p_w

    She says that she never personally signed a form, but did provide a credit card to cover “incidentals”. However, the friend she traveled with did sign a form, and this is what was signed:

    http://a.disquscdn.com/uploads/mediaembed/images/1429/8297/original.jpg

  • y_p_w

    REPOST.

    She says that she never personally signed a form, but did provide a credit card to cover “incidentals”. However, the friend she traveled with did sign a form, and this is what was signed:

    a.disquscdn. com/uploads/ mediaembed/images/1429/8297/original.jpg

  • jet2x2

    If the restaurant doesn’t accept the voucher because they know it’s worthless, I agree that the diner has to pay the full amount. Here, if you replace the restaurant with the hotel and accept the facts as given by the OP, they accepted the voucher, said nothing at check out, later found out the voucher was worthless, and took the money without notifying the customer.

    While this all may have been legal based on the hotel agreement when they checked in and local law, etc. – and I am not sure about that since we may not have all the facts – I can understand why these people are upset. The hotel should have been responsive to the questions and provided documentation as requested so that the OP could pursue a remedy with the travel agent. Instead the hotel appears to have fallen back on the (possible) legal language that now appears on most check in documents and websites. It generally says they can charge whatever they want, whenever they want, because you gave them a credit card at check in.

    I don’t understand the implication from some here that the OP is somehow responsible because they used a travel agent to book a Best Western instead of booking directly. I recently had issues with two hotels that I booked directly, and although I got them both fixed, in each case the hotel initially refused to respond to emails and calls, and was unable (or unwilling) to explain why certain charges appeared on my card after I was given a “zeroed” bill at check out.

  • Charlie

    Chris called Dorian a travel agent, Dorian claims he offered to reimburse the traveler. I have no information to the contrary.

    Ultimately, not my circus, not my monkeys.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    I’m just going to assume that you didn’t look at the form closely. That’s not a check-in form. That’s an authorization that is faxed to the hotel. Say you are paying for someone else, have a group reservation, etc.

    That’s not even close to a check-in form.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    Perhaps, but hardly relevant to the discussion.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    Happened to me to. The bank failed, was bought by another, issued everyone new cards, and a recurring charge went through. I was rather surprised.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    He did say he offered to refund the money.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    Actually, it states that upon receipt of statement…

    When you read that in light of industry standards the hotel certainly has a strong (though not airtight) argument that it had the right to charge the card.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    So you need to understand innkeepers laws. The person who checks into a room is responsible for the bill.

  • You may have omitted the important part – ‘these charges’ refer to incidentals and damages, not the room itself.

  • Cristina

    I definitely was stupid when I trusted Best Western with my credit card details. Maybe I seem stupid, but at least I’m not a thief or the abusing party in this “commercial” chain. And even if I’m stupid, STUPID PEOPLE STILL HAVE RIGHTS. I am the only one than can authorize the use of my credit card and Best Western has no legal right to use it without my prior authorization. And I think that it could be useful to all to find about ridiculous, hidden and fraudulent practices of Best Western.

  • Well spotted!

  • Cristina

    I truly understand you want to fix me, and I hope you understand I want Best Western to fix its hidden and abusing practices. I was never informed about the payment and never asked for authorization. It is not about complaining, it is about raising awareness.

  • jet2x2

    The innkeeper was paid in a form that the innkeeper agreed to accept. When that form of payment turned out to be invalid the innkeeper seized funds from customer’s credit card after the fact. If we want to debate the law then we will need to research the applicable state law and also the federal law on credit cards. I am very familiar with federal law on credit transactions in this area from prior legal practice, which also included debt collection based on defaulted in-house credit accounts. I do not believe that simply turning over a card number or imprint, and agreeing to indemnify the holder of that information now and forever, is sufficient for any type of charge that person or business then chooses to put against the card. Unlike recurring charges that I agree to unless I cancel them, I am entitled to notice of individual credit card charges – including the amount and the reason for each charge – before my card is charged. Even if the hotel here had the legal right to make the charge under whatever state law applies, they should have notified the OP before making the charge, not just done it. In addition, since initial payment was not in the form of a check or charge, but a third party voucher, there may be some other legal principle applicable that may or may not let the customer off the hook.

    Again the hotel may be in the right at the end of the day – but I maintain that they should not have charged the card without notice, even if it was just an email saying they were going to do it and why.

    I agree that the law is important to the analysis here. Having said that, you and I would not have jobs (or had them since I retired) if the law was easy for everyone to understand. These hotel agreements are written by the hotel’s attorneys most likely and are, in my opinion, as close to adhesion contracts as they can get. As a lawyer I understand providing contract language that benefits my client as long as it is legal. As a consumer I see certain industries taking advantage where they can, for profit, and then screaming when a state or federal regulator or legislator steps in and says “enough.”

    I always advised my corporate clients what they could do legally and then what they should consider from a long term customer relations standpoint. Sometimes that meant making a little less money to provide better customer service or avoid obvious avenues for customer complaints. They had the right to make their own choices, of course. Sometimes making the profit choice resulted in customer issues later, including litigation, which cost more money in the long run. I think some managers see that as a cost of doing business and don’t care as long as it doesn’t impact the overall bottom line.

  • bodega3

    Then why doesn’t he? He doesn’t need permission to do the right thing.

  • bodega3

    I didn’t omit anything. This is from a Hampton Inn stay from two nights ago. Sorry to tell you that hotels are protecting themselves from issues such as your company has created.

  • Oh, I thought you said you worked for Best Western. Thanks for the info.

  • bodega3

    I never stated worked for BW. Not why you thought that. I am a travel consultant in the US and have sold hold stays for 3 decades. I also work with an agency that is a tour company, so I know about vouchers and prepaid rooms. If you default, a hotel will go after the money one way or another. Not sure why the LW is so upset with the hotel and not with you, as you are the responsible party.

  • bodega3

    Why are you not upset with the company that you booked this room with? They didn’t follow up on the payment. The hotel has a right to get paid and you got your stay. I have no problem with what the hotel did. I do have a problem with OTA’s that are basically vending machines with no follow through.

  • As a representative of Best Western hotels I imagine it’s difficult for you to be objective but your thoughts are appreciated nonetheless.

  • bodega3

    I am NOT a representative of BW. What aren’t you getting?

  • bodega3

    I have no problem with what BW did. Your room didn’t get paid for and you stayed. They have a right to be paid.

  • y_p_w

    I looked into Florida’s innkeeper laws. They’re Florida Revised Statutes 509 Part I, which are for lodging and food service establishments. Part II is for membership campgrounds, which I’m not familiar with.

    I couldn’t find anything that allowed the innkeeper to guarantee payment against a credit card. About all I could find is that the innkeeper could perform a lockout if not paid by the guest, but that wouldn’t seem to apply in this case. I’m guessing that would probably be for longer term stays where payment may be required before the stay ends. Something about a writ of distress, whatever that is, can be sought. I guess it’s something that the innkeeper can seek out in the courts to seize property to satisfy the debt. However, I’d think a credit card is not property per se.

    In any case, if there’s no authorization, it could be a violation of the credit card merchant agreement.

  • Cristina

    I am discussing here and the post is about how Best Western understood to use the credit card asked for incidentals, without fully informing me on its policies and practices and without proper authorization. Again, this is illegal and abusive. And then, they just didn’t care to reply to an email and explain why they did so.
    If someone has a debt to pay to you, I suppose you use some legal pathway instead of just getting
    your hand into the most reachable pocket and take what you consider to be yours.
    And I can continue. How was I charged? What fee? The one due to Transhotel or any other fee considered appropriate by some hidden policy of Best Western. Do I have the right to be informed on these issues? I think I do.

  • As a consultant to Best Western hotels you’re entitled to your opinion. Both sides of the story need to be heard.

  • bodega3

    Your comment shows us you really don’t know the industry very well. I am NOT a consultant to a hotel. I am a consultant to my clients. I am their advocate. What are you? A vending machine that takes orders, doesn’t make sure the bookers rooms gets paid. Basically no interaction until notified of a problem. Easy money, eh?

  • bodega3

    And I am sharing here to tell others how all this works and how you are not protected on ‘prepaid’ rates through 3rd party booking sites. Sorry to tell you, but you are the responsible party in paying for your room if your vendor doesn’t come through. Other hotels will do what BW did to you. YOU stayed, YOU have to pay if your vendor doesn’t.

  • You may well be right. I’m just saying that working for Best Western in any form means that you’re likely to be biased. Thanks for sharing though. It’s always good to hear an insider’s view.

  • y_p_w

    I dunno. Seems kind of vague to me. Statement of what? Perhaps a statement of the manager’s kid’s college tuition? Now the ones that are specific that they can be made whole if a third party fails to compensate for the lodging would seem to be solid.

    I’m sure if this were your client, you could probably tear this apart systematically. Also – she claims that only her traveling companion was asked to sign, but they took separate credit cards for the incidentals for each room.

  • Cristina

    And what about the other questions I have? Do you have an answer to them? I think any person in my position would have such questions.
    Why my “responsibilities” were not stated on the forms?

    Why the hotel never responded to my emails?
    Why they didn’t provide an invoice for the money they took, again, without my knowledge and authorization?
    What was the room fee in their deal with Transhotel?
    How they decided to charge me?
    As you are such an expert on this case, and as I seem stupid to you, please be kind and fill these questions I have.

    And as you like and use metaphors, please tell me, if someone has a debt to you, what do you do?

  • bodega3

    I can’t tell you why the hotel didn’t respond. Yes, that was rude. Just like leaving a call today for a return call, I believe your call should be returned the day received, not days later. So that would not sit well with me either. Your next contact should have been to Mr Harris. He should have immediately helped you. He was the point of contact for the reservation and he is obligated to you to get all this addressed and refund you. I get why the hotel charged you. I don’t get why you aren’t dealing with him to get your second amount of money back What the rate between Mr Harris, Transhotel and the BW isn’t you business. Only what you paid, and were charged are your concern. I assumed you were charged what your voucher amount stated. Were you charged a different amount?

  • It would be great if you could share the credit card authorization form from your own hotel. Even if you don’t work for Best Western any more it would be really helpful to see it.

  • Cristina

    Yes, I was charged with a different amount. And as I had “to pay” for what TransHotel did not, I’m pretty sure the fee of their deal is my business too. Cause now we have two “winners”: Best Western charging me with higher and nontransparent fees and TransHotel that did not pay our vouchers.

  • bodega3

    It is a print out of my charges, where what I quoted is on the upper right side of it. You could certainly get one from one of your vendors or go to a Hilton and request one.

  • Ionela

    Dear All,

    This will be my last comment.

    Once again, thank you for your support. Of course my thanks go to those of you with good faith and the result of the poll says that you’re a majority. In what the minority concerns, in my country is a saying “Nu poți îndrepta cocoșații!”, therefore I will not spend my time trying to explain the obvious (Though I’m astonished seeing some KGB attitudes at some).
    Many thanks to Elliot for hosting and sharing this story.

    In my view, the aim was achieved. As I stated in my first comment, I took a stand against BEST WESTERN policy, rather than try to get my money back (this issue will be solved through right and legal proceedings). I fully agree that any hotel has to be paid for the services provided (as in any other sector) BY LEGAL MEANS and UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES BY ILLEGAL ONES, yet a question remains: How can a respectable hotel accept vouchers from an agency unless between the hotel and the agency is an agreement?!?

    I, as a customer from a foreigner country, I expect, even more in the US, to be fully informed about Provider’s rules.

    Ultimately, It’s beyond my understanding how can someone use someone else’s credit card without his/her knowing and some people considering it right!?!

  • Fred

    This is not an “optional” program. Any provider selling travel, who is based in California, will get shut down by the California State Attorney General if they are not registered. It takes the AG office less than 90-days to get compliance or shut them down. I have seen it happen.

  • bodega3

    If that unregistered company is turned in to the State, the State will notify them of the requirement, but I am in the State, have worked with the program, and know that there isn’t a lot of teeth in it. I turned on company in and they still are not registered and that was about 4 years back. Lots of in state travel companies are not registered. I wish Chris would do an article on these programs as they are consumer protection program for travelers that most don’t know about.

  • Fred

    Over the years, I have turned 2 companies in to the AG. When one was still operating 3 months later I refiled the complaint. The are now registered. The second company left California and is now based in Florida (a state that seems to have rules that are seldom enforced).

  • Good news: Best Western acknowledged that they should never have charged the guests and they have been refunded in full.

    A huge thanks to Christopher for bringing this matter to public attention.

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