Mystery of multiple bookings

By | March 6th, 2002

Q: I recently found a hotel room deal with the Chicago Downtown Travelodge through Orbitz. I filled out the requested information all the way through my credit card number and hit “enter” once. The system sat in limbo for at least half an hour. When it finally seemed to move on there was no confirmation.

I went to the part of the site where you check your itinerary, and there was nothing listed for me. I called Orbitz because I wanted to make sure I didn’t have any reservations made before I tried again. I was asked if I had received a confirmation number. I hadn’t. Since there was no record of any transaction, I tried to get the same room deal again, but there were no rooms left.

A few days later I decided to check online for deals again. I found the exact same deal on Orbitz and successfully completed the transaction-with just one problem. I had to use two different credit cards because Orbitz kept telling me that the first card I tried was invalid. I received a confirming e-mail and kept it with my itinerary.

When we arrived at the hotel, I was told that I had two reservations, one under my MasterCard and one under my Visa. As this situation unfolded, I found out that they had two rooms booked for us, one under each card. The manager came out to speak with me and told me that I was going to be charged as a no-show for that night on one of the rooms. What should I do?

— Jennifer Jones

A: I contacted Orbitz on your behalf to see if we could solve the mystery of your double booking.

Related story:   What Orbitz did after it won this chargeback will surprise you

Orbitz researched your reservation history and admitted that “an error was made” by it. What happened? Although it didn’t show your booking as confirmed on its site the first time you went online, Orbitz successfully transmitted your credit card information to the hotel. According to Dan Swanson, an Orbitz customer relations representative, “this is not a typical experience for our customers.” He says its website development team is researching the glitch and will try to prevent this kind of electronic hiccup from happening again.

Orbitz then contacted the Chicago Downtown Travelodge, but it wasn’t willing to refund the charge for the duplicate reservation. “However, we certainly recognize our error,” added Swanson. Bottom line: Orbitz is refunding you for the $102.20 no-show fee charged by the hotel.

I just love happy endings, but I’m particularly pleased that this one involves Orbitz. After all the critical commentaries I’ve written about the website, I didn’t think it could do right.

I was wrong.

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