Is this enough compensation? No reservation — but the bill sticks

It’s been a while since the last missing hotel reservation case, and here’s one with an interesting twist: The booking was made through an airline website.

Peter Skipp pre-paid for accommodations at the Radisson Our Lucaya Resort on Grand Bahama Island for one of his employees after booking airline tickets on Continental.com. (You’ve probably seen those screens that ask “do you need a hotel?” after you’re done paying for your flight.)

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He says Continental charged his card $86 for one night at the Radisson. At least that’s what he thought.

When my technician arrived at the hotel, late in the day and tired, there was no record of his reservation and he was charged $167.

They would not honor his printed reservation.

Having read your advice I tried to e-mail Continental customer service. No response. After many, many phone calls I reached a real person who promised to investigate and call back. Never received a call back.

Called twice again and both times received the same response.

Here’s where it gets a little interesting. Although Skipp’s printout says the room was at the Radisson, Continental’s paperwork show his employee was confirmed at another hotel, the Dundee Bay Villas.

How strange.

I asked United Airlines, which recently merged with Continental, to review this hotel reservation. It didn’t respond to me, either.

Forgive me for going off on a tangent, but United has been highly unresponsive to my readers’ queries lately, and it’s setting a troubling precedent for the new United-Continental. If the new airline plans to run its customer service problem by stonewalling and delaying, it is off to a wonderful start.

I think its customers deserve better, and I know there are people at United who feel the same way. Maybe this is a good time for them to raise their hands and say a customer represents more than an ancillary revenue opportunity.

Believing there was some good left in United, I reached out to a former Continental contact in Houston. I was right, apparently they do care. A few days later, United contacted Skipp and sent him a voucher for the $167 he had to spend.

Airline scrip for a screwed up reservation? Skipp is OK with that, but he still has some questions.

I would love to know what ultimately happened to allow two confirmation numbers for the same person at two hotels on the same island on the same date. The primary reservation knew nothing about us and would not accept the reservation and we never knew about the second resort until after the fact.

My best guess is that this is yet another merger-related hiccup, and that once United and Continental are one big, happy family, this kind of thing won’t happen anymore. I certainly hope so.

I’m not sure if throwing funny money at this problem was enough, though. Do you?

(Photo by zanz ibar/Flickr Creative Commons. And I have to say, that’s some photo of Grand Bahama. What a gorgeous place. My inner scuba diver wants to visit … badly!)

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