Double-booked on Dollar — does CarRentals.com owe me a refund?

dollar

Mike Danish says he lost his car rental reservation made online through Carrentals.com recently.

If this case sounds familiar, it’s because it is. I recently mentioned it in one of my columns. At the time, the cause was unclear.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Trawick International. Trawick International offers a variety of international travel insurance, trip cancellation/interruption, adventure travel and student insurance plans. We offer 24/7 travel assistance to travelers domestically and internationally. We continue to research ground-breaking products and ideas which meet the needs of travelers everywhere. No matter what type of Travel Insurance product you need, we have the perfect travel insurance policy for you! Visit Trawick International to learn more.

Not anymore.

“When I got to the Dollar counter in the airport in Seattle, I was told there was no reservation,” he explains. According to Dollar’s records, he’d made two reservations for different dates through the site. And the error came at a cost: Instead of paying $26 a day for the rental, Dollar billed him a walk-up rate of $48.

Danish told me he wasn’t sure if he pushed the wrong button or if Carrentals.com accidentally booked him on the wrong day. But if it was his mistake, he wonders why the system didn’t catch it.

I asked Carrentals.com about his case. Here’s what it had to say.

Danish did indeed make two identical bookings eight hours apart in Seattle.

“He was sent confirmation emails immediately after each booking which clearly showed the pick-up dates,” a representative told me.

She added,

It is unfortunate that he didn’t realize his error before he arrived at the rental counter.

Once at the rental counter, he was charged the “walk-in” rate, which is usually higher than the discounted Internet rate.

Regrettably, at this time, the system is not designed to prevent duplicate reservations.

Let’s take these one at a time.

Double booking — easy mistake to make. Carrentals.com says they came in eight hours apart, but that doesn’t necessarily mean he made them eight hours apart.

Confirmation email — many email providers will thread a duplicate email, so it will look like a single email. Even if he received two emails, it might have appeared that the hiccup was on Carrentals.com’s side; in other words, that it was sending him the same email twice.

Dupe detection — That is unfortunate. Why doesn’t Carrentals.com do it? It’s another expensive layer of programming but it doesn’t benefit the company in any way. Duplicate reservations that must be honored, on the other hand, do benefit the company. So you can understand why it wouldn’t want to stop them.

Danish wants a refund between the more expensive rate he had to pay and the original rate quoted by Carrentals.com. To which Carrentals.com replied:

I understand Mr. Danish is requesting reimbursement for the additional cost involved in renting at the rental counter; however, we would not be willing to honor this request as this was not a CarRentals.com error. Please note, there were no charges from CarRentals.com nor Dollar for the unused reservation.

Another case dismissed, but not without several important lessons:

✓ When you’re self-booking, hit the “buy” button only once.

✓ Read every confirmation email, even if you think it’s a duplicate. Note the reservation number. Is it the same?

✓ Call to confirm your reservation, even if you think you have it in writing.

I’m sorry I can’t help Danish with a refund, but this case has helped prevent many similar cases from happening in the future. And for that, I’m grateful.