On this hotel reservation, who’s scamming whom?

Beth Furcht thought she’d lucked out when she found a website that allowed her to book a room at the Hilton Omaha for Olympic swim trials more than a year-and-a-half in advance.

She had not.

The website, Reservationcounter.com, showed up on a Google search for the Hilton and readily accepted her reservation. It even provided a confirmation, she says.

“I called the hotel to ensure everything was set with my reservation,” she says. A representative told her the hotel had no idea who she was.

“The Hilton also informed me there was no way they’d ever take a reservation a year and a half in advance, so the booking through Reservationcounter.com was basically fraudulent — it never should have even given me the option,” she says.

Furcht needed my help reinstating the reservation, and I was ready to assist.

But before I tell you how this one turned out, let’s have a look at this site, which Furcht believes is fraudulent.

I’ve covered the issue of potentially fraudulent sites, and Reservationcounter.com in particular, in my Washington Post column. As part of that story, I interviewed Daniel Nelson, the chief executive of TravelPASS Group, the Salt Lake City-based company that operates Reservationcounter.com. He told me his sites are legitimate and denied they are trying to imitate hotel sites.

If Nelson is telling me the truth, then Furcht’s missing hotel reservations were simply a glitch.

Then again, it could be something else.

The hotel industry is deeply unhappy with third-party sites like Reservationcounter.com. Whenever it accepts a reservation through one of the sites, it must pay a commission, which increases its expenses and lowers its profits.

All of which makes me wonder: Did Reservationcounter bungle this reservation — or did the hotel “lose” it?

I was ready to find out. But just before I did (and really, this makes me even more suspicious) I heard back from Furcht.

“Shortly after sending my case, the Hilton Omaha called me and they have reserved a room for me for the dates I originally requested through Reservationcounter.com,” she told me. “The Hilton Omaha has done a great job resolving an issue they didn’t cause.”

Still, she added, people should be warned.

Perhaps I should write something to “raise continued awareness about this fraudulent company?” she suggested.

Um, OK. But which company?

I suspect hotels and these third parties are playing dirty pool — and their customers are caught in the middle. Perhaps that’s the real scam?

Who's the real scammer?

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Update: A ReservationsCounter representative responds.

Reservation Counter would like to apologize to Ms. Furcht for any inconvenience she may have experienced as a result of the error that occurred with her hotel booking.

Her reservation was processed through an inventory of hotel rooms that were recently added to our system. This particular inventory does not allow customers to book more than one year in advance and, consequently, defaulted to June 2015 when Ms. Furcht attempted to book a room in June 2016.

Reservation Counter discovered this glitch shortly after adding this particular company to our inventory and corrected the problem. We then contacted Ms. Furcht’s hotel and were successful in helping her receive a full refund of the room charges that were placed on her credit card for the wrong booking date.

Fortunately, there are still vacancies and comparable hotel options available to Ms. Furcht.

Reservation Counter successfully helps hundreds of thousands of consumers make flawless online travel bookings every year. Our goal with each of them is 100% customer satisfaction. In the rare instance we fall short of that goal, we want our customers to know that we will take responsibility for our mistakes and we will do what is necessary to correct them.

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