Double-charged for my hotel, but not by choice

Why is the Comfort Inn charging Lora Crumb for two rooms when she’s the only guest? And why isn’t Orbitz, her online travel agency, helping her fix this? Let’s find out.

Question: The Comfort Inn & Suites Knoxville West is charging me for two rooms, even though I only had a reservation for one room. I need some help getting this sorted out.

I had made the booking through Orbitz. When I checked in, a hotel representative claimed I had two rooms. I explained I only have a reservation for one room.

I called Orbitz, and a representative assured me that I only had a reservation for one room. But when I checked my American Express statement, I saw the hotel had charged me for two rooms.

I have been going back and forth with Orbitz and the hotel manager at the Comfort Inn. Orbitz sent me an email that claimed all the rooms were used. I contacted the hotel manager and explained that the second room was never occupied.

I have been going back and forth for months. I’m exhausted and do not know what else to do. Do you have any advice? — Lora Crumb, Branchville, N.J.

Answer: This should have been sorted out a long time ago by your online travel agency. It may not be immediately clear how your single reservation multiplied, but if Orbitz told you that you only had one reservation, it should have ensured that was the case.

I contacted the hotel and it insisted Orbitz sent it two reservations under your name. That could have been a system glitch, or you might have inadvertently pushed the “book” button twice. If you did book twice by mistake, you never received a confirmation of a second booking. It’s a mystery.

But I keep coming back to Orbitz’ assurances to you that you only had one reservation. You even had that in writing, in your online reservation. And that really should have been sufficient to clear up this entire mess.
Instead, Orbitz and Comfort Inn played ping-pong with $426 of your hard-earned money. Each blamed the other, but clearly, no one was willing to refund the money. Comfort Inn might have tried to help, but in the final analysis, it did exactly what it was supposed to. It received two reservations, which it honored. A hotel room is considered a “perishable” commodity — once the day is over, you can’t get it back. The hotel received a reservation and believed it would be paid $426.

A brief, polite email to the customer service managers at Orbitz (owned by Expedia) or Choice Hotels might have moved your case in the right direction. I list their names, numbers and email addresses on my consumer advocacy site.

I contacted Orbitz on your behalf. It refunded your $426.

Why you should use a travel agent

Next time you travel somewhere, consider talking to a professional first. Read more “Why you should use a travel agent”

My hotel promised a refund, but my travel agency refused

Serban Constantinescu’s Scandinavian tour didn’t get off to the best start. He missed a flight connection from Cleveland to New York because of bad weather, and was a no-show for his hotel in Copenhagen.

But when he phoned the Quality Airport Hotel Dan, it let him off the hook. “We will cancel the reservation and will not charge a cancellation fee,” a representative told him. He even was able to get their promise in writing.

So where’s his refund?
Read more “My hotel promised a refund, but my travel agency refused”

Travelers, be wary of ‘data passing’ online

Kathy Agosta calls it a “blatant ambush of personal credit card information.” But it’s far from clear who was doing the ambushing.

Agosta, a fundraiser for a nonprofit organization in Ann Arbor, Mich., had just booked a flight from Detroit to Barcelona on Travelocity, when a “$20 cash back” offer flickered across her computer screen.
Read more “Travelers, be wary of ‘data passing’ online”

When travel companies sue their customers

When a young woman named Carissa knocked at my door on a recent Saturday evening and introduced herself as a process server, I knew things were about to get interesting.

And when I read the civil action summons she handed me, I was intrigued.

A Florida-based travel agency had sued me for reporting about its legal troubles on my blog. (I won’t name the agency, because I think part of the reason it filed a complaint was because it craves publicity. Denied.) Next to my name on the suit, I recognized the name of one of the agency’s clients.

Yes, the company was taking one of its own customers to court.
Read more “When travel companies sue their customers”