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View Full Version : Ever been double-billed by a Web site?


chriselliott
03-03-2005, 09:03 AM
After today's story on Patty Rosenberg, I'm wondering if anyone else has run across the problem of double-billing for a hotel.



Here's the story http://www.tripso.com/archives/2005/03/two...bills_from.html (http://www.tripso.com/archives/2005/03/two_bills_from.html)



How willing are hotels/online agencies to fix the problem? How long does it take?



Any thoughts?

ddjwms
03-04-2005, 10:05 AM
This has happened to us twice. The first time, we booked through Travelocity for a Marriott near the Phoenix airport. It was one of those Travelocity Best Buys where you supposedly get a special price, but they charge your credit card right away. When we checked our credit card bill, both Travelocity and the hotel had charged us for the stay. We contacted Marriott customer service who apologized, said the desk person had handled the billing incorrectly, and refunded the amount they had billed right then.



The other situation was quite a bit more complicated. We booked a stay at the Hotel Tropical in Manaus, Brazil through the Varig Programma Smiles website. Already you can imagine the complications: foreign country, foreign language, distance, etc. When we checked in, the desk clerk stated that our stay had been paid through Varig; we would only be billed for incidentals. But when we checked out, that clerk insisted that we had not been charged by Varig and that we owed the whole bill. He even supposedly checked with his supervisor or accounting or someone who confirmed that we had not been precharged through Varig. So we signed for the charge. Then when we got home, both charges were on our credit card. We called the US reservation line, but they could only give us contacts at the hotel. We called the hotel (long distance, long wait, language problems) and e-mailed them, but were getting no response. Then I translated my e-mail into Portuguese using Babblefish and sent both my English explanation and the translation that I had made. The next day, we received an e-mail saying the hotel would refund the charge they had made, and they did so within a few days.



Because of these experiences, I try to avoid prepayment through websites even though that means not getting "Best Buys" or similar discounts. Somehow, desk clerks seem unable or poorly trained to recognize or deal correctly with these situations. The alacrity of customer service in making refunds makes me think they must encounter this problem often...

stephen_s
03-07-2005, 02:59 PM
I'm just wondering whether there's any kind of watchdog group for all of these online "travel brokers". Reading your travel troubleshooter articles, it seems that a lot of the problems happen with these travel sites like Travelocity, Orbitz, and Expedia.



It happened to me once. I made a reservation through Expedia to stay in San Jose at the Hyatt. I made the reservation and got a confirmation. I called the hotel just to make sure. Guess what? No reservation. I called Expedia and they said they'd take care of it.



I got to the hotel--still no reservation. The front desk clerk told me that I was lucky that there were rooms available. I showed them my receipt/print out and they had to call Expedia. Turns out Expedia had the wrong fax number.



Also I notice that sometimes the fares are a lot lower on the airline's/hotel's own website compared to these sites.

chriselliott
03-07-2005, 03:54 PM
There's no watchdog group, although the Federal Trade Commission (ftc.gov) does regulate how they can market their services. Travel, I believe, is the number-two most complained about category, so they are being kept pretty busy.

digital843
03-12-2005, 09:25 PM
I have visited NYC annually for some 12 years and stayed at the YMCA. While some of these were pretty bad in the past, the Y closed all these and the ones that are left are good. I stay at the Westside Y. The rooms are rather plain but clean with maid service daily and excellent security. They take men, women and families and are quite popular.They have a small restaurant and the hotel itself is attractive with friendly professional personnel. Best of all the rates are about 50% of even a modest hotel in NYC. No, the rooms are not luxurious but how much time do you spend in a hotel room(other than sleeping) when visiting New York?



But is impossible to be charged twice. The Y takes your credit card number but makes no charges until you arrive. If you fail to show up and do not cancel you are charged for one night at most. This should be the norm.

digital843
03-12-2005, 09:28 PM
Sorry, I should have said right off that this particular Y is in New York City.



John

angrytravelguy
04-12-2005, 12:29 PM
Originally posted by stephen_s
I'm just wondering whether there's any kind of watchdog group for all of these online \"travel brokers\". *Reading your travel troubleshooter articles, it seems that a lot of the problems happen with these travel sites like Travelocity, Orbitz, and Expedia.



It happened to me once. *I made a reservation through Expedia to stay in San Jose at the Hyatt. *I made the reservation and got a confirmation. *I called the hotel just to make sure. *Guess what? *No reservation. *I called Expedia and they said they'd take care of it.



I got to the hotel--still no reservation. *The front desk clerk told me that I was lucky that there were rooms available. *I showed them my receipt/print out and they had to call Expedia. *Turns out Expedia had the wrong fax number.



Also I notice that sometimes the fares are a lot lower on the airline's/hotel's own website compared to these sites.



The hotels supply the websites with their info. The hotels are also given access in order to update the information. If Expedia didn't have the correct fax number, it was the hotel's fault. Expedia was attempting to fax the reservation to the number the hotel supplied.



The hotels will always blame the websites. Always. Why? They make more money if you book directly, and they don't want to be yelled at by angry customers. I've been doing customer service for an online travel website for two years, and I rarely encounter a hotel clerk who's willing to admit he/she made a mistake. No matter how blatantly they or their manager screwed up, they will always tell the guest it's the website's fault.



The hotels also like to play games. Occasionally, the hotel will "lose" your reservation, or the hotel will conveniently supply you with a "lower" rate when you arrive. Would you have gotten that rate by calling the hotel directly? OF COURSE NOT. They would have charged you full "walk-in" price. They make more by "losing" the website reservation you book online, because then they can give you a room at a lower rate by refusing to pay a percentage to the website for "losing" the reservation.



We have a way of tracking whether a fax was successfully received, but I don't know how many times I've been told "we didn't get the fax" by hotel clerks despite evidence to the contrary. I can't even ballpark how many times I've caught hotels selectively receiving some faxes, but "losing" others. They seem to get every fax during slow booking periods. Yet, for some reason, faxes seem to "disappear" when booking gets heavy, and the hotel can make a killing by selling YOUR reserved hotel room to a "walk-in" guest for a higher rate. :roll:



If a hotel charges you for a reservation that was prepaid through a website, it's the hotel's fault. Hotel clerks aren't geniuses. They're supposed to take your credit card at check-in for incidentals, but every now and then they'll have a brain fart and charge you for the reservation at check-out. If this happens, call the hotel immediately and demand a refund. Of course, they'll blame the website. And they'll usually attempt to distract you with a "lower rate" in order to get you to call the website for the refund. Don't fall for it. Let them have it. And if they won't give you a refund...then call me, and I'll let them have it. What they're attempting is a breach of contract, and their manager knows it. He’s just hoping YOU don’t. 8)

dee4j
07-15-2005, 07:23 PM
FYI, human agencies sometimes make this error. just a month ago, our central system for payments double-charged several OFFICES' clients. we were able to refund the double charges almost immediately, and luckily we deal primarily in cash....but the fact is there is no foolproof, perfect system. technology comes with the risk of malfunction. as humans, no one is perfect, but we need to remember that even our machines are far from it as well.

as long as people make sure they are using reputable companies to make payments, they should be able to have the means to get these sorts of problems fixed immediately.

dee4j
07-15-2005, 07:25 PM
ps...angry....i LOVE your posts. you say what i think. love it!

Magpie
07-19-2005, 09:43 AM
I voted no, because I wasn't billed twice by the on-line travel agency. It was the hotel who made the mistake.

My Travelocity reservation was prepaid and nonrefundable. When I checked out, I noticed the last digits of MY Amex had been charged for a different (and slightly lower) price by the Hotel. At first the agent tried to say that it was Travelocity's card that had been charged, but then I pointed out the last 4 digits were mine. He finally admitted there was a mistake on the night shift (inexcusable, since I'd talked to the one guy working there and was upfront about it being prepaid when I gave him my card).

They promptly fixed the error, but I could have ended up in a mess if I weren't more knowledgeable about my travelling.

Since then, I've avoided the prepaid reservations like that. It is too much of a nonstandard process and the poor desk guys get confused. :blink: