New hotel scams and a bad-guest blacklist

by Charlie Leocha on September 29, 2010

There is apparently a new hotel scam moving through the industry. The Association of Retail Travel Agents (ARTA) is alerting people to a new way to separate hotel clients from their credit card information. An ARTA travel agent was staying at a Courtyard by Marriott hotel in the Denver area recently.

She was awakened by a phone call late at night by a man claiming that he was calling from the front desk. The caller apologized for the midnight call and said the office was trying to transmit the credit cards of the guests who had checked in that day to their central office. He said the numbers had to be in by 1 a.m. He then asked for the guest’s credit card details. She said no. The caller said they could send someone up to the room to get the details and again the agent refused, ending the call and hearing nothing further.

The next day the travel agent was told by the front desk that although the call probably did originate from somewhere in the hotel, it was a scam by people trying to steal credit card numbers, and that several other hotels had reported similar incidents.

So, take that information and keep your credit card numbers safe. It is easy to be scammed when the scam seems logical.

Another change in the hotel industry that may or may not spread is the use of an inter-hotel bad guest list. The technology was conceived up by Bristol, U.K., businessman Neil Campbell, 59, after his neighbor, a B&B owner, suffered at the hands of a “visitor from hell.”

In the United Kingdom, some 10,000 small hotels and bed and breakfasts are expected to sign up for the GuestScan Network that lists problem hotel guests — a hotel blacklist, so to speak. Guests who damage rooms, skip town without paying the bill, steal items from the rooms or make too much noise will be flagged and listed on GuestScan. The names can stay on the list for between two and four years.

Privacy groups specializing in protecting scoundrels (OK, non-scoundrels as well) have been in an uproar. They claim that the list will contain more identifying information than is allowed under current law and that the company has been formed under false pretenses.

Despite the outcry from the privacy pressure groups and caution from the legal sector the initiative has gained the backing of Devon and Cornwall Police where tourism is a mainstay of the local economy.

Bob Bunny the force’s Crime Reduction Advisor said GuestScan should be praised for it’s potential to reduce crime.

He said: ”GuestScan has the intention of providing a beneficial service direct to those in business, but it also has the potential to assist in the prevention and detection of crime.

”Any service that can contribute to preventing crime, benefit business and the community can only be considered advantageous to policing.”

Do you think we will see a similar system here in the U.S.? Or, maybe, there is already one in operation that I don’t know about. Chime in.

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  • Robert Henderson

    This is indeed outrageous. Imagine having a problem with a Hotel and or B&B then finding yourself blacklisted the next time you want to check into a Hotel. Blacklisting is as repugnant as it was in the MCarthy era. You are tried and convicted without representation. You do not have an opportunity to present your side of the issue. I hope that there are successful lawsuits against this practice. I travel extensively and 99% of my Hotel contact is favorable but to be blacklisted because of 1 Hotelier is absurd. I have no sympathy with blacklisters. Once it happens to you…well you won’t either! In this country we have a right to face our accuser and a fair hearing. This doesn’t just stink…it reeks!

  • Carlo

    I couldn’t agree more. I keep thinking about how the no-fly list works and wondering if that’s how it would be with other portions of the travel industry. Once you’re blacklisted, even if it’s a mistaken identity, will you ever be able to correct the problem? Or are you going to be stuck with driving everywhere and sleeping in your car?

  • http://www.guestchecker.com Shaun Barnett

    For years customers have been posting online reviews of businesses, including accommodation providers. I think a guest blacklist is a good idea, with one major considerations: The guest should be notified that they have been added to this “blacklist” so he/she can offer their side of the story and aren’t forced to “sleep in their car” the next time the attempt to check into a hotel.

    Let’s be honest. We’ve all seen the this obnoxious hotel guest: drunk, rude, destructive, trashes a hotel room like a rock star, or just plain screams at the front desk to get a free nights’ stay. However, if someone accidentally breaks a lamp, and offers to pay for it, should not be put in the same category as the rock star.

    There is a “guest blacklist” website that just opened here in Untied States. I think that is it long over-due. If guests are aware that they may be “blacklisted”, they may play by the rules. In which case, it serves it’s purpose.

  • Rita

    Does anyone know a successful attorney who can sue a hotel against blacklisting a guest who requested a refund?

  • goodguest

    I doubt if the hotels will turn folks away. It is just good to see what you might be dealing with. Just because a person had one problem at one hotel does not mean they are trying to scam everyone. But if you have a person who is continuously scamming multiple hotel, then you have a problem. I would look at the number of complains, the type, and how long between them. If the person walked away with 5000 in services from 3 hotels in the last year because they made up some lie, I would say I am fully booked.

  • Noggy19

    I am a manager at a hotel in Ohio and we already have a DO NOT RENT LIST.  It is the locals who cause all the trouble so we tell them to take their business elsewhere.

  • ned

    Hotel and Motel owners are at the mercy of trip advisor etc printing false bad experiences at their businesses.The owners need a way to fight back.

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