Juanita Stevenson and her husband booked a hotel in Chicago through Hotels.com to celebrate their anniversary. But when they arrived at the hotel, a clerk told Stevenson there was no reservation on file.
"I said, 'You don't have a reservation for me? Here's a reservation from Hotels.com,'" Stevenson said.
However, the clerk told her that while the popular third-party booking site sent a confirmation, it did not provide booking information to the hotel itself. Therefore, the hotel had no record that Stevenson and her husband had prepaid more than $400.
"I'm like, 'What are we supposed to do now?'" Stevenson said. "And she said, 'well we don't have your reservation.'"
Luckily, the hotel still had a room left for their anniversary trip. But then came the second shocker.
"She told me, 'We'll give you this room, but you are going to have to pay for it,'" Stevenson said.
She reluctantly paid a second time, now with two $400 charges on her credit card.
Similar complaints have come up before with many third-party travel sites — travelers make a reservation and prepay on a credit card. But when they arrive, there is no record of a reservation.
Nonprofit consumer group Elliot Advocacy says it happens more often than most people realize. The group says hotel reservation systems sometimes don't sync with third-party booking sites.
"What does a consumer have to do to be treated fairly?" Stevenson said.
How to protect yourself
To avoid a similar situation, Elliot Advocacy says if anyone using third party hotel sites should:
- Always have a printout or a screenshot of the reservation.
- Double-check the dates to make sure they are correct.
- Most importantly, call the hotel directly the day before arrival to confirm the stay.
Expedia, the parent company of Hotels.com, refunded Stevenson's second payment after being contacted by reporters.
As always, don't waste your money.
Don't Waste Your Money" is a registered trademark of Scripps Media, Inc. ("Scripps").
Like" John Matarese Money on Facebook
Follow John on Instagram @johnmataresemoney
Follow John on Twitter (@JohnMatarese)
For more consumer news and money saving advice, go to www.dontwasteyourmoney.com