On-Line Travel Agency? Be Wary.

Today comes an email, passed along to me by my brother, from a classmate of his who was organizing a big gathering to honor the passing of his spouse.

After getting commitments to attend from relatives and friends, he reserved all the necessary hotel rooms on line through the Reservations.com website and personally paid the first night’s room charge for all of the attendees. The total, applied to his credit card, was several thousand dollars.

But then came a new surge of COVID cases and several of the potential attendees began to suggest that perhaps the gathering might better be postponed.

The organizer of the event, having had the same thoughts, agreed that, while the gathering was a noble and appropriate idea, it should indeed be rescheduled.

And that’s when the trouble began.

Assuming he could un-do his original transaction by the same means he used to reserve the rooms, he tried to cancel the rooms through the Reservations.com website. However, each time he clicked on the tab that indicated he wanted his deposit refunded, up popped a notice thanking him for confirming his reservations and offering a small discount as a token of their appreciation.

He accepted the discount and repeated his request for a refund of his deposit.

The last of these pop-up notices said because he had accepted the discount, he was no longer eligible for a refund of his deposit.

I won’t belabor this tale much longer . . . only to say, this man was finally able to reach a human being on the phone who agreed to refund the deposits, but only after being threatened with a lawsuit.  

Regulars here will recall that six weeks ago I booked a room at a hotel in Honolulu for a one-night stay. I made the  booking from what I thought and what appeared to be the hotel’s website. It was, in fact, Reservations.com. When the charge showed up on my Mastercard bill, it was almost twice the amount I signed for on check-out.

May I repeat the advice I offered in at least one earlier posting:

When booking hotel rooms, be certain you are doing so through the hotel’s own web site and not through one of the on-line travel agencies.