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Kick the Garden Statue to the Curb

Posted Thursday, August 20, 2009, at 3:42 PM

On a recent hotel booking, I learned some things the hard way. However, I would like to impart my knowledge to possibly save any of the readers out there a similar experience.

This summer I had to make reservations for a two night stay with several rooms for several parties involved. I started almost two months in advance to try and book rooms. I went to the local websites for hotel/motels in. I then went to several of the actual hotel websites to try and book rooms. No rooms available. I even called the hotels directly to make certain there were no room at the inn, as it were. This will be explained later.

Finally, found rooms on one of the more widely advertised travel sites. I booked them. However, they didn't just use my credit card to hold the reservation - oh no I was charged instantly for the booking several weeks away.

Irritating but had little or no choice at the time.Travel time came and went. However, I received copies of what the rooms cost - taxes, fees, included. Lo and behold, there was a three figure difference in the price of the actual rooms versus what I had been guaranteed was the lowest price available.

Hmm... so I decided to contact the on-line travel site. I did the email thing since I had never, ever talked to a real, breathing, speaking human being to place the reservation. I received an email that said - sorry but I had to actually call if I had a question on prices.

Okay - seriously. Rang the number - after a five minute wait - I spoke to Hannah, who had a very distinct Indian accent. After explaining, she said she was only authorized to offer a $25 voucher for a future booking. Unacceptable - transfer me to a supervisor please. Supervisor # 2 came on - said his name but for the life of me, I couldn't spell it, again, Indian accent. Same song and dance. Again- unacceptable I said - I needed his supervisor please. Again, five minute wait, with lousy elevator music, this time Victor (again Indian accent) said he could not authorize any more than a $25 voucher. Well, I had had it with this and asked - rather bluntly - where he was talking to me from. India was the reply. I replied - okay - I needed transferred to someone in the United States. He told me it would be a seven minute wait - I said go for it. By this time - please and thank you had gone out the window.

I then talked to a lady who was supposedly in Texas. Hmmm...Anywhoo - all she could do was a voucher for $100 off another two night stay booked through their service. No ma'am I said, I want a refund of the portion that I was so grossly overcharged for. She went into an explanation that this was a standard fee and what was I supposed to expect since they needed to make money too. I said I understood making money but gouging and overpricing for a service run by a computer was ridiculous. I further lamented that prices must be way different in her state than mine. She told me that all she could offer was the voucher. She then asked me how I came to learn of the price difference. I said I had a receipt. She said I needed to understand that the hotel chains sell the booking sites blocks of rooms and the rate on the receipt was their contracted rate and I should never have seen that. SERIOUSLY!!! That came out of her mouth!!! She would not let me talk to anyone else. All I got was an email address if I wanted to make a further complaint. That was the end of my 38 minute, intercontinental phone conversation - of which I was on hold for 28 minutes.

I called my card company and within five minutes was able to have the excessive amount taken off the charge. I didn't dispute the room rentals, I disputed the price gouging.

What I learned is that I will not use the travel service advertised by garden statues. I will not reserve rooms if my card is charged when I book. I WILL ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS ASK FOR A RECEIPT at the location upon arrival and leaving - even when booking on-line. I will always ask when contacting a customer service center is where the call center is located. Think it is fair - if I am doing business in the United States, that I can talk to someone in the United States.

Yeah I know - I learned this one the hard way - but if this helps someone avoid this situation, then if will have been worth it.

Showing comments in chronological order
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thank you so much for letting me know this info...

we are in the middle of booking rooms for a wedding in mid september so now i will have to check and double check everything

-- Posted by S&DC on Thu, Aug 20, 2009, at 4:41 PM

I always deal with the websites of the actual hotels. I've tried the online bookers with the travel gnome and Captain Kirk and the prices have always been way over what actual price the hotel charges.

How they haven't been sued for false advertisement I'll never know.

Great blog Betsy

-- Posted by MichaelHendricks on Thu, Aug 20, 2009, at 5:41 PM

Don't blame the people answering the phone, blame the companies that chose to hire them.

as for hotels, I've used hotels.com and hotwire was happy with both. Course, hotwire, you don't exactly know where your staying til after you complete the transaction, just how many stars, the general location and, what amenities may be offered.

-- Posted by npwinder on Fri, Aug 21, 2009, at 12:16 PM

Oh so many good paying jobs gone overseas...they got mine in 2002. Very frustrating to end up in a foreign call center when you speak ENGLISH! I actually had a guy in who-knows-where India tell me his name was "John Wayne" I kid you not! All I could do was laugh! They will do anything to get you to try and go through their drill for fixing your phone, computer, etc, and it won't do any good anyway! They can't understand what our problem is and their scripting never explains what needs to be done to resolve our issue. Blame corporate greed for this one! Bring back our USA call centers!

-- Posted by fred2 on Sat, Aug 22, 2009, at 1:05 PM

Sceptre strikes again.

Amazing how a Neo-Con, Neo-Nazi No Nothing hater can turn every item into an attack on the President of the United States.

Sorry, Jerk, but with educated people in the family who have attended Adjunct Professor and U.S. Senator's CONSTITUTIONAL LAW lectures at the Univ. of Chicago, you are so far off base it is pathetic.

"Outsourced President," -- The American Citizens of Hawaii just might take exception to that slur, against the first of their native sons to occupy the White House. (Gentle Hint -- Dont' walk around any of that state's island, repeating your trash talk.

One of those tiny little Polynesians just might rearrange your physiology.

The Occidental College Conservatives Club's members might take exception to that slur against one of their former students.

The Columbia University faculty and alums who worked alongside undergraduate Barack Obama abd were in awe of his intelligence, ability and love of the United States -- frequently express disgust with your lake of reason.

The 100-lus staff members of the Harvard Law Review who elected Law Student Barack Obama to serve in the most prestigous Law School student post in the United States and around the world.

When Sen. Obama conducted 90 minutes of his eekly CONSTITUTIONAL LAW classes, with the normal enrollment of 80-100 students -- at 6:30 a.m, Mondays and 7:30 p.m. Fridays -- when students prefer to be well involved in weekend fun, or n Monday morning trying to sleep in from the "un."

Instead, the enrolled students were almost always present in the University's largest available lecture hall, which almost always filled with hundreds of students standing outside the doors where they could hear.

When was the last time SCEPTRE had 1,000 to 2,000 top-drawer students standing in the cold to hear you lecture at 6:30 a.m.??

At least with these strictly non-political blogs, stick to the subject and keep your pre-historic political philosophy to yourself or go to one of the Pakistan caves where you can share with your kindred spirit named Osama bin Laden, from the family with long-time ties to Poppa and DubYan Bush.

-- Posted by HerndonHank on Tue, Sep 15, 2009, at 5:00 PM

TWEET.....Time Out....

Before this gets turned into something it isn't, I need to perhaps clarify why I blog.

Blogging has afforded me an opportunity to have an electronic 'column'. I am by no means a perfect writer or have the perfect topics each and every time.

My intent has been to do something I really like to do. I have told everyone that knows me, I flunked coloring and cutting and pasting in kindergarten so writing is my creative outlet. That is what I studied in school. The most enjoyable writing for me was the editorials or features. For me at least, this blog is an extension of that. I am not paid one penny for this. I do this for the enjoyment of the process.

I know by putting my opinions on whatever the topic of the week is, I am opening myself up to folks that disagree with my opinion. I know there will be folks that disagree with others that post on the blogs. I do get that. And I will state that sometimes, rethinking something through someone else's opinion can also be enlightening.

But what is disconcerting is the lack of civility in the responses. I don't have to agree with the responses but I believe if I am going to respond I can do that respectfully. Sometimes that means perhaps typing and saving my response to be re-edited at a later time or even hitting the delete button altogether.

You are entitled to your opinions but please, please, please, please take a minute and hit your internal edit button before you post here. Please post respectfully. I would certainly appreciate it. Thank you.

-- Posted by coolidge on Wed, Sep 16, 2009, at 10:06 AM

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