Hotel Booking Sites Reportedly Refuse to Refund Customers
When planning a vacation, many modern consumers turn to third-party booking sites such as Expedia, Priceline, or Orbitz. These websites promise to offer the best deal, but consumers may want to think twice before booking. Parker Waichman LLP, a national law firm with decades of experience, is investigating potential class action lawsuits over third-party hotel booking websites.
The firm offers free legal consultations to consumers who were denied a refund from these third-party booking websites. Our attorneys are available to answer any questions related to third-party hotel reservation lawsuits.
When booking through third-party reservation sites, consumers are typically seeking the lowest price. In some cases, however, these websites will refuse to refund customers their money if they need to cancel a reservation. Third-party sites may refuse a refund even when the hotel itself would have returned the refund, such as when the cancellation occurs in a timely manner. Other websites may refund the cost of the reservation but pocket the administrative costs.
In certain situations, booking through a hotel directly can get you the best deal. Bjorn Hanson, a professor with the New York University Preston Robert Tisch Center for Hospitality and Tourism, says there are usually three different rates when booking directly through a hotel: a public rate with no discounts, a discounted price offered to members of loyalty programs, and a non-refundable discounted price. “Almost always, one of those three will be as low or lower than the rate through an online travel agency for a similar arrangement,” said Hanson, according to MarketWatch.
According to Hanson, this is partly due to the fact that third-party booking sites often charge hotels a commission. On average, this fee is about 15 percent. Because hotels are already losing out on the booking, they do not offer their best deals on these websites, MarketWatch reports.
Consumers may also get the lowest price when booking directly with an airline. In recent years, airlines have been charging consumers a fee for booking through websites like Expedia.
Additionally, MarketWatch reports that travelers may get better customer service when booking directly. “Chances are you’ll be treated a little better, but sometimes you do need to call it out to them,” said Gautum Lulla, president of Travel Tripper, a hotel booking technology provider, to MarketWatch.
Lawmakers Take Action over Hotel Booking Scams
In Florida, lawmakers are trying to pass legislation that would hold third-party reservation sites responsible for duping customers. Sunshine State News reports that last year, U.S. Reps. Lois Frankel, D-Fla., and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla. introduced the “Stop Online Booking Scams Act”. The legislation would mandate full disclosure; state attorneys general would also have greater authority to pursue litigation over fraudulent sites, among other things.
The bill did not pass completely last year, but lawmakers reintroduced it in May 2017. This time around, the congresswomen have additional support from U.S. Rep. Peter Welch, D-Vt., Senators Bill Nelson, D-Fla, Steve Daines R-MT, Deb Fischer R-NE and Amy Klobuchar D-MN.
“I’m proud to continue working with my colleagues in Congress in preventing fraudulent hotel booking websites from further scamming innocent consumers,” said Ros-Lehtinen. “As a representative of one of the most popular tourist destinations in the country, promoting travel and tourism is one of my core missions, however, the rise of fraudulent hotel booking websites and call centers are hurting travelers, local businesses, and the American tourism industry. This common sense legislation would ensure online booking sites are transparent for the consumer by making sure there are clear indications which websites are not affiliated with the hotel website or call in information. In Congress, it is imperative that we address these deceptive practices and do all we can to eliminate these perpetrators from further taking advantage of consumers.”
“No family should have their vacation ruined when they show up at their hotel with their reservation only to find out they’ve been duped,” said Nelson. “This bill will crack down on fraudulent sites that trick consumers into booking rooms that don’t exist.”
“You shouldn’t have to be a detective to know if the hotel room you’re booking is real,” Frankel commented. “This bill will reduce the risk of a dream vacation turning into a nightmare.”
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