Think twice before you book it — it's the expensive lesson a Massachusetts woman learned when making a hotel reservation on her phone. She called our Consumer Investigative Reporter Leslie Gaydos for help with her costly mistake.
With a tap on her phone, Anne Castner of Groton was stuck with an expensive non-refundable hotel reservation she didn't want.
"I did realize that it was a no-refund policy, but when I clicked the booking tab, I thought I would have one more time to confirm it and finalize it, and see the total pricing, and I did not have that opportunity," said Castner.
Castner says she mistakenly booked two nights in May at the Liberty Hotel in Boston. She wanted to be close to her husband, who was having surgery nearby. She thought she was on the hotel's website, and that the total cost would be about $500.
"It said the price was $520, and I thought that was for the two nights I had entered, but instead, it was $520 per night," said Castner. "When I saw the total amount at the end, it came up to $1,400 and some change, because they added over $400 in taxes. Within a few minutes, I went up to my computer so I could see a bigger screen, and called the number listed on the website."
Castner determined she had reserved the room through the hotel booking website getaroom.com, not the hotel's actual site. She says she spent hours on the phone trying to cancel the reservation and get a refund.
"They said, 'You have to talk to the hotel,' so I called the hotel," explained Castner. "They said, 'No, getaroom.com has to handle that,' so it was back and forth, back and forth, and getting nowhere."
Castner reached out to NBC10 Boston Responds for help with the situation. We contacted getaroom.com and the Liberty Hotel. Both of them said they resolved the issue, and refunded Castner $1,450.38.
"Ms. Castner booked a non-refundable reservation (and agreed to this restriction at the time of booking)," Getaroom said. "When she requested to cancel the reservation anyway, we offered to contact the hotel on her behalf to see if we could persuade them to waive their non-refundable restriction. We eventually succeeded ... We apologize for any inconvenience to Ms. Castner."
The Liberty Hotel said it "does partner with getaroom.com's affiliate priceline.com, which is how the guest was able to book through the site. The reservations and booking process is handled directly by getaroom.com and any changes and/or cancellations to a reservation made on the site are at the site's discretion. We reached out to getaroom.com on Ms. Castner's behalf ... We do recommend reserving directly with the hotel's direct website, www.libertyhotel.com."
That's exactly what Castner plans to do in the future.
"From now on, I will go directly to the hotel website, and I will not go through any third party companies or I will call the hotel directly," said Castner.
There's another reason to log onto the hotel's website: If you're a member of their loyalty program, you may be able to get added bonuses or additional incentives when booking directly with a hotel. Always be sure you read and understand the terms and conditions before booking any reservation.