Hank Investigates: Hotel Reservation Highjacking

BOSTON (WHDH) - In bustling hotels like Boston’s Omni Parker House worried managers know it could happen to the next traveler who comes to check in.

Clerks at the reservation desk could face an angry guest who discovers the reservation they made does not exist!

What’s more their cards were charged–but to get a room, they have to pay again!

John Murtha, General Manager, Boston Omni Parker House: “We unfortunately tell them they’ve been deceived.”

The Parker House’s GM says he discovered copy cats who cut and pasted the Omni’s actual logos and photos right onto their own sites and then “opened for business”, taking travelers’ money!

John Murtha: “It’s going to be very hard for us as a hotel to search them out and find them.”

It’s happening not only in Boston, but across the country. It’s part of a massive hotel reservation hijacking scheme that’s costing travelers more than a billion dollars each year.

Maryam Cope, American Hotel & Lodging Association: “We really are concerned about the rise in these scams.”

It’s especially complicated , because some of these sites– unaffiliated with the hotels–actually do make reservations , but then they charge undisclosed fees, higher rates or make it hard to cancel reservations.

Debbie Greenspan, Traveler: “I was so mad I thought I would go through the roof.”

Debbie’s a seasoned traveler, but clicked on a listing with a specific hotel’s logos and pictures–then booked a room with what she thought was the hotel. When she later called the real hotel to cancel– she was informed she’d booked through a third party who would not refund her money.

Debbie: “I was livid.”

The deception runs deep some even post phone numbers and answer like the real hotel.

John Murtha: “We called then and they answer the phone Parker House, how may we assist you? It’s not us.”

The industry estimates there are 15 million deceptive bookings each year.

Debbie knows, it can happen to even the savviest of travelers.

Debbie: “The average consumer doesn’t stand a chance.”

This hotel reservation hijacking has gotten so bad, the industry is now clamoring for help. They want Congress to pass a law requiring third party sites to warn travelers when they aren’t the hotels official site.

The American Hotel and Lodging Association says if you’ve been scammed to email them and let them know what happened at: onlinescam@ahla.com

If you got scammed or have a story idea please email us at tellhank@whdh.com

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