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Third-party hotel booking business racked up over 1800 BBB complaints

TAMPA BAY, Fla. — Retired school teacher Sharon Mestanza thought she booked a Best Western in New York on the hotel’s website. She had no idea she’d booked her stay through a third party until she received her credit card bill.

The Pasco County resident told ABC Action News, “I thought I was paying $89 dollars a day.”

But her bill included $697 dollars for added fees and taxes, bringing the total amount for a little more than a weeklong stay to over $2,000.

Hundreds of other travelers filed similar complaints about to the Better Business Bureau in the last three years. BBB spokesperson Monica Horton said they’ve processed over 1,800 complaints about the company.

“A lot of times, the consumers didn’t realize that they were booking through a third-party booking site,” Horton said.

The BBB has issued a consumer alert, saying it found “a concerning pattern of complaints alleging uses deceptive online advertising practices, as well as telephone customer service interactions, that lead consumers to believe they are interacting directly with a particular hotel’s staff when they are trying to reserve a room.”

The website works by distributing hotel inventory to third-party travel sites, so Getaroom never appears on the customer’s billing statements.

Judy Zanoth said she wound up with a $900 charge after googling the Guesthouse at Graceland in Memphis.

“This ad came up with a picture of the guest house and the number and everything,” Zanoth said. “And I clicked on it, and I thought it was the Guesthouse at Graceland.”

Zanoth confirmed two rooms for one night. The price listed on her screenshot shows $600, but the confirmation she received included another $300 in added fees and taxes. The phone number on the confirmation belonged to Getaroom.

A customer service representative said there were no refunds, Zanoth told ABC Action News.

“I just wanted to cry. I just felt like I got so wronged,” she said.

ABC Action News reached out to Getaroom on social media. A spokesperson responded with this statement.

“In the rare cases when issues arise with a booking, we strive to promptly address them. We fully investigate all complaints, including those made to the BBB, act as an advocate for our customers and seek to provide swift resolutions…We reviewed Ms. Zanoth’s reservation and while we confirmed it was a non-refundable booking, we are pleased to share that we were able to work with the hotel to secure a full refund on her behalf.”

Mestanza got $400 of her bill refunded after contacting her credit card company and the BBB.

Whenever you book travel, hover the cursor over the web address to ensure you are dealing directly with the property’s website. And remember, cancellation fees vary by site.

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