My  writing partner had an experience that she thought I might want to share an experience she had with you. It involves making a reservation, but it’s the same advice I’ve give you about searching for tech support online.

She needed to make a hotel reservation for a business trip, so she searched the name of the hotel and ‘reservations.’  She was a bit distracted by something else, so she was admittedly not looking closely when she clicked on the result. She called the phone number listed on the site.  She thought she was dealing directly with the hotel.

At first, they told her that her preferred room wasn’t available, quoted her full price, and wanted her to pay up front for the room. After she gave him authorization to charge the card, she was informed there was a $50 ‘resort’ fee. That raised her suspicions, so she asked if that was for the entire stay or a daily charge. He hemmed and hawed a bit, but she demanded to know the full total of what was being charged. The guy on the other end admitted that it was $800 more than the original quote.  My friend finally noticed that she wasn’t on the website for the hotel, but on a reservations website.

She asked to cancel the charge. She was put on hold and the guy never came back. She immediately called her credit card company to cancel the charge. Here’s how it can happen. You want the phone number or website for hotel reservations, so you search for the name.  Except that the first two results I have below are not the genuine site. If you call those numbers, you won’t be talking directly to the hotel’s reservation department.

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If I click through and look at the top of the webpage, I will see that it says it’s a third-party site. But if you just called the number in the results, you might never know you weren’t dealing with the hotel.

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If you participate in any type of rewards program or have a relationship with the hotel, you may miss out on the best deal. Plus, if you aren’t familiar with the reservation site, you just don’t know what the fees might be or who you’re dealing with. Now there are many hotel reservations sites like booking.com that you may choose to deal with. But it’s important that you make the choice and are able to do some research about who you are dealing with.  The first few results that return for a search are often paid advertisements. It’s a good idea to look at them closely.  Scrolling down a bit will bring you the actual result.

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If the price quoted doesn’t sound write or doesn’t mirror your previous experiences with the hotel, don’t give your information before doing some more research.