‘It’s deceitful’: Consumer complaints pour in over look alike travel sites

ORLANDO, Fla. — If you’re booking summer travel, Action 9 has an alert about booking hotel reservations that could save you money.

Heather Neubauer booked a much-needed weekend getaway to San Diego with her family.

“The whole trip started because my son, who has autism, wanted to go to a hotel and watch the fireworks,” Neubauer said.

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The excitement didn’t last long. She received an email showing her credit card was charged by reservations.com for more than a thousand dollars up front, including an additional fee.

“Gone, and I didn’t even know what that was about,” Neubauer said.

Then she discovered the third-party booking site didn’t allow refunds. Neubauer said she thought she was on the hotel’s website when she booked the room and never would have knowingly used reservations.com.

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“It’s like they copycatted their website,” Neubauer said.

“It’s deceitful,” Cham Newhouse said.

Newhouse also felt blindsided by reservations.com. He claims he doesn’t know how he wound up on their site, didn’t realize the charges were non-refundable, and had more problems when he showed up in Minnesota to begin his family’s vacation.

“We get to the hotel and the hotel can’t find the reservation, and so you know, my wife and my kids are sitting there looking at me and I’ve got to get it fixed,” Newhouse said.

Reservations.com is located on the 16th floor of an office tower in downtown Orlando. The travel company has caught the attention of the Better Business Bureau after the bureau received hundreds of complaints from across the country.

According to the Bureau, they’ve received over 1,600 complaints in the past three years about reservations.com, with consumer losses totaling well over $85,000.

Many frustrated consumers say they were led to look alike websites, were hit with surprise fees or were charged for reservations that were never made.

“Unfortunately to date it seems to still be a persistent issue, the same pattern of complaints,” said BBB President Holly Salmons.

Todd Ulrich contacted reservations.com. A manager said the company’s fee covers customer-friendly booking services and that it fully discloses that it’s a third-party site and their no-refund.

Neubauer did finally get a refund, but only after complaining for six weeks.

Just days after speaking with Action 9, Newhouse was able to get a full refund.

“I wanted to try to help people avoid what happened to me,” Newhouse said.

Avoid the top results from Google searches. Many times the top results are ads that can lead to look alike sites.

Some booking sites are good options but check fees and refund policies first.

If you’ve been burned by an online booking site contact the BBB and Florida’s Division of Consumer Services.

Jason Kelly

Jason Kelly, WFTV.com

Jason Kelly joined WFTV in 2014.

Todd Ulrich

Todd Ulrich, WFTV.com

I am WFTV's Action 9 Reporter.