A reader named Judy emailed me today with the following message:
“When trying to make a reservation at Sheraton at CDG, this website appeared as Sheraton, took my reservation, charged extra fees and gave no prior notice that this was not refundable. Multiple contacts to cancel within one hour have left me on hold and given no solution. I continue to wait on hold and have notified my credit card company to dispute charges. Meanwhile I went directly to Marriott website, made a refundable reservation costing $60 less. It should be resolved in my favor but it requires my diligence and time to insure proper credit is given. Lesson learned, make sure you are dealing directly with hotel (which I already knew but got hoodwinked). Hope others can profit from my mistake. Judy M.
I replied to Judy and asked her how she ended up on Reservations.com’s website and she said: “I googled hotels within CDG and they popped up appearing as Sheraton. Was finally able to cancel reservation but have not resolved the $19.95 reservation fee. Booked hotel through Marriott app at a much better cost.”
Judy offers a valuable tip here and it doesn’t just apply to hotels – it’s really applies to anything, including restaurants. Oftentimes, if you search for something on Bing, Google or any other search engine, the top results are ads. This is how the search engines make their money and, surprisingly or not, not all of them are in your best interest. So it’s okay to search using the search engines, but always be sure to only click reputable sites like Booking.com, Expedia, Vrbo, etc.
Before you book your hotel via a third party, always check the hotel website directly to see if it’s the same price. If it is, or even just a little bit more, then I recommend booking direct as you will get more perks like free WiFi, a better room, loyalty points and it will be easier to change or cancel if something goes wrong.
I too fell victim to thinking I was booking a room on a hotel web site when I was in fact on a booking site that ended up charging me a lot more . I learned my lesson and I will be more careful in the future.