Ontario woman blindsided by hotel booking fee warns others how to avoid same issue
TORONTO -- When you search for a hotel on the internet, you might think you're dealing directly with the hotel when it could be a third party booking website.
These websites will allow you to book a room, but they may also charge you a hefty fee that can be hundreds of dollars.
"I was totally shocked and I couldn't even believe that it happened," said Stephanie Blank of Oakville.
Blank, who cares for her parents, planned a three-day get away in Port Dover, Ont. last month.
When she checked out of the Best Western Little River Inn, she saw an added fee of $187 charged by a third party website.
"I'm a full time caregiver to two parents, one who has cancer and one who has dementia. My full time job has been looking after them for eight years now," said Blank.
Blank said when she checked out of the hotel she was charged for three nights at a cost of $403, a HotelValues.com booking fee of $187 bringing the total to $590.
Blank said she thought when she booked her room online she was dealing directly with the hotel, but she wasn't.
“Little did I realize until after the fact that it wasn't the Best Western I was dealing with it was a third party website, but it was created to look like the Best Western," said Blank.
Blank said when she reached out to the HotelValues.com website she says she couldn't get through to anyone.
"I tried to talk to someone, but no one would come to the phone. All I would get was answering machines," said Blank.
CTV News Toronto emailed HotelValues.com, but the email bounced back. When we called a hotline number we were hung up on twice.
There are negative reviews of the website online and others who have also complained they also thought they were dealing directly with a hotel and not a third party.
Blank said she has learned a lesson and warned others "to be very careful when booking online that you are dealing directly with the hotel and not some third party."
When searching for a hotel don't click on the first link that pops up, only deal with reputable websites that don’t charge added fees and consider calling the hotel directly.
"You don't want to be in a situation like I am when you are completely blindsided and overcharged for your hotel stay," said Blank.
A study in the U.S. found that one of four American travelers say they've been tricked by third party websites.
Not only could you have to pay more in fees, you also might not be able to cancel a room if you change your plans.