A Warning About Reservations.Com

It’s summer, and lots of us take trips during the summer. We also avail ourselves of the convenience of the Internet to make reservations. I love doing these tasks online–but an experience my husband and I had recently is an example of convenience’s downside.

We have driven to our timeshare in South Carolina for years, and we have a favorite stopping place along the way: Newberry, South Carolina. It’s a charming little town with a historic Opera House and a couple of good restaurants. For the past several years, we’ve stayed at a Hampton Inn that’s in the walkable middle of the town.

This year, my husband went online to make reservations for two rooms–one for us, one for my older son, who will be with us. The emailed confirmation showed just one room, so he called to correct it. Evidently, Hampton no longer has its own reservation system; he was connected to (misnamed) customer service at Reservations. Com. After a lengthy discussion with someone for whom English was clearly not the native language, he was assured that the reservation had been corrected.

We then received an email confirmation (still for one room, but showing 3 adults instead of two)–and a second confirmation for a Holiday Inn in Ardmore, Oklahoma. 

Neither of us has ever heard of Ardmore, Oklahoma, let alone had any desire to visit there. The confirmation said our credit card had already been charged and the amount was unrefundable.

If that wasn’t sufficiently surreal, the telephone conversation between my husband and the individual at Reservations.com who answered his call was even more so. The man kept saying the reservation couldn’t be cancelled, and my husband kept saying (eventually, shouting) that we’d never made it. The closest we got to a resolution was the agent saying that he would “look into it” and if it turned out the charge was their mistake, it would be refunded.

Our next call was to our credit card company, to determine the process for disputing a charge.

Thanks to Trump, I’m mad all the time anyway, and I decided that I would write an “extra” blog post to alert readers to what was probably simple incompetence, but in the alternative, might also be a scam. Perhaps most people examine their credit card statements more closely than we do, but I wonder how many people have paid for a room they never reserved without catching the problem.

It turns out to be impossible to contact the Hampton Inn directly. Their phone goes directly to Reservations.com, and their website has no email contact listed. Anyone needing to speak to one particular hotel in the chain to resolve an issue is out of luck.

I don’t know what Reservations.com considers “customer service,” but I would warn against using them whenever possible. We had two phone calls with them: the first handled by someone with great difficulty communicating (and communicating, presumably, was the job description); and the second with a defensive asshole. (Excuse the terminology, but nothing else seems accurate.)

If anyone from Hampton Inn (or Hilton, the parent company) is reading this–you have a BIG PROBLEM. Sometimes, outsourcing is definitely NOT a good idea.


  1. Thanks for posting this. Hampton Inn is obviously not into “buying American” or being concerned about the customer experience.

    Have a meaningful Fourth.

  2. I found this phone number for the Newberry Hampton Inn in the online yellow pages. Since it’s different from the one on their web site, it might actually get you to the hotel itself (803) 276-6666 .

  3. A search on reviews for Reservations.com would indicate that it is not a legitimate business. Hampton Inns are under the Hilton umbrella; best bet is to book through the Hilton website (Hilton.com). And it will get you the best rate.

  4. It’s becoming one “gigantic mess.” Think positively. You’re lucky it was just for one room and not for a longer stay. Happy Fourth of July!!

  5. What I see happening, and it’s easy to get caught, is that when you type in Hampton Inn to search, you get a variety of links. It’s easy to inadvertently click on one that’s a third-party seller! You have to make sure you are going to the official Hampton Inn site, not a place like Reservations.com or Tripadvisor.com, etc.

  6. I had a similar experience using Agoda to book a room in Henderson, NV for a trade show. It was a Comfort Inn and Suites and we eventually were able to get things corrected but not before spending a lot of time on hold and energy re-telling our story to multiple individuals. As suggested above, using the branded web site may cost a few dollars more but in the end it is well worth it.

    The fortunate thing was, we had a terrific experience the entire week were were guests. The hotel personnel were outstanding and most accommodating, so any ill will I may have gen’d up was due completely to my own mistake in choosing the wrong way to make a reservation.

  7. This is incorrect. You can certainly speak to a front desk at any hotel. I can’t speak as to how grand the experience will be, but if you are booking direct there is a front desk line available. Don’t go through the automated to reach reservations, just get to the operator. (I’m not as familiar with Hilton as I am with Marriott, but I know booking directly through their website allows you direct access) Reservations.com is a weird 3rd party pop-up.

  8. I ran into similar problems using Trivago. I booked through Trivago, but found it was actually booked through a third party. That service went out of business. Trivago wasn’t much help, and I’m now working with my bank, trying to get my money back. It’s not looking promising.

    I’ve reached the point where it’s going to be book with the hotel directly.

  9. Consider the possibility that this Hampton is a franchise (as many of them are) and that the franchisee decided to use this on-line system which might be owned by his wife’s brother’s third cousin back in the homeland.

  10. We were on the Hotel’s own website, and called the number listed on that website. Reservations.com answered that telephone. I can only assume the chain has outsourced its reservation service.

  11. Also a mess with Agoda booking a room in Boston. Non-refundable, which was fine, but they booked the wrong place! They fixed it but I wasted an hour on the phone. Normally I stay at Intercontinental/Holiday Inn (IHG), and they are fantastic.

  12. So sorry you had to go through this aggravation, but thank you for sharing it with us. Hope some sort of restitution will be made to make up for your inconvenience.

  13. Trivago, Orbitz, hotels.com. those are reliable and rated by the better business bureau. They have customer dispute resolution departments and such.

  14. First, there is some comfort knowing that I’m not the only one furious from morning to night because of you know who. I was alarmed about this Hampton Inn report. I’ve always stayed at the Hampton Inn in Wilmington, NC and the service has always been so good that they are like family. And I’ve always made my reservations directly. So I wanted to check this out. I googled and only saw the 800 number. I insisted they give me the local number. I called directly and the manager said that Hampton is spending 75 million to fight this. You have to be very very careful when you google. If you see “Ad” anywhere, it’s not the real Hampton site. He said they are getting more and more sophisticated in their efforts to make you think you are at the Hampton website. Never call an 800 number and make sure you are talking to the reservation desk of the Hampton where you want to stay. So Hampton hasn’t outsource, they are being hijacked. I’ve always had a good experience with Hampton Inns so I was relieved to learn that they are as upset as anyone about this.

  15. Great heads up Prof Kennedy. Using a VPN on your computer stops last second price increase scams.

  16. If you’re truly at the hotel’s own web site, the URL will start out with hilton.com and then go on from there. The ads and sponsored links in Google results make it hard to figure out where the legitimate sites are.

  17. Ardmore, Oklahoma isn’t bad. They have a really nice golf course in the Lake Murray State Park. And there is a bit of historical significance to Texas. It’s where the Texas Democratic State representatives hid out in 1993 to avoid voting on redistricting, thus denying the Republicans a quorum. Malcolm Gladwell talks about it his podcast, Revisionist History, season 3, episode 1, Divide and Conquer.

  18. Not to mention that there is apparently a gadget out there that can scan your credit card chip & get all of its info while it’s in your pocket and without you being aware of it. I was recently charged $199 by an Executive Sporting Goods company in Brooklyn. When I Googled the address and looked for an image of the place it looked like the back yard to a warehouse. I called American Express who immediately closed my account and issued me a new card. They also refunded the $199. The problem is, I hadn’t gone out of my house the day the charge was made.!! Now, I check my account on-line every day. And I’m going to invest in one of the case protectors.

    Sheila, hope you have a great vacation at the beach here in SC– assume that’s where you are headed. 🙂

  19. Go to the hospital or rehab center, get decent food , help if you need it at a rehab, you get plenty of physical exercise.

  20. being on the road,i get my CC statement put in front of me by my loving wife( yes i have a very cool wife) i read it. i find visa will change it,proper process etc. not many. but,if your like the above situtation, ask for the supervisor,get a name. and start over,or, change hotels. if the company will not accept a call, obviously.profit over customers needs. my needs, do you have truck parking,and is it viewed fromthe room i will be assigned? if thier in bumtowneast,anywhere. they can not,answer that question. the lot may be filled,too soft for my trucks weight,or,closed. i also dont tollerate cc purchses where i can not,talk to a sales rep. again, if the buisness is so intuned to tune you out,tell em, and leave.. lately ive been taken back by restaurant ethics,( not mine,work staff) im a long time dinner,i do,and will, look for the best when it comes to food. its my vise to. im polite,clean,and damn sure pay with cash,especially the tip. i called a local ,(to bismarcks standards,) a posh eatery. sat nite,wife in tow,(our time out) We just wanted to see how the crowd was,wait time etc… seems the only way to contact them was online,seriously,online? GFY….besides,last time i was there, the waiter assured me they clean the ice tea pot,at least once a week… others, like here,seem to all have a truckstop mentallity,thats the way its served,waited on,or given…..kinda like buisness today,given,wither you like it or not… sure teaches others how to act…and sure tells the customer,leave your wallet at the door,we’ll take of that!

  21. SK: “After a lengthy discussion with someone for whom English was clearly not the native language ”

    Everyone’s a globalist until……

    I’m surprised no one blamed “The Russians™”

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