Consumer gets double-booked, double-charged

March 4, 2008 9:18:09 PM PST
Millions of us are using online booking services for everything from hotels to airline flights. But if there's a mistake, you could wind up paying for something you didn't want and have a really hard time getting your money back.

Scott Stanton of Willits travels around the world shooting video for documentaries. He likes to arrange is travel online, so he decided to use Travelocity.com to book his trip to China.

"I could've gone to my local travel agent but it would have been a little more expensive and I thought it was more convenient to just sit at home and click and make the reservation," said Stanton.

But when he got to the airport, Stanton got a bit of a shock.

"The clerk at the counter told me that I had two seats on the same plane, both in my name, and I had paid for both of them," said Stanton.

Stanton dropped his bags right there and called Travelocity. The travel agency told him indeed he was double-booked and double-billed even though he was traveling alone.

"They told me that they would take care of it and they would credit my card back and that I didn't have to worry about it," said Stanton.

So Stanton took off for China, worry-free. He captured shots of ancient ruins, tea gardens, and city life in Beijing.

"China is an interesting place with a lot of history and definitely a lot of people and a lot of things going on," said Stanton. "The trip was great. I had a great time."

It was after the trip that the next shock came. His bank statement showed he was charged for two Air China tickets -- $1,079 dollars -- charged twice on his account. A $24 dollar Travelocity booking fee was also charged twice.

"They weren't going to pay me back until Air China paid them back," said Stanton.

Travelocity said it could take up to 90 days for Scott to get his money back, but almost a year went by and still no refund.

"I probably called them close to 100 times," said Stanton. "Somebody told me about 7 On Your Side."

So we got involved and Travelocity said it would get Stanton his refund. But another problem came up. Travelocity would only refund his money by crediting the same debit card Scott used to purchase the airline ticket, and so much time had passed, he no longer had the same debit card account.

"They won't pay me back unless I can work out a way with my bank to get them to be able to credit that original card back," said Stanton.

So 7 On Your Side got involved again. This time, Travelocity did agree to issue him a check. But how did the problem happen?

Travelocity says it does have a system for detecting any double-booked ticket. It was still looking into why the system did not catch Stanton's double-booking. Travelocity said those problems should not arise in the future and the company said it regrets the delay in refunding the money.

If you ever find yourself with two tickets, keep all receipts and both ticket numbers, so you can quickly prove that you didn't buy or use both seats.

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