The pitfalls you might face when booking through third-party travel sites

DURHAM, NC (WTVD) — Before you book your next hotel, rental car, or even buy tickets, you need to do your research to protect your money. When you purchase or book through a third-party website, it may cost you dearly.

Matt De Caire was trying to book a specific hotel for a friend’s wedding in Durham. When he Googled the name of this hotel, he clicked on the first website he saw and booked the room for the wedding weekend.

Shortly after receiving the email confirmation, realized that it was not on the hotel website. Instead he was on a third party website and he didn’t get the special wedding rate for the room.

On the online confirmation of the reservation, it said “free cancellation”, so he decided to try to cancel his reservation.

“I’m like, ‘OK, cool. I can just cancel this, and I’ll figure it out on my own.’ So I canceled it with no problem; it’s super easy to do,” said De Caire.

However, what De Caire didn’t realize was that even though the cancellation is free, he would still be charged more than $1,200 for the hotel room.

“That’s where I was really confused. It’s like why would you want to cancel something if you weren’t able to get your money back,” he said.

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The reason he couldn’t get his money back is because De Caire booked through a third-party online travel site, not directly through the hotel’s website. If he had booked directly on the hotel’s website, he would have benefited from the hotel’s cancellation policy which is free of charge if you cancel 48 hours in advance.

“Part of what these third-party sites really do is they do a good job of not really putting a lot of branding, making it very generic, making you think you’re on a site that doesn’t may not be specific,” he said. .

Takeaways from the troubleshooter to prevent this from happening to you:

  • Don’t just Google the name and city of a hotel and click on the first website you see. Often, third-party websites pay to be the best choices. Make sure you are on the direct website of the hotel, airline or even rental car.
  • Before you book, read this fine print to see exactly what charges you are responsible for if you cancel, the details are in the fine print.
  • If you’re considering using a third-party travel site, research that company and read reviews to see others’ experiences.

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As for De Caire, he contacted tow truck Diane Wilson and contacted the third-party website he had booked through. He also disputed the charge with his credit card company, and he eventually got his money back.

“I’m just so happy to have my money back. I want others to know that it’s always best to buy direct from the supplier, whether it’s a hotel or food,” did he declare.

Paying with a credit card offers the best protection. Although these third-party travel sites sometimes offer a better deal, you should weigh the risks before you click buy.

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