Q: The Comfort Inn & Suites Knoxville West is charging me for two rooms, even though I had a reservation for only one. I need some help getting this sorted out.
I made the booking through Orbitz. When I checked in, a hotel representative claimed I had two rooms reserved. I explained that I had a reservation for only one.
I called Orbitz, and a representative assured me I had a reservation for only one room. But when I checked my American Express statement, I saw that the hotel had charged me for two.
I have been going back and forth with Orbitz and the hotel manager at the Comfort Inn. Orbitz sent me an email that claimed both rooms were used. I contacted the hotel manager and explained that the second room was never occupied.
I have been going back and forth for months. I'm exhausted and do not know what else to do. Do you have any advice?
— Lora Crumb, Branchville, N.J.
A: This should have been sorted out a long time ago by your online travel agency. It may not be immediately clear how your single reservation multiplied, but if Orbitz told you you had only one reservation, it should have ensured that that was the case.
I contacted the hotel, and it insisted that Orbitz sent it two reservations under your name. That could have been a system glitch, or you inadvertently might have pushed the "book" button twice. If you did book twice by mistake, you never received a confirmation of a second booking. It's a mystery.
But I keep coming back to Orbitz's assurances to you that you had just one reservation. You even had that in writing, in your online reservation. And that really should have been sufficient to clear up this entire mess.
Instead, Orbitz and Comfort Inn played ping-pong with $426 of your hard-earned money. Each blamed the other, but no one was willing to refund your money. Comfort Inn might have tried to help, but in the final analysis, it did exactly what it was supposed to: It received two reservations, which it honored. A hotel room is considered a "perishable" commodity — once the day is over, you can't get it back. The hotel received a reservation and believed it would be paid $426.
A brief, polite email to the customer-service managers at Orbitz (owned by Expedia) or Choice Hotels might have moved your case in the right direction. I list their names, numbers and email addresses on my consumer-advocacy site: www.elliott.org/company-contacts/expedia/ and www.elliott.org/company-contacts/choice-hotels-international/.
I contacted Orbitz on your behalf. It refunded your $426.
Christopher Elliott is the ombudsman for National Geographic Traveler magazine and the author of "How to Be the World's Smartest Traveler." You can read more travel tips on his blog, elliott.org, or email him at email@example.com.