Grassley Q&A: Look before you book

Grassley-090507-18363- 0032By Chuck Grassley
United States Senator


Q: What are scam online hotel bookings?

A: As the busy summer travel season gets underway, I’m calling attention to dishonest third-party vendors whose business practices may dupe consumers booking hotel reservations online. Consumer rip-offs are as old as time. In this case, scammers are targeting busy travelers eager to get a good deal for their money. Unfortunately, hurried consumers who may think they are getting a steal on a hotel booking instead may be getting a raw deal. It appears that some disreputable third-party hotel booking services may be creating websites that look like those of popular hotel chains, and may confuse consumers into thinking they are actually booking a room directly with their hotel of choice.

In May I wrote a letter to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) asking the agency to look into these misleading business practices that trick consumers and may put their personal information at risk. Millions of online hotel reservations are made in the United States each year. Healthy competition in the marketplace helps drive value and convenience for consumers. To keep things fair and square, consumers have a right to know with whom they are doing business. So, I’ve asked the FTC to look into online booking services to make sure certain third-party websites aren’t bilking consumers with deceptive practices. We live in a consumer-driven economy. Hard-working families paying good money for goods and services keep our economy humming. Bad actors who rig the system using bad business practices at the consumer’s expense need to be exposed. Getting the word out about rogue third-party hotel booking sites will help consumers become savvier customers.


Q: What do consumers who book hotel reservations online need to know?

A: The good news is that the FTC has agreed to check into the deceptive practices by online purveyors misrepresenting the hotel, hospitality and travel industry. Fake sites tarnish both legitimate hotel chain and third-party online booking sites that help consumers save time and money on their travel expenses. Keep in mind a time-tested rule of thumb. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Consumer watchdogs and security experts advise customers to use a watchful eye when booking online. The Better Business Bureau has released a scam alert and has some good tips for consumers. Look before you book. Check for grammatical, spelling and punctuation errors. Avoid sites you aren’t familiar with and don’t click the link of an unsolicited deal. When it comes to spending your hard-earned money and typing in your personal information online, trust your instincts. Exercise sensible reservations before booking your online hotel reservations. It’s better to be safe than sorry.