Eclipse Scam? Hotels Canceling Reservations and then Charging Higher Rates

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Some people who booked hotel rooms for this summer’s solar eclipse are suddenly finding themselves with cancelled reservations and little hope for rebooking.

The total solar eclipse coming August 21, 2017 will be the first one in the US since 1979. A total solar eclipse means that the moon completely blocks out the sun, and is a special event especially for photographers and astronomers.

Viewers will flock to Lincoln Beach and Depoe Bay in Oregon to witness the eclipse, as those locations will be first and closest to the action. The eclipse shadow will touch down at 10:15am on August 21, and the sun will be totally blocked for almost a full 2 minutes for those in Depoe Bay/Lincoln Beach. The moon’s shadow will then cross diagonally through Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas, Iowa, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina. Click here to read more about the eclipse’s path in the different states.

Since Portland and Eugene are not in the path of totality, hotels closest to where the eclipse will be in Oregin have been booking up quietly over the past few years (yes, years!).

Smart would-be visitors firmed up their plans and snagged reasonably priced hotel rooms a year ago. Unfortunately, multiple media outlets are reporting that hotels in the area are being accused of canceling reservations and then charging higher prices.

In anticipation of the eclipse raising hotel prices, Steven Addams booked a hotel room about a year ago for the Quality Suites in Keizer, about an hour and a half away from Depoe Bay in Oregon. He received a confirmation, and his price was a reasonable $135.

After reading news recently about increased hotel bookings, he phoned the hotel just to make sure all was set for his stay. The hotel reportedly said that his booking was cancelled and that there had been a “computer glitch”.

The hotel went on to say that they were currently oversold, and were in the process of canceling reservations. He was not rebooked or given any alternatives by the hotel, and said that after looking online and finding $1,000 a night rates he is trying to figure out his best move.

Doing a quick search on Hotels.com for the date of August 20, 2017, the Quality Suites location Mr. Addams mentioned booking indeed shows no availability.

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Looking on around on other sites, a hotel can occasionally be found for the area with a reasonable price under $250, but when clicking through to make the booking it quickly changes and disappears or skyrockets in price.

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There are hotels showing availability for $1,000 a night. Mind you, these aren’t five-star high-end luxury properties either, but simple hotels and motels that seem to be capitalizing on the coming event.

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Properties booked through Expedia are also being called out by those who booked and received confirmations only to hear that their bookings have been suddenly cancelled. Expedia is pointing the finger at hotels and hotels pointing the finger at Expedia as to who is responsible for the cancellation mess. Meanwhile, rates are too outrageous for most guests to rebook.

One of the properties showing available for $1,000 is the Liberty Inn, which is mentioned in KGW’s article. Julie Taylor reportedly booked her hotel stay there for prime eclipse viewing. In early February she contacted the hotel, and was told that her booking had been cancelled and she’d need to make a new one at the much MUCH higher rate!

Are these cases of computer glitches and incorrectly made bookings by guests, or signs of a deceptive practice by the hotels?

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It is certainly within a hotel’s rights to charge the high prices that we are seeing around the eclipse, and many hotels do the same thing around popular sporting events such as SuperBowl.

However, if a hotel advertises a rate and someone books at that rate, only to have the hotel raise the rate afterwards and ask someone to rebook at the higher amount, it is wrong and deceptive.

I do not have a law background nor all the details for all the bookings but it certainly appears that something fishy is going on.

In Mr. Addam’s situation, if there really was a “computer glitch” that caused all of the reservations for a particular date to be erroneously cancelled, the hotel should have honored the previous rate and rebooked the guests immediately upon discovering the error.

I find it hard to believe that the “glitch” just so happened to be for the one date where rates skyrocketed at all properties in the area, and even harder to believe that when the hotel realized that there was a “glitch”, they were already completely full. Plus, if there were no more rooms available at the property, the hotel should have rebooked guests with confirmed reservations at a nearby suitable property.

In Ms. Taylor’s situation, since the property still has rooms available albeit at a higher price, they should honor the rate she was originally confirmed for.

If you have a confirmed Oregon hotel reservation for a property during the eclipse this summer, it is advised that you call the hotel to make sure your reservation is intact.

If not and the hotel is unwilling to reconfirm you at your original rate or offer a reasonable alternative, you can join others in submitting a complaint form to: www.oregonconsumer.gov

What do you think about these eclipse hotel booking cancellations? Legitimate cancellations, or hotel shenanigans?

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  1. Tom
    Reply

    I think you could sue under Oregon law, but is it worth it? This is perfect class action material.

    • Melinda
      Reply

      I think so too Tom, but you called it – lawsuits often take time and money. Looks like a group of the aggrieved have found each other via one hotel’s Facebook page so we may hear more on this story yet.

      If I was a photographer that booked a hotel a year ago to see the eclipse only to be told my reservation was cancelled, and was only given the option for $1000 a night accommodations instead…some action would definitely be in order. I hope we see a happy ending to this story!

  2. Chris Jensen
    Reply

    I think it would be worth suing them. Drag them through the mud, and make them pay for an attorney, the new cost of the room you had to buy, the original room cost, attorney fees, and of course the ubiquitous pain & suffering. And of course make sure it hits the press.

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