YOU ASK. WE INVESTIGATE: Woman Claims Motel Ripped Her Off
Photo: Video by kmir6.com
CREATED Sep. 19, 2013
PALM SPRINGS - Valley resident, Tina Diamond, posted an advertisement on Craigslist listing half her house for rent.
"I found a renter and interviewed him and he came in, paid me and stayed one night," said Diamond, "And then he asked me to leave my own house."
That's how it all started for Diamond. She felt something wasn't right with her new tenant and gave him back all his money and even offered to pay for a hotel room for him, so that he could have time "to relocate." He agreed.
Diamond then booked the renter two nights at the Royal Sun Inn in Palm Springs.
"I told the front desk two nights only, no room charges, no phone, no food please and they said they don't have food no problem. I said terrific thank you, so I registered my credit card, my name and signed the receipt for the two nights and paid upfront with the card," shared Diamond.
Two weeks later, she went to the bank and found a series of charges by the Royal Sun Inn. The hotel charged her credit card for 11 additional nights, which she said she never authorized. The total fees were $940, including the two nights she originally booked.
"The hotel has my card number. The man that stayed at the hotel that's asking to stay there should have been turned down by the front desk," said Diamond, adding that the hotel should have contacted her to approve this extended stay.
According to the hotel's manager, Abby Ravl, employees do not verify the person's identity who is requesting the additional nights because in the original booking, the cardholder gives a "credit card authorization." To him, this translates as unlimited use.
Sergeant Harvey Reed from the Palm Springs Police Department said there is no clear answer on who is responsible.
"Here is where it can get complicated. If the hotel called the credit card company for each night that each time was extended and got authorization, then the hotel may have a legitimate claim by saying you know what we called ahead of time," said Sgt. Reed.
However, the hotel didn't do that. Ravl said it is not in their policy to call the cardholder's credit card company to authorize a transaction, unless there is an error with it.
He added that he offered to reimburse Diamond half the money they billed her, but she refused to take it saying that is not enough.
"Don't bill people for charges that they don't use. It's fraudulent behavior. You want to trust the hotels in town. We want a good Palm Springs," said Diamond.
Sgt. Reed said that if you find yourself in a similar situation, the first step is to contact your credit card company and dispute the charges in question to claim credit card fraud.
A representative from the American Hotel and Lodging Association shared that most hotels will go ahead and extend a stay after a request, but they will ask the person to come to the front desk and verify his or her identity. She added that at some point in time, a cardholder has to re-sign for the additional nights; however, this all depends on the hotel's policies.