Is it a simple mistake or is it fraud when a hotel restaurant manager runs a new inflated unauthorized charge for a hotel restaurant meal?
Here are the basic facts:
I am a frequent guest at this hotel. Personnel know me and I am always greeted warmly and by name. The same goes for the restaurant staff. When we go to this hotel, we usually have dinner at the hotel restaurant.
I have the highest status at this hotel chain.
Won’t Run and I stayed at the hotel last weekend. We went to the restaurant. We were greeted by the manager. After the meal, the waitress brought the bill for $59.95. Won’t Run added a $9 tip and charged it to his credit card. Everything seemed fine.
One week later, this past Saturday, Won’t Run was looking at the charges on his credit card and saw a charge from this hotel for $92. He was perplexed. He found the receipt in his pocket for $59.95 plus $9 gratuity and showed it to me.
I immediately phoned the hotel. I asked for the hotel manager but only got a voicemail. I called back and asked for the restaurant manager. He remembered me and said he remembered seeing me on Saturday evening. When I asked about the credit card charge, he quickly said that he changed the charge because the waitress had given us the entirely wrong bill. He noted my phone number and said he’d call me back in a little while. He didn’t call back Saturday or Sunday. It is now 3 p.m. on Monday and still no call. In the interim, I phoned the hotel manager this morning, and left a message on his voicemail, but have not heard anything back.
Won’t Run has the receipt which itemizes our bill. It is correct. Entirely correct. Contrary to what the manager said, Won’t Run paid the right bill.
So what happened?
Could this be a simple mistake by the hotel manager? I would hope so, but I’m troubled by the following facts:
- First, changing a charge by more than $25 without the cardholder’s permission is not right (and is perhaps illegal or fraudulent).
- Second, the restaurant manager knew us, and knew I was staying at the hotel that night. If he really believed there was an issue, why didn’t he have the hotel contact me?
- Third, why hasn’t the restaurant manager or the hotel manager returned my call?
- Fourth, nothing makes sense.
All of the above circumstances leave me to wonder whether this is more than just an isolated incident. I have now spent three days worried and upset by this scenario. I have learned that there is a two step process in charging credit cards at restaurants. First, there is the bill itself, then later the gratuity is added. According to the credit card company, the first charge for $59.95 was made at 10 pm, and the second charge, which should have been for $68.95 (i.e., $59.95 plus $9 gratuity), was instead for $92. This was made at 10:40 pm. Again, why didn’t the restaurant just call up to my room?
You have to understand. This is one of my go-to local hotels. I feel so awful about this.
Clearly, Won’t Run can report this to his credit card company, and will not have to pay the amount up-charged by the hotel restaurant manager.
But what more can and should be done? Sure $25 isn’t much, but it can add up if done repeatedly. At a minimum, I think the hotel should open an investigation and review the prior charges at the restaurant for similar inconsistencies.
I have so many more questions. I like to give others the benefit of the doubt and don’t want to jump to conclusions, but simultaneously I worry that we were taken advantage of or even victimized.
What do you think?
(one further note: on Saturday, I did phone the corporate office of the hotel to explore the issues. At the time, we decided that corporate should hold off doing anything until I contacted the restaurant manager and/or the local hotel general manager. I guess it is now appropriate to involve the corporate office).