Scam: Hotel Takes Reservations For Closed Property, Moves Guests To Cheaper One With No Refund

During the pandemic the Le Meridien and Sheraton in the same complex in Charlotte were both selling rooms, even though only the Le Meridien was open.

That’s where everyone stayed, but by marketing both properties they were able to pick up business at both price points (without lowering prices at the Le Meridien). It was a clever exercise in price discrimination, and guests wound up either with what they booked (Le Meridien) or something better than what they’d booked (Le Meridien > Sheraton). And they were in basically the same location.

If you’re going to do it – and it is deceptive – make sure your customers aren’t being bait-and-switched for something worse. That’s the lesson hotel owners in Michigan are receiving from the law after they did essentially the same thing as these Charlotte Marriotts, only in reverse.

Here the better hotel was closed and customers were being moved to lesser accommodations in the family’s 20+ properties.

The Attorney General’s office cites complaints that typically go like this: customers book rooms at a hotel with vacancy. They get a confirmation saying they’re all set. Then they arrive at the hotel they booked, and it’s closed. There’s a sign on the door redirecting them to another hotel that’s open, typically Hamilton Inn Select. They go there. And then – it’s a bit of an oversimplification – but there’s usually a tussle where the customer says they’re not getting what they paid for and the hotel worker says it’s too late to cancel and refuses a refund.

The owner of the hotels appears to have also set up a website for an ‘Official Mackinaw City Chamber Of Tourism’ (which as far as I can tell isn’t a thing, let alone an official thing) to steer searches to their hotels to the exclusion of other properties. And even though you may never have visited Mackinaw City, Michigan or plan to you probably heard of them…

Video went viral last May when this group kicked a “Dumb Democrat” out of the Crown Choice Inn & Suites in Mackinaw City after she complains about flooding in her room.

You rented the room, it’s your bathroom now. You’re responsible for the room. Stop being an indiot…Stop being a dumb Democrat. Now go to your room, pack your stuff and leave.

The manager, part of the family that owns these hotels, kicked her out of the hotel, saying he’d charge for the room and for damage.

The convenient thing about the ‘Mackinaw City Chamger Of Tourism’ website is that it conveniently groups the properties I’d recommend against staying at in that town.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Are you sure that the customer did not flood the bathroom themselves? If the hotel is talking about charging for damages it seems to imply that the customer caused the flooding.

  2. I flooded my bathroom at an upscale New York City hotel and it was taken care of without one word exchanged or fee imposed. This is what hospitality looks like. I did not flood the bathroom on purpose, obviously. There was a design flaw by the shower.

    These Michigan hotel owners are shameful nutjobs who ought to be executed by the state. Capital punishment is underutilized. What good do these hotel owners do for the world? Nothing. What bad do they do? A lot. Is the world over burdened by people consuming non renewable resources? Yes. So why should demonstrably negative people be permitted to continue living?

  3. We stay in Mackinaw City every couple of years. I just added these hotels to my DO NOT STAY list.

    Shame on them! I hope the AG cleans their clock with BIG TIME fines & penalties. Can they be prosecuted criminally?

  4. Leave it to the Patel’s to pull these tricks
    You destroy one of their rooms to the core and then they learn the lesson

  5. I turned on the shower at a Weston in Wenzhou China. Got a call and forgot about the shower for about an hour. Water was coming up the glass of the sliding window out the the balcony where I was after an hour. Hotels responsibility to make sure the drains work. The floor was deformed on the shower floor. Almost like they had to jackhammer the floor out to mess with the pipes at some point before.

  6. Dustin Evans said:

    I turned on the shower at a Weston in Wenzhou China. Got a call and forgot about the shower for about an hour.

    That’s negligent. Dustin Evans deserves to be killed.

  7. First generation Indian-American said:

    Leave it to the Dougs to post ignorant comments like this.

    Doug is right. Patel families own an outsize share of downmarket American hotels.

  8. The sweetest of deals during the height of the pandemic was both Ritz-Carlton New Orleans and the Courtyard New Orleans French Quarter were selling rooms yet only the Ritz-Carlton was open. Yes one could pay the Courtyard rate for a stay at the Ritz-Carlton!

  9. I love the review rating of these properties on the family’s fake website:
    “We welcome your reviews. We do have some rules. This site is restricted to reviews that involve the hotel visitors’ experiences from email surveys sent to guests. We verify that the reviewer has stayed at the hotel and any details described before posting the review. Reviews from people whose hotel stays cannot be verified are not posted. We also do not post reviews that include personal attacks, defamatory language or offensive and abusive language. This site is restricted to reviews collected by the Mackinaw City Chamber of Tourism. “

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