How am I being scammed? (or am I?)
November 3, 2020 7:58 AM   Subscribe

I got an email confirming a 5day reservation to a motel I've stayed at before out of state. I did not make this reservation. When I called them, they said it has been pre-paid thru Expedia...

I got an email confirming a 5day reservation to a motel I've stayed at before out of state. I did not make this reservation. When I called them, they said it had been pre-paid thru Expedia. I checked Expedia and do not see this reservation anywhere (nor have I made hotel reservations thru Expedia). I have used in the past and I think they are owned by Expedia -- I checked them and while I saw previous reservations I have made, I don't see this one.

I've checked my credit cards and don't see any charges. I'll keep checking them and dispute any charges, but I'm baffled.

Any idea of what happened?
posted by elmay to Travel & Transportation (15 answers total)
If I got an email like this, I would assume it was meant for one of my several name-doppelgangers who confuse my email address ( for their email address.
posted by BungaDunga at 8:04 AM on November 3, 2020 [16 favorites]

That is, I'd assume that Bunga S Dunga had booked a hotel room for themselves, and accidentally gave the hotel my email address. No harm done.
posted by BungaDunga at 8:05 AM on November 3, 2020

IME, some dingbat doesn't know their own email address, and gave them yours rather than their own very similar address. Happens to me all the time. In the beginning I tried to correct things, now I just give up and ignore 'em.

Just ignore it.
posted by aramaic at 8:05 AM on November 3, 2020 [5 favorites]

I'm suspecting a scam. Yes, it's possible that there was a mix-up with email addresses, but I think it's unlikely. It would be a pretty big coincidence that you have previously stayed at this same motel, and some other random person on the Internet (a person with a similar email address) happened to make a reservation at the very same motel.
posted by alex1965 at 8:08 AM on November 3, 2020 [3 favorites]

(oh, I missed that detail. Yes, that does somewhat change the calculus...)
posted by BungaDunga at 8:13 AM on November 3, 2020 is not owned by Expedia, they are competitors, so that wouldn’t make sense as an explanation.
posted by vanitas at 8:16 AM on November 3, 2020

The reservation is, indeed, in my name. Thanks!
posted by elmay at 8:19 AM on November 3, 2020

Depending on the size of the motel and the state of their systems there may be a manual step in-between getting the reservation from Expedia/ 3rd-Party booking system and then entering that into their own systems. Someone doing this could have mistakes the new reservation/ person with an existing person in their systems.
posted by zeikka at 8:27 AM on November 3, 2020 [3 favorites]

Is the email address you received the confirmation to the exact same one as you use for Expedia? If not, it could be the email address confusion as suggested above. If you have an Gmail address, then note that what can look like different email address are actually the same as Gmail ignores any periods in a username, for example
are technically different email addresses, and a lot of sites will let them both be registered for separate accounts, but Gmail will treat them as the same and route e.xample@ and e.x.a.mple@ and examp.l.e@ and so on to example@.
So, if your email address is your name, it could be you and this other person have the same names, and you have elmay@gmail and the other person mistakenly put in el.may@gmail, which Expedia allowed as a different email address, but to Gmail they're the same.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 8:39 AM on November 3, 2020 [1 favorite]

If you don't have any charge to your credit card, it's not a big deal. Someone typed in the wrong email address. Just move along and keep and eye on your credit card.
posted by BlahLaLa at 8:43 AM on November 3, 2020 [2 favorites]

Given that Expedia offers verified reviews, I wonder if this is an example of Brushing coming to the services industry? That is pure speculation, though.
posted by jacquilynne at 9:09 AM on November 3, 2020 [3 favorites]

When you spoke to the hotel, did you ask them to call the phone number they have associated with the reservation to try to sort things out? That would be one way to ascertain whether it was just an innocent mistake made by someone who has the same name as you. I'm pretty sure they wouldn't be willing to give you that person's phone number, but they ought to be willing to call the phone number and clarify things with the person who ostensibly made that reservation.

If they call that number and they aren't able to get any clarity (i.e., the number they have isn't valid or something, or they end up calling YOU), then maybe just cancel the reservation and keep an eye on your credit card.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:17 AM on November 3, 2020 [4 favorites]

The email came from the motel and not expedia? Is the motel part of a larger chain or franchise, like a Holiday Inn or La Quinta, or is it unaffiliated with a chain or otherwise likely to be ran independently? Franchise hotels and larger resorts and the like will get have Expedia and other major third party vendors access their reservation system directly, where the hotel generally does not have to take any reservation information on their own up until the time of check in. It's all done via Expedia, so any error would have to be on their end. other than potentially a same day, immediate check in reservation where the info might be faxed over if the day of sale reservations were already closed to Expedia.

A smaller motel or independently operated one is less likely to have Expedia access their reservation system directly, so they would be getting faxes or calls about new reservations the motel clerks would then have to enter manually. That would be a possible scenario for an error like yours, where the clerk typed a similar name and selected a past history reservation under your name to fill out the info.

If it isn't that, a scam is kinda hard to figure with the info provided as, while there certainly are ample cases of fraudulent or stolen credit cards used to make third party reservations, it seems unlikely that it would be at a hotel you stayed at before and no charge would show up on your card. Expedia would be the one to contact if you are really worried about it, they'll be liable for the charge to the hotel if the reservation is used and it was made fraudulently and they're the ones who would have the info on the reservation, if the hotel just received it via Expedia entering it into their system.
posted by gusottertrout at 11:25 AM on November 3, 2020

Oh, another possibility is that during your previous stay at the motel, your email address was mistakenly added to a different guests reservation, so they notified you instead of that repeat guest.
posted by gusottertrout at 11:30 AM on November 3, 2020 [1 favorite]

I don't see any charges on my credit cards and I'm recovering from knee surgery, so I am not going to try to solve the mystery. I think gusottertrout is probably right -- that somehow the one and only time I stayed here, my record got conflated with someone else's record. EmpressCallipygos had a good idea, and if I was being charged or if this happened again, I would definitely give it a try. And BlahLaLa's solution is what I ended up going with.

Thank you everyone for your suggestions!
posted by elmay at 4:06 PM on November 9, 2020

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