Answer: Best Western should have refunded the extra $71 immediately. Come to think of it, the hotel should have never double-billed you.
Why did it charge you for two nights? There’s no telling. Hotel billing systems and the people who operate them routinely make errors, which is why it’s so important to check your credit card after your stay. Or, in your case, your Visa Check Card. Waiting a few weeks made it more difficult to resolve this case.
To avoid this, you might have asked a simple question when you checked out: Are you charging the card I used to make this reservation?
If the answer is “yes” then you could have fixed the problem right then and there.
A few weeks later, your best bet would have been to contact Best Western corporate by e-mail. It appears some of your contact with the hotel chain was by phone and fax, which isn’t the most efficient way of communicating with any travel company in 2009. Convenient, yes. But not efficient.
E-mailing your request to Best Western sets off a whole chain of events behind the scenes. Your e-mail gets an automatic response, it’s tracked, and both the corporate customer service department and the hotel can be involved in a resolution.
Your back-and-forth with Best Western wasted a lot of time. So much time that the 60 days within which you can normally dispute a card charge had passed, leaving you at the mercy of Best Western. You had a reference number, but no resolution.
I contacted the hotel on your behalf. It reviewed your case and found that although a file had been opened, Best Western couldn’t get in touch with you. The hotel had no record of your second billing, was trying to reach your bank, and couldn’t contact you for some reason. “After not hearing back from Mrs. Williams following two tries, the file was moved to inactive status,” a Best Western spokesman told me.
I sent the company your contact information, and it sent you a check for $106, which covers the extra night and overdraft fees.