I did something really stupid last week. We decided to travel to Hawaii over the holidays and only after committing to flights did I think to look for hotel rooms. What I did not know, but that makes perfect sense now that I think about it, is that many people want to go to Hawaii over the holidays. What this also means is that even the typical two-to-three-star hotel was suddenly outrageously expensive. Darn you, economics!
Scrolling through third-party hotel sites, I saw that a very, very nice hotel was available for a price that would normally shock me, but knowing what was available, it made me think I had stumbled on the best deal ever. My heart racing with glee, I clicked “reserve,” not realizing the third-party website had sent me to a fourth-party website. I entered my credit card information and received a confirmation email shortly thereafter. I forwarded the email to my husband, so we both had a copy. About three hours later, my husband sent me a text reading, “Did you happen to look at this hotel confirmation for Hawaii?” I opened the email and saw that what we received was a PDF voucher that was essentially a plain piece of paper with the hotel’s name and address typed at the top and four lines of text in the middle. It read:
Presenting this voucher at check in. Customer paid already for this room.
Customer should no be charged for room.
Goodbye and thanks you.
This was, to say the least, a little disconcerting. I called the hotel—no record of an upcoming stay. I called the company I booked with—they wrote back, “We have forwarded your request to our concern department.” My husband told me to call the credit card company and report the charge. I refused—to call my credit company would be giving up on being able to stay in this hotel. So instead I stayed optimistic.
I communicated with the booking company through its chat function on its website. I was told to “be patient.” I patiently checked in every day. It started to remind me of the news story of the orca whale mom carrying around her dead baby calf for weeks and weeks, because she didn’t want to give up. I had no choice but to be optimistically patient, because the alternative meant giving up on the idea of sleeping in 1,000-thread-count sheets and instead sleeping in tents on the beach.
Sometimes holding onto the slimmest chance feels better than accepting the alternative.