Hotels.com in Hot Water

Well, it?s about darn time that somebody sued Hotels.com regarding their practices (or non-practices) about reserving accessible rooms. If you are a regular reader of this blog, you know the redhead gets her knickers in a knot every time their name is mentioned.

Basically they take your money in advance, but they treat the need for an accessible room only as a request. Worse yet, the hotel in question really doesn?t have any record of you as a person booking a room (it?s under the hotels.com name) until a day or so before you arrive. So it?s virtually impossible to call and make sure an accessible room is blocked for you (it isn?t). And to add insult to injury, you can?t cancel when you find out how their system really works, because of course, there is a hefty cancellation fee.

Now for all those folks who may be reading this and thinking ?Oh this is just another drain on the court system and the settlement will cost us all money in the end,? I should point out that the plaintiffs (Bonnie Lewkowicz and Judy Smith) are not asking for monetary damages ? they are asking for injunctive relief. In other words they are asking the court to make hotels.com change their policy about booking accessible rooms.

And in the spirit of full disclosure I should say that I know both plaintiffs. Not only do I consider Bonnie a close friend, but Charles and I serve on the Board of Directors of Access Northern California, an organization she founded. I know Judy casually through Bonnie, as a member of AXIS Dance company (and I have totally enjoyed their performances over the years).

In any case, this is definitely a move in the right direction. And I believe it will be a precedent-setting case.

And as I said, it?s about darn time!