Target 8 Investigation: Woman Accuses Tiger Hotel of Bait and Switch

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COLUMBIA - A Target 8 Investigation shows a local hotel tried to double the rate it wants to charge one woman who made reservations for an SEC football game months in advance.

Kennett, Missouri resident Tina Brown booked a room January 19 at the Tiger Hotel in Columbia for homecoming weekend, October 26 and 27. Brown said she made reservations at the hotel in January for Missouri's homecoming football game in October to avoid a sell-out.

"We knew the Tiger Hotel was opening. We went on-line to find out when they're gonna start taking reservations," Brown said. "We found out they were so we went ahead and booked it and I put it out of my mind."

An email from the Tiger Hotel confirms Brown booked one room at $149 a night for two nights at the hotel. The total after tax was $331.82.

Two months later, in March, Brown received an email from the hotel saying, in part, the hotel had trouble processing her credit card in January and it would then be charging her card the $331.82 for the room.

But that wasn't a problem for Brown. The real problem began in July when Brown says Tiger Hotel officials called her asking for more money for the room. The hotel said its third party booking agency booked Brown's room at the wrong rate. The caller told Brown she would now have to pay double - $600 for the weekend - or find another place to stay.

"And I don't hear anything 'til the last week of July? To tell me I'm gonna have to pay double. I'm gonna have to do all this. And I have done nothing wrong," she said.

KOMU 8 News reached out to hotel management all week long but they refused an interview. The hotel did eventually send a written statement to the KOMU newsroom, saying: "A recent room audit did uncover a third party booking system error that caused one room type to be oversold. We responded immediately upon discovering the issue and were able to secure overflow rooms at similar high-quality hotels in Columbia, Mo. We offered hotel guests the option to take an upgraded room at the Tiger Hotel or use the lodging secured for them at other local hotels. Ms. Tina Brown was given both of these options and declined both offers. Although she chose not to confirm the reservation we secured for her at another hotel, we are still holding a room for her at The Tiger and continue to wait for her decision. At this time, we are certain this is a very limited situation, with less than 5 guests being affected. Precautionary steps have been made to ensure this does not happen again."

What the statement does not answer is why the hotel would not honor the original rate it promised. The Missouri Attorney General's office said the hotel is legally bound to do that and that the confirmation is a binding legal contract.

Mike Odneal is the mid-Missouri branch manager of the Better Business Bureau and he said ethically, it's bad business.

"Typically customers are told when they sign a contract they're held to it by a business. We expect that same contract to be held vice-versa," Odneal said.

"When you've made a mistake as a business, I don't care if it's the Tiger Hotel or whoever, you assume the customer is right," Brown said. "Whether you agree with it or not, you take care of it. You don't alienate the customer."

What began as a weekend getaway has turned into a major headache for Brown because having a football ticket in hand doesn't seem to matter when your hotel raises its rates.

Brown isn't alone. We spoke with one Georgia fan in town for the football game who said Tiger Hotel management called him three weeks ago about the price change. He said his weekend stay in Columbia is costing almost $700.

If you have a similar problem with the Tiger Hotel or other hotel, the Attorney General's Office encourages you to file a complaint and its department will investigate your claims.