12 On Your Side: $714 for one night stay at hotel during Augusta's ice storm?

News 12 at 6 o'clock / Feb. 19, 2014

THOMSON, Ga. (WRDW) Willie Jones is not stranger to staying in a hotel. So when last week's massive ice storm left Jones in the dark he says his daughter tried to find him shelter at a local hotel.

We asked him what the price for one night was and he replied, "$714. Yes, you read right."

Jones' daughter took a screenshot from the website Hotels.com showing the Scottish Inns on Washington Road in Thomson charging $714 on Friday February 14. That is about twice as much as a night at the Ritz-Carlton in downtown New York City where we found a room going for $269.

"What my daughter told me was that in a state of emergency that it was gouging regardless if they had regulations on them or not," said Jones. Prior to the storm Georgia Governor Nathan Deal declared a state of emergency prohibiting price gouging on propane.

According to Georgia law, "the governor must identify the specific goods and service to which the "pricing gouging" law applies." In this case, it was just propane, not hotels. We stopped by the Scottish Inns looking for answers.

We asked owner Chad Patel why his hotel was charging $714 per night. "Actually we were not charging that. They made a mistake, it was $71," said Patel.

He sais Hotels.com is responsible for the error in pricing on its website. Patel said the representative he spoke with at Hotels.com accidentally added an extra digit.

"I can show you my records if I had charged them $714, I will give them three rooms for free," said Patel. He provided On Your Side a guest list for all 59 rooms dated February 14 which is the night in question. The most expensive room on the list was just $90, not $714 as advertised on Hotels.com.

"Even during Masters our maximum rate is $129," said Patel. We contacted Hotels.com regarding the error on its website. We are still waiting to hear back. Meanwhile Jones is glad that the problem has been sorted out. "I didn't know if it was price gouging or not," said Jones.


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