Can I be held liable for a group’s hotel cancellation charge without a signed contract agreement?

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Can I be held liable for a group’s hotel cancellation charge without a signed contract agreement?

I am a Home Based Travel Agent. In Oct. 2018 I contacted three hotels to get
a quote for a small group traveling to Orlando, June 2019 for 13 rooms. In June I
received a call from the hotel representative asking if the group was still coming.
I said No, the Group Cancelled their trip. I was then told, my credit card which
provided would be charged a cancelation fee of over 2000.00.
I did not recall giving my credit card information to any of the hotels I’d called.
I Do Not have a Contract for This nor Any of the other hotels I contacted. I called
and emailed that hotel representative to forward a signed agreement for me to
examine. There is none.
My bank has cancelled the charge back and paid the hotel, leaving me owing
my bank the charge. My banking institution says my releasing a card number
made me liable even in the absence of a contract agreement.

Asked on September 3, 2019 under Business Law, Louisiana

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 1 year ago | Contributor

No, releasing a card number does not automatically make you liable for the charge: at most, it is evidence that suggests or supports that you agreed to cover the charge, but does not necessarily by itself prove that. Many states, including the state you list, LA, have laws saying that certain contracts, like those to answer for or pay the debts of others, must be in writing to be enforceable, and this situation might fall under that heading. You may wish to sue the hotel for $2,000 on the grounds that they charged you without there being an agreement that you would pay. Of course, in your line of work, suing a hotel might be a bad thing to do; and if they are in a different state, the costs and effort of suing them might exceed the value of the $2,000. Unfortunately, suing is the only option you'd have to get the money back, so you need to decide if it is worthwhile to you to do so.


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