I’m not sure if this is a travel urban legend or true story — or some combination of the two.
In any case, it should serve as a cautionary tale when ordering food from advertisements that may or may not be provided by a hotel.
Family Scammed Out of $6,000?
TikTokker Ali Koca (“huskymuscles”) says this story’s victim family stayed at a hotel and ordered room service.
An hour passed and the family still didn’t receive their order. So, the father called the front desk and inquired about the delay.
The front desk informs him no room service order was placed with the hotel!
Turns out that Dear Old Dad ordered from a room service menu slipped under their hotel room door. He called an outside line printed on the room service menu to place his order.
Wait. It gets better.
He gave “room service’s ordertaker” his debit card number. But, of course, Dad didn’t call room service. He called a fraudster who stole his identity.
Realizing he was had, Dad logs into his bank account — and discovers he’s suddenly six grand lighter.
@huskymuscles This simple mistake could cost you thousands💵 #money #scam #wow #crazy ♬ Spooky piano horror scary – Sound Production Gin
The Alleged Scam
Most of us probably are familiar with off-property restaurant menus slid under our hotel room doors. (Pizza and Chinese food are the ones I usually receive.)
That’s not uncommon. (Well, at least where I stay sometimes.)
But the rub here is that the alleged flyer slid under the door was the actual hotel’s room service food and beverage menu. (I know that Mr. huskymuscles used a Holiday Inn Express picture in his video. Those properties aren’t exactly known for room service. I’ll chalk that up to using a stock image.) The difference is the phone number listed on the menu has nothing to do with the hotel. It simply belonged to (alleged) identity thieves.
So, instead of picking up the hotel room’s phone and dialing directly into room service, Dumb Old Dad called an outside line.
How Dad Went Wrong
So, there are a few things here to address.
One is the video itself. There are no details about the hotel where this alleged incident occurred. Or even a city. Or if the family sought any recourse. And why did Dad call the front desk? Assuming the hotel actually has room service, why didn’t he use that same phone to check with them for his order? Or maybe he used his cell phone to call the hotel as an outside line. (I wouldn’t put it past this genius.) Was this a story generated to get views? Maybe. Is it true? Maybe.
Next: Dad should’ve used the hotel room phone to place his room service order. Done. End of story. (The only time I’ve ever called room service from my cell phone was when I was off-property and returning to the hotel after a long day of work. I called the switchboard, transferred to the restaurant, then to room service, and placed an order after they verified my information. My food arrived five minutes after I did.)
Also: the only room service menus I’ve received were directly from the hotel — either in my room already or from a QR code issued by the front desk.
Here’s another: in-room dining is generally charged to your room. So, just bill the order to your folio. Plus, you earn more hotel loyalty points this way! (There was a weird billing snafu once during a business trip and I ended up paying room service with a credit card.)
Finally, stop using your debit card. Just don’t do it. I’m not saying this because I have a credit card affiliate partner.
I know people who hate credit cards and refuse to use them. (That’s fine, by the way. Some people can’t trust themselves with credit cards.) They either use debit cards associated with low-balance accounts (and crank it up when they need to make larger purchases), use cash, or buy Visa or Mastercard gift cards when traveling.
How We Can Learn from This Story
Whether or not the Room Service Scam is fact or fiction, there is something constructive we can learn.
This goes back to those pizza and Chinese food flyers under our hotel room doors.
Before you call and order a double pepperoni pie or the #17 lunch special with fried wontons and egg drop soup, verify the restaurant phone numbers.
Use your mobile electronic device to Google (or Bing or whatever) the phone number and make sure it matches the actual restaurant result. Or ask the front desk if the flyer is legit. (They’ll give you other recommendations, of course.) But make sure you call an actual restaurant and not some scammer. (Don’t make me write about you! 😉 )
A TikTok video claims that a family lost $6,000 to a room service scam — because they unknowingly called fraudsters instead of the hotel’s actual room service desk.
If it’s indeed true, the dad made several mistakes and might not have known better.
Regardless, double-check the phone numbers of restaurant advertisements slid underneath your hotel room door. Make sure you’re ordering from an actual restaurant. After all, pizza tastes better than identity theft.
H/T: New York Post
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