Macedonia family fights for hotel refund after business trip to Wisconsin

Bank statements confirm $388 mystery charge

MACEDONIA, Ohio - Brian Harala of Macedonia claims he's a victim of a mystery hotel bill that's tapped $388 from his bank account.

Harala took a trip to Green Bay, Wisconsin in February and March of this year, working as a welder, repairing huge cargo ships.

During the six-week trip, Harala stayed at the Sturgeon Bay Comfort Inn . The accommodations were just fine, but the money taken out of his PNC bank account didn't match the Comfort Inn final invoice.

A $388 charge taken from his checking account, an amount Comfort Inn reports it never received.

"They have to get organized, it's not a way to conduct business," said Harala. "They should only charge for the days people stay there, it's no way to keep guests."

Harala reports he contacted the Comfort Inn several times, but the hotel would not issue a refund, even though Brian's father, Rich Harala, sent the company bank statements proving the money was taken.

"I contacted the motel and told them there was an extra charge, and they sent me a copy of the invoice," explained Rich. "The charge didn't show up on the invoice, but the bank clearly told me the transaction went through, they had the money, but it wasn't showing up on the invoice."

"He works hard for his money, he's a welder and he puts in a lot of hours. At that time he wasn't making a tremendous amount of money, and so that was a big part of his paycheck," Rich added.

NewsChannel5 contacted parent company Choice Hotels International about this case, in effort to get its side of the story, in the search for a solution. The parent company has contacted hotel management in Wisconsin. 

Some 5 On Your Side Advice: Consumers should always carefully review all hotel invoices line by line, as soon as possible.

The Harala's advise consumers to use a credit card to book a hotel room, as opposed to paying with a debit card.

"Credit card companies better protect you with a credit card as opposed to a debit card," said Harala. "With a debit card it's like a cash transaction, once it happens it's gone, and it's harder to get reconciled."

NewsChannel5 will follow-up on this developing story.

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