Last year (2017) my husband and I went to a blues festival in West Helena AR. It was last minute and we had an incredibly hard time finding somewhere to stay (Helena AR is a small town.) After trying online through booking websites and calling the hotels direct we managed to get a reservation. Upon checkout, we were asked if we wanted to be on a waiting list for the festival next year (2018.) I said sure and wrote my name and cell phone number on the list .I did not know at the time if we would return to the festival or not but due to the fact finding a room was so hard I thought we might as well in the event we did want to return. Fast forward to this week and there is a preauth from that hotel for around $400.00. I called the hotel immediately (10/5/18) and the lady I spoke with said that because I put my name on that list they had reservations for us 10/4/18-10/6/18 and at this point I had not cancelled in time. She said I would have to speak with the manager who would not be in until later. I called back later and spoke with the manager and she said they sent a few emails throughout the year about the reservations. My email has not changed in several years. The last email I had from this hotel was back in 2017 when we stayed there (it was the payment confirmation that listed my email as the account email.) When I asked her what email the "notices" were sent to, she read back a totally bizarre email that is not mine nor has ever been mine. It was my first name and then a jumble of letters and numbers...Sorry for the long story but I am so frustrated and I feel like I am being scammed. Has something like this happened to anyone before? Any opinions would be so helpful.
I have worked as Receptionist in small hotel located in city which basically get all of its tourist for 2 weeks and then barely any activity. What you have described is standard way of procedure, minus the seeking consent before charging. The hotel I worked called/emailed all the people who signed up and only if they confirm, proceed with the charges.
Obviously the legality of what you faced depends on jurisdiction and what you signed.
I thought it was just to give people who stayed there the year before priority.
I would suggest thinking over the fact why a hotel would give out priorities during the peak season.