By Lauren Victory

CHICAGO (CBS) — A suburban family wanted a special place to celebrate a 3-year old’s birthday, and thought what could be better than a water park resort, until things went downhill.

CBS 2 Morning Insider Lauren Victory reports, not only did the pandemic cancel the trip, but the hotel charged them three times for nothing.

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“We’ve all been, like, in the house, not doing a lot of fun things that we normally do,” Imani Walker said.

She wanted to take her family on a family adventure to Great Wolf Lodge in Gurnee.

“It was our 3-year-old’s birthday,” she said. “We were, like, ‘We need something with water.’”

Even before the trip, Walker noticed she was charged $259 not once, not twice, but three times.

“I was like, ‘How many charges are you guys gonna charge me?’” she said.

One charge was legitimate. The other two were bogus.

“The young lady I spoke to at the time, she said, ‘Well, you know, we had a few little issues with our computer system,’” Walker said.

Then COVID-19 forced the family to skip the trip. Great Wolf Lodge refunded one charge, but the other two remained.

Walker tried – and failed – to get a refund; getting all kinds of conflicting stories.

“It should fall off in three to five days,” she said she was told. “It’s going to be six or seven.”

“I was on hold for over an hour,” she added. “The supervisor says, ‘Well, it will be 7 to 10 business days, … if you want it faster, you need to call your bank or go to your bank,’”

A month later, she’s still waiting for her money – more than $500.

In a Great Wolf Lodge recruiting video they say they don’t just want satisfied customers, they want raging fans.

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“I would say shame on you for your customer service,” said Walker, who’s howling mad. “I don’t know how to say it, but it’s pissing me off, because it’s not okay. … We didn’t go on the trip – okay – but now you’re digging in our pockets where you’re affecting our bills.”

While blasting Great Wolf Lodge online, Walker noticed a familiar pattern in other reviews:

Todd writing the hotel “charges us twice.”

Elizabeth warns “Beware of double charges.”

Paige: “Charged three times.”

All about Great Wolf Lodge in Gurnee in recent weeks.

“Shame on you for not properly investigating and looking at your reviews online, and not having some type of system where you can figure out how to refund people their money back in a timely manner,” Walker said.

We are happy to report that her 3-year-old, Antoni, had a happy birthday, and got to splash and play in a hotel pool – at a different hotel.

“He had a really good birthday,” Walker said.

Now that’s something to howl about.

Great Wolf Lodge said a technical glitch from a system upgrade caused the extra charges. It refunded many customers, but some fell through the cracks.

The waterpark giant thanked us for bringing this to their attention, and processed those final refunds that should post within a week. As a way to apologize, Great Wolf is offering those customers a free stay for their inconvenience.

Here is their full statement:

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“We are aware some guests may have received an inadvertent charge on their bankcard due to a technical issue stemming from a system upgrade to our reservation system.  Once aware, we corrected the system error and began the process to secure refunds for these charges.  Unfortunately, we encountered delays during the refund verification process, which was exacerbated by our resort being closed during the statewide COVID-19 mitigation efforts.  While many refunds have already been distributed, we recently confirmed that the final set of guest refunds has been fully verified, processed and should be credited to accounts within 5-7 business days.  We are contacting guests directly who were impacted by this delay to sincerely apologize and provide a complimentary future stay at our resort for this major inconvenience.”

Lauren Victory