Excellent concept, needs major improvement for emergencies

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102Krause's review of HouseTrip - www.housetrip.com

★★☆☆☆

“Excellent concept, needs major improvement for emergencies”

Written on: 04/08/2014 by 102Krause (1 review written)

Good experience with the concept, bad experience with the booking. After searching around and making shortlists, we booked an apartment with Housetrip, availability was confirmed, as well as the booking, and the booking was also paid for. Trip was for arrival 27th July, departure 29th July, just 2 nights. However, we phoned on morning of 25th July to finalise meeting the host for key exchange, and I was told by the host that the apartment was not habitable due to a water leak. The host said that she had already informed Housetrip of the problem, but I had no message from Housetrip. The host also suggested an alternative apartment belonging to her sister, but it was much smaller so we looked for another apartment.

I telephoned Housetrip, and they were indeed aware of the problem, although I still had not received any notification from them. Housetrip said that the Host had suggested an alternative, however I told them that the host had already told me, and that as it was too small, I gave Housetrip details about an alternative apartment which we were interested in, and we submitted an availability request which was duly confirmed by the Host.

However, after a few hours, we did not receive confirmation of acceptance of the booking on my housetrip account, so I phoned Housetrip again and asked them what was happening. The advisor said that she would phone the new host, but could not get an answer. I told her that I was about to finalise the outward ferry booking, and as the booking had not been accepted by the host I suggested that we look at the possibility of changing our plans to the next weekend, but the advisor said that the host had confirmed availability of the apartment just 2 hours earlier so it would be OK, and that the host was out of contact for now, but that Housetrip would make sure that the booking was confirmed, and on that basis we finalised our travel bookings to Paris. I agreed with Housetrip to book the alternative, and they said that they would transfer the payment to the other host, and refund us the difference, I confirmed the same in an email to Housetrip after talking to the advisor.

On Saturday we still had not received confirmation of the Booking, and I telephoned Housetrip, but they could not get in touch with the host. I was not sure if Housetrip was phoning the host at any other time, because it seemed to me that they only tried to contact him when I telephoned the emergency helpline. I sent an email later that evening telling housetrip that I was very worried as we were about to leave UK for France in a few hours time, and the booking had still not been confirmed.

At 2:51am on Sunday morning I received an email to tell me that the booking had been cancelled as the host had not responded within the 36 hours designated for this confirmation. By that time, we were already in France and driving towards Paris.

After arrival in Paris, we telephoned the Housetrip emergency number, at around 7am, but we were told by the advisor that they could not do anything until the office opened at 10am, which seemed to make the emergency facility fairly pointless, nothing more than a messaging service. So we waited with our 3 children for further news.

Around 10.30am we still had not heard from Housetrip so we phoned them again, the advisor started telling us that we had already been offered an alternative accommodation by the original Host on Friday, it seemed that she was implying that we should have taken that one even though it was not comparable accommodation and even though we had subsequently gone for a more suitable alternative. As it happens, the advisor said that it would be very difficult to get anything else in Paris at that time, for the evening, and so we decided to take up the Apartment from Host Alecia, who happens to be the sister of Host.

We felt that there was a big failing from Housetrip because we did not have the contact numbers of the host who did not confirm our alternative booking, so for the 36 hours that the booking was not confirmed, we had no way of chasing him except through the Housetrip site, Housetrip were the only ones who could contact him, and we had NO feedback from housetrip regarding their inability to contact the host. If by Saturday lunchtime, Housetrip had told us that they had failed to get in touch with the host, then we could possibly have tried to find alternative accommodation ourselves. As it is, we have no information or confidence that housetrip staff actually tried to contact the host of the alternative accommodation, because if they HAD tried and failed to contact him, surely Housetrip would have got back to us telling us of the problem? We could see from the Housetrip account that the booking was still not confirmed, but we did not know whether this was just a delay in updating the system, or whether there was indeed a problem.

Another issue is that our original booking was cancelled due to a reported water leak, has housetrip been able to confirm the validity of this statement? If we had not had so many subsequent problems, we would not have worried too much about this, although the thought did cross our minds. We are not saying this is true, but it is feasible that as we only had 2 nights booked in our original accommodation, the host could have got a more lucrative booking and then told us that the accommodation was not habitable – is there any checks made to verify the validity if this kind of last minute cancellation is made, because it can and in this case did inconvenience us greatly.

I have tried to note all the points as accurately and as factually as possible, and I hope I have not made any errors. The conclusion for us is, that the concept of Housetrip is excellent, we were pleased about the system of finding availability from multiple properties and the booking process, HOWEVER where it fell down was in the emergency situation that we had, and we ended up in Paris with 2 adults and 3 children, with no accommodation organised for that evening. Housetrip do have procedures and emergency numbers available, but I think that there are problems in the areas of giving continuous feedback to the customer in the case of last minute accommodation problems, and also the emergency contact person was not going to do anything about finding alternative accommodation until after the office opened at 10:00am Paris time. I believe that in this situation, the emergency contact person should have gone through the property list; Housetrip will know which ones are already booked; housetrip could have provided a selection of alternative properties which matched the original one that we had booked and then sent that list to us to ask us which ones we wanted to try to get.

We have also as yet to contact Housetrip to confirm what is happening with the refund of monies, as the arrangement that housetrip made was to transfer our booking to the original alternative, and when that did not get confirmed, the booking payments would have to be transferred a second time.

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