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★☆☆☆☆

“Stupidity Reigns at Booking.com”

Written on: 16/01/2014 by Nugget33 (1 review written)

I feel there is a need for all suppliers to be aware of the difficulties I have had in dealing with Booking.com, and to warn all operators that this company treats its suppliers with utter disdain.

It all started with an overbooking. Guests arrived for a 2 night stay and we knew nothing about them and we could not locate any booking email. Unfortunately we were full for the weekend and could not accommodate them. We therefore looked up alternative accommodation on Booking.com, so that it would still get its commission, and found another nearby property that had a vacancy, but at a slightly higher tariff. It also provided breakfast which we don’t as we are a self-catering property. The guest agreed to the accommodation and price and so I rang and personally spoke to a Booking.com operator who agreed after consulting the guest to transfer the booking to the other property. The guests were satisfied, and left to go to the other accommodation.

Booking.com then had the hide to try and charge me commission, despite putting through the new booking to the other property and charging them commission as well. I lodged a strong complaint about double dipping and they finally reversed the charge to me.

The next thing is I received an invoice from Booking.com for the $55 extra tariff that the guest had to pay, despite the fact that they had agreed to pay it.

If we were to be charged the extra $55 then the operator should have clearly told us so at the time. In such a case I would have booked cheaper alternative accommodation elsewhere. I’m not in the business of shelling out $55 for nothing ! I don’t know why they have taken this stance, as they earned extra commission on this booking because the tariff, agreed to by the guest, was $55 more than they would have otherwise got. I have refused to pay their invoice.

Not long thereafter we received a 4 night booking email from Booking.com for a guest to arrive the same day on behalf of an Italian Travel Agent with no individual name specified. We thought this was a bit strange, but as these are confirmed bookings, and came via an official Booking.com email, we had to accept it. The email provided AMEX credit card details for payment, however as we don’t accept AMEX we tried contacting the guest for an alternative credit card. The phone number given and the email address did not work. I then looked up this company on the Internet and could find no reference to it, and the address that was provided did not exist.

We were full for the first two nights of this booking and felt that we couldn’t just cancel it, as the guest may well just turn up. In the meantime we turned away two other inquiries for the first two nights of this booking in the same unit. It became more obvious that this might be a fake booking. Naturally, by the end of the night, no-one turned up and we had no option but to cancel the booking. Unfortunately in the meantime we had lost the opportunity, and income, to book the unit to someone else. We notified Booking.com and lodged a complaint about the fake booking.

After I had warned other operators in my local area, I received a phone call from another property advising that they had just received three fake bookings !

One of the first suggestions that I made to Booking.com was that they should have performed a simple credit card test at the time of making a booking. Booking.com asks suppliers to list what credit cards they accept on it’s website, but then they just allow the guest to enter details of a card that is not actually accepted. In this case, had the guest not been able to make a booking using AMEX, the fraudulent booking may not have come through and we would not have lost the income that we did. Of course the credit details would have most likely been fake as well, or it was a stolen card, however Booking.com does no credit card checks.

So what did Booking.com do ? They issued me with a termination notice for daring to criticise their procedures and making suggestions for improvement ! Their only argument was that their terms and conditions state that every property must accept AMEX credit cards. I felt they had no right to demand that properties take a specific type of credit card. I wondered whether they were getting some sort of kick-back from AMEX.

I therefore decided to do a bit of investigation and found that, of the 140 properties listed on Booking.com in my local area alone, 67 (or 48%) do not accept AMEX credit cards ! No doubt this statistic could easily translate to all other properties in Australia, let alone the world. It was impossible for me to agree to Booking.com’s contract conditions in the circumstances. So if they were going to terminate my listing because I didn’t take AMEX, then they should do likewise for every other property in the world that also doesn’t accept AMEX.

In any case they obviously allow properties to transact without AMEX as evidenced by the banner on the booking page for my property warning guests that this type of credit card is not accepted, and the fact that their Extranet requires properties to indicate which credit cards they do accept and which they do not. In any case the warning would have little influence on hackers. A simple test at the time of a guest booking would easily solve this issue. Instead suppliers have to go the trouble of trying to contact a guest to get another credit card. Why they can’t see that is simply beyond me. They steadfastly refused to change their process.

One of their junior employees in Australia then advised me that this particular booking was legitimate and they had other bookings from this same “Travel Agency”, even though he had done no checks of his own to see if it was in fact a real company/travel agent !

There is obviously a problem with Booking.com’s business model. As they don’t take any funds from the guest, all the risk is on the supplier.

After further representations from me they eventually reinstated my property.

When they continued to chase me over the unpaid $55 invoice for the overbooking, I decided that, as I had lost money on the fraudulent booking, I would invoice them to recover my costs. I therefore sent them an invoice for the same amount of $55 which was just a token amount of compensation for the 2 nights lost income that I could have received had I not kept the reservation for the fraudulent booking. Needless to say they have ignored this invoice which is now accruing interest on a monthly basis.

Of course the sensible thing to do would be for both of us to cancel our $55 invoices and call it quits in the interest of good customer service. But that’s a bit too much for a company like Booking.com. They have now suspended me again for non payment of their $55 invoice, whilst at the same time ignoring my own invoice!

Stupidity reigns supreme at Booking.com !