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Help resolve my bad booking/hotel experience

Help resolve my bad booking/hotel experience

Old Jul 19, 18, 11:58 am
  #1  
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Join Date: May 2008
Posts: 114
Help resolve my bad booking/hotel experience

Recently, I used a major 3rd party hotel booking site to book a "cottage" stay in England. This was prepaid. I received confirmation email from the site. The booking was at an (ostensibly) independent property and not a chain. During the booking, I entered a message indicating the approximate time we expected to be there.The owner (I assume) text messaged me subsequently to let me know that he would be expecting me and that all was good.

Fast forward to the check-in date... we (family with 2 young kids - 6 & 3) arrived in this area at 6pm and made our way to the property, only to find no one there. The front door was locked, of course. We called the owner's phone (the number form which he had texted - the only contact number I had), but it wasn't picked up. A tenant at an adjacent property saw us rummaging around and came to help us. He pointed out a key-safe with a number pad that would have to be used to gain access and told us they should have sent us a code for this. I checked my texts and emails, but found absolutely no code or any mention of it. Personally, I have no experience with this system and didn't even know to expect one.

So we persisted, hanging around (at least one of us did) and repeatedly tried to call the owner, all to no avail. Finally, after more than 2 and a half hours (it was past 8:30pm and darkening) I decided to give up. We had arrived in the country earlier that day from the west coast of the US - this is a long journey to take with young kids. We had driven straight out here and the kids were going nuts. I had to make alternative arrangements for fear of getting caught with no place to stay, at least in the reasonable vicinity. We weren't in a metro area by any stretch.

After I booked and checked in at a different place, late in the night (think midnight or so) I received communication over text (which I only saw the next morning), apologizing and trying to straighten out. It was irrelevant at this point - I had already paid for the other place and wouldn't be moving over to the original property.

Again fast forward to the present (after my return from the trip)... I messaged the booking site over their web interface twice over 2 weeks and heard nothing from them. I call them and asked for a refund, as despite all reasonable efforts from me and in adherence with what is expected, I did not receive what I had paid for. The rep washed her hands of it and said she spoke with the property (it appears to me the owner is acting through some intermediary property agency or something - I don't know the details), and that the property would not issue a refund and had marked me a "no show"! And further that it was my decision to walk away! There was also some mention of the code being posted on some website - which makes absolutely no sense to me. There was no website ever mentioned in the booking process, or any instruction to go look for a code at any website. Needless to say, I am quite incensed, especially in the manner of the refusal.

What is the advice of all of you experienced folk here? My point are that I did what I was supposed to do. I did not receive what I paid for, and that it wasn't my fault. I don't care who the property owner or company is (I don't even know) - my transaction wasn't with them. I paid the booking site (a well established one) and hold them responsible for refunding me for non-delivery of product/service. They are free to go after the property owner and recover their funds thence. The rep said something about only being an advertising platform, which seems to be a common refrain these days in the world of the new ecommerce economy. Hogwash, I say! Those who took the money are on the hook for it.

Anyway, I would love to hear your thoughts, especially any constructive advice you have to offer. Tightly framed, objective arguments are also very well appreciated. I am of a mind to do one of two things: initiate a small-claims court demand (which may be foolish and more costly than is worth it, but depending on the cost may be attractive to me just on the principle of it), or request a credit-card chargeback. Specific advise in these categories are also very welcome. Sorry for the long-winded post, but I feel that these platform companies get to write all kinds of legalese into their terms and want to get away with pretty much whatever they want.
AbyssalLoris is offline  
Old Jul 19, 18, 1:01 pm
  #2  
 
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Is this something a credit card company could help with 'services not rendered"?
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Old Jul 19, 18, 1:04 pm
  #3  
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First, what is the booking site? Others here may have had experience with that site and may be able to offer valuable advice. But, they can't do that without knowing its name. In addition, others who might be considering booking, ought to know so they can avoid it.

Second, initiate a chargeback dispute. Make the description short and sweet. The back-and-forth in your OP is not relevant to the simple fact that the owner/agent agreed to meet you and did not show up for 2-1/2 hours, so the contracted service was not delivered. You have 60 days (although some card issuers may allow more).

Not to berate you, but for the benefit of others, when there is a clear service failure, e.g., nobody there to let you in and no code for the lock, send a text to the owner and an email/text to the booking site immediately. If you do not hear back, initiate the chargeback immediately. The passage of time does not help.
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Old Jul 19, 18, 3:15 pm
  #4  
 
Join Date: Dec 2009
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The booking site is your agent in this and when things go south they’re there to help remedy the situation. They should have been your second call right after the first call to the property when you arrived. For no other reason than to document the service failure.
A similiar situation happened with me on a booking.com serviced apartment reservation and they were able to get in contact with the agent who took me to dinner as an apology. Your intentions were good and understandable but in today’s age communication is literally in our hand everywhere we go. I can definitely understand not wanting to stay there but if this happens in the future either negotiate the refund then or some other form of reaccommodation with them.
you can try a chargeback and may get lucky.
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Old Jul 20, 18, 11:59 am
  #5  
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Thanks Often1 & Yoshi212. The booking site is the very one that Yoshi mentions - booking.com. No doubt most people have a smooth experience, but what matters equally is when some don't. I do admit that I am relatively naive in these matters and might not have thought of every avenue in the moment when I was a bit stressed out. Your criticism is accepted.

I will take your advice and initiate chargeback right away. Is your expectation that the chargeback request will not be honored? At this point it is less than a month from the event. How am I to prove anything I have claimed to the credit card company? If the merchant simply states I was a no-show, how do I dispute that? For what it's worth, I used a Citi card. Any issuer-specific feedback you have regarding chargeback is also appreciated.
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Old Jul 20, 18, 2:37 pm
  #6  
 
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Do the texts on your phone have enough detail to substantiate that you put a decent amount of effort to get in touch and that the response was well after standard business hours? How long between communications did it take for the agent to actually reach out to you to get you the appropriate info?
if that info is in the texts and the time took long enough Citi may side with you. Citi is essentially as good as the other big banks but the longer you’ve been with then the better they may side with you. Some banks for small amounts abosorvs the chargeback as a customer service gesture but not normally for large purchases.
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Old Jul 23, 18, 1:10 pm
  #7  
 
Join Date: Oct 2003
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Originally Posted by AbyssalLoris View Post
Recently, I used a major 3rd party hotel booking site to book a "cottage" stay in England. This was prepaid. I received confirmation email from the site. The booking was at an (ostensibly) independent property and not a chain. During the booking, I entered a message indicating the approximate time we expected to be there.The owner (I assume) text messaged me subsequently to let me know that he would be expecting me and that all was good.

Fast forward to the check-in date... we (family with 2 young kids - 6 & 3) arrived in this area at 6pm and made our way to the property, only to find no one there. The front door was locked, of course. We called the owner's phone (the number form which he had texted - the only contact number I had), but it wasn't picked up. A tenant at an adjacent property saw us rummaging around and came to help us. He pointed out a key-safe with a number pad that would have to be used to gain access and told us they should have sent us a code for this. I checked my texts and emails, but found absolutely no code or any mention of it. Personally, I have no experience with this system and didn't even know to expect one.

So we persisted, hanging around (at least one of us did) and repeatedly tried to call the owner, all to no avail. Finally, after more than 2 and a half hours (it was past 8:30pm and darkening) I decided to give up. We had arrived in the country earlier that day from the west coast of the US - this is a long journey to take with young kids. We had driven straight out here and the kids were going nuts. I had to make alternative arrangements for fear of getting caught with no place to stay, at least in the reasonable vicinity. We weren't in a metro area by any stretch.

After I booked and checked in at a different place, late in the night (think midnight or so) I received communication over text (which I only saw the next morning), apologizing and trying to straighten out. It was irrelevant at this point - I had already paid for the other place and wouldn't be moving over to the original property.

Again fast forward to the present (after my return from the trip)... I messaged the booking site over their web interface twice over 2 weeks and heard nothing from them. I call them and asked for a refund, as despite all reasonable efforts from me and in adherence with what is expected, I did not receive what I had paid for. The rep washed her hands of it and said she spoke with the property (it appears to me the owner is acting through some intermediary property agency or something - I don't know the details), and that the property would not issue a refund and had marked me a "no show"! And further that it was my decision to walk away! There was also some mention of the code being posted on some website - which makes absolutely no sense to me. There was no website ever mentioned in the booking process, or any instruction to go look for a code at any website. Needless to say, I am quite incensed, especially in the manner of the refusal.

What is the advice of all of you experienced folk here? My point are that I did what I was supposed to do. I did not receive what I paid for, and that it wasn't my fault. I don't care who the property owner or company is (I don't even know) - my transaction wasn't with them. I paid the booking site (a well established one) and hold them responsible for refunding me for non-delivery of product/service. They are free to go after the property owner and recover their funds thence. The rep said something about only being an advertising platform, which seems to be a common refrain these days in the world of the new ecommerce economy. Hogwash, I say! Those who took the money are on the hook for it.

Anyway, I would love to hear your thoughts, especially any constructive advice you have to offer. Tightly framed, objective arguments are also very well appreciated. I am of a mind to do one of two things: initiate a small-claims court demand (which may be foolish and more costly than is worth it, but depending on the cost may be attractive to me just on the principle of it), or request a credit-card chargeback. Specific advise in these categories are also very welcome. Sorry for the long-winded post, but I feel that these platform companies get to write all kinds of legalese into their terms and want to get away with pretty much whatever they want.
I have used AirBnb in Paris,Rejkavik and Amsterdam without an issue. In fact our host in Amsterdam lived in the unit and was so nice and he took us on a walking tour of the city, arranged a boat tour which he went on with us and we had a beer and long conversations to learn more about the Dutch Culture.

I emailed him and he gave us his cell# and texted him and he was waiting for us in Amsterdam.

Also the one in Iceland we were given a code to the lockbox and it worked like clockwork. Like you I told our landlord when we would be arriving and it was ready to go. When we left we just left the key in the lockbock and texted to say we were leaving.

Very easy!

In your case I would do a credit card chargeback. Who is responsible for the extra cost because now you have to find a different place to stay? If you have travel insurance perhaps you can use that too for trip interruption and delay as your trip was interrupted and delayed by not having access to the place you reserved.

By any chance can you get a hold of your cellphone call records to prove you called the landlord? This will help with your case to prove that the landord did not answer nor call you back. Also save all e-mails. I would hope the agency you worked with would be responsible for additional costs incurred.

On the off chance was there an instruction that you perhaps missed like text 1 hour before arrival and they would be there waiting? I know this for a fact because some landlords live a great distance away and perhaps they were delayed but it sounds like you told them the time you were arriving. Did you call them just before leaving the airport?

If tits booked with VRBO or AirBnB call their customer support and have them reach out to the landlord. I did this when one place in Amsterdam was cancelled and they helped us to find another one that suited our budget and location. We were moved to a more centralized AirBnB with a nice room a shared bathroom/shower kitchen next to a Whole Foods like Supermarket.

Please continue to pursue this and keep us posted! I am sorry that you had a hard time especially after a long flight.
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