Did Mitja Baumhackl just book a room through a scammy online travel agency? He thinks so after making a recent hotel reservation at the Fullon Resort Kending in Pingtung, Taiwan, through a site called Asiarooms.com.
And while there may be a technical explanation for what happened, it looks a little fishy from a customer perspective. Maybe you can help me figure out if this is scammy or not.
Baumhackl, who lives in Singapore, booked a room in Taiwan in late May for a June stay, prepaying TWD 23,760, or about $791.
“I called the hotel directly two days later and confirmed the reservation,” he says.
In early June, he received an email from Asiarooms, stating that they were sorry, but the hotel was actually sold out of rooms and not accepting online reservations, and that Asiarooms would be happy to rebook him at another hotel. (In hotel-speak, that could mean the wholesaler’s allocation was sold out. Unless the hotel gives the merchant what’s called “last room” availability, then the merchant has to find other merchants who will trade their allocation.)
Baumhackl didn’t want a different hotel. He’d already plunked down $250 for train tickets, and wasn’t eager to change his plans.
I contacted Asiarooms live chat and chatted with a representative. He said he would call the hotel to investigate, and then told me that they did not speak English and he could not assist.
This was not true, because 10 minutes before the live chat, I contacted the hotel and spoke with them in English. Not great English, but I confirmed the reservation.
The representative said he was unable to investigate the reservation and said it could only be handled through the Asiarooms Bangkok office. I repeatedly told him to convey that the reservation should not be canceled. He did not respond to this request other than to say he would convey my information to the Bangkok office.
They went back and forth a few more times, with Asiarooms insisting the hotel was sold out, and Baumhackl insisting it wasn’t, and that he wanted the hotel to honor it.
“I called a friend who knows Mandarin, and my friend called the hotel on my behalf,” he says. “The hotel had my reservation and was happy to rebook it directly under my name and credit card. The hotel told my friend that Asiarooms.com had called them to cancel the reservation.”
Eventually, he canceled his Asiarooms reservation and rebooked with the hotel.
“Oh, and the final hotel price was TWD 2,640 less expensive than the price on Asiarooms.com,” he says. “Probably the amount of the commission that they were hoping to make.”
It gets worse.
“I posted a review of this booking experience with Asiarooms.com to TripAdvisor and today Asiarooms.com responded in the TripAdvisor forum,” he says. “They printed my full name from my reservation as well as the name of the hotel where I will be staying. This personal information was not available in my TripAdvisor account, so basically they took information from my booking with them, which has since been canceled, and posted it in a public forum.”
So is Asiarooms.com a scam? No, the only thing they’re probably guilty of is having a name that could be confused for a title of an adult movie. Not that I would know.
Bending a few facts and fighting with a hotel over commissions — oh boy, I’ve never heard of that happening.
But was Asiarooms.com behaving in a scammy way? And you know what I mean by scammy. You don’t cancel someone’s hotel reservation because of a commission dispute and then, when he has the gall to complain, post his reservation to TripAdvisor.
The review appears to have since been removed. But still, is that any way to treat a customer?