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May 16, 2017
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ISSUE RESOLVED – June 23 to July 18, 2017

In June, I booked a property on Booking.com in Saint-Remy-de-Provence (for May, 2018) which I thought offered free cancellation. Once booked, I received an email stating the booking was paid in full (e$2592 - $2,906USD). I immediately cancelled the booking (within one minute) and was charged a cancellation fee of e$777 ($872USD).

When I made this booking, I was simply looking at alternative options for a 60th birthday vacation with a group of girlfriends and we were considering Spain, Portugal and Southern France, so we had not decided on a specific location yet.

I've tried several ways to get the full refund as it was an honest mistake that I tried to correct in a timely manner. There is a lot of detail behind this request but it comes down to the property being willing to refund the cancellation amount. I had initially found the property on HomeAway and they offer free cancellation on this property up to a week before your stay. Since I have always liked using Booking .com, I went to their site to book. I thought it was a booking that had free cancellation, but no.

My credit card company said that since there was a cancellation policy in place, that policy supersedes their ability to do anything. They asked why I didn't read the cancellation policy and I stated that since I thought this booking had free-cancellation, there was no reason to read the policy.

When I finally got an individual from their Customer Relations Executive to respond, she said she’d send an email to the property. … I have reviewed your reservation and indeed it was booked and canceled within 1 minute difference. However, that does not change the fact that as long as it is within cancellation policy Mas des Bourgeois has a right to charge cancellation fee. Nevertheless, I have contacted the property with a request to waive cancellation fee. Another possible solution would be a partial refund or possibility to use the amount for the future stay. Still, I would like to point out, that the last decision will be made by Mas des Bourgeois and I really hope that they would agree on one of my requests.

The option for a partial refund or future stay would not have been acceptable as we decided not to visit southern France. I also sent a couple of messages to the property owner and finally received the following (wonderful) response:

Hello, You booked and canceled it immediately, so your reservation did not appear on my site, I just understood your problem, and I called Booking to get you refunded, I do not manage the billings, but they needed my agreement, greetings ...

I guess my biggest issue with Booking.com is that THEY held the funds and the property never received funds or even notification that the booking was made so I felt a bit ‘played’ and all the while I’m sick to my stomach about a loss of $872 for a one minute mistake.

Travel sites like Booking.com should have a 24-hour policy, like most airlines, in case of human error. And, an easier way to escalate issues within the organization. Come on, Booking.com, you need to work on your policy. I'm sure that any and all of the properties would be fine with a 24-hour policy unless the stay is within a 72 hour window (or one-week) and thus could impact the ability of rebooking of the property.

When you finally get the right person to help you (a customer relations executive and not their first line customer service individual), it was resolved within a couple of days, but it shouldn't have taken three weeks of trying to resolve this issue to be put in contact with that individual.

Since this was an international booking, a few days to contact and communicate with the property is acceptable.

I do appreciate Elliott's website and executive contact information, although in this case it took a lot of persistence and pestering the wrong executive in order to get this resolved.

The executive contact information on your website was not correct.

[email protected] was non-responsive. Claire Ratty is not in charge of Customer Care as she is now in charge of Global Training & Development. She said she would forward my email to their executive complaints team, but it took several emails to Claire before she forwarded my email to the appropriate person. Joseph Moscone phone number and email are not correct so don’t know if he is still with the company. The CEO number is just a general number for the company and there was no way to talk to a person to ask for someone on their management team.
 

Neil Maley

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Dec 27, 2014
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www.promalvacations.com
Booking.com does offer reservations with cancellation- you just didn't book one. There are usually refundable prices, which are higher than non refundable. If you are merely shopping by price, a lot of people choose the cheap price. The non refundable one.

Refundable rates are shown right on the search page. The listings say "free cancellation"

It seems pretty clear to me. What was the name of the property so we can recreate it?
 

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jsn55

Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
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I'm happy that you got the property cancelled. You were very lucky. In the future, please remember that the internet booking agencies are just that. They take your order, there's very little customer service. You are expected to totally understand all the underlying policies of the OBA and the hotel involved. The OBAs are very clever in the way that they present information on their websites. Theirs is a numbers game.

Booking accommodations based on "maybe we'll use them" is a sure-fire way to find yourself in hot water. Always book direct with a hotel or airline; in case of issues you have a much easier task of solving them. You are very fortunate.
 
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Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
23,042
23,001
113
New York
www.promalvacations.com
My issue with this booking and cancellation policy is that within a MINUTE of booking, I cancelled the booking and was charged $872. With a transaction like that, it obviously was a mistake and there shouldn't be an enforced cancellation charge. The property owner didn't even see the booking because it was made and cancelled within a minute and never showed up on her site as a booking. This, to me is just an excuse to hold a consumer hostage for an honest mistake. The booking was for almost a year out and the property wasn't off the market so they didn't lose any possible bookings.
Not necessarily. It is possible to have buyers remorse as soon as you hit the button too. Didn't the property show that it was nonrefundable right on the page as I showed ? What is the name of the property? You admit you were only looking- but you booked it, not just looked.

Use our company contacts and try to appeal to the company executives. Start with the lowest on the ladder and appeal. Give him or her a week to reply. If it's a no, write to the next one. Repeat weekly until you get all the way up.

Hopefully you will find a sympathetic executive who might help you. But the questions I presented they are going to question as well.

You apparently did not read the information on the property that most likely said no cancellations permitted
 
Nov 14, 2016
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Not necessarily. It is possible to have buyers remorse as soon as you hit the button too. Didn't the property show that it was nonrefundable right on the page as I showed ? What is the name of the property? You admit you were only looking- but you booked it, not just looked.

Use our company contacts and try to appeal to the company executives. Start with the lowest on the ladder and appeal. Give him or her a week to reply. If it's a no, write to the next one. Repeat weekly until you get all the way up.

Hopefully you will find a sympathetic executive who might help you. But the questions I presented they are going to question as well.

You apparently did not read the information on the property that most likely said no cancellations permitted
Neil, perhaps you missed it but she already resolved the situation to her satisfaction and was giving us the details. She also supplied us with some updated contact information.
 
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