Boycott Booking.com and expose its fraudulent practices
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I am one of the latest victims of the fraudulent practices of online hotel reservation website Booking.com. Before you read further and understand details on why I make that allegation, it would help to check out the comments on Booking.com’s posts on its Facebook page: it is full of similar assertions and for good reason.
Normally when you go online and use a service, things work out fine. Sometimes there are issues, which is all right. You contact the customer care. It replies and resolves your problem. That is what should happen and does happen in the case of a lot of companies. But not Booking.com.
Booking.com has built a cluttered website with tall claims that they do not fulfil beyond the first click. For instance, I wished to book a hotel room offering free cancellation. The landing page advertised that it did, but the subsequent page said that it was fully non-refundable, in fine print. It had the free cancellation option right below. But here’s the thing, sometimes it is above, sometimes below. And all of these are tiny texts in a sea of letters. (See details and snapshots here.)
Booking.com is well aware of the same and capitalises on people making the mistake of accidentally clicking on the non-refundable option (I can say that because if this was not their intention they would have revamped their design after hundreds of people made the same mistake and wrote to them about it).
There is no one-time password for you to realise (in the case of many credit cards) that you are paying a hefty sum you will never recover. And so l fell prey to this nifty design and was robbed off EUR 414 by a hotel called Apparteo Palatino Paris 13.
I spent the next three weeks writing to calling both the hotel and Booking.com. They took ages to reply. When they did, they took no interest in understanding the issue and simply blamed me for the mistake – which I had already admitted was an accidental click on my part. I was simply requesting a cancellation with refund, even agreeing to a small fine (the booking was still two months away). After not getting replies on most of my subsequent requests (I made over 20 each to the hotel as well as Booking.com), being spoken to rudely by the receptionist in the hotel, being asked to call in 10 minutes, the next day and so on, being directed to ‘higher’ officials and several ’helpline’ numbers that no one answered, Booking.com finally informed me that the hotel is strict and would not give me a refund. The hotel had told me that they didn’t know anything about this and that I should contact booking.com. This is clearly a set up. If Booking.com is all honest as it claims to be, would it feature such hotels? Would it not take some action?
Such is the plight of hundreds of travellers. On reading the complaints of several others, I found out that so many of them were in the same or worse boats. I saw people who had lost $3,000 to Booking.com’s trap of a website in the same manner. There were so many instances of hotels, with ratings as high as 9.0, not being anywhere close to their pictures. Probably the ratings are also fudged.
I don’t think I would get my money back. The least I can do now is give Booking.com a low rating, write an informative review, and spread awareness about how this company cheats people. Let us sign the petition and use the power of social media to spread the word.
If you are among those cheated by Booking.com, please share your comments and ask your friends to share this petition as well. Alone, we are hapless victims; together, we can make a huge difference.
Read accounts of more dissatisfied customers of booking.com here.
Use the hashtag #boycott_bookingdotcom. And yeah, have a good trip.
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