TravelTek

Published on Friday, December 4, 2015

Angry customers track down hotels.com boss on LinkedIn and finally get their refund




A couple with a long-running customer service complaint against hotels.com resorted to tracking down the company's vice president on professional networking site LinkedIn and emailing her direct in their desperate bid to get the money they were owed.

They took the last resort after a two-month battle with the Expedia-owned hotel reservations site over a series of problems with a booking for a week's accommodation in Tenerife.

Cathie and Dave Savage, from Reading, spent hours on the telephone trying to sort out the issues and also tried complaining via social media, but only got the result they wanted when they went straight to the top and threatened legal action.

The trouble began in mid-August when they booked a week's stay in October at the Royal Sun Resort, paying £570.

They received an email confirming the booking but over a month later, on September 23, received another email from hotels.com saying the hotel was unable to accept their reservation and to phone about alternative accommodation.

"As I had a confirmation and guarantee, I telephoned the Royal Sun Resort who told me the room had been booked but never paid for by hotels.com, so had been re-booked to another client," said Cathie.

Furious, she said she telephoned hotels.com, who initially offered her 'unacceptable three-star alternative accommodation'.

After three days of frustrating calls to customer services, the couple were finally offered, verbally, a week at the Hotel Be Live Experience Playa La Arena.

They were also told they would be able to get a sea view, balcony and stay on an all-inclusive basis by way of an apology.

However, on arrival in the hotel's reception on October 13, the couple said they were told 'in a very loud and embarrassing way' that the hotel was not paid for and they would have to pay up, or be turned away.

"By this point we had lost the will to live," said Cathie. "Luckily we had the finances to pay this further £1075.68 and decided, there and then, to pay it, enjoy our holiday and deal with the problem on our return."

The Savages enjoyed their holiday, but returned to the UK to face another few weeks making call after call to customer services.

At one point, Cathie wrote to customer services saying: "Today, back from Tenerife, I have spent the best part of 2hrs 30mins on the telephone, cut off 4 times, explaining again and again and again the situation and wanting my money back."

The Savages were finally told all of the £1075 would be paid back, but only received £570.

After further fruitless calls to customer services, on November 21 Cathie went on to LinkedIn and found the contact details for Marieke Flament, vice president, Europe, Middle East and Africa.

She wrote to her, via the LinkedIn website, saying: "As I have had no response from anyone now for the past week, I am forced to contact my solicitor with regard to the monies you owe me. I also intend to notify Rip off Britain and Watch Dog who I am sure will be very interested in this long-running saga.

"I also have access to a large number of associates on Twitter who I will ask to retweet, retweet and reweet until I get some response. I am truly amazed your company is willing to get such bad publicity over a matter as small as £500."

Flament replied: "We (are) taking another look into your case and will get back to you as soon as possible. Many thanks for your patience."

The following day, the couple got a call from hotels.com asking for their card details and the rest of the money was finally refunded.

"I will never, ever use this company again," said Cathie this week. "The customer service has been absolutely dreadful and I have spent a fortune on phone calls, let alone the time wasted. It's disgusting. By far the worst company I have ever dealt with."

When initially contacted for a response, a spokeswoman for hotels.com said the company 'always strives to deliver the best service to our customers and we apologise for the inconvenience experienced by Mrs Savvage' (spelt wrong).

She then claimed the couple had been notified on August 23 that their original hotel had not been able to accept the booking due to a 'technical hitch' which had led to an overbooking.

The date was, in fact, September 23 and TravelMole has seen the email in question with the September date.

TravelMole questioned the date, and gave additional information about the dispute to the press office, but did not get a further response.



 

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  • Over booked? Don't think so

    It is not a case of "over booking" this is a case of the operator/agent not living up to their responsibilities and not paying the Hotel. They had the money after all. The big operators play games with cash flow. The thinking is they can delay payment because the hotel will not want to upset the provider of their business. In other words Bully Boy tactics. I applaud the management of the Hotel for standing up to Hotels.com I bet the hotel requested payment and reminded Hotels.com before the actual cancellation of the booking took place. I also suspect the Hotels.com executive who failed to process payment never thought the Hotel would cancel. Regarding the Buyer beware and only use a professional agent...... well that is total pants as well. I think everyone who has been in the holiday business for more than five minutes can point to examples where professional agents (and bonded) have vanished with the wherewithal. Fact is big holiday companies think/try to dictate terms and stack the deck accordingly.

    By Paul Davis, Sunday, December 6, 2015

  • Bad Practice

    Hotel.com took their money and made the reservation then they failed to pay for it. this is bad practice. There is no reason why the traveling public shouldn't be adventurous and book independently as long as they realise that they are on their own. Hotels have to look after their own interest and should dump companies that fail to deliver a customer and payment. This story is about a company that failed through bad practice.

    By William Staines, Friday, December 4, 2015

  • Obligatory Over Booking Grid for Hotels

    I think it"s high time that Hotels should be pressed to make exactly the same grid as airlines and if one is literally bumped off ( the bed not the seat in this case) then there has to be a quick automatic compensation as this is a simple overbooking. We can invent any kind of reservations system as the last bed can be oversold as inventories all have limits with regards to instant overlap of reservations. This complaint is unfair as giving just the £500 is not enough there has to be compensation for upsetting ones holiday and unnecessary stress which has to be paid by Hotels.com.

    By Aldo Borg, Friday, December 4, 2015

  • You're on your own when you bypass a travel agent

    Buyer beware when booking online. Without a professional travel agent you are on your own, especially when overbooking, schedule or plans change. Time is money. The best value for all travel is still a travel agent.

    By Melanie Samoy-Lutz, Friday, December 4, 2015

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