Hotels.com / booking system error
I am writing to complain about an experience that I had with booking a hotel online with hotels.com.
In September 2011 I tried to book a hotel in Paris. Using hotels.com I got to the final stage of a booking (name, address, email address, credit card numbered entered and check for terms and conditions) but when I clicked confirm nothing happened, my browser just kept waiting for the site to respond (I tested the Internet connection for another site, which was OK). I left my booking waiting for around 15 minutes but nothing happened. I did not receive any confirmation email.
I was concerned about this because I had got to the final stage of the booking and had provided my credit card details. The next day I telephoned hotels.com to find out the status of my booking and I was told by the agent that it had not gone through. She apologised to me and she even persisted to try and find me another hotel, which I declined.
I found and booked directly with another hotel and enjoyed a wonderful autumn weekend in Paris.
At the end of the month I received my credit card bill and noticed that I had been charged by the hotel that I had originally tried to book through hotels.com (not only for one room as I had originally requested but for two rooms!). I contacted the hotel and was told that they had received a booking from venera.com, which I requested a copy of. Sure enough, there were clearly two bookings made for two nights each in my name from venere.com and the hotel had charged me the full price because I did not show up and did not cancel the reservation.
I was a bit confused at first because I had made the booking through hotels.com, but I discovered that venere.com is owned by hotels.com (which in turn is owned by expedia group).
Because I was dealing with one of the biggest online booking sites, I thought that this would not be too difficult to fix, but that has not been the case. First of all they could not find my booking, then the booking mysteriously appeared and they tried to get me to take this up with the hotel (who have not done anything wrong), then they admitted a faulty system and directed me to head office in America (via a fax number) where I have been practically ignored (I did receive one message four weeks ago telling me they were dealing with this and it would be completed in 72 hours – at least this confirmed I had the correct fax number!). Each of these steps involved dozens of phone calls and emails and has taken almost six months with considerable persistence and patience. I continue to email, call and fax but keep going around in circles.
The reason why I am writing to you is to share my story with you and ask if you have any advice for me to get this resolved? Hotels.com have displayed incompetence with their booking system and their customer service. Although this is not a huge amount of money (320 Euros) I am angry at how poor their booking system and customer service is. I feel I should fight this not just for my sake but for other potential victims of their booking system problems.
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