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Beware of Booking.com & Bait-and-Switch

Level Contributor
9 posts
9 reviews
4 helpful votes
Beware of Booking.com & Bait-and-Switch

We recently rented a property that was listed as a 3br/2ba apartment in a specific area of Barcelona but once we received the confirmation, we noticed that it was a different property, 3br/1ba in another part of town. After a couple of hours wasted on hold with Booking.com's customer service and many email attempts, Booking.com just informed me that the apartment rental company is not going to return our deposit, regardless of the fact that the listing on their site was not the actual property we were given, and that they are taking no further action.

BUYER BEWARE!

Before booking anything on their site (or any other site), request that the rental property send you a description, pictures and location of the ACTUAL property you will be renting BEFORE you pay a deposit. I got burned.

Also note that Booking.com apparently no interest in protecting its customers from bait & switch scams such as this. I'll never book via Booking.com again.

I'm letting Amex deal with them now.

London, United...
Level Contributor
1,803 posts
315 reviews
111 helpful votes
1. Re: Beware of Booking.com & Bait-and-Switch

That surely cannot be right. Sounds awful.I have used Booking dot com 5 times in the last year and always stayed in the hotel advertised. Maybe a fault developed in the advertised property? Did you actually stay there? Maybe they've become too big to care about customers. Thanks for the warning.

Level Contributor
9 posts
9 reviews
4 helpful votes
2. Re: Beware of Booking.com & Bait-and-Switch

No, I didn't stay there. This all happened last week in preparation for travel on 24 July. After I booked the property and got the details from the property management company, I realized that they did the switcharoo. I emailed them immediately asking that they move us to the apartment shown in the listing, but their response was to contact Booking.com. Booking.com is basically saying "Oh well."

I'll create a separate thread regarding the apartment rental company, APBCN Apartments Barcelona.

Boston...
8 posts
3. Re: Beware of Booking.com & Bait-and-Switch

You need to look at the terms and conditions of the service and applicable law for rental properties in Spain.

Level Contributor
9 posts
9 reviews
4 helpful votes
4. Re: Beware of Booking.com & Bait-and-Switch

At this point, I'm letting my credit card company handle the disputed charge. Lesson learned: Ask for ACTUAL property details before booking. Don't trust that what you see is what you're gonna get.

Wales, United...
Destination Expert
for Bargain Travel, Cruises, Swansea, Cardiff, Carmarthenshire, Neath, Port Talbot
Level Contributor
77,935 posts
477 reviews
375 helpful votes
5. Re: Beware of Booking.com & Bait-and-Switch

I'm wary of vacation rentals in the first place. My feeling is that third parties are being used by poor owners as a way of avoiding blame when they mess guests about. I;ve never had any difficulties with hotel bookings on Booking.com

Melbourne, Australia
Destination Expert
for Sydney, Bargain Travel, Food and Travel
Level Contributor
28,915 posts
66 reviews
129 helpful votes
6. Re: Beware of Booking.com & Bait-and-Switch

100% with RB

Unfortunately, many many reputable OTA's are getting inundated with listing for non-commercial apartments, which have terrible track records. OTA's have their work cut out to make it more stringent, but difficult when private owners provide registered business certification.

I agree, I would not be renting any vacation rentals - properties with non commercial operational history which can be corresponded by other sources

Lockhart, Texas
Destination Expert
for Austin
Level Contributor
2,861 posts
17 reviews
34 helpful votes
7. Re: Beware of Booking.com & Bait-and-Switch

There's more than one useful lesson here. One is careful reading of the Terms & Conditions, something we tend to harp upon, but failure to read them serious (while lying to the agent about having read them) is at the root of many complaints.

This is an example. You used Booking.com . They explicitly state in their Terms that they are merely a place you can find what information suppliers post and that they (Booking.com) has no responsibility for what suppliers post. These are the same condition posted by nearly every such agent. They tell you very plainly that your deal is strictly with the supplier.

And, while the language is somewhat convoluted, their Terms also seem to be telling you that it is not they but the supplier to whom they will give your credit card information (happy thought) that will be charging directly from your account to the supplier's bank account. Since there is no way for a merchant to charge on a card account and have it go straight to someone else's account, that tells me they are passing on your card information.

That also means that Booking.com can't refund your money, because they don't have and never had your money. There is some even more difficult to decipher language that sounds like they might sometimes charge your card and pay the supplier themselves. Perhaps it's a service they offer supplier without merchant accounts. That'a a bit ominous, because of the problem KVE talked about, which attracts people who don't have merchant accounts. And, of course, that means that if you claim a chargeback, your credit card issuer will likely be dealing with the supplier. Third party agents are very experienced in credit card matters, and they carefully craft their legal positions so as not to be responsible for very much that's likely to happen.

And you are correct. They have little interest in making much effort on behalf of people who use their site. These sites make such a slim portion of a booking that they can neither afford much staff nor be generous in compensating loses for which their suppliers are responsible.

8. Re: Beware of Booking.com & Bait-and-Switch

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