Until earlier this year, I’d used Booking.com almost exclusively to book hotels I stay in. I travel a lot, both for work and for pleasure, and it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that I must have used Booking.com over a hundred times, probably spending a couple of thousand in the process. I’d never had any problems with them before, apart from one time in 2015 when I arrived at a hotel I’d booked in Changsha, China, and found they had no record of my booking. Even then, Booking.com just apologised and refunded my money.
Last year, my girlfriend wanted to go to a Hins Cheung concert in Hong Kong. I sprang into action, bought tickets on the black market and used Booking.com to get a room at a place called Minimal Hotel Bazaar for two nights at a cost of 725 HKD. Remember the name, and if you ever go to HK, avoid it like the plague. To cut a long story short, the shit hit the fan in HK. There were mass demonstrations, and the Hins concert was cancelled. My girlfriend and I decided it was too dangerous to go to Hong Kong for no reason, and contacted Booking.com to request our money back. I should say here that I’d booked a non-refundable room, but due to extenuating circumstances we’d heard of other people getting refunds so we thought we’d try our luck.
The hotel refused to give us our money back, but offered to move our reservation to a later date. I agreed, hoping that the hostilities would die down. The later dates were more expensive, coming in at a cost of over 1000 HKD.
When I checked my bank balance, I saw that the hotel had taken two payments. 725 and 1000. I called them, and they said because the first payment failed to clear, they took the second payment. This was complete bullshit. How could the second payment clear but not the first when they charged the same credit card? It was obvious that they were trying to pull a fast one, and either charge me twice for the same room or bill me the higher amount.
I wasn’t having that and contacted Booking.com customer services. They were helpful at first, promised to investigate the matter, and requested screen shots of my bank account showing the transactions Minimal Hotel Bazaar had instigated, which I duly supplied.
And then they stopped replying to my messages.
I called the hotel again several times, but they wouldn’t pick up the phone and all my emails to Booking.com were roundly ignored. Slowly, I came to realize that I’d been screwed. And not in a good way. I went online to leave a review with Trust Pilot, a consumer website, and discovered how bad their reputation has become. In the past few months there has been a slew of one-star reviews with people telling all kinds of horror stories. Their overall rating is now a shameful 1.5 out of 5.
I won’t be using Booking.com any more. They’ve become a fucking joke. Instead, I’ll be using Trivago, their main competitor, and I advise you to do the same.