Booking.com booked us into Bates’ Motel…
What would you call a company so incompetent that they booked you into a closed hotel? And when you complained and asked for a refund of money spent on taxis after hanging about at an airport in the cold, dithered around for a month while trying to settle a claim for a measly $41? You’d call it Booking.com.
If you want utter incompetence mixed with smarmy assurances that they are truly concerned about your plight – you know - the plight they got you into – book a hotel room via Booking.com. This is a firm that would have trouble running a bath.
Readers know Pat and I often travel round America on speaking tours. To save funds, we gave Booking.com. a try. Big mistake. Bad booking. In fact, no booking - unless you count being booked into a closed hotel! After 24 hours of non stop travel, Pat and I arrived quite late at what is laughingly called St. Louis International Airport.
The trip didn’t start well when we were stuck on the tarmac at Heathrow with what the BA pilot called a problem that was “nothing serious.” I’d call not being able to get the engines started pretty serious. We got in late at Dallas/Fort Worth, missed our connection and were ready for bed when we finally dragged into St. Louis.
We lugged our cases out of the (seemingly luggage-trolley-less) airport to wait for the shuttle to the Ramada, booked thru Booking.com After about 35 minutes I realized only the Ramada didn’t have any shuttles. We called the hotel, to be told it was “closed for staff training.” Although this is clearly needed, it didn’t help us.
After standing round in the cold, making phone calls on a cellphone which, fortunately we had charged up before setting out from London, we eventually got a room at another Ramada, on Dunn Road at Hazelwood. The taxi driver charged us $29 and we gave him a tip, making it up to $35. The next day, we tipped the shuttle driver $6 to take us back to the airport, to pick up a car. So we ended up $41 out of pocket, not counting the phone calls and inconvenience.
I called Booking.com and they told me that any extra costs caused by this mistake were down to the Ramada, which took our booking without checking or realizing that the hotel would be closed when we arrived. While in St. Louis I also called the hotel, gave some details of the problem and asked for a call back. This never came. More staff training clearly needed……
Since then I have been fruitlessly trying to get our $41 back. I never quit. I started out really friendly, telling Booking.com that if they just settled they would hear no more from me. A month on, they are still pratting about, whining about a receipt ( I didn’t get one so presumably the taxi driver drove us for nothing) and so on.
So today I started blogging. This is one way, dear readers, to teach companies that they should treat people better and deal promptly with complaints. Otherwise you get bad publicity. Like this. If I had been any kind of con-artist commonsense would tell anyone that I would be trying to extract a good deal more than a measly $41!
Finally, some good news. It is now August, 2011, and this firm, based in Holland, has finally managed to get me my long talked about refund - $41. The bank in America extracted ten of these for the privilege of accepting a wire transfer, but so be it. I made my point and the customer won. I think I will celebrate with some bottled water.....