When Dale Cerney checks into his resort in Kauai, it doesn’t have a reservation for him. Will Booking.com pay for the lost reservation?
I recently booked a room at a resort in Kauai through Booking.com. The online agency worked with a third party that handled the reservation, but Booking.com lost the reservation. As a result, I didn’t have a place to stay.
A person at the resort said the organization had done the same thing to another family just days before.
I’ve sent multiple messages to Booking.com but it hasn’t responded. I tried to resolve this by filing a credit card dispute and my bank has refunded me temporarily. But I ended up incurring an additional $1,955 in hotel expenses. I would like help holding Booking.com accountable. — Dale Cerney, Seattle
I’m sorry Booking.com lost your reservation. I know what it’s like to show up at a hotel without a reservation, and it’s one of the worst feelings ever. You start to imagine yourself sleeping on a park bench. I’m glad you found a place to stay.
Why is Booking.com losing reservations?
Booking.com this year reportedly stopped paying some of its hotels for reservations. The company blamed the problem on a “technical” issue and promised to resolve it quickly.
“We understand the frustration of the accommodation hosts and owners that have been unduly affected by an ongoing technical issue,” a company representative said. “We can confirm that the system errors that affected the payments have now been corrected and the transactions of most of our partners have been processed.”
But the Booking.com problems lasted weeks, and some hotel owners reportedly had to take on second jobs to cover the cost of utilities. It’s conceivable that your lost Booking.com reservation was part of the “technical” problems that caused payment delays.
What happened to your lost reservation on Booking.com?
Booking.com says the property, the Hanalei Bay Resort, was “unable to honor your reservation” but doesn’t say why.
It looks like you did everything you could to make sure you had a legitimate reservation. You used a reputable online agent, Booking.com. You even contacted your online agency before your arrival to verify the reservation, and it was confirmed.
Bottom line: This shouldn’t have happened. (Related: Booking.com suspended my account. Can you help me get it back?)
Booking.com did not initially respond to your request for help, according to the correspondence you sent me. When it finally did, it claimed this was the first time it had heard from you.
“We hope you’ve found an alternative accommodation without too much trouble,” a representative told you in an email. “We have been in touch with your original accommodation and, if you’ve had any extra costs, please send us the invoice of your new accommodation after your stay and we’ll do our best to assist you.”
You should get a full refund for the first hotel once your credit card dispute finalizes. But when you presented Booking.com with a bill for the price differential between the original reservation and the new one, it did not immediately respond. And that’s when you asked me to help you get the $1,955 back.
How to avoid losing your reservation through Booking.com
If you have an upcoming reservation through Booking.com, and you can’t find your reservation online, don’t panic.
First, make sure you are signed in. You should see your reservation in the “Bookings” section of your account. If you can’t find the reservation, check your confirmation email. Booking.com may have sent the information to a different address or account.
If you still can’t find it, you’ll need to contact Booking.com directly. It also helps to verify your reservation with the hotel directly. (Related: What’s the Booking.com refund process? The company took my money!)
You might have avoided a problem like this by booking directly with a resort. Although direct reservations can get lost, too, it’s far less likely to happen than when you book through a third party agency. (Here’s our guide to finding the best hotels.)
Beyond that, you can call to confirm your reservation directly with the hotel before you arrive. Unfortunately, everything seemed fine until you arrived, which is highly unusual. I publish a few helpful strategies for resolving your consumer dispute on my advocacy website, Elliott.org. You could have also appealed your case to one of the Booking.com managers. I list their names, numbers and email addresses on my consumer advocacy site.
You reached out to me for help, and I contacted Booking.com on your behalf. The company reviewed your case. “Booking.com customer service has been in touch with Dale, who will be receiving a refund for the extra costs incurred,” a representative told me.
About this story
We’ve been getting a lot of Booking.com cases lately, but this one caught our attention because it looked like a complete communication breakdown between the customer, the booking site, and the hotel. The IT problems at Booking.com must be far more severe than the company has indicated. So my advocacy team and I decided to send this one up as a warning to anyone making a reservation through Booking.com. You know the old Russian proverb — trust, but verify. My thanks to our advocacy team of Mel, Amore and Dwayne, to Andy Smith and his editing team, and to artist Dustin Elliott.