Bookit.com didn’t book a room at the Golden Parnassus

Meghan Gnewikow books her honeymoon through Bookit.com, but because of a computer glitch, it fails to make the reservation at her requested hotel. They offer to rebook her at another hotel, but only if she pays another $685. Can our advocates help her?

Question: I used Bookit.com to book our all-inclusive honeymoon in Cancún, Mexico, at the Golden Parnassus. The total cost of this package was $2,266. I thought Bookit.com would be safe because a friend recommended it, and it has four-star reviews.

In January, seven days before my husband and I were scheduled to leave for the trip, I emailed Golden Parnassus to ask them a few questions, and they emailed me back that I didn’t have a reservation there because my room was canceled. I was advised to contact Bookit.com. I immediately called Bookit.com’s customer service line just to make sure everything was in order.

I spent an hour on hold before getting to speak to anyone. The customer service representative who answered the telephone said she would contact Golden Parnassus to find out what was going on and placed me on hold again while she contacted them. When she finally came back on the line, she told me that because of a computer glitch, Bookit.com failed to send my money to the hotel to complete the reservation, and Golden Parnassus had canceled the booking. Unfortunately, Golden Parnassus was now sold out.

The Bookit.com customer service representative promised to book us at an alternative resort that was comparable to Golden Parnassus within the same price range, and if she couldn’t find one, she would speak to her supervisor to get the additional cost covered. She then put me on hold again, and when she came back on the line, she told me that she could book me at Ocean Maya Royale, but that I would have to pay an extra $685 to make a reservation there.

I argued that this was unreasonable because this was clearly the result of Bookit.com’s error. She told me that there was nothing she could do: either I had to pay the additional cost or cancel the booking altogether, and there would be cancellation fees for both the airfares and the hotel. After arguing with her and getting nowhere, I asked to speak to a supervisor, who told me the same thing. He told me that there was no higher-ranking person at Bookit.com I could speak to, but offered me the guest service email address, which I used to email Bookit.com about my experience.

I paid the extra money to rebook that reservation, but I also had to change my transportation reservations since this resort is in a different part of Cancún than Golden Parnassus, and this also involved paying extra fees. I emailed their customer service as well as the Better Business Bureau (BBB), and I’ve found some other reviews from people who experienced the same thing. Some of them didn’t find out that they didn’t have rooms until they arrived in Mexico. Can I get the extra $685 refunded? — Meghan Gnewikow, Buffalo, Minn.

Answer: I’m sorry you had to spend so much more money to take your honeymoon because of Bookit.com’s error.

It’s upsetting to find that you have to spend that much more and make so many changes in plans only seven days before your dream vacation. And Bookit.com’s customer service, in keeping you waiting on hold for prolonged periods of time, failing to remit your payment to Golden Parnassus, not notifying you of the hotel cancellation until you contacted them, and then brushing you off with “there’s nothing we can do” while insisting you pay that much extra, is definitely deserving of a bad review – especially if other Bookit.com customers have had similar negative experiences.

Unfortunately, the language you used in your email to their guest service was a little strong. While that was understandable, it didn’t help your case. And as another recent article on our site indicates, complaining to the BBB is not always an efficacious course of action.

But what exactly did Bookit.com owe you?

Bookit.com’s terms of use pretty much lets it off the hook. It indicates that:

We do not accept any liability of whatever nature for the acts, omissions or default, whether negligent or otherwise, of those service providers in connection with your travel pursuant to a contract between them and yourselves and over whom we have no direct control. We do not accept liability in contract or in tort (actionable wrong) for any injury, damage, loss, delay, additional expenses or inconvenience caused directly or indirectly by force or other events which are beyond our control, or which are not preventable by reasonable diligence on our part including, but not limited to war, civil disturbance, fire, floods, unusually severe weather, acts of God, acts of Government or of any other authorities, accidents to or failure of machinery or equipment or industrial action.

Its adhesion legalese is designed to let it walk away from almost any problem. Except that a computer glitch was preventable by reasonable diligence on its part. So it should have taken responsibility for its error and not demanded that you pay $685 in extra hotel fees — not to mention all the other reservations you had to change and pay for.

Our advocacy team reached out to Bookit.com on your behalf, and it agreed to refund you $500. You have indicated that although this is $185 less than you were forced to pay, you are happy with the resolution.

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