Booking.com falsely advertised hotel room as “free cancellation”, won’t refund $380 charge

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Jan 3, 2020
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#1
I booked a hotel room for January 17-20, the Adams Inn, in DC because it was advertised on booking.com as "free cancellation until January 3"; attached is a screenshot of the standard double room I booked. I chose this room precisely because it had free cancellation and I knew that there was a good possibility I would have to change plans. With booking.com's additional push to its customers that there was only one left (see screenshot from 10:59pm), I booked it on Nov. 21st about five minutes later. When I received the confirmation email from booking.com (at 11:07pm), I noticed that it said at the bottom that it was "non-refundable". Let me be clear that this was in the email I received AFTER having booked it; there was no way for me to know that it was not "free cancellation" as advertised, but rather "non-refundable", until AFTER booking. It is indisputable that "non-refundable" is quite the opposite of "free cancellation until January 3". Furthermore, the fact that the screenshot I have shows that I saw that there were other rooms that were non-refundable but mine was "free cancellation" shows that I knew that the possibility of a non-refundable room existed, but I very purposefully chose the one that was free cancellation.

I spoke to booking.com twice and received no help; the supervisor denied the representative's transfer because there was "nothing he could do". This is false advertising, plain and simple. I found contact info on the Elliott website and emailed the regional director of Customer Service, providing her essentially the same info in this post. I then heard back from a customer service representative via email, I assume as a result of my emailing the contact, who requested a screenshot of my bank statement that showed the charge so that booking.com could refund me. I sent what he requested and have not heard back in two weeks; I have since emailed him twice, and still have received no response. At this point, their lack of communication has gone past the (false) “free cancellation” date (which is today) and the hotel stay that I cannot use is coming up in two weeks.

I have also contacted my bank but my dispute was denied, I assume because it was in fact me who completed the transaction. I have also called the hotel and they said that if I booked through a third party like booking.com, they could not do anything for me.

In summary, I have been charged $380 for a room that I cannot use that was falsely advertised as "free cancellation until January 3rd". D047317D-526B-43CB-B950-270B08978186.jpeg
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
20,745
20,324
113
New York
www.promalvacations.com
#5
I tried to book that hotel through booking.com and even booking further out gave me no options to book with any free cancellation. But there was an option of a partial refund and you are right- it gave me absolutely no information on what a partial refund was. You actually have a screen print so I think you need to take it up with further up to Booking as well as an email saying they will refund you.

Move up to the next executive on our contact list and tell them who you emailed (tell them you can forward the email to them saying you’ll be refunded) and you never were refunded. Continue weekly up the executive chain.
 
Likes: VoR61
Jan 3, 2020
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#6
In looking at their website, it appears that the majority of the rooms are booked for those dates. Is there a reason that you didn't book direct?
Not any more reason than why most people I know use Expedia to make reservations — it gave me choices, and I chose and booked. I had no qualms about it, as booking.com is a big name and it clearly stated “free cancellation”.
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
20,745
20,324
113
New York
www.promalvacations.com
#7
Not any more reason than why most people I know use Expedia to make reservations — it gave me choices, and I chose and booked. I had no qualms about it, as booking.com is a big name and it clearly stated “free cancellation”.
But you add a middleman to the process and have to deal with that middleman with issues. Booking directly with the property often has easier cancellation policies and if you end up losing $380 because of Booking- was it worth it?

The rooms start at $78 a night on their website for that weekend. A triple room with private bath is
$96.60.
 

Patina

Verified Member
Dec 22, 2015
1,570
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#8
This shows that there is the option of free cancellation but what does the screen say after you choose that option but before you paid/confirmed it? Unfortunately, this screen shot does not prove you chose the free cancellation option, maybe you have another screen shot that shows that option being your choice?
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
20,745
20,324
113
New York
www.promalvacations.com
#9
This shows that there is the option of free cancellation but what does the screen say after you choose that option but before you paid/confirmed it? Unfortunately, this screen shot does not prove you chose the free cancellation option, maybe you have another screen shot that shows that option being your choice?
Patina, I actually tried to book on Booking and I went as far as a screen to put my card info in and there was absolutely nothing said about cancellation policies. I didn’t find a fully refundable price but a partial and there was absolutely nothing said about what that meant.

The hotels own website also has no cancellation policy shown if you book direct either. So I would imagine that might be part of the problem. I believe Booking needs to do something- showing a different cancellation policy after putting in a credit card and being charged isn’t acceptable.
 
Likes: Patina
Jan 3, 2020
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#10
I’m not sure how to respond...Every 20 or 30 something year old I know books flights and hotels through Expedia, booking.com or some other similar website — not one of my peers books directly anymore. So, knowing now what I know — that booking.com falsely advertises free cancellation — would I have not used them? Of course not. And I will never use them again. But that doesn’t change the fact that they are a popular company — you should feel comfortable knowing they won’t scam you; other companies do similar things, like your ability to cancel within 24 hours on Expedia, so this (false) offer was not out of the realm of possibilities.

I’m not sure why I need to defend my choice to use booking.com...I’m looking for help and guidance on how to get this known company to follow through on their refund. Can anyone help me with this? Thanks in advance
 
Jan 3, 2020
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#11
This shows that there is the option of free cancellation but what does the screen say after you choose that option but before you paid/confirmed it? Unfortunately, this screen shot does not prove you chose the free cancellation option, maybe you have another screen shot that shows that option being your choice?
I don’t have a screenshot of that, no. I only happen to have the screenshot that I posted because I was going to send it to friends to show a possible hotel idea for us to use, so they could see the price and description. Little did I know I’d need it to try to prove that booking.com falsely advertised.
At no point during the booking process was I informed that it was non refundable; only when I already booked it and received the confirmation email did it all of a sudden say “non refundable”.
 
Jan 3, 2020
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#12
Patina, I actually tried to book on Booking and I went as far as a screen to put my card info in and there was absolutely nothing said about cancellation policies. I didn’t find a fully refundable price but a partial and there was absolutely nothing said about what that meant.

The hotels own website also has no cancellation policy shown if you book direct either. So I would imagine that might be part of the problem. I believe Booking needs to do something- showing a different cancellation policy after putting in a credit card and being charged isn’t acceptable.
Correct. This is not acceptable and is false advertising. The entire point of having the option of free cancellation is for those people like myself who want to snag a room because it’s supposedly about to sell out of that type (again, the screenshot shows that there was “only one left!!!!”), but who are ultimately unsure if the plan will stay the same or change. Mine changed, I tried to cancel (in November — six weeks before the supposed free cancellation deadline of Jan. 3), and was told I couldn’t and then saw that I had been fully charged.
Additionally, the fact that my screenshot shows that there was another room that WAS non refundable makes it very clear that I was aware of the existence of non refundable rooms and actively avoided them.
 
Likes: Kitkat
Jan 3, 2020
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#13
This shows that there is the option of free cancellation but what does the screen say after you choose that option but before you paid/confirmed it? Unfortunately, this screen shot does not prove you chose the free cancellation option, maybe you have another screen shot that shows that option being your choice?
I don’t have a screenshot, but I did research the room and it is the only one of its kind in the inn. Meaning, I reserved the only room with a twin and queen, and my confirmation email shows that that is the room I have. Also, if you just look at the price I paid, it’s the same as what the screenshot shows...all other rooms are priced differently. So this is one hundred percent the room I booked.
 
Feb 3, 2017
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#14
If you had chosen the one that could be canceled by Jan 3, you would be charged $397.89 if not canceled by Jan 3, not the $380 you mention being charged.

But, even the one you can't cancel is $389.83, not $380. (I may be confused by this part of the situation)

I hope you get it sorted if you have something that shows you did choose the one that could be canceled by Jan 3 - The screenshot above only shows that it was an option from which to choose not that that is the room you did ultimately choose to book.
 
Jan 3, 2020
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#16
I tried to book that hotel through booking.com and even booking further out gave me no options to book with any free cancellation. But there was an option of a partial refund and you are right- it gave me absolutely no information on what a partial refund was. You actually have a screen print so I think you need to take it up with further up to Booking as well as an email saying they will refund you.

Move up to the next executive on our contact list and tell them who you emailed (tell them you can forward the email to them saying you’ll be refunded) and you never were refunded. Continue weekly up the executive chain.
Thanks for this tip — I have emailed one more person, copying the original executive and copying the customer service rep who responded saying they could reimburse me, and I included the whole email thread. I hope I hear back. This is the fourth email I send to booking.com with the whole story and screenshot (not including the phone calls I made to them, as well).
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
20,745
20,324
113
New York
www.promalvacations.com
#17
Thanks for this tip — I have emailed one more person, copying the original executive and copying the customer service rep who responded saying they could reimburse me, and I included the whole email thread. I hope I hear back. This is the fourth email I send to booking.com with the whole story and screenshot (not including the phone calls I made to them, as well).
You have a to give it a week before you move up the executive chain. I saw the issue myself so hopefully our contacts will work. If they don’t, we have another option so hang in there.
 
Jan 3, 2020
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#18
You have a to give it a week before you move up the executive chain. I saw the issue myself so hopefully our contacts will work. If they don’t, we have another option so hang in there.
Yes, the last time I emailed them was on Dec. 22, so it has been almost two weeks. I will wait a week from today and then email the last contact listed on Elliott.org.
 
#20
I have booked with Booking.con for a night in Tampa after a cruise. I found the stay lower and Booking.com refunded the difference. It was a no refund rate.

I booked another no refund rate for one night in LAX to save money. Booking.com shoes canvellable rates and no refund rates. You agree to the terms and can view the terms before you book. Hotwire and Priceline also has similar policies except for the Best Rate Guarantee.

I think the OP may be out of luck. If you try to cancel it will say the amount you work of lose.

Booking.com gave me a discount off my room for booking with them . I am 99.9 sure we will make our stay as we arrive from China and leave the next day. If I was less sure about the room then I would book a cancelable rate.

Our hotel is $125 with breakfast when other hotels were going for more .
 
Likes: Staxofjoy