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I've booked on-line the hotel in Thailand via some agency. After I've check-out the hotel charged without my knowledge the deposit (4 times more than agency booking) and agency took the money as well, so I was charged twice. Now I can't get the deposit back as Russian agency, its partner and Thai hotel can't get into any consensus (probably the hotel doesn't won't to agree on the price). I've already called agency and hotel many times, but they don't speak English well, they're rude and they're ignoring my calls (they're always waiting for the other side), so I don't think the issue is moving forward after 2 weeks of waiting.

Where I should report the case and who to blame?


Full story:

I've booked hotel 1h in advance (The Cliff) for 1 night stay via HappyRooms (agency based in Moscow) by using Skyscanner engine and I've received the confirmation booking. I've arrived at the hotel and waited 2-3h in the reception, because hotel staff didn't know via which agency it was booked. I've called to the agency, so they've called the hotel and they talked, so hotel agreed to check me in as they said they've contacted the agency (my mistake was to fill some form giving my card details just in case). On check-out everything seems to be fine and I wasn't informed about any problems. After one week I've realised that I was double-charged (agency took £20 for the booking, hotel took £80 without my knowledge). Went to the hotel, they explained that it's deposit, until the agency will send the payment details, but I think hotel doesn't want to agree on that price (having my deposit, even more). Called to HappyRooms agency many times, they said that normally they don't deal with that situations outside of working hours (so how they're planning to solve it, if there is 4h difference). They tried to contact the hotel, but both staff didn't speak English well so they couldn't resolve the issue, so agency passed the issue to their partner Veturis based in Spain (as on the booking it's saying: "This accommodation is booked by our partner Veturis", "Paid in full"). So after 2 weeks of heavy calls, the situation is: hotel doesn't respond to my e-mails or calls (for me it's 7h time difference) or saying that they're waiting for agency call, agency saying that they're waiting for their partner Veturis and at the same time they don't want to give any further details to the partner, so basically the issue is stuck since 2 weeks and it's not moving forward at all. Now I'm back to the UK.

How to deal with such issue? To which authorities I can report the fraud and who I can blame?

  • 2
    Did you pay by credit card? – jpatokal Jan 28 '15 at 21:45
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    Also, I don't think this qualifies as intentional fraud, it sounds more like a garden-variety communications screw-up to me. But of course, now that both sides have your money, it's not going to be easy to get it back... – jpatokal Jan 28 '15 at 22:10
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    Remember to write about your experience on trip-advisor and similiar. It will help you vent and will likely cost them a lot more money than what they cheated of you. – Thorst Jan 29 '15 at 7:13
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    Never underestimate the power of bad publicity on social networks. Try tweeting happyrooms, just to see what their reaction would be. – JoErNanO Jan 29 '15 at 9:29
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    @kenorb Visa credit or Visa debit? If Visa credit, and it's a UK card (you said you were resident in the UK), the bank/credit card company must take responsibility for resolving the issue - it's the law. – Andrew Ferrier Jan 29 '15 at 13:41
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If you paid by credit card, dispute the invalid charge immediately with your credit card company/bank and let them handle it. You'll get the money back quickly, and it becomes their problem from then on.

If you did not pay by credit card, things get more difficult.

If you're still in Thailand, contact the Tourist Police, who should be able to help you mediate and/or assist with filing a claim in District Court (san kwaeng). Note that resorting to the courts in Thailand is expensive and slow and unlikely to be worth the hassle for a small amount.

If you're already back in Russia, pretty much all you can do is take the travel agency to civil court. Many countries have Small Claims Courts of some kind that make this kind of thing relatively quick and easy, but no idea how well or quickly this would work in Russia, if at all.

In both cases, though, simply a serious threat of legal action (eg. paying a visit in person with a lawyer in tow) is likely to get the hotel/agency to suddenly get much more interested in resolving your case.

  • Thanks for the advice. I'm living in the UK, but on-line agency via which was booked is from Russia. – kenorb Jan 28 '15 at 22:20
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    That's going to complicate things even further. You could still launch a legal claim if you have friends in Russia or Thailand to do the paperwork, but realistically, at this point disputing the credit card charge is about all you can do. – jpatokal Jan 29 '15 at 1:11
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    You should certainly do a credit card chargeback. You can point out the duplicate charges on your statement. Your bank will probably ask you to resolve it with the merchants directly. If you can provide them with correspondence showing you have attempted this unsuccessfully, then they will process your chargeback request. – WW. Jan 29 '15 at 3:43
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Reading through the information on the Happyrooms website, it seems there are two booking options involving credit card, one where you pre-pay Happyrooms in full when you book, the other where they forward your card as a guarantee to hold the room and the hotel will bill the card direct during your stay.

Without knowing which option you used and for how long you stayed, two scenarios come up.

If you choose the prepay route, Happyrooms should have charged the full amount right away and sent you a voucher to give to the hotel as proof of payment. But you don't mention this so I will assume you took the other option.

As is mentioned in their terms that if the card is used to only hold the room that the hotel may charge the first night fee in advance as a deposit and bill you the balance at the hotel. As this seems to have been a last minute booking (1h = 1 hour?), it is possible the perhaps Happyrooms pre-authorized your card for one night's deposit and then the hotel billed the full amount for your stay. If this is the case then the Happyrooms authorization would fall off your card eventually. Your bank should be able to determine if the charge has actually posted or simply been authorized.

What was the total cost of your stay £20 or £80 or ?? (how many nights, how much per night)

If the £80 is appropriate based on the hotel's listed prices, then your dispute is with Happyrooms. And likely the best course of action is disputing the charge with your bank, since the cost to sue them in Russian court outweighs the £20 you will get back.

If the £80 is out of line for hotel (based on their posted prices not what Happyrooms quoted), then again your only real course of action is to dispute the charge with your bank. You can file complaints against the hotel through Tourism Authority of Thailand and they will contact the hotel on your behalf, but they have no legal authority to pursue or penalize the hotel. Or if you are still in country, you can file a complaint with the tourist police against the hotel.

  • 1
    On HappyRooms confirmation is "Paid in full" and amount was in USD (~£20 for 1 night only) and was charged next day. That was the main reason why it was booked (price value), so if I knew that hotel will charge more, I wouldn't stay at all. The booking confirmation was also sent by me on check-in time to the hotel e-mail, but it didn't make any difference. – kenorb Jan 29 '15 at 10:33
3

The first thing to do is to identify the issue and where is a bottleneck:

  • call each side to ask what's the situation,
  • remember, that hotel can't keep your deposit without reason,
  • if the hotel waiting for agency, call or e-mail the agency and if they're disregarding you, ask for their name and demand to talk with manager right now (or ask when they will be),
  • if agency is waiting for 3rd party partner, get the details to the partner and do the same (both call and formal e-mail),
  • if there is problem contacting one of the side, find alternative contact on their website (e-mails, social profiles such as Facebook, Twitter), check WHOIS on domain, find some specific information about the company such as e-mail, registration number and google it,
  • if you're still confused, check the bank statement exactly who, how much and for what reason they've charged you and demand the refund.

Once you found who to blame, then:

  • write formal e-mail explaining the situation, so they're exactly know what happened (it would be useful as a backup for any claim),
  • if no progress being made, ask again for urgent respond,
  • if you're getting crappy respond, tell them that you'll report the issue to ABTA Foreign Office for unfair practices or demanding your consumer rights (or Tourism Authority of X, e.g. Thailand),
  • if the progress is still not being made, demand by law for their legal address, so you can sent them formal letter before going to the court and ask them to pass this message to director and managers of the company,
  • if you know the legal address, send again the formal complain explaining story in full, attach all the details (copy of your booking reservation, bank charges, etc.) and asking for urgent respond,
  • if you know exactly who to blame and that's definitely their fault, talk to a lawyer/solicitor for advice.

Here are few institution from where you can get some help/advice:

What else you can do:

  • look for some existing reviews if there more people with similar situations and check what they did,
  • write honest review at Trip Advisor, Booking.com, atSiam, Google Maps, FourSquare, Yelp and similar,
  • use social channels to write about your situation and company unfair practices (Facebook, Twitter).

To report the fraud:

  • Having tourist fraud in Thailand, tourists can contact for assistance from Bureau of Prevention and Assistance in Tourist Fraud, Ministry of Tourism and Sports that has 8 centers (Ministry of Tourism and Sports, Suvarnabhumi Airport, Don Mueang Airport, Chiang Mai, Chonburi, Suratthani, Phuket and Songkhla). Tel. +66 (0) 2 356 0650 (tsc@mots.go.th, touristcenter13@gmail.com). Find more centers in Bureau of Prevention and Assistance in Tourist Fraud 2.pdf
  • Thai Tourist Police Call Center

protected by Community May 31 '17 at 8:35

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