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Since the original post has gotten so many negative comments due to the tone, here is the actual question, and I will add the additional details (absent subjective comments and names) at the end.

Question: Suppose you book a hotel which is advertised to be of a certain level of quality; in my case, through pictures and a four-star rating. You arrive to find it below your expectation, and decide that you would rather change hotels then stay. Is there any recourse for obtaining a refund? Barring that, is there any pitfalls to avoid in reviewing the hotel online to avoid retaliation?


I have been on a multi-hotel trip whose hotels were booked by my mother. Originally we were to spend three nights in our final destination; however, 5 days or so before, my mother decided she would rather stay where we were. She called Bookings.com and asked them to cancel one booking and rebook at another.

The next day, we contacted bookings.com to confirm our booking, only to find that the employee didn't (and in fact couldn't, without my mother giving her credit card information again) book the new hotel, which now has no vacancies. In the end, we booked the only supposedly comparable hotel we could find nearby which was still available on Bookings.com.

When we got to the hotel, we felt that it was not of the quality we expected given the stars and the pictures online. My mother was especially upset, as she felt that she was getting ripped off by this new hotel. After walking it off and talking to our last hotel, we returned to the new hotel to grab our things and leave. It should be noted that we tried to talk to the manager, but they were never available nor did they make any contact with us.

I want to know what advice I can give my parents in dealing with Bookings.com, who made the booking and is charging us for the room, and the hotel, who so far have only emailed Bookings.com about our complaint to say that we rendered a bathroom unfit for use (which isn't the case) and turned down an upgrade (which we simply weren't offered). I also want advice on how to proceed to warn other prospective customers about what we see as deceptive marketing and bad customer service.

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    Picking nits, except in Pixar movies and "The Shining", a hotel cannot be malicious. – CGCampbell Dec 31 '15 at 18:36
  • What do you mean by "resolve"? Are you hoping to get some money back? – Relaxed Dec 31 '15 at 18:37
  • @CGCampbell, OK. I would argue that there is a common sensibility among English speakers that referring to a place (hotel, restaurant, business, etc) as malicious clearly means the organization running it, but you are correct. – traveler123 Dec 31 '15 at 18:40
  • @Relaxed money back would be ideal, but at least I would like to raise some red flags about this place for the sake of other travelers, especially given their lies to Bookings.com. – traveler123 Dec 31 '15 at 18:41
  • @AndréPeseur You (and the others) are right about the harshness of the original post, and I have tried to edit it down to a less inflammatory version. As for the opposite side, I don't know what to tell you. – traveler123 Jan 1 '16 at 18:19
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One aspect that most folks don't realize is that agencies like booking.com have a room block at the hotels they offer, that is they have four rooms booked for every day of the year (the amount varies depending on the hotel). When you book, they assign you one of these rooms. When these rooms are gone, they mark the hotel as sold out on their website. At a contracted time before the guests arrive they send booking details to the hotel.

They don't call the hotel each time someone books and they usually don't get additional rooms once their block is full. So a hotel could well still have rooms open even though booking.com's allotment is sold out. Conversely a hotel's website could show sold out while booking.com still has rooms available in their block.

Hotel ratings vary from country to country, so one country's 4 star might not be the same as another's. Some countries assign ranking by an organization, some countries have self ranking, some countries simply make things up. Agencies like booking.com depend a great deal on honesty from hotels with the properties descriptions, with many thousand properties it is not always possible to personally inspect each one.

What recourse do you have? Best is to honestly review the hotels on booking.com and TripAdvisor, skip the fraud accusations and stick with property details. Send booking.com an email or postal letter outlining your situation and ask what they can do, leave out the emotional tirade and accusations, concentrate on the facts.

btw: having used the bathroom is the primary reason around the world for not refunding room charges after you have been in the room as there is really no way to prove or disprove you used the toilet while in there, thus requiring the room to be cleaned.

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As you have edited your question, I edit my answer, I will come back to it later to fill out the details.

With all online purchages, whether items or services, it is up to the buyer to double check that what is on offer is what they require.
With hotel bookings you do that by checking reviews on several sites, including having a good look around on the website of the hotel if they have one.

If those reviews as well as the description do not agree with what you find, you complain to the owner and/or front desk staff so they can adjust or offer compensation. Only when that fails you consider other steps, walking away is just the last option.

Do not forget that star ratings are different between different countries and sometimes even different chains of hotels within a country and that your expectations may have been off for this hotel.

  • We have contacted booking.com, as mentioned in the question. As far as fraud, whether our perception of the misrepresentation of quality goes it is unavoidably hearsay Without visiting the hotel and comparing it to the definition of star ratings and the online pictures. Nevertheless, they are definitely misrepresenting our behavior in the hotel in order to derail our complaint. – traveler123 Dec 31 '15 at 18:47
  • By the way, the mixup did not get sorted out: they never made the booking for us, and we only found out when we called to confirm they had changed the booking, only to discover they had only cancelled the original place. – traveler123 Dec 31 '15 at 18:49
  • Finally, I never said booking.com is out to get us. I just said they screwed up originally which put us in this bad position, and now they are relevant as they are who are charging us hence our only recourse for getting a refund of some sort. – traveler123 Dec 31 '15 at 18:50

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