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I have booked a flat with the next conditions (get standard letter from booking.com):

Your reservation    3 nights, 1 room Change
Check-in    Sunday 14 May 2017 (14:00 - 18:00)
Check-out   Wednesday 17 May 2017 (11:00 - 12:00)
Prepayment  
No prepayment is needed.
Cancellation cost   
Until 29 April 2017 23:59 [Yalta]: RUB 0
From 30 April 2017 00:00 [Yalta]: RUB 6,000

And today I recieve a letter (through booking.com) to transfer part of the cost (30%) to the bank card of the host. This is done without using the booking service so I feel confused: looks like no garantee of reservation or even getting money back in some case.

What should I do in this situation?

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    Have you contacted Booking.com to verify that it came via its system, and isn't a scam? – Giorgio Jan 31 '17 at 16:11
  • @Dorothy, I wrote to booking and to the host through booking messenger. The answer is (from host) "мы получаем денежные средства на счет и информируем Вас об этом. Это и является 100% бронированием номера на указанные даты для Вас и для нас гарантией Вашего заезда" - "we recieve money to our account and are going to inform you about that. This is you 100% garantee of booking for the dates you chose, and this is also garantee of your arrival". No answer from booking yet. – Ivan Gerasimenko Feb 2 '17 at 7:24
  • Sounds reasonable, that the host would ask for what amounts to the cost of one night as a confirmation. But it may be that the hotel is trying to avoid paying booking.com its fee by getting the money directly. I'd wait until booking replies to your query. While you're waiting for that, ask the hotel whether the money is applied to the cost of your reservation and whether it is refundable. Does it amount to the RUB 6,000 it can charge you if you cancel after 30 Apr? – Giorgio Feb 2 '17 at 13:22
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I have booked accommodations in the CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States) using booking.com before. The trouble is that the hosts have their own version of agreement in their respective language. You have it in English. Those two versions differ. I suggest contacting booking.com as your conditions clearly states: "No prepayment is needed". All such disputes were resolved to my satisfaction.

PS. On a different note, you are travelling to Yalta, Crimea. The fact that Crimea is a part of Russia is not universally recognized, and various enforcement agencies (e.g. Dept of State, FinCen) prohibit doing business (e.g. spending money) in Crimea. If you spent any in any traceable way (e.g. credit card), you may be in violation of your nation laws and/or subject to extortion later. I would advise to exercise extreme caution.

PPS. By your name and occupation you appear to be Russian National, so above may not apply to you personally.

  • Agreed. I booked a hotel in Hongkong, no prepayment required. Hotel emails me through booking.com message system, that I pay them 30% to confirm the room, otherwise no guarantee of room. Cancelled it quickly. – DavChana Jan 31 '17 at 20:11
  • @DavChana, I've booked another hotel and received the same message (request to pay beforehand for 1 day). Also wrote to the booking but there is no answer yet. – Ivan Gerasimenko Feb 2 '17 at 7:18
  • @IvanGerasimenko, I am reading about non-zero "Cancellation cost" in your post. Did you provide the CC as security when booking? – mzu Feb 2 '17 at 14:26
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    Essentially, the hotel asks you to cut out the middleman ("kinut'" in Russian slang) who brought your business. I would ask myself how can you be sure the said hotel would honor any verbal agreement with you. I would appeal to the booking.com customer service and CC the hotel. The hotel do not want to lose the advertisement they have through booking.com, so they will eventually comply with the original booking. – mzu Feb 2 '17 at 14:45
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    @IvanGerasimenko, please, let us all know how it turns out – mzu Feb 2 '17 at 17:42
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This is common for Yalta, Crimea. The booking.com are aware of this. Their response to my request:

Thank you for sending us your request.Apartments on Xxxxxxxx Yalta has been informed on your behalf.

Please note that your request is not guaranteed until the accommodation has confirmed it.

Request: Hello! I was notified from host to pay beforehand despite booking condition: "Prepayment: No prepayment is needed". Also prepayment is requested to be done outside of booking.com, so I have no garantee that my payment reserves the room. Hope this situation to be resolved soon. Thanks!

If you would like to verify your request before your arrival, please contact the accommodation directly. Their contact details are: TEL.NNNNN

I have booked 3 hotels and at every place I was asked to transfer money directly to the host. So at the last one I finally did that (after telephone call to check host identity/terms of stay), payed for one day beforehand.

UPDATE:

My staying at Yalta was fine. The room was as expected, clean, new and with a great view of Yalta.

But I strongly recommend to give a telephone call to the host before transferring money (and check they know appartment they rent).

  • @mzu, the way it goes now – Ivan Gerasimenko Apr 24 '17 at 15:05
  • Did booking.com intervene? What do they say on "no prepayment" in the booking description vs demands to prepay? – mzu Apr 25 '17 at 17:20
  • @mzu, updated, added booking.com answer. – Ivan Gerasimenko Apr 26 '17 at 7:15
  • "Request" in this context means "additional wish" such as roll-out bed, early check-in, disabled access, place for your pet etc. I think, you should have send a complaint, and not shared with "Apartments on Xxxxxxxx Yalta on your behalf", but to booking.com CS/management. My complaints were sent to customer.service@booking.com and handled very professionally within 24 hours. And all questions of prepayment were resolved to my satisfaction (I paid zero in advance) – mzu Apr 26 '17 at 18:12

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