In April we booked a Hotel for our vacation in Greece in June. The booking took place on the hotel's website. We decided to pay immediately and not have the classical "make a reservation that you can cancel until a week ahead"-type of booking. That way we could save a few bucks.

After having submitted the form, the Hotel approached us via mail,the payment did not work out. They asked us to send them our credit card information in plain text. I was somewhat reluctant, since this is not a secure way of transferring sensitive data. So I asked them whether they could cancel the booking and we just try it once more with another credit card via the website. They refused. So we sent them the credit card data via mail. They still could not book (we did not receive any notification from our bank about some sort of denied request). So we sent them my girlfriend's credit card information. No response, upon request they claim the booking was once more unsuccessful.

Next they ask us to transfer money via bank deposit. We refuse since we lose some control over the process, apart from hefty fees for international bank transfers. And somewhat everything looks very fishy and untrustworthy to me.

That's why we asked them now to cancel the booking altogether. They want to charge us a cancelation fee. I find this an absolute disgrace.

Am I wrong or are they wrong? The hotel is olive green in Crete BTW.

  • 2
    How would they charge you the cancellation fee if all payments you sent really failed?
    – bogardpd
    May 13 '17 at 12:18
  • exactly my latest response.. May 13 '17 at 12:53
  • 1
    @bogardpd: Theoretically they could sue you in court. May 13 '17 at 15:33
  • 3
    @AnatraIlDuck Are you US-based? If yes, did you inform your bank that charges from abroad are expected? It may be that both you and your SO have charges from abroad on your cards disabled, in which case it would not be the hotel's fault that the charge could be made. Also, did you call your bank to check if charging the card has been tried? The online banking systems do not always show all requests, and your bank's customer service center may see more details.
    – DCTLib
    May 13 '17 at 20:11
  • 1
    I would argue that since you chose the option to pay the full amount upfront, you have not yet actually made a reservation, since this transaction has not completed (and there is therefore nothing to cancel and no fee to pay).
    – brhans
    May 15 '17 at 13:33

The hotel has very good reviews on Tripadvisor and as long as you booked it on their actual website (http://www.olivegreenhotel.com/) its unlikely to be a scam, although it sure looks like one.

Stating the obvious: if they weren't able to charge you for the room, I don't see how they can charge you for a cancellation. I'd do the following:

  1. write a back a polite letter "unfortunately you have not been been able to process our payments even after three different options were given. We therefore need to cancel the reservation and cancellation fees do not apply".

  2. Keep a copy of that letter.

  3. If a charge pops up on your credit card, dispute the charge with your credit card issuer and send them a copy of the the letter as proof.
  • 2
    Hilmar - Writing a letter and telling the hotel that they can't charge their cancellation fee does not negate the contract and their right to charge a cancellation fee.
    – user13044
    May 13 '17 at 15:07
  • @Tom . Agreed. It's a purely defensive measure. In case of conflict having the letter is better than not having one. What alternatives would you suggest ?
    – Hilmar
    May 13 '17 at 18:11

Do not pay them anything. I doubt that they will try to charge you because they know it's their fault that you cancelled.

Threatening them that you will write your story (along with a low rate review) in Tripadvisor or booking.com might convince them to cancel your booking right away.

  • The OP has failed to pay for reservation. How it is hotel's fault? May 16 '17 at 11:45
  • @9ilsdx9rvj0lo It is the hotel's fault not to recognize that it is not the client's fault if the OP has any problems. They know that the client did anything they could in order to make the payment possible and since the OP or anything else (but not the client) failed, they should cancel the reservation without any obstacles. What they are doing is extremely unprofessional.
    – papakias
    May 16 '17 at 14:27
  • No, it's not. They didn't do anything, because they refused to do bank transfer, which is the most logical thing in such circumstances. He had also probably no way to check why the card was blocked. It's possible that giving overcharged prepaid card data to force cancelling booking is a common trick in that area. May 16 '17 at 14:38
  • 3
    @9ilsdx9rvj0lo The hotel asked for credit card details in plain text. I would have stopped any interaction with them at this point.
    – papakias
    May 16 '17 at 14:54
  • 1
    @9ilsdx9rvj0lo You are obliged to pay if you have used the hotel's services. In this case no services were used.
    – papakias
    May 16 '17 at 15:19

A badly designed booking system (no possibility to change payment method, no checking if credit card is valid before booking) doesn't change the fact if you owe something to hotel or not. We can only speculate if Greek law consider online transactions binding if no payment was made - it's a legal question. In Germany, such construct exists. Greece is in EU too, so it's likely it's the case.

We can speculate if the hotel would care or not to try to enforce you paying them. Maybe yes, maybe no. It's like with parking fines or fare dodging. Even if it's unlikely they will sue you, they can submit you to some local blacklist operators and you can find yourself unable to rent a car or even kayak. Getting out of such lists is a hard job, especially if they are operated unoficially by private entities. Better safe than sorry.

You should negotiate with the hotel to find a solution. From their point of view, you tried to scam them by presenting invalid credit card data. Maybe you use some local provider instead of globally accepted (VISA/Master). Maybe CVV is required. Maybe your bank don't accept transactions from Greece. We don't know, they don't know. If they got scammed many times, they'll likely assume your badwill.

The best solution will be if they accept you paying cash on arrival. It's not very likely they will accept if you already escalated (they assume you are not going to arrive). Bank transfer would be probably the most reasonable solution. It is the most reliable, even if the most expensive. Next time look for hotels accepting cash on arrive or paypal. It's not safe to assume your credit card will work abroad, if you haven't tested that before.

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