Lessons learned with Booking.com and VRBO

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fortfun
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Lessons learned with Booking.com and VRBO

Post by fortfun » Sun Apr 15, 2018 12:09 pm

We've been planning a month long trip to Europe this summer. Two things I've learned and thought I should pass along. Perhaps you already know these things.

1. Not all credit card transactions go through Booking. They let some of their property managers process their own payment. The problem is that some properties fail to refund your money, even though booking sends you an email indicating that. The other problem, some charge way more than booking indicates. For example, one property charged me $1,100 USD when booking had the total at $800 USD. This was not due to any currency difference, international fees, taxes, deposit, etc. It was just a blatant over charge. Moral of the story; check your credit cards bills carefully! At least booking.com is very helpful when it comes to getting your money back. Really good customer service.

2. With VRBO, we picked an apartment that was later cancelled on us. I believe the owner sold the apartment. Unfortunately, what we were refunded on our credit card was much less than we had paid. I assume the value of the dollar went down against the pound but I don't know for sure. We were cancelled on, had to scramble to find a new place, and then to rub salt in the wound, we lost money on the deal. Lesson learned; only book with people that have reviews--don't take chances on properties with no reviews. Sadly, VRBO had no interest in helping us recoup the money we lost on that deal. I figured they would just put a credit on our account for our next stay but didn't seem to care in the slightest.

Hope these suggestions will help save other Bogleheads some money down the road.

spitty
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Re: Lessons learned with Booking.com and VRBO

Post by spitty » Sun Apr 15, 2018 1:34 pm

That's sad you lost money when your booking was canceled; surely you appealed to VRBO but they decided to hose you--amazing! I've lost interest in them the past couple years for a few reasons. Prices per night seem to be going up rapidly, "cleaning fees" are outrageous, and deposits are high--dollars you lose for several months. And most are charging taxes now, yet some in the same area don't. Are some paying IRS and others not? Not sure how that works. Add in the VRBO service fee and it's worth looking into hotels in most areas. Finally, the Citi-Costco VISA doen't recognize VRBO as travel so the 3% rebate is NA--that was my hard lesson last year but not as painful as yours!
@HelpingRhinos...1 rhino poached every 8 hours last year...501(c)(3)

westie
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Re: Lessons learned with Booking.com and VRBO

Post by westie » Sun Apr 15, 2018 4:17 pm

I wouldn't use booking sites, go through the specific hotel/motel. I rented a hotel room on a booking site then realized as soon as I got off the phone it was the wrong day. Called immediately to both the booking site and the hotel to rectify date which was more than 2 months in advance ..... neither would help each blaming the other. This was a chain hotel in Indiana on a weekday night, I was charged for the room.

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Rainier
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Re: Lessons learned with Booking.com and VRBO

Post by Rainier » Sun Apr 15, 2018 5:40 pm

westie wrote:
Sun Apr 15, 2018 4:17 pm
I wouldn't use booking sites, go through the specific hotel/motel. I rented a hotel room on a booking site then realized as soon as I got off the phone it was the wrong day. Called immediately to both the booking site and the hotel to rectify date which was more than 2 months in advance ..... neither would help each blaming the other. This was a chain hotel in Indiana on a weekday night, I was charged for the room.
I use booking.com all the time. I have booked, cancelled and changed all without issue.

One time I used booking.com and there was a mis-understanding with the hotel. I booked a large room for 3 people but the hotel put us in a smaller room. I learned about this from the hotel a few days before we arrived. I called booking.com in advance and they jumped on it, with a real US based agent on the phone. They offered to find a different place and pay any rate difference. In the end i found a different hotel for less that fit everyone in a bigger space.

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fortfun
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Re: Lessons learned with Booking.com and VRBO

Post by fortfun » Sun Apr 15, 2018 7:48 pm

spitty wrote:
Sun Apr 15, 2018 1:34 pm
That's sad you lost money when your booking was canceled; surely you appealed to VRBO but they decided to hose you--amazing! I've lost interest in them the past couple years for a few reasons. Prices per night seem to be going up rapidly, "cleaning fees" are outrageous, and deposits are high--dollars you lose for several months. And most are charging taxes now, yet some in the same area don't. Are some paying IRS and others not? Not sure how that works. Add in the VRBO service fee and it's worth looking into hotels in most areas. Finally, the Citi-Costco VISA doen't recognize VRBO as travel so the 3% rebate is NA--that was my hard lesson last year but not as painful as yours!
Yes, I was very surprised also. That one seemed like a no brainer for VRBO. When I've had similar problems with UBER, etc. they always bend over backwards to "make things right."

dustinst22
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Location: Huntington Beach, CA

Re: Lessons learned with Booking.com and VRBO

Post by dustinst22 » Sun Apr 15, 2018 10:16 pm

Credit card company wasn't willing to get you the full amount back? Surprising. One huge advantage of using AMEX is they are excellent about this kind of thing.

TravelGeek
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Re: Lessons learned with Booking.com and VRBO

Post by TravelGeek » Sun Apr 15, 2018 10:50 pm

Rainier wrote:
Sun Apr 15, 2018 5:40 pm
I use booking.com all the time. I have booked, cancelled and changed all without issue.
I am curious - what advantage does booking.com offer you compared to booking directly with the hotel? Do you see substantial discounts compared to the lowest available rates? (all major chains now offer “members” rates that often are a bit lower than AAA or AARP rates)

I don’t generally see the value in engaging a middle man for these types of bookings. And after a really bad experience about a decade ago with Travelocity where they botched an air ticket connected to a cruise booking I am very careful...

Yukon Jim
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Re: Lessons learned with Booking.com and VRBO

Post by Yukon Jim » Sun Apr 15, 2018 11:05 pm

TravelGeek wrote:
Sun Apr 15, 2018 10:50 pm
Rainier wrote:
Sun Apr 15, 2018 5:40 pm
I use booking.com all the time. I have booked, cancelled and changed all without issue.
I am curious - what advantage does booking.com offer you compared to booking directly with the hotel? Do you see substantial discounts compared to the lowest available rates? (all major chains now offer “members” rates that often are a bit lower than AAA or AARP rates)

I don’t generally see the value in engaging a middle man for these types of bookings. And after a really bad experience about a decade ago with Travelocity where they botched an air ticket connected to a cruise booking I am very careful...
I'd rather book directly with the hotel after using booking.com for comparison. I've found that in the US the prices are at least as low when booking directly and sometimes lower. Outside the US, I usually get a better rate through a website such as booking.com.

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fortfun
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Re: Lessons learned with Booking.com and VRBO

Post by fortfun » Tue Apr 17, 2018 8:41 pm

TravelGeek wrote:
Sun Apr 15, 2018 10:50 pm
Rainier wrote:
Sun Apr 15, 2018 5:40 pm
I use booking.com all the time. I have booked, cancelled and changed all without issue.
I am curious - what advantage does booking.com offer you compared to booking directly with the hotel? Do you see substantial discounts compared to the lowest available rates? (all major chains now offer “members” rates that often are a bit lower than AAA or AARP rates)

I don’t generally see the value in engaging a middle man for these types of bookings. And after a really bad experience about a decade ago with Travelocity where they botched an air ticket connected to a cruise booking I am very careful...
Hi TravelGeek,
For this trip, I generally booked apartments that are not found anywhere else. I did this for two reasons 1) They usually have a kitchen and sometimes laundry 2) they are generally cheaper than hotels. Otherwise, yes, if hotels, I'd generally book through the hotel.
Thanks!

Shallowpockets
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Re: Lessons learned with Booking.com and VRBO

Post by Shallowpockets » Tue Apr 17, 2018 9:40 pm

I use booking.com fro the ease of price comparison, info on the hotel, reviews, and the map feature. Can you get a better price through the hotel direct? Maybe, but that entails a phone or email message. Asking about the price. Which room do you mean, etc. a lot of extra work.
I have added days to a hotel I was already in and asked at the front desk about the rate. Told them it was cheaper on booking.com. They said book it there, they could not offer a better price. Sat in the lobby, booked it on booking.com and went back to the desk and checked in.
Same thing for hotel actual web site. Higher price than booking.com, and a lot more hassle to go through the procedure to book.
Have had problems with hotels. Booking.com has always done me right. I had a problem with a hotel changed on me and charged a higher price in Sri Lanka. So I am in another time zone/time of day/day of week and I email booking.com and then very shortly the manager is rectifying the situation. From 180 degrees around the world.
To me that is service.
In most travels I am booking maybe the night before. Sometimes the morning of the night I need.
To me that is convenience.

Loik098
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Re: Lessons learned with Booking.com and VRBO

Post by Loik098 » Tue Apr 17, 2018 9:52 pm

dustinst22 wrote:
Sun Apr 15, 2018 10:16 pm
Credit card company wasn't willing to get you the full amount back? Surprising.
Agreed. Assuming OP used an appropriate CC, would trip protection not cover this sort of thing?

TravelGeek
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Re: Lessons learned with Booking.com and VRBO

Post by TravelGeek » Wed Apr 18, 2018 1:02 am

Shallowpockets wrote:
Tue Apr 17, 2018 9:40 pm
I use booking.com fro the ease of price comparison, info on the hotel, reviews, and the map feature. Can you get a better price through the hotel direct? Maybe, but that entails a phone or email message. Asking about the price. Which room do you mean, etc. a lot of extra work.
I book on hotel (chain) websites. Never call or email. Easy peasy :) Might be different if I stayed more often at smaller/independent hotels.

I do use Kayak to comparison-shop or get a sense for what properties are available in a particular area if I am not familiar with it.

mptfan
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Re: Lessons learned with Booking.com and VRBO

Post by mptfan » Wed Apr 18, 2018 1:56 am

Once I booked a hotel room in DC on a travel site (I think it was Expedia) and when I checked in and walked into the room, I noticed right away that there was a strong smell of cigarette smoke everywhere in the room. I am not a smoker and the room was obviously designated as a smoking room and the strong smell of smoke everywhere bothered me, so I went back to the front desk and asked to be switched to a non-smoking room, and I was told they were none available, and when I protested the front desk clerk said to me... "You booked this room on Expedia and we agreed to give you a room, but we did not agree to give you a non-smoking room, so there's nothing we can do."

Ever since that experience, I have learned to book hotel rooms directly with the hotel and not through middle man sites... I only use online travel sites for price comparisons. I am even willing to pay a little bit more in some situations to book directly with the hotel because it seems that hotels are more accommodating to their direct customers, especially those who are members of their loyalty programs.

I think the same thing is true for airlines as well. I recently had an issue with missing a flight due to my own fault, and I was put near the top of the standby list of more than 70 people for the next available flight and I got on the flight and was able to make my next connection, and I am convinced that part of the reason wast that I paid for the ticket directly on their website and I am a member of their frequent flyer program.

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Rainier
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Re: Lessons learned with Booking.com and VRBO

Post by Rainier » Sun Apr 22, 2018 2:30 pm

Yukon Jim wrote:
Sun Apr 15, 2018 11:05 pm
TravelGeek wrote:
Sun Apr 15, 2018 10:50 pm
Rainier wrote:
Sun Apr 15, 2018 5:40 pm
I use booking.com all the time. I have booked, cancelled and changed all without issue.
I am curious - what advantage does booking.com offer you compared to booking directly with the hotel? Do you see substantial discounts compared to the lowest available rates? (all major chains now offer “members” rates that often are a bit lower than AAA or AARP rates)

I don’t generally see the value in engaging a middle man for these types of bookings. And after a really bad experience about a decade ago with Travelocity where they botched an air ticket connected to a cruise booking I am very careful...
I'd rather book directly with the hotel after using booking.com for comparison. I've found that in the US the prices are at least as low when booking directly and sometimes lower. Outside the US, I usually get a better rate through a website such as booking.com.
The ease of cancelling and clear cancellation policies are what attracts me to booking.com

I travel to do running races and before I even enter the race I will often book a hotel just to get a place to stay. As soon as the race entry opens rates tend to sky rocket but I already have a place. If I don't get in I can cancel. If I do get in I can look for last minutes deals and cancel the original hotel (and book directly with a hotel).

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