By Tom Winnifrith | Wednesday 17 October 2018
Hotels.com must win the prize for the most annoying adverts on Television. Captain Obvious is a bearded fellow looking like a child molester who sings the praises of this website which is meant to get you cheap and easy hotel bookings. Last night it scammed me, it continues to scam me and judging by the way it attempts to censor legions of adverse reviews on Trustpilot I am far from alone. Be warned, here is my tale.
I arrived at Paddington Station to find all trains back to Bristol cancelled. I logged on and asked Google to search for Hotel Paddington and got pushed towards Hotels.com. I searched and found a room at £213.41 a few minutes walk from the station. Hotels.com said that at this place and most others nearby there was just one room left. I was prepared to believe that given what was happening at the Station though I suspected this was “push marketing.”
I tried to book. A blue bar came uo saying that it was checking that there was still a room available and after about a minute it said there was and before I knew it I had paid for the room and received a confirmation email. I walked to the hotel and saw that its prices were way below £213.41 – so much for Captain Obvious and his price comparison. Worse still I was told that there were no vacancies and this place had not taken a booking from Hotels.com – my booking was rejected.
I called Hotels.com and got through to a chap calling himself Brendan who sounded as if he was in a call centre several thousand miles from Paddington but who said I should stay on the line while he called the hotel to establish what had happened. I did, I heard a call and Brendan offered to find another hotel. I asked for my cash back.
Now, in emails from Hotel.com, with Brendan and with a young lady who has just called from customer support in wherever +91 is I have been told that the cash will either be sent back by Hotels .com within 24 hours but will arrive in anything between 7 and 15 days or that the process has been initiated and I will receive my cash within 7 days.
Whichever way it is, Hotels.com took my money on a false pretence and appears to be sitting on it earning interest for a given period. Brendan’s claim that Hotels would send the cash within 24 hours but it would take my bank 7 days to process is risible. Each time Hotels.com contacts me I get a new story but the bottom line is that it is earning interest on my cash which it took on a false prospectus, a lie, that is to say that it had ensured there was a room to book and had booked it.
This is a truly shocking level of service. As it happens I contacted the company’s PR man and said I was a journalist and thus my case has been “accelerated” hence the call from +91. My guess is that folks who cannot claim to be part of the noble profession get treated even worse. But maybe I was unlucky?
Over at TrustPilot there seem some genuinely awful reviews but what is also noticeable is how Hotels.com, like Purplebricks, seems to be doing its best to censor a hell of a lot of folks who also seem to have suffered bad experiences. I wonder why? Meanwhile I shall ask my bank to notify me as to when or if my refund arrives. I am not exactly holding my breath.
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