Booking.com has long been one of the most popular websites for travellers booking hotels online. As a fully bonded York travel agent we are legally obliged to protect client’s money when we make holiday arrangements on their behalf, and of course this is something we are happy to do as people recognised the security of using their local travel agent.
We do often face clients who come in and tell us that they have seen this hotel at a great price on booking.com and can we package it? The straightforward answer is no because booking.com do not offer any financial security. This is sometimes countered by their belief that because they do not pay the hotel until they arrive their is no risk. Wrong again.
A recent investigation by the BBC, who were approached by a whistle blower, explained his role in the booking.com scam. He worked in a fake call centre and had access to thousands of personal details belonging to booking.com customers, and from these lists he would call clients and advise they would receive an email from the hotel requiring advance payment for their hotel stay. Subsequently the client would receive the email which would appear to come from the hotel and included bank details, although these had no connection with the hotel.
Many people made the payment but then discovered the hotel had no record of the payment when checking-in.
Booking.com responded with a statement “Customers are key to us and personal data of customers are safe with Booking.com and we have taken our time to work with all parties involved such our partners, but most importantly our customers to make sure the impact on them is as minimal as possible.”
The statement above may not allay many people’s fears, Booking.com used to fax details of customers credit card details (including security codes) to unsecured fax machines in hotels. It’s not surprising that customer details fell into the hands of these fraudsters.
One other thing to bear in mind. When you make a booking via booking.com your contract is with the hotel not booking.com. If you have a problem you will have to deal with the hotel in the country they operate and under their laws. So if you need to take any legal action it will be in the country where the hotel is and subject to local laws. When you book with us everything is covered and protected by UK law and stringent health & safety checks will have been undertaken by the tour operator you use. This means that you know that balconies have appropriate safety rails at the correct height (important for families with children), electrical and gas safety checks have bee carried out etc. Worth thinking about isn’t it?