Booking a hotel for a quick break? Every year, we hear from thousands of people who’ve booked online, only to find that their room is nothing like they expected. Here’s what to do if it happens to you.
Whether you’ve booked with Booking.com, hotels.com or Expedia, you should always expect to get what you’ve paid for.
Any adverts on booking sites should be clear and accurate.
If you suspect that a booking site’s information was inaccurate or even deliberately misleading, you should make a complaint via Resolver.
If you arrive and realise that your room isn’t as described, you should expect to be able to cancel your stay without any additional charge. If this doesn’t work for you, you should expect a suitable replacement or a price reduction.
Always take the matter up with the hotel as soon as you realise there’s a problem. If they offer to show you better rooms, you should take the offer. If you don’t, you may find yourself in a tricky position when it comes to claiming redress.
Since most booking sites say that you’ve got a contract with the hotel rather than with them, you may find that it’s best to resolve things directly with the hotel.
That being said, you should still be able to raise the matter with the booking site. Most booking sites will try and resolve matters if you contact them via Resolver.
You should also know about the Package Travel and Linked Travel Arrangements Regulations (2018).
These apply whenever you buy a package holiday. What counts as a package holiday? Well, it’s any holiday that’s made up of different parts that’ve been put together. When you buy any combination of flights, accommodation or entertainment, you’ve been sold a package holiday.
If a site sells you a flight and a hotel stay in Japan for a total cost, for example, it falls under the PTR. If something goes wrong with a package holiday, the tour operator that sold it to you has to resolve the situation – often by offering a replacement or a refund. You could also be due compensation.
It’s worth knowing that if you book a flight and a hotel as two separate transactions, it’s a linked travel arrangement. If you book a linked travel arrangement, the travel agent has to cover you if they go bust. If they go bust and it strands you abroad, you should also expect them to pay for accommodation or getting you home.
If you’ve booked via an online booking site, you won’t be able to claim money back via Section 75. This is because Section 75 requires a direct relationship between you, your credit card company and the seller. Introducing a booking site into the relationship breaks the chain.
Whether you’ve booked via Booking.com or another booking site, get in touch with them as soon as possible.
In the past, booking sites have been known to say they act as an advertiser only. Most include a passage in their terms and conditions saying that your contract is with the hotel or airline rather than with the booking site itself.
This has caused lots of confusion in the past, but many booking sites are making other changes to clear things up.
Booking.com, for example, have added a section in their terms and conditions to say that you (as a consumer) can rely on consumer laws in the country you live in when dealing with their service.
This means the Consumer Rights Act 2015 applies. In theory, this gives you much better protection. Great news for consumers!
The Consumer Rights Act generally gives you the right to expect certain things from a booking site (including that any info that leads you to make a sale is accurate).
Many booking sites have done a great job in implementing the Competition and Market Authority’s recent guidance. This means you shouldn’t see any unfair selling tactics (such as fake discounts, “one room left at this price” pressure selling, or unclear sponsored posts).
This is a great step forward for the industry – we love to see sites like Booking.com taking steps to clarify things for consumers!
There’s still a long way to go for booking sites in general, though. If you’ve had problems with a booking site, give Resolver a go. You can raise a free case in just a few minutes.