Cuba - The Payment Challenge (& The Booking.com Formal Response)
For those of us who live in and run Casa's in Cuba, we already know that Cuba is a special case......
With lots of people having been severely burnt by the freezing of Smilewallets assets and no likely resolution, we are collectively looking at even further losses with Booking.com's inability to offer any alternative solutions for payments in Cuba. Having failed to make any real progress using the Extranet. I tried to get to the bottom of the problem by writing directly to the CEO Giliian Lang (detailed below) :
Sadly, I just got back a very non-comital response (also detailed below) that offers no confidence that anything will change soon.
I therefore, will personally be suspending my listings until I get some form of response from booking.com that gives me hope that I may get access to the monies already owed to me and still sitting on their un-processable Virtual Cards. I suggest others do the same.
In theory if customers cannot find Cuban Casa's available on Booking.com they will go elsewhere to find them and we will still get the business.
My Email :
- Regardless of registration country and where you may be domiciled, as a Cuban partner you are forced to advertise and accept payment in USD$’s. WE HAVE NO CHOICE!
- Unlike other Partners we are forced to accept payment by Virtual Card. Especially Ironic as there is ‘virtually' no card processing within the country! WE HAVE NO CHOICE!
- We are also forced by Booking.com to process the payments in in $’s. We Therefore have to find a $ Card Processor. WE HAVE NO CHOICE!
- As Cuba is 99% a cash society, GIVEN A CHOICE, Cubans would choose to be paid in cash. WE HAVE NO CHOICE!
- Because of all these reasons, we are made to feel criminalised and are forced into lying to potential Banks and processors. WE HAVE NO CHOICE!
- When all attempts to process Virtual Cards using standard banks are foiled, we are told by Booking.com that if we can’t find a processor then they will close our account. WE HAVE NO CHOICE!
- Finally we are driven to consider the processors that Booking.com suggests other businesses are ‘successfully’ using, to get around the problems of Booking.com’s making (yes we know they are not recommendations, just suggestions. This is made very clear) WE HAVE NO CHOICE!
- We then apply for a SmileWallet. For the avoidance of doubt WE HAVE NO CHOICE!
- I can think of no good reason why Cuban’s shouldn’t be paid in cash.
- Yes we would have the risk of more ‘no-shows’ but we would have a choice as to whether that risk was acceptable to us!
- If Booking.com has a fear of not receiving commission payments. Booking.com could take a 15% deposit from Guests by card for all Cuba Casa Bookings which removes this issue.
- If you aren’t able to help with an alternate solution I would ask that you consider extending the expiry date beyond 6 months on outstanding Virtual cards in order to enable us to seek other options.
Booking.com's Response :
I am reaching out to you from our Customer Service Management department on behalf of our CEO Gillian Tans. First of all, we lament for the frustration that this situation has caused to you and other Partners in Cuba. We take your feedback to heart. Thank you!
We have reviewed and analyzed all alternatives, but the payout process through VCC's is the only feasible payment option at this point. In the event a new model is rolled out we will let you and all other Partners in Cuba know.
As we continue working on improving Partner experience we will be sure your feedback is directed to the appropriate team.
Once again thank you for taking the time to contact Booking.com.
CS Team Lead
Booking.com Customer Service Center (U.S.A.) Inc.
8529 South Park Circle, Suite 400 Orlando FL 32819 United States of America
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