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Leaving without paying

We have had a couple stay for a couple of nights and were seen running with their luggage without stopping to pay (for their room and food). We don't want to become a non-trusting establishment and insist on deposits. We are a very small rural pub and need to make booking as attractive as possible to survive. But now I find out that I can't access their credit card details and aren't able to give them to me either. It seems crazy that you only have one shot at looking at the card details (if you need the CVC, three if you don't) and that is only within 10 days of the booking being made (which could be 18 months ahead of the stay). If have requested this information in order to make the booking, surely they have some obligation to provide the card details following what for us is a significant theft? Or am I supposed to keep a written list of all the credit card details for all of our bookings somewhere on our premises?

7 Replies

Leandri Klopper

Hi there!

That's a tough one, but I've stepped into that pothole a few times before where the card details on the site expired before I could write them down.

The answer is yes, you're supposed to write them down and keep them safe somewhere. Unless you have a prepayment policy that gives you the right to process the card before the guests come. Perhaps also you can look at the pre-authorising option?

Take a look at this link: /en-gb/help/policies-payments/i-want-set-pre-authorisation-guests%E2%80%99-credit-cards-how-can-i-do

Hope this helps!

1 year ago

Thank you so much for taking the time to answer. In general all our guests are great and very honest. But we were broken into a few years ago and I worry about having people's card details written down on the premises or on my laptop. If either were taken the implications are huge. We have so many bookings and then cancellations too - so the admin involved and costs of putting small charges through doesn't really make it practical to do any kind of pre-authorisation. I think sadly what I am going to have to do is get them to fill in a form on arrival that requires their address, number plate and card details. It is going to be hard to implement when so many arrive during busy periods in the bar, but I can't think of any other option. We have spent the last two nights chatting with them late into the night, and did them breakfast at 1.30pm as they stayed in bed until 12.30 one morning - I guess it just hurts to think we welcomed such horrid people into our premises!

1 year ago
Asad Chaudary

I'm so sorry to hear of the trouble you have had with the couple who did a runner.

Firstly, it's imperative for you to make a note of the credit card details (and that must include the CVC) for all bookings you get. You can keep the information secure on a password protected Excel spreadsheet, of purchase a secure USB that you can keep the information on.

Secondly, very important that you pre-authorise the card before confirming the reservation. Not only are you validating the card details are correct, but you are also increasing your chances of retrospectively being able to charge the guest in the event of a no-show or cancellation.

As unfortunate as it is, sometimes we have to learn the hard way, but it's important you put in place measures to avoid it happening again.

Also, you can't rely on Booking to help in recovering the lost revenue as you'll only be wasting your time. Just make sure you report the problem to Customer Services and seek an assurance in writing that they won't charge you commission on the booking.

Good luck.

1 year ago
Leandri Klopper

Hi again,

I think your solution of taking down their details is not a bad idea! Don't worry, horrid people (as you say) will get theirs in the end. Karma...

Just remember that the guests can refuse to give you their details, or they can falsify their details. at least verifies the information entered on the website. So perhaps just be vigilant regarding that.

I wish you all the best!

1 year ago
Thuild - Your …

Here is a good case practice:

1. When they book and their reservation falls into the cancellation period, charge their cards (put a notice about this procedure in your fine print or messages that you send upon confirmation)

2. If you choose to not do the above, you write down the card information (even without CVC I can process their payment, through MO/TO method), save it if you will need to charge them later. Best to keep in in a secured document in the cloud, Google has such options

3. When they check-in, scan their ID, make sure they know about it

4. When they check-in, pre-authorize their card on the spot for the full amount, if it fails, do not accept them to stay at your place (if they cannot provide another card to have a successful pre-authorization)

5. Read people, don't trust anyone blindly. What is in your hands, it's there, stories are stories and will fade away, so don't bite when they try to make up things.

6. Process payments on check-in for the reservation, minimizing the probability of total loss if they make a run for it.

These are the things I've been experimenting with, all work quite well.

Best regards,

Zsolt -

1 year ago

Re "We don't want to become a non-trusting establishment" . Nobody would ever call you a non-trusting establishment just because you take payment up front. People have come to expect that, as they are almost always paying with credit cards. I charge everyone 100% as soon as they book. has no problem doing that for virtual bookings and guests are aware that it is part of the process. Refunding cancellations (assuming their booking actually allows cancellations) is a small price to pay to avoid losing out due to guests walking away without paying.

I do agree, however, that should be obligated to give you the information in this scenario (by asking the guest to supply it again or blocking guest from ever booking again).

1 year ago

Just had a German couple turn up for a two night booking and they slept in the room in the afternoon then left and then cancelled the booking, so lost two nights bookings and another couple didn't turn up the 2 nights previously, so lost 4 nights this week.

11 months ago