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Why does Booking.com have a NON-REFUNDABLE policy, but calls EACH time to ask me to REFUND cancellations ???

I am getting sick and tired of being called by Booking.com EACH time a guest asks to cancel a non-refundable reservation, and being asked to give them a full refund.

The question is: why does Booking.com offer a NON-REFUNDABLE rate, but pressures the host EACH time to issue a FULL REFUND?

If Booking.com has so much empathy toward the guest canceling a non-refundable rate, why don't they give the money back themselves to the guest, and honor the host non-refundable policy?

I was under the impression the non-refundable rate would protect the host, but Booking.com lets the guest knows that it is up to the host whether they will issue a refund or not.  If Booking.com announces that option to the guest, what is the point to have a non-refundable policy that actually becomes optionally refundable at the host discretion?

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12 Replies
3960 Views

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Ncane Dhlamini

I agree with you Lynda.  I have also been contacted twice by Booking.com to allow FREE cancellations on non-refundable bookings.  The first I agreed, this recent one I refused.  Why should Booking.com even give the guest an option to request such??  This making the host unreasonable if the request is declined.  The 2nd guest turned up at the property and started telling me he had to find an alternative place because there is no wifi - which is clearly stated - also this was an early booker special  this person had blocked the room from other bookers and now I must refund him - to make things worse the guest arrived on Friday evening and only decided to cancel Saturday afternoon making the room un-bookable for such a long time, why didn't cancell immediately he left - selfish - it"s uncalled for.  I'ts a non-refundable - that's the end of the story.  I don't want any negotiations.  

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1 year ago
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pibomarco

I have also non-refundable rates, but I do make an exception from time to time and accept free cancelation. In some situations I gladly accept free cancelation. If guest cancels two months before the arrival I would never have the heart to charge them the total amount. In some cases I even offer them free cancelation only if we receive another booking for the same dates.. 

When guest must cancel their booking, ofcourse he will ask booking.com or the property if a refund is possible.. well at least most of them.. you wouldn't as a guest in this situation?

You don't have to negotiate at all... a simple yes or no will do.  

The point of non-refundable rates is to receive proper bookings, to avoid big amont of cancelations/no shows. Not by profiting from those few cancelations.  

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1 year ago
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Isle of Wight …

Hmmm .... I've had a couple of cancellation requests online, but BDC have never called me. I set non-refundable via the calendar when I'm setting the pricing. I think, but not 100% sure, that some properties have a setting somewhere that allows a "non-refundable rate" - I'm guessing the "terms" or the way this works might be different to how it works when you set non-refundable in the calendar. I recently had a guest book and then cancel within 10 minutes - their booking is showing as £0 and "Risk Free", so if BDC don't find another guest, they pay us anyway ....

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1 year ago
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pibomarco

I received a call from BDC, received some online requests, direct messages from guests.. I think it depends mostly on what approach the guest makes when he ask for free cancelation (either by phone, through messages,...)

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1 year ago
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Theo Pillay

Hi Lynda

I agree with your sentiments as well. Booking.com should just state the cancellation policy as it is worded. By them coming back to us with the query, it puts us on the spot and casts a negative view on us if we refuse to cancel. This in turn could dissuade the guests from booking with us again, but if Booking.com rejects their requests, chances are that they will still use Booking.com in the future...  

 

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8 months ago
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Helen Kopnina

booking.com did not pay me for any cancellations for a month already! I have contacted them three times in the last few weeks and every time I received this automatic reply "We have forwarded your message to a specialist on this topic. They generally respond within 2 days. Nothing else is needed from you in the meantime." and then no response! 

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7 months ago
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Helen Kopnina

I have contacted booking.com representatives for weeks - I am not being paid for reservations I have not canceled myself - nor did I allow free cancellation after a special grace period due to corona (I have strict cancellation policy), I keep getting replies: "we have forwarded your message to a specialist and they will reply within 2 days" for over two weeks, nobody has replied!!!!! What to do?????

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7 months ago
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Homelands Bed …

I run a small B&B in the Cotswolds and also have issues with booking.com's interpretation of 'non-refundable' and 'non-flexible' rates, as it now appears these rates are actually both refundable and flexible when the booking.com decides they are. I am currently neck-deep in a dispute with a guest and booking.com about a booking for 12 June 2020 that was cancelled with no reason given on 13 March 2020, before the Covid-19 lockdown was even announced. At least we thought it was cancelled as the booking.com email said: "This guests wants to cancel his booking" and 'we notified the guest there is a cancellation fee, but wanted to know if you were at all flexible in this case'. You get two options, a red button to 'DECLINE' or a green button to 'ACCEPT'. I declined, at this point the guest had been charged in full, and I assumed that was the end of the matter, so I removed the booking from my diary. (Btw I did offer the guest a full credit towards a future stay with us, but the guest declined that goodwill offer...). I have now found out that the guest did not proceed with the cancellation through his booking.com account, and therefore the booking remained 'active'. A huge amount of telephone calls and emails followed, the relationship with the guest became acrimonious, and I withdrew my goodwill offer of a full 100% credit towards a future stay, and told the guest he is not welcome with us - ever. Since then there has been a continuous stream of emails and telephone calls from the guest booking.com support team, every time a different person,  trying to get me to change my mind. I have  now been told that booking.com will accommodate this guests elsewhere in a business of similar ratings and price, invoice me for those costs, and presumably take that money by Direct Debit which is currently how I pay the commission. How they are going to accommodate  that guest is anybody's guess as the UK Government has now extended the Covid-19 lock-down of hospitality business to the end of June 2020, and he is NOT a 'key' worker, therefore it would be illegal.  The lesson to be learned from this is that the non-refundable, non-flexible rate booking.com wants you to offer in addition to your normal rates, is in fact refundable and flexible, to the cost of the accommodation provider. Nice one.... and something to be aware of!

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6 months ago
8
pibomarco

You've made mistake because you told the guest that they are not welcome anymore. 

 

'DECLINE' / 'ACCEPT' request doesn't mean that booking is automaticly canceled - as you saw. It gives a guest an information that you are not willing to offer free cancelation, so he can decide if he is going to stay anyway rather then cancel. 

 

When having a dispute with a guest, and your explanation/offer is not satisfactory to them, I usually tell them to contact Booking.com for assistance, since they booked through them and not directly with us. So we deal with them only through BDC agent.

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6 months ago
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Homelands Bed …

Thank you for your points, PiboMarco. 

I accept I made a mistake by believing that (standard) email -the one with Accept/Decline- was a cancellation. It wasn't, I realise that now. However, the wording is ambigious, and open to various interpretations, and something booking.com should rectify and clarify.

Secondly, booking.com should back-up their hosts more and not put undue pressure on to refund a non-refundable, non-flexible  booking.

I will try to make this into a positive and contact the 'Product Manager' of the non-refunadable rate, and make some suggestions on the wording of the emails and ask them to review they way they handle a dispute. 

 

 

 

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6 months ago
8
pibomarco

I understand the pressure, that we personally must decline a refund and that it is not done automaticly by the system. Booking sends us an email only if guest specificaly request a free cancelation. 

 

We can always stick to our policies without any guilt. For bookings that are canceled months before arrival I have no problem refunding, even if it is non-refundable and if I know that I would easily re-book the unit. I beleive that this is a fair game and also this guest can be a potential future guest.

 

Bottom line is that guests are usually aware what they booked and most of them would understand if they won't receive a refund. Although now with COVID-19 it's a little different story in my book, I beleive that non-refundable bookings should be refunded without a question in this time, specially if borders are closed etc..

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6 months ago
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Homelands Bed …

I agree with you. We have managed to reach an agreement with ALL  our guests who booked on the non-flexible/non-refundable rate for the period that now falls within the official UK lockdown/closure of accommodation providers. They have either had a refund, or a full credit towards a future booking in the next year.  After all, the 'Force Majeure' clause applies.

However this dispute was about a cancellation request dated before the UK Government announced the forced business closure; for a stay with us that fell outside the initially announced  lockdown period... and the guest never bother to give us a reason of why he wanted to cancel. 

We are VERY flexible with cancellations but only if the guests bothers to communicate with us, explains the circumstances, and is generally pleasant and/or apologetic. In most cases a mutually satisfactory solution is found.

 

 

 

6 months ago