Unintelligible ESL agent revokes half our payout without our knowledge, permission or even a guest refund request!
I can't tell you how frustrating it is to try to reach support by phone and be constantly transferred, dropped and put on hold all the time. If you call after hours you will get reps halfway around the world whose English skills may vary greatly.
I had called simply to let them know a guest had checked out two days early (July 28 vs. the scheduled July 30) of our vacation rental home by their own decision and they of course were not due (nor did they request) a refund. All was fine but I simply called to ask if the agent could free up the calendar for us for the last two days, because when the reservation remains on any channel like Booking.com our central master calendar passes that on to all other channels so we cannot book those days on any platform as all calendars reflect them as unavailable. I don't believe it was possible for us to make the change via the Extranet since it was during the dates of the original booking.
First I called and luckily got a native English speaker who said he had to call us back to verify (a huge issue with us because half the time they don't call back or the call does not go thru -- rings once and we can't answer -- especially if long-distance overseas; then we have to call back and go thru the menu, hold system and start all over explaining the issue with another agent). Well he did not call back so ten minutes later I called back and finally got another agent who had a very thick Asian accent that was very hard to understand. I had such a simple request and yet he kept putting me on hold over and over and didn't even make it clear if he could do (or even understood) what I asked. He started saying something unintelligible about a deposit or something and I repeatedly said "huh? ...I can't understand you!" Confused, I asked him how merely freeing the last two dates would affect the guests' security deposit refund. It was very late our time and I had to go to another unit to do the checkout inspection still. Finally he sensed my growing frustration and impatience over the prolonged phone call and multiple holds and callbacks and inability to understand his accent for such a simple request and told us it was done and to refresh the page. Sure enough after like 30 min. the dates were correctly changed showing they checked out on July 28, freeing up or calendar. It was way more tedious than it should have been but at least done now.
Lo and behold, a couple hours later after we do the checkout inspection and promptly refund the guests their security deposit in full and allocate manager and owner income, we see the amount we were shown as our net income was suddenly about half what it was. It was only then did we realize after all that hassle on the phone the agent apparently just carelessly changed the dates and let the system refund the guests half our income for the entire stay without correcting it, all because we asked him to free up that last two days they decided to head home due to a personal issue, leaving us with about $250 remaining income for a 5-night stay in a full home! It was now like 2 AM and we were very tired but called back and kept getting put on hold and disconnected. We have tried for days to contact a supervisor but spent more time on hold over and over with disconnections and super long hold times.
As it stands now we see that the amount is scheduled to be deducted from our bank account after refunding it to the guest immediately today, and their attitude seems to be "Oh well, once it's refunded there's nothing we can do." Really? If you give away our money without permission either reverse it and re-charge the guest or compensate us personally or take it out of the agent's pay. By no means should any language issue exist -- or assumption be made -- causing an agent to simply guess we wanted him to take back our payout and give it to the guests, UNLESS we specifically ask and he confirms that is our intention, which we never once said. The recorded call will easily reveal how frustrating it was and how hard he was to understand and explicitly what we asked for over and over. Now I don't feel we can trust the agents with anything regarding finances because if they don't speak good English they will simply guess what you want and give away your money apparently. The rule seems to be if the owner/manager initiates or requests any change to a reservation, even if explained carefully, the guests are due a refund.
Apparently, any change an owner/manager makes to a reservation regardless of reason is seen as a chance to compensate the guest, even if we are acting upon their request, and it is best to have the guest call and request any changes. This happened before as apparently when we make a change to our policy and fees for future reservations it will also apply to existing reservations if you alter anything about that existing reservation after you made the policy change. There was a fee we no longer collect up front and now do so in person but we had to edit a reservation at the guest's request to extend their stay and it suddenly refunded them that fee which we hadn't collected because she booked under the old policy, so we had to withhold it from her security deposit since it was refunded to her much to her surprise. The way income is so easily refunded and payouts reversed is scary! Where are the basic safeguards?!? Now we have to ask the guest to pay us back for the double refund I guess, well after they've left and been home if Booking.com will not help.