Smart Flex Guest can dodge the Original Cancellation Policy--
and Booking.com will not shoulder the responsibility to find a Guest Replacement because it falls under their Smart Flex policy of "The guest can cancel free of charge until 2 days before arrival”.
Original Cancellation Policy: Payment is non-refundable for reservations arriving within 7 days.
Smart Flex Cancellation Policy:
Wednesday 17 January 2024 - Booked by the guest --> Smart Flex period
Wednesday 17 January 2024 --> The guest cannot cancel for free
Sunday 21 January 2024 --> Check-in date
I received a Smart Flex reservation through Booking.com that's due to arrive in 4 days. If my Original Cancellation Policy applies, this should be treated as a non-refundable reservation. However, the Guest cancelled in the evening of January 18th and I received a "No Pay-Out" payment status. Meaning, Booking.com approved the cancellation without charging the Guest AND does not have the responsibility to search for a replacement Guest. I contacted Customer Support, and was informed:
"In this case, since the reservation remains as its original terms and conditions, that is “The guest can cancel free of charge until 2 days before arrival”, the guest already cancelled the reservation free of charge on January 18. Therefore, we could not collect any amount from the guest for this reservation as well as compensate you for this."
"We understand how important it is for you to enforce the original terms and conditions of your cancellation policy still, for this reservation, the cancellation policy is that the guest can cancel free of charge until 2 days before arrival. The guest will be charged the total price of the reservation if they cancel in the 2 days before arrival which means our mutual guest was able to cancel the reservation in time according to the policy of this reservation."
This is the Smart Flex cancellation policy that shows for me, in the Guest's reservation page:
Cancelled after Smart Flex time frame
1.) As this room night was cancelled after the Smart Flex period ended, it remains non-refundable and the guest should pay for it.
2.) This room was booked as part of the Smart Flex Reservations programme. That means this room has had its cancellation policy upgraded to Free Cancellation until 17 Jan, 22:29
However, until this moment, Booking.com refuses to acknowledge it because apparently it falls on “The guest can cancel free of charge until 2 days before arrival”.
What are your thoughts in this? Kindly note, the reservation was for 4 rooms, staying for 5 nights--therefore, for almost 2 days, the rooms were blocked. Wasn't Smart Flex advertised as "Risk Free" and "Less Hassle"? I'd be horrified if a Guest abuses the system by booking the entire accommodation close to their arrival date, and freely gets away with it.
I feel like I've gotten scammed.