February 22, 2024
When Berkeley resident Mary Anne Morgan stays at a boutique hotel in Cambria, her online travel agency charges her twice. Can she get one of the payments back, or does Booking.com get to keep it?

DEAR TRAVEL TROUBLESHOOTER: A few months ago, I stayed at The Rigdon House, a boutique inn in Cambria, which we reserved through Booking.com. I indicated I would pay for our accommodations at the time of arrival. I paid the hotel when I checked in. Then I got a second charge on our bank statement that was generated by Booking.com.

Christopher Elliott, the Travel Troubleshooter 

I’ve spent five weeks trying to get Booking.com to refund the $1,057 that they billed me. I’ve communicated via emails, chats and phone calls, all with different sales reps who requested we send the same documentation. I’ve sent the documentation three times now.

Booking.com assured me a manager or supervisor would get back to me, but no one did. I’ve talked with someone at the hotel numerous times as well, and they even contacted Booking.com on my behalf. Booking.com told the hotel that my refund had been processed, but it hasn’t.

I want to be refunded for the $1,057 that Booking.com incorrectly charged me. Can you help?

— Mary Anne Morgan, Berkeley

ANSWER: Clearly, you shouldn’t have been charged twice, but equally clearly, you were. Someone at Booking.com should have reviewed this and fixed it quickly. Instead, the process has dragged on for months, and you’re still out $1,057.

How did this happen? You can make a reservation on Booking.com and pay when you arrive. But in your case, it looks like someone — it’s not clear who — made a second reservation in your name. Both reservations were in the Booking.com system, and Booking.com charged you for both.

Although your case is complicated, a knowledgeable agent at Booking.com could have probably resolved this quickly. But as far as I can tell, Booking.com sent you a series of possibly automated responses in regards to your complaint. The representatives did not fully understand your problem. In the end, Booking.com sent a refund to someone else’s credit card.

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To break through the automated emails and the AI customer service, you have to appeal your case to someone who can help. I list the names, numbers and email addresses of the top Booking.com executives on my consumer advocacy site, Elliott.org. I also have a detailed explanation of the Booking.com refund process to help you get through it.

I contacted Booking.com on your behalf. Less than a week later, you received a full refund.

Christopher Elliott is the founder of Elliott Advocacy, a nonprofit organization that helps consumers solve their problems. Email him at [email protected] or get help by contacting him at elliottadvocacy.org/help/.
(c) 2023 Christopher Elliott
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