“We arrived to find out that the owner of our apartment had been evicted – and the locks changed”

By accepting the payment, the booking sites become responsible for any problems with the accommodation

Denise Reid writes

Lin October we arrived in Atlanta, Georgia, to rent an apartment for rent in the Buckhead area. It had been booked through Booking.com and we paid $ 555 (£ 426) in advance for the four night rental. When we asked for directions to the condominium office, we were told that the owner of the apartment had been evicted for subletting and the locks had been changed.

I immediately phoned Booking.com, which checked and said the owner was coming to meet us. I told them he had to lie and, after a conversation with the rental agency, it was agreed that he would try to find a replacement apartment for us.

It was a while before we got the details of an apartment building along the way, but filming was taking place there and the manager didn’t think he had room for us after all. He went to check and didn’t call back.

Several hours had passed, so we cut the losses and used Booking.com to book a room at the Hilton Garden Inn Buckhead. We intended to do this on our own and spent $ 56 (£ 43) on groceries, which were now not useful. We had to eat out for three nights, at the cost of $ 358 (£ 275) extra for which we had not budgeted.

Booking.com agreed to pay $ 282 to cover the hotel’s higher cost and associated expenses and $ 150 for our meals.

As Genius 2 level customers, we feel offended by this stingy position and would like your help to get a better offer to compensate for such a stressful experience.

Consumer correspondent Gill Charlton replies

Booking.com claims that checks are performed by its security teams, local partners and customer service before any property is allowed to enter live on its platform (unlike Airbnb, where anyone can list an apartment for rent) but, with over six million self-cooking on his books, sometimes things go wrong.

However, assuming the payment – unlike the customer who pays the owner directly – Amsterdam-based Booking.com became responsible under the Consumer Rights Act 2015 for the proper execution of the contract.

Given the company’s profits and due diligence in a case like this, I felt that he would have to pay for all restaurant meals, but not for the associated alcoholic beverages. After reviewing the receipts, I thought the $ 275 (£ 211) would be fair and also asked for a voucher against a future booking as a gesture of goodwill.

Booking.com has now agreed to pay this additional amount, but has declined to offer a coupon, as previously said it had offered to pay for groceries and a bottle of wine. To be honest with Booking.com, there was no way of knowing that the owner had been evicted if he hadn’t notified them himself.

As in the previous cases I mentioned in London, Ms. Reid’s experience shows how important it is to contact the property, whether it is a hotel or a rental supplier, about a week before arrival to make sure everything is in order. Use the Online Booking Assistant to send a message directly to the property to ask for reconfirmation.

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