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How can Booking.com just cancel our apartment … and then refuse a refund?

Booking.com website.
Making an online booking was the easy part … but when it was cancelled with no refund the problems started. Photograph: Alamy Stock Photo

In October, I booked an apartment near New York through Booking.com for travel in February, paying £441. Two days later the reservation was cancelled, with no further explanation.

Customer services told me it was a “technical issue”, and that we are not the only ones affected. I was advised to find an alternative and, rather shockingly, that it would not be refunding me the money we had paid, and that I would have to take it up with the bank and dispute the transaction.

I again queried this in December and was again told that the website was not legally obliged to offer an alternative, or a refund. I couldn’t believe it.

JS, Dublin

To facilitate a booking which is then cancelled, and to refuse to enact the refund, is extraordinary. We asked the Amsterdam-based Booking.com to investigate and it has put your experience down to a “one-off” error.

It has refunded you the original payment and says it is supporting you in finding an alternative place to stay. We know that Booking.com makes thousands of trouble-free reservations each day, but complaints about the service have shot up recently. The promise of a free cancellation option which later turns out not to exist, is the main one.

We welcome letters but cannot answer individually. Email us at consumer.champions@theguardian.com or write to Consumer Champions, Money, the Guardian, 90 York Way, London N1 9GU. Please include a daytime phone number. Submission and publication of all letters is subject to our terms and conditions

This article titled "How can Booking.com just cancel our apartment … and then refuse a refund?" was written by Miles Brignall, for theguardian.com on Sunday 14 January 2018 07.00am

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