Booking.com send massive invoice for relocating guest

I’m new to the hosting scene, starting out with AirBnB. It seemed pretty straightforward: guests send booking requests, I confirm if the dates work, and everyone’s happy. Then I decided to expand my reach by listing on BookingDotCom. What caught me off guard is that guests there can book instantly without my approval, and unfortunately, I can’t opt out because my country isn’t on their list of eligible countries.

So, my first booking rolls in, and that’s when I realise I’m locked in once the guest books. Trouble was, those dates were already booked on AirBnB. I messaged the guest right away, apologising and explaining my newbie status, that I hadn’t synced my calendars, and that my place wasn’t available. Plus, the booking was for way down the line – three months in advance.

The guest responds saying they cancelled, but BookingDotCom needs 24 hours to find them another place without extra charges. So, I figured I’d let them sort it out. But then, silence for four months.

Suddenly, BookingDotCom sends me an invoice for 400 EUR due by month’s end, citing “Compensation / complaint charges paid on your behalf.” The reason? “Relocation - cannot accommodate guest.” Absolute nonsense, right? The original booking would’ve only cost the guest 250 EUR.

I called their customer service, and let me tell you, it was rough. The rep was downright condescending, insisting I pay up.

I’m not keen on paying, and frankly, I don’t care if they ban me because I don’t plan on doing business with them again anyway. My only worry is whether they’d escalate this legally. I doubt it, but my partner’s concerned they might go as far as sending bailiffs.

Would love to hear your thoughts on this. Thanks!

The nice part about the incompetence of BDC is that it extends to collections as well, I wouldn’t concern yourself with it. I stopped using them about a year ago and haven’t looked back. I still owe them money and they still owe me money, not a peep about it other than the dumb automated emails.

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No experience with BDC (although friends have and ditched them quickly), and while it seems odd that it took 4 months for this to surface, it isn’t “nonsense”. It could easily be that there was no place else available for those dates at that price.

And I am sure the information re only Instant Book and hosts having to pay for relocation is stated in their policies. If you list on more than one platform, you have to sync the calendars so dates that are booked on one get blocked on the other, or do it manually.

It sounds like you listed with both platforms without informing yourself of all the ins and outs first, because if you cancel a guest on Airbnb, you will also get fined, and the dates you cancelled will be blocked as punishment so you can’t rebook them.

I don’t know what you mean by “guests send booking requests, I confirm if the dates work”?
Guests can only send requests for dates that show as available on your calendar, and it’s your responsibility to make sure to block dates that aren’t available. So there should never be an “if the dates work” scenario.

Also, if you screw up and have dates open that aren’t available, it isn’t right to ask the guest to cancel- it’s the host’s responsibility, although some guests will be nice and do so.

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I’ve never used BDC but it seems unlikely that they’d send an invoice without knowing exactly where they stand.

If I were you I’d read their TOS very carefully.

So I imagine that they are within their rights to charge you for any overcharge in finding a new property for the guest and that this information would be buried deep in their terms.

Even though your place is cheaper than the one BDC found for the guest there will probably be something in the TOS that refers to a place that is ‘equivalent in size, amenities etc.’

I’d be sure to check and if it turns out that they didn’t disclose this, you can sleep at night.

:slightly_smiling_face:

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I would not think they would do that before a lot of other communications. And since the amount is not large, they will probably only send you emails and letters to try to get you to pay.

But as @muddy says, you really need to read the T&C’s (TOS) of any platform before you list on it. The issue that got you is the main reason I never advertised on BDC - too high a risk. And they told me the calendars only synch three times a day, and that wasn’t fast enough to lower the risk of a double booking enough to make be comfortable.

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Yes, it is something along those lines. I know the only places near us that are “equivalent” cost two to four times as much as we do, and that’s too expensive for me to take that risk.

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@Debthecat was just on the other side of a booking like this…this isn’t your host is it, Deb? LOL.

I doubt that, but it won’t deter me.

As a guest on Airbnb and sometimes VRBO, but not bookingdotcom, I have a guest sympathetic view. People who only host and never use these sites as guests sometimes don’t realize what it’s like to be on the guest side.
I often spend hours choosing the perfect rental. Some of this is my own quest for perfection, some of it is due to the lack of good search filters. Once I book a place and the host cancels, I have to begin this process again. It’s especially egregious when they cancel after a period of time or because they didn’t realize there was a high demand event and they can make more canceling and relisting. Companies should have a stiff penalty to prevent these shenanigans.

There is no reason I should be penalized due to your errors. In this case the penalty seems a bit steep and the delay in letting you know is wrong. What if you had done this again, not understanding the terms you agreed to and messing up multiple people’s plans and racking up a bunch of charges. That wouldn’t be fair to anyone.

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In 8plus years of hosting I have only ever cancelled on one guest and she was giving me really strange vibes…… she asked me 5 times about how clean a 5 star cleanliness rated home…… I asked her multiple times what her concerns were … never answered- just wanted to know how clean it was…… she was coming over as a nit picking white glove guest and wouldn’t be happy in a 100 year old home.
I would rather be empty that have one of those stay with possible demands of an unjustified refund and a an unhappy review because of ridiculous expectations.
My booking was for a large property, close to the venue as we will be busy with the prep stuff.
The replacement properties were a unit in a resort with BUNK beds for guests in their 60’s
Or
A 90 minute drive south of the venue ……
Not Good Enough!

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It’s in the T and Cs - if the host cancels a booking, the host is supposed to relocate the guest and cover the difference to a listing that is equal or better…. You you don’t do it B.c will and the difference is on you!
B.c supervisor and I went through the available listings and cost didn’t come into - only location, property size and amenities.
This is easy in hotel world…. Not so easy in STR world
I hope they send the bailiffs to my host - their treatment of Me, a fully paid guest with a 6 month in advance booking was utterly disgusting

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I hate everything about booking.con.
they barely let you describe your hotel back in the day. It was like 100 words and then “Superior King” or “Deluxe Double”.
In USA, BDC did nothing to collect from me. I finally got fed up with them and just closed my inventory. 8 years ago there was no way to close my account. This was for a lodge. They called for years trying to collect. They sometime in the last few months they sent me a message saying my account was closed. I just had to ignore them for 8 years I guess.

Technically you agreed to those terms and airbnb has similar rules for cancelling on guests. But IMO a reservation 4 months in advance when you let them know right away does not put the guest out hardly at all. So the policy of not telling you that you are paying for another place for them for months, and BDC lack of initial communication being just horrible, I me hating the platform makes me want to recommend you just ghost bdc.
Join some direct booking sites instead and diversify your booking sources w/o bkc.

Get some API PMS software that will connect you and sync everything perfectly within 1-2 minutes. ICALs are garbage.

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Getting scared reading about these experiences of BDC :open_mouth:

We seem to have gotten lucky so far as they keep throwing reservations our way despite being a Super Host and Airbnb’s bookings going down 70% or more…

Regarding the OP’s issue: We had unexpected circumstances that forced us to ask a couple of guests to cancel their reservation with us due to unforeseen maintenance. These bookings were also well in advance (several weeks before arrival). One guest just cancelled and it was done and another guest received our support to help find an alternate accommodation and we offered to pay the difference which was gladly accepted.

Furthermore, with the cancellation rules that we set up, a BDC guest can still cancel their reservation up to 5 days before their arrival for a full refund. So the issue was not the cancellation itself as it appears to me - but rather the fact that no other other accommodation could be found.

I don’t understand either why BDC would have to find a another place for a guest who cancelled him-/herself? If the guest would have insisted in the reservation, forcing the host into finding a solution it would have been a different situation IMO.

Maybe I don’t understand everything correctly…

I’m on several owner’s forums and I know someone that uses Booking dot com (BDC) and it works pretty well for her. She has a guest house with a handful of suites with kitchenettes that are $100-$150US a night.

It seems to be that BDC works fairly well for inexpensive places that are smaller - only two people. But it doesn’t work well for owners with larger/expensive/multi-room homes, where the typical guest books months in advance. That makes sense, as BDC was set up for hotels and then they used the same requirements for other types of accommodations.

Ah I see. OK, I was assuming that this bad rep of BDC was generally applicable. Thanks for clearing that up. Tried to quote-reply but that didn’t really work…

It works for some - those who read the terms of service and can live with them, and whose property fits the BDC clientele. My acquaintance that uses it may not love it, but does get a lot of bookings from them, so that outweighs the problems it poses.

It doesn’t work for us - we have a large, three-bedroom home and our price is fairly high, so it doesn’t fit their clientele and I’m not willing to take the (admittedly small) risk of paying for a “comparable space” if there’s a double booking since the penalty is so high and is not defined and could be multiples of the booking value in our neighborhood. At least AirBnB and VRBO limit the penalty to a percent of the value of the booking.

Not necessarily. My friend who had a bad experience with them runs a small hostel. So, inexpensive and rooms for one-two people. She said she got the worst quality of guests through them she’d had in 20 years- lots of no-shows, thieves and slobs, non-payments.

One problem with BDC is that guests don’t get reviewed, so those who may have been booted off Airbnb can just go Instant Book on BDC.

May I ask what particularly is making you not choose BDC? Just curious as you determine the pricing and cancellation policies and you can set up a deposit for any “issues” that may occur.

We’re not super fond of the fact that we cannot review the BDC guests but (for us) the fact remains that after the first year of our first studio the Airbnb bookings dropped down by 80% and BDC completely took over.

Out of 10 reservations we used to have 9 from Airbnb and 1 from BDC. After one year it went the other way around and Airbnb is now starting to slowly (!!!) catching up again.

Overall we’re ok with the guests from BDC, with a couple of exceptions (smoking indoors, damaging exterior lamps) but leaving the accomodation in a ‘rentable’ condition.

Even on Airbnb we have guests who ignore the house rules or use candles etc.

P.S. please ignore my inquiry if your rental is just overall not a fit for the BDC community. I’m still learning about all that.

A number of reasons

  1. I can’t get past the penalty of cancelling on a guest even if it’s months and months out. We’ve never cancelled on a guest and don’t ever expect to, but we’d probably pay a penalty of $10,000 US or more if we cancelled on a guest even a few minutes after they booked. At least on AirBnB it’s only 10% of our booking value if cancelled right away.
  2. We get enough bookings from Vrbo, AirBnB, and our own website to stay as full as we want.
  3. People I know that rent out similar homes to ours have had horrible experiences with BDC (lots of cancellations, credit card issues, fraud, chargebacks).
  4. The last time I tried it, they wrote my description. We have an unusual home (open-air, so it’s a glamping experience) with staff and the description they provided didn’t do a good job of describing our home.

OK, I understand some points you have made.

We haven’t had an instance of cancelling a guest (as opposed to asking a guest to cancel with a little incentive) but woah, being penalized with $10k for cancelling sounds like a major issue. Now I’m curious what kind of dwelling (and at what rate) could ‘cause’ a penalty like this? I understand if you don’t want to share. This is new to me, and I was assuming that travellers mostly book an accommodation for a small group of people 1-5 people or so for relatively short amount of times.

I’m glad you’re mentioning the issues of people you know what could go wrong with BDC. We never had any of those issues (during the short 3 years with them). I’m not sure why there would be issues with CC, fraud or chargebacks as BDC is handling the payments. Does this relate to any charges being made during the stay? Otherwise we just get paid by BDC and that’s it.

Your last point is spot on. Not being able to write our own descriptions is the least favorite thing with BDC. We managed to slap our Airbnb description with the most important house rules into the profile description…

Thanks for providing all that info.

We have an updated three-bedroom villa in Soufriere, St Lucia, with great views of the iconic Pitons (mountains) and the Caribbean. In high season, our rates are around $1000 US a night. The average booking length is a week in high season. If all the neighboring villas are booked up, the hotel near us that’s approximately the quality of our home is at least $800 US a night per room. If there are six guests, that’s $2400 a night - $10,000 a week higher. Other comparable hotels can be $5,000US a night for a three-bedroom villa.

In tourist destinations that most travelers fly to, they tend to stay at least a week, at least that has been my personal experience. People don’t spend $800-1000+ to fly somewhere, stay 3 nights and turn around and go home.

My average length booking has generally been 1-2 weeks, although lately, with there being so many digital nomads, who are free to move around, I have been getting more 3-4 night bookings.