Rant: Agoda.com booking

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Mar 17th, 2018, 10:55 PM
  #1
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Rant: Agoda.com booking

I have been using Agoda to book hotel rooms for over a decade. In the last year or two, Booking.com (same owner) has been my first choice recently , but I still check Agoda, as their prices can sometimes be cheaper for the same property.

Last week, I reserved a hotel in Singapore. The price on both Booking.com and Agoda.com was the same, but Agoda's listing said "included Tax 10%, Service charge 7%", so of course I chose Agoda. I booked in Singapore Dollars because I was going to pay when I got there, and had lots of SGD cash. I received a confirmation stating that I would need to a total of SG$ 390.01 to the hotel. Four hours later, I arrived at the Hotel and they insisted that I owed an additional SG$ 69 for the tax& service fee.

I called Agoda, and spoke with a customer service agent. He asked me to send a copy of my confirmation and a copy of the hotel receipt. I did that, and also sent a copy of a "test " booking I ran, in which "included Tax 10%, Service charge 7%" was clearly stated.

In response, they sent me what they claimed was my booking confirmation. It was clearly not the same one that I had received, as the price was now shown in US Dollars, and stated that tax and service charge would be payable at the hotel. They also lectured me a bit on how I could have chosen a different currency, how of course the tax is not included, etc. I replied that I HAD chosen a different currency, and all my confirmations which were still posted on "manage my bookings" on the website were in that currency.

Anyway, I am really irritated about being cheated like this, even if it is a relatively small amount! I've been booking hotels long enough to verify the items (17% taxes) that are important to me, and save all correspondence. This one was only 4 hours from reservation to check-in. so it isn't like their policies changed, and the fake proof of the confirmation -in the wrong currency- just proves to me that this was not an accident.

I've enthusiastically recommended Agoda to many here over the years, so I thought I'd just let you all know that they aren't as good as they used to be!
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Mar 18th, 2018, 01:05 AM
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Sorry to hear of your issues with Agoda. Like you I usually use booking.com and have always been very pleased with pre and post booking service, decent rates, the clarity of pricing ( re taxes, service etc.) and the last minute cancellation service the offer on most booking.

I used to Agoda occasionally where prices were better until one night in the far north of Thailand. We were shown to our room which was infested with large black ants - I do mean infested - bed, floor walls, ceiling bathroom. The place was half empty so I request another room. The owner refused and we left to find another places having taken photos for evidence.

I spoke with and emailed customer services and provided the photo evidence. They refused say8ng we should have teamed the matter up at te( time and that the owner denied everything and there was nothing they could do.

Hard to believe they are part of the same group as booking.com. I will never use them again.
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Mar 18th, 2018, 04:35 AM
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Crellston what about a protest through your cc company? I assume you paid with a cc and you have proof the room was unsuitable to be used.

lcuy you had the proof under manage my bookings but they still refused to correct the error?? Thats terrible. Is there any recourse for you like submitting your proof to them and demanding a refund? I would be furious!

Good luck.
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Mar 18th, 2018, 06:23 AM
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JW this was a few years ago and the room rate as only 30 or so and although I was indeed furious, I really couldn’t be bothered to expend the time and energy pursuing the matter. I just wrote a factual account on TA and got a lot of helpful votes, so hopefully others avoided staying there. Interestingly, Agoda declined to publish my review on their site!
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Mar 18th, 2018, 07:22 AM
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Lcuy, thanks for the warning.

I have only had one experience with Agoda which was when I booked a room at a cheaper rate than the others available, but didn't read the cancellation terms well enough. Well it turned out that there was indeed no such thing as a free lunch and when I needed to cancel there was a 10% charge for doing so, cunningly hidden on the website.

Never used them again.

I am also surprised to learn that they are part of the same group as Booking.com.
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Mar 18th, 2018, 08:46 AM
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Crellston thank you for the reply. As they lost you and probably others who read your review it was penny wise and pound foolish.


I usually book with the hotel or through my trusted TA. I recall getting a good price on a Manhattan hotel thru Expedia and calling the hotel to match and they did.

Last edited by jacketwatch; Mar 18th, 2018 at 08:50 AM.
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Mar 18th, 2018, 10:30 AM
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I used to use Agoda for hotel reservations in SE Asia, but haven't used them in years. After your report, lcuy, I expect I won't use them again.
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Mar 18th, 2018, 02:11 PM
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Thanks so much for the warning. Luckily, I literally only check Agoda for the pictures — sometimes they have even more detailed pictures of rooms. Sometimes I use Booking.com and Expedia. Otherwise, I have been doing a lot of bookings straight with hotels, as lately I have not always gotten cheaper rates with the booking sites. But Bookings.com remains a favorite.
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Mar 18th, 2018, 03:40 PM
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Lcuy, thanks for the heads-up. Different in details, but like yours, a frustrating, irritating, costly experience,. I last year lost $130 on a booking.com site reservation. This was due to limited cancellation policy for a booking ten months later! It was an expensive grrrrr lesson on combing through the site, and to check their tiny question mark icons. Cancellation polices not always clear, at least until you know the assorted places to "click." And the wording of that "your credit card will not be charged until you arrive" is quite deceptive as it implies that you are perfectly safe giving them your cc number, without fear of being charged,no matter what! Disputing it with my cc company didnt help, despite two months of back and forth between me, the cc company, the B and B, and booking.com. Why? Because ultimately, booking.com had its policies in writing, and tough on me, the customer if I didn't "get" it.

When my situation occurred, I phoned booking.com's rep,and dept the manager. They both, politely but firmly said, Booking.com and sister sites are merely a listing site for hotels. As a separate entity, they take absolutely no responsibility once the booking is made. Once you've paid, your SOOL: it's out of their hands, and none of their responsibility. Caveat Emptor!

Many booking sites are under the umbrella of one huge company. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Booking_Holdings They are not travel agencies. If a travel agent books a hotel, they (ideally) take responsibility for that, will intervene and advocate for you in case of problems. Third party sites do not. Many of what look like "bargains" are mere come-ons. You get to the site and find they are the rooms with "no cancellation" policies or worse, unstated but hidden (until you know the ropes) costs.

In the last few yrs, I find that going directly to the hotel's own booking site is preferable and easier to understand. Room tariffs and cancellation policies are better or identical, to those on third party sites. Individual hotels and chains finally figured out that instead of paying the fee to the third party booking site, they might as well lure guests to book with them for the same price, giving perks in many cases which still makes more sense for them financially than paying fees the booking sites. The last two bookings i made directly with hotels (Claris in Barcelona, Rubens i n London) had prices identical to those on numerous booking sites, but included extras like vouchers toward massages, hotel restaurants, bottles of wine, bar drinks,etc.

On a happier note, for us airline miles accumulators ...did you know most US based hotel chains ( not Marriott, unfortuantely) --and even Booking.com---give miles if you reserve through the airline/miles shopping portal? Wish I'd have realized that years ago!
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Apr 3rd, 2018, 10:18 PM
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Quick update:

I sent a final response, and told them they'd lost me as a customer AND I now felt free to share my story. I cc'd it to the CEO of Booking.com and about 3 days later got an email saying they were going to refund the amount in question if I responded to the email within 30 days. I did, and about 4 days later the credit had been issued to my Visa card.

So still peeved about the whole thing, but happy they (finally) corrected it.
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Apr 3rd, 2018, 11:37 PM
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Good to hear you got a reasonably happy ending. It seems as though they are still running the companies, with not only separate branding, but also separate systems and procedures.
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Apr 4th, 2018, 03:10 PM
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I have never used agoda. For third party sites I've generally stuck with booking or the Expedia/hotels.com group. Often the prices match booking if you are a member, and sometimes there is an added sale. In addition their cancel windows can be days or if not hours, more favorable than booking.com. Especially for night of arrival this can be important.

Most recently the hotels own website does not always give a better rate, at best it's been a match and a better cancel policy.
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Apr 5th, 2018, 08:48 AM
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Good for you, Lcuy.

Have you used them since?
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Apr 5th, 2018, 07:54 PM
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"Most recently the hotels own website does not always give a better rate, at best it's been a match and a better cancel policy"
Since this is the case, why not book directly with the hotel? It gives you more self-advocacy power, should something go wrong, than if you've booked on a third party site, no matter which third party site that is. Those sites have lots of come-on prices which look good, until you read the fine print.
It has been at least two years since finding better rates on third party booking sites than via the hotel itself. Plus, hotel sites (if part of larger chain) give additional discounts, e.g. for senior or auto club. I'm now searching for hotels in Spain, and have yet to find one for which any booking site in either the Priceline umbrella group, or the Expedia umbrella group, has a better price or cancellation policy.
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Apr 6th, 2018, 12:22 AM
  #15
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Annhig- I haven't. I got back from that trip on March 15. Though I am happy they made good on this one, I doubt that I will use Agoda again. I may use them and Booking.com for research, but likely will try booking directly with hotels in the near future.
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Apr 6th, 2018, 12:35 PM
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<<Since this is the case, why not book directly with the hotel? It gives you more self-advocacy power, should something go wrong, than if you've booked on a third party site, no matter which third party site that is. Those sites have lots of come-on prices which look good, until you read the fine print.>>

Cali-nurse, in theory I agree. IME the main advantage of using a consolidator like booking.com is that on a long trip, all your bookings are in one place and you can see easily what the dates are and if you have to cancel, all the info is in one place. for me this is very important as I have been known to get the dates wrong and book to be in two places at the same time. Lazy I know, but it has saved me money the long run.

That said, I am booking directly more and more now, particularly when the consolidators show no availability but rooms are available through the hotel directly but on the same terms.

Lcuy - after my bad experience with Agoda i never used them again and i haven't missed them.
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Apr 6th, 2018, 04:26 PM
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Annhig, yes, organizational tools are very useful. Look into tripit.com It's a free service which puts all your bookings for hotels, airplanes etc, into one place. You just send confirmations to the site site as you book, and it automatically gets organized in consecutive order.
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Apr 7th, 2018, 04:30 AM
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Thanks, Calinurse, that sounds like a great idea. I'll have a look at it.
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Apr 7th, 2018, 07:32 AM
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If I can find an equal or better price on the hotel's own website I am likely to use that in the US. But lately I am finding that Hotels and Expedia are giving me a slightly discounted price from even the senior rates on the hotel websites, with nearly the same cancel policy. Booking.com is not beating Hotels/Expedia at the moment, and usually has a worse cancel policy than either Expedia or the hotel.

One thing to be aware of is that if you make a reservation with a third party you need to cancel directly with them, not the hotel.

One does need to be careful with taxes and read the fine print as lcuy found. Especially in countries where residents pay VAT and foreigners are exempt. On a recent trip it was only using United Airlines hotel link, that I could book a particular hotel without the VAT included. I had experience at this particular hotel that I like (in Bogota) and remember the tax issue. I was prepared with my printout but was pleasantly surprised that they didn't attempt to charge tax. Their own website did not match the rate , this often seems to happen overseas with individual hotels or small local chains who don't invest in continuous website updates.

Last edited by mlgb; Apr 7th, 2018 at 07:39 AM.
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