Internet bookings-are they safe?

Old Apr 12th, 2008, 07:22 AM
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Internet bookings-are they safe?

I have booked a night in a hotel in Paris directly from their own website (in English). They've emailed acceptance & given me a reference number, but just hold my cc number, haven't debited any deposit. Because of this I presume I have not yet entered any contract with them. If I turn up and they apologise but say they have no rooms available, does my email form any kind of contract? (It's Hotel Bercy 12ième)

Also I booked car hire through europcar in Nice, again much the same, they note the cc details but take nothing until I arrive. Well I know europcar are an international company so I'm a bit more comfortable about that, but again, if there's any problem do I have any claim on them? Last minute car hire would probably cost a lot more.
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Old Apr 12th, 2008, 07:54 AM
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Ricardo: I can't answer whether or not you have an actual "contract" with them as that would be based upon French law. I will say that we often book hotels and cars by internet and we have never had a problem. We have never had to leave a deposit either, just a credit card number that is not charged until we arrive. If you are concerned you could place a telephone call a week or so before you leave to just confirm the reservation. Again, we have done this before in France, Italy, Germany, Austria, Czeck Republic, Canada, Mexico and other places that I can't recall and we have never had a problem. Enjoy your trip to Paris. J
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Old Apr 12th, 2008, 07:59 AM
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And if it is a contract what are you going to do about it? Go to court?

I've booked rooms in various European cities and only had a problem once.

We arrived in Paris and the hotel told us they had an electrical problem and couldn't give us a room. They made a few calls and got us a room elsewhere.

In general, we arrive, go to our hotel and they know about us.

I only book with hotels that charge my credit card upon checking out. I never pay in advance.
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Old Apr 12th, 2008, 08:06 AM
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Never had any problem booking over the internet. If you have a confirmation and you are not going to show up I am sure you will need to cancel your reservation or be charged and places have very different cancellation policies. That is always
very important to read and understand.
It is sometimes helpful to read reviews about the hotel by other travelers.
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Old Apr 12th, 2008, 08:45 AM
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What Hotel Bercy and Europcar do is international standard and fully legalized.

Of course, your email forms a contract. And they keep your credit card number in order to charge it if you do not show up (unless you cancel on time).
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Old Apr 12th, 2008, 01:17 PM
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Hi R,

If your hotel gave you a confirmation number, they intend to hold a room for you.

> does my email form any kind of contract?

Yes.

If they don't have a room for you, you can hire a Parisian lawyer and sue them.

I don't think that it will be worth the cost.

Ditto for the car.

Stop worrying and enjoy your visit.



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Old Apr 12th, 2008, 01:30 PM
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I cannot begin to tell you the number of hotels, cars, etc., we've booked on line and never had a problem.

BUT, here is what i would do...

take a copy of their confirmation e-mail WITH you in case there is any difficulty at check-in.

And do not think that the confirmation number means that you are going to have a room no matter what...it should and I think 99% of the time it DOES. However, if you read some of the "accounts" on HERE from people who tell you they showed up and the hotel didn't have a room or said it wasn't ever booked, etc., or the ones that start out, "Hotel such-and-such cancelled our reservation, it isn't out of the question that this thing might happen.

However, what IS your alternative to booking on-line? Over the phone? By mail? None of those are going to give you any more of a guarantee than on-line booking so you've done the right thing and I would say you can plan on the room being there when you arrive.
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Old Apr 12th, 2008, 01:33 PM
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What you're concerned about has nothing to do with online or off. You can have the exact issues (hotels overbooked, rental car lost reservations) if you book it off-line via phone, agent or other means.
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Old Apr 13th, 2008, 02:51 PM
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OK OK I get the point! Thanks everyone for your reassurance. However, one reason for my concern was that last year I booked a hotel for 2 young friends, 18-year-old girls. This was through venere.com, an on-line agency. Hotel was booked, I received email confirmation & reservation number & text message as well. The morning that the girls were on their plane to Paris I was just about to leave home when I received a text saying "We regret informing you that the credit card details you entered are incorrect. As a result, we will be cancelling your reservation." I nearly didn't read it as I thought it was a copy of the confirmation I'd already had.

I rang the hotel, the receptionist told me they had no rooms & he didn't know how or why venere had offered that room, they had been sold out for that night some time back (this all in French).
I felt responsible for these two young ladies in a foreign city (with a metro strike on too) & I stayed home + managed to make alternative arrangements for them & text them to keep them informed. Fortunately I am self-employed & was able to take the morning off, eventually found something for them. Anyway, no I don't think I'll be suing anybody! I'm sure it will work out fine.
[venere later sent an email saying "Please be informed that the property had opened its availability in our system for the period you booked, and failed to update the actual availability."]
No one accepts responsibility. At least this time I've booked direct!
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Old Oct 11th, 2008, 03:10 PM
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I had intended to write this when I got back. Just in case anyone is looking at this & wondering, please be assured that everything worked out well.
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Old Oct 12th, 2008, 06:26 AM
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I prefer to always book directly with any hotel than to use a 'middle-man' agency, as I feel it will eliminate most problems.
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Old Oct 12th, 2008, 06:50 AM
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When you use a booking site or any middleman, call the hotel or send an e-mail to them (leave at least a few days for the hotel to receive your details from the site). That should eliminate at least one problem. Even when I booked a hotel direct, I call them for re-confirmation, let's say a week before the arrival.

If I don't book direct with hotels, venere.com is the one I use most often and so far I have had no problem in booking, cancelling, etc. And I find the site easier to use than some other sites. They also don't require pre-payment again unlike some other agents. Sorry you had a problem this time with them. Usually, when venere cannot give instant confirmation, it says "confirmation within 48 hours" but that was not your case.
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Old Oct 12th, 2008, 07:35 AM
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I have used venere.com on a number of occasions with no problems. The conditions of booking seem to vary, and I have presumed that venere does not actually set the conditions, but simply echoes the conditions imposed by the particular hotel.

It is my opinion that the problem encountered by Ricardo_215 was more likely the fault of the hotel than of venere.
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Old Oct 12th, 2008, 08:02 AM
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I just had a Paris hotel not honor a reservation I had made through a booking site (hotelsearch) but it didn't have anything to do with them not having the reservation or my CC. I had communicated with them directly afterwards to make sure they had gotten it and to discuss room desires a bit, and everything was fine until I actually showed up. They just said they didn't have an empty room for me even though I had a reservation, and I believe something about how the prior guest had not left as planned (they didn't speak English much and their French was a little fast for me). I believe under the law a French hotel cannot legally kick someone out regardless of whether their reservation ended or not (and that may be the law elsewhere, also, for all I know), so that wasn't totally shocking to me, it just had never happened to me before.

So whether I had a contract or not, what difference did it make, if they had no room. They had already made arrangements at a similar hotel a couple blocks away to honor the same rate (which was pretty good in Paris high season, I used hotelsearch in the first place only because it was a discount off the hotel's own website, quite a bit). I knew the other hotel, although I hadn't stayed there, so that was okay with me given it was a Sat. in October in Paris during the auto show and fashion shows, I wasn't going to search around myself, and I was only there one night.

Actually, the new hotel was pretty nice in terms of the room and the staff were very nice, also, so I don't have any complaints on that part. The people at the new hotel said they had been hearing a lot about hotels being full lately and having to turn people away with reservations. I don't know if that is true or not or they just said that.
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Old Oct 12th, 2008, 08:18 AM
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When a hotel overbook, it's often beneficial to you, if you're flexible. 3 months ago, I showed up at the Westin Time Square, and they overbooked. They refunded what I paid for that night, put me up at the Sheraton up 10 blocks for free, and then gave me a high floor corner room with complimentary breakfast, club access, and a cheeses and fruit tray after I came back the next night.
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Old Oct 12th, 2008, 08:45 AM
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Someimes I email the hotel directly rather than use their website so that I am communicating with a person. I do this months in advance and during that time I send other emails asking questions about the hotel,restaurants, weather, getting opera tickets, etc. and I try to practice their language as well. Hell, I even ask their political opinion! This way, you have friends at the front desk by the time you arrive and there will be no question about your reservation. This is a "Rick Steves' goodwill ambassador" approach. Some hotels won't do this, but when they do, it's fun and makes your trip more exciting before you leave.
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Old Oct 12th, 2008, 09:12 AM
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We booked our upcoming hotel in Rome through Venere and got a confirmation, but just to be safe, we confirmed with the actual hotel via email. They were great - confirmed our reservation and even arranged for a car to pick us up at the airport.

So I don't think "middle-man" sites are necessarily a problem, but it probably pays to confirm with the actual hotel.
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