OK, let's also use this medium not only to share good, but also a bad experience! And make it into a travel tip for others...
When one travels, you will use services like Tripadvisor, Agoda, Expedia, Booking.com, hotels.com, or AirBnB. But we discovered a couple of times now that you really have to be aware of the information these services provide! Many times all is ok, but also in these platforms you will encounter the ‘alternative facts’ or misleading information. To give you a recent example:
As most people will do, you enter a place, the number of guests and the dates of arrival and departure. So did we as we booked a hotel in Japan via Booking.com. After a short search we made our pick and booked for 4 nights. We arrived with our one year old in the booked hotel. First you have to pay. And then it turned out we got a smoking room. Not the environment you envision for your child. So we asked for a non-smoking room. ‘Sorry, but the hotel only has smoking rooms.’ ‘Euh, sorry? Only smoking rooms? That comes across as really strange, especially because it was not mentioned in the hotel description, nor in the confirmation email of Booking.com?’ ‘Yes yes, it is mentioned in the small letters.’ ‘The small letters? We live in 2018? One would expect a hotel to be non-smoking or maybe an option of a smoking room. But ONLY smoking rooms?’
A call to Booking.com did NOT give any solution. They say that they just show the description the hotel provided, without any checks. Also they refer to the small letters. And yes, the girl from Booking.com also would not expect an hotel to be fully smoking in the year 2018. But no, Booking.com takes no responsibility. Not what so ever! And their helpdesk staff, as may big consumer companies, have no means to do anything B. Nor will any management respond to a call or email.
How can a big travel booking platform refer to the ‘small letters’ for the obvious criteria? Especially in a time where everybody has to hit the ‘I agree’ button several times a day to agree with several pages of ‘small letters’? Is it not ‘obvious’ in 2018 to expect a hotel room to be non-smoking? And why do you have to put it hidden away in the ‘small letters’ that they only have smoking rooms? That is like offering a hotel room to the elderly and disabled and put in the ‘small letters’ that there is a stairs with 50 steps to get to the entrance?!
In the end, after a lot of complaining and talking, we had to pay for one night and were able to cancel the other three nights. We were able to find another hotel that offered the obvious non-smoking rooms. So we paid for a night which we did not use. In the end we feel pretty much ‘fucked’ by the hotel and especially Booking.com for hiding vital information in the ‘small letters’. Come on Booking.com, get your act together! Take your responsibility and show understanding for you (good) customers! For us you were a appreciated service, but now seriously dropped in our ranking! And we won’t be as loyal customers as we were before. Bah!
So, a wise lesson learned: stay super alert for misleading information, especially at Booking.com! Sad to say, but ALWAYS check the ‘small letters’. Even for what seems so ‘obvious’.