So, I don’t usually use rideblog as a forum for this sort of thing, but given its popularity, and the nature of this rant, I think it’s time.
This summer, I am going to Copenhagen. It is a beautiful city, where people love to bike around. I intend to do just that, with my students.
But through an inadvertent mistake, which I will fully admit to, we ended up double-booked at two hostels in Copenhagen. Big deal, right? Just cancel one of the reservations. But it would seem that, despite my never having encountered this issue in nearly twenty years of booking hotels, when you book a “reservation” at these places, you are in fact booking a fully-paid, non-refundable stay the instant you give them your credit card number. Had I read the fine print, I would have realized that these places operated differently than every other hotel in the universe. But I didn’t. So okay, I’ll call the company I used to make the bookings, and we’ll get this sorted out, right?
Wrong. I made the bookings through Booking.com. As soon as I realized the bookings had actually gone through, I called them and asked them to contact the two hostels we booked and try to cancel the reservation. But the hostels are in Copenhagen, so they would have to call back while I was asleep. I got up the next morning to find that of course, it hadn’t been done. So I made them call again. We had missed the reservation manager at one hostel by five minutes. So we called the other hostel. “You had to call us within 24 hours,” they said.
By now, I was angry with Booking.com. Not only did their site allow these hostels to run their bookings in a way that I’ve never, ever encountered in years of booking hotels, but then their customer service wasn’t on the ball enough to get this done in a few hours, rather than a few days. And what wimpy customer service! I’m sorry, but if I had the power of Booking.com to drive customers to a hotel, I would find a way to make it very clear that these hotels should be making my customers happy, you know?
But okay, deep breath. Our next stop was a trip to a place called Aarhus. It was very expensive there. If we made it a day trip, we could extend our stay in Copenhagen for another couple days. So all I needed was for the dates to get switched on one of the reservations, and we’d be okay. Out a few bucks, but okay. I called the second hostel, Hotel Nebo. They said to send an email, and they would consider it.
Now remember, all I’m asking for is that they switch the dates of our reservation forward three days. And I’m asking this SEVEN MONTHS in advance, when they have the rooms available to do it.
The answer was “no.” When I called to find out why on earth they couldn’t do it, the woman at the Hotel Nebo’s customer service desk, Karina, said again and again: “it’s just the rules of how you booked it.” But she fully admitted that they do sometimes make adjustments, if they hear within 24 hours. So this is THEIR OWN system. They could make the change if they wanted to.
What the heck? I mean, seriously. What possible reason, besides utter stupid bull-headedness, could someone possibly have for not moving a room reservation seven months in advance? That’s not going to cost them anything.
I have emailed the bookings manager at the other hostel, which is Danhostel Copenhagen City, and will call him on Monday. They also have a broader management board that I can contact, if necessary. In the meantime, I’m posting reviews of this practice everywhere I can think of. This, Europe, is why we don’t want to give you our money! Can you imagine a hotel in the US doing this? I mean seriously.
Hotel Nebo, the whole point of customer service is to provide service to YOUR CUSTOMERS, not to enforce “rules” you arbitrarily created that make it impossible for you to be flexible and help a customer out.
I will write about them again when I’ve been there. I would not expect that review to be positive, either.
I have also contacted the travel guru at the Seattle Times, who has offered to help me if the other hostel is also unwilling to assist us. I am so furious! I’m not letting this one go.
Update: I contacted my credit card company, who are going to dispute the charge for me (and remove it from my account) on the basis that the “24 hour” change policy was not published, so therefore there was no way for me to know that if I had contacted them within 24 hours, I could have received a refund. Also, I called simply to change my reservation, to try to resolve this in a way that would cost them nothing, and they refused to help me, which isn’t right either. And they had nothing nice to say about a hotel that creates “non-refundable, non-changeable” reservations seven months in advance. Sigh.