You are probably here for one of the two following reasons:
- You just received an email saying that, unless we can collect payment for the room(s) you booked the booking will be cancelled, or
- You booked one or more rooms expecting that payment will be taken at the time of check-in, but you were charged for your booking long before your arrival date.
Whichever the case, you are probably wondering why this happened, especially since “the website said you can pay on arrival”, or “Book now, pay when you stay”.
This page explains everything, so please read on, it’s well worth your time.
When you visited Booking.com you were greeted with a little popup window with the words “Book now, pay when you stay!”
With this in mind, you looked for a hotel in Bournemouth and you found us. You clicked on our listing and saw our prices and the blue button that says “I’ll reserve” with the text below it saying “Don’t worry – you won’t be charged yet“.
So you thought “ok, I’ll reserve the room and I’ll pay when I stay, that’s what the page advertises”.
What you probably didn’t notice is the note that appears only after you place your mouse cursor over the round blue question mark under the “Options” column.
The note reads “Prepayment: You will be charged a prepayment of the total price at any time”.
The same note as above is also shown after you click on the blue “I’ll reserve” button, right before you finalise your booking.
The problem is, payment is not taken “at any time” as mentioned, it is taken the minute we receive your booking. All our bookings, be it on Internet or over the phone, are “Advance Purchase”. This means payment is taken at the time of booking, not upon arrival, not upon check-in, not when you check-out
This is the reason why you received the email asking you to pay in advance for the room you booked.
So why did we put that text there then?
Excellent question, thank you for asking.
It wasn’t us who put it there.
You’ll be surprised to know that we have minimal control over the content displayed on our listing at Booking.com. It is and has been a well-known issue among hoteliers (feel free to ask any hotelier who advertises on Booking.com and you’ll see), but guests aren’t aware of that fact (and we don’t expect them to be either).
Believe it or not, we are not even allowed to write our own property description! We can request a change, but the final text you see as a visitor when visiting our listing on Booking.com is decided by their editors, not us.
Despite our consistent, firm and repeated attempts to get the wording related to our pricing policy altered to something that’s not as ambiguous, Booking.com refuses to change it. This has been a long-standing problem which we have been bringing to their attention almost monthly, for the past 4 years. Yes, 4 years. Their response, every single time, is:
It is completely legal and accurate to say prepayment will be charged at any time. The button’s text (I’ll reserve) cannot be changed. Guests can see your hotel’s pricing policy by clicking the round blue question mark button or at the next stage of the booking process, under the “Booking conditions” section.
Well, it might be legally acceptable, but the wording on the page and the button is very ambiguous and leads to misconceptions about our pricing policy, especially when the front page of Booking.com shows a big pop-up saying “Book now, pay when you stay”.
We receive many phone calls or emails from guests who are mislead by this. Not a single day passes without at least 6-7 of them. It is quite unfortunate that our hotel becomes the recipient of complaints and very negative reviews related to advance purchase rooms, even though we have exactly zero control over the wording displayed on the specific webpage and we do everything we possibly can (and more) to address the issue. We had to reside in creating the page you are reading now, just to explain this to you and everyone else affected.
We want our guests to know everything there is to know in advance, so that they don’t find any surprises or “hidden fees” and they make an informed decision on whether they want to book with us or not. To prove that, here’s what’s displayed on our listing at the other website we advertise in, Laterooms.com:
And here’s another screenshot from Laterooms, right before you complete your booking:
Furthermore, as you can see on our booking page, we mention our pricing policy in a way that doesn’t allow any misinterpretations. We do the same for our breakfast and parking fees too and we have a very extensive section of Frequently Asked Questions that explains everything one might want to know. The very last thing we want is people feeling we are trying to trick them, because we are not.
This is in no way an attempt to devalue Booking.com or promote Laterooms. We co-operate with both websites happily (Booking.com is our busiest sales channel and we are working very well together) and shall continue to do so, but we find it very unfair for our guests to not know everything in advance clearly and concisely.
We do apologise for any inconvenience this issue might have caused you. Rest assured, we don’t like it any more than you do. If you feel Booking.com should change their wording, we strongly recommend that you let them know. Their email address is email@example.com and their phone number in the UK is 020 3564 6725 (you can find the contact numbers for all countries here).
Thank you for taking the time to read this page. We hope you now have a better idea of what our pricing policy is and what happened with your booking.
(A very big thank you goes to all those guests who have already expressed their concern to Booking.com in the hope that this ambiguous content can be removed once and for all).
P.S. This page used to include screenshots from Booking.com’s website to make everything clearer, but we have now removed them as we were informed by Booking.com that displaying screenshots from their website might be a violation of their Copyright. The only reason we included screenshots was to display our point, not to reproduce their website’s content. We have no intention of violating Booking.com’s copyright and we have no claim over their website’s content whatsoever.
With kindest regards
The Management and Reception staff