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How to handle someone not giving refund for corona virus trip cancellation in London?

Hey guys,
We have a trip scheduled in London the last week of May. My property I booked is through Booking.com. I have been told by most people to plan on not going because of the virus. I contacted the property manager/owner and gave them heads up that we will not be coming due to this situation. I wanted to give them plenty of notice as a courtesy. They responded that they will not refund us the cancellation fee and that we should cancel through Booking.com and loose the deposit. This is the property:

We have already been told by Highclere Castle that they cancelled our reservation and refunded us immediately. Our Airline hasn't cancelled our flight yet but their website warns us that it probably will be cancelled as they are planning only flying one flight in and out of England a day and even if the flight isn't cancelled, with the current travel restrictions, we probably will be advised not to fly. So basically...we are planning that more than likely our trip will be cancelled because the sites will be closed/travel restrictions going to and from the UK/ Need to be quarantined in either London or Miami which will take longer than our entire time in London/ Our reserved trains (from London to Paris) will more than likely be cancelled/ Etc....

I called Booking.com but they will not even take calls from people unless the trip is less than 30 days out (I believe). How would you guys handle the situation? Would you cancel now with Booking.com or would you wait until May 1st when they will actually take my call and I can speak to someone? Would you call the CC now and file a dispute or wait until I cancel my trip through Booking.com and then show the CC company that I didn't get my deposit.? Any other ideas?

Thanks guys.

Posted by
784 posts

I'm not sure you have a good argument to get back the deposit. The terms state that if you cancel, you lose the deposit. On the other hand, you can wait until later in May and if the facility has to cancel your reservation because they are not open, you have a better shot of getting a full refund. That's what I would do and what most here have recommended to other with reservations still some weeks out.

Posted by
6052 posts

What were the original cancellation terms of your booking? Was there any language that stated that cancellation fees would not be refunded (for whatever reason), or this fine print appear out of nowhere? Your original booking is your contract, so read the terms.

You do have to cancel through Booking.com (at whatever point) since this was the platform on which you made your reservation.

I don't think any CC would take your call either, and this has nothing to do with them at this point. No one has denied you a product that you paid for, so there is no evidence of fraud.

Posted by
83 posts

OP-
You should remove that link.. It connects directly to your personal booking and info.
It appears to be only a small cancellation fee.

Posted by
5017 posts

Your trip is in the last week of May. That is an eternity from now in pandemic-time.

Wait until you are within 30 days of your actual flight/bookings. That's when to work on cancelations. Right now, step aside, take a deep breath, accept that others have much more urgent needs, and that every travel-related business has a limited capacity to handle customer calls and requests for things like cancelations - and most are overwhelmed. You have plenty of time. Let others with a greater need utilize the limited phone lines and staffers.

When the time comes for your need to get through to them (within 30 days), you will be glad that someone with a reservation in September isn't jamming up the lines when you need to get through.

Posted by
11402 posts

As Agnes said, if you booked through booking.com, then you must cancel with booking.com and under the terms of their contract at the time you made the reservation. As you didn't book directly with the hotel, they are not responsible for handling your cancellation or any associated fess.

It makes sense that booking.com is only taking calls from people with reservations less than 30 days out. It's a very popular booking site and I'm sure they're completely swamped! Sit tight for now and cancel at the less-than-30-day point. It looks like you WILL pay a cancellation fee unless the hotel has to close before your trip. Your credit card company will be no assistance at this point as the cancellation fee and inability to waive it is clearly communicated on the confirmation.

"The property is unable to waive cancellation fees."

Posted by
2893 posts

Quickly, take down that link you included.

Way too much personal info there. Pay the fee . It is not much compared to the rest of the costs.

Posted by
71 posts

Thanks guys....my dumba$$ removed the link.

Anyway.....I understand that Booking.com does not take calls unless 30 days out. The only reason I tried to even call was because the hotel informed me to handle this through Booking.com. I still haven't cancelled through them. But....they must have seen where I wrote the hotel to inform them and they sent me an email saying "they reached out on my behalf to attempt to get the full refund but the hotel would not comply".

I guess....and maybe I am the only one....that given the situation where airlines are cancelling the flights, the UK is placing travel restrictions and cancelling sites, etc... that hotels would do the decent thing and issue full refunds. I am just shocked that this is even an issue. But yes....I will wait until May to see what the official restrictions are in the UK. Will that make a difference? Probably not.....

Posted by
7152 posts

I don't know why you're shocked. Cancellation terms are clearly spelled out before you press the "Reserve" button.

Posted by
2231 posts

Besides, i imagine that all hotels and inns in Europe, especially smaller ones, are really stretched and stressed right now, handling many cancellations and refunds, with few if any new bookings. It may be really very difficult, or even impossible, for them to give additional refunds now, especially for further out dates.

Posted by
66 posts

I use Booking.com for most of my hotel bookings around the world, however, I only book rooms that have free cancellation until a day or two before. I pay a bit more of a rate than I would for the "pay now" rooms, but with older parents who might need us, you never know what will happen. I have had to cancel in the past, and there has never been an issue. In fact, I have hotels in New Zealand for June that I have to cancel. (I'm waiting for a miracle, but I think we will not be going...). That might be a good option for you in the future.

Posted by
6672 posts

I don’t know why you are shocked. I just lost $500 on a hotel in Dubai. I knew the terms, I gambled, and I lost. Some places make exceptions but others don’t. I’m a little peeved at myself and the hotel for not offering a useable voucher but not shocked. Ultimately, it was my bad choice of room rates.

Just contact booking.com again 30 days out. It won’t hurt to try again.

Posted by
153 posts

See my post under General Europe - Refunds

As for calling Booking.com you don't need to. Just go to their site and cancel there. What I'd like to know is why you feel you deserve a full refund when you knew when you booked that if cancelled you would lose the deposit. The reason why you are cancelling doesn't matter.

Posted by
71 posts

The reason I would think a refund is deserved is because services that you pay for cannot be given. Simple as that. I you hire me to build you a kitchen and I require a 10% non refundable deposit but I then have a heart attack and can't perform the service...would you expect me to keep the deposit? Same principle IMO....if the UK is not allowing visitors then why would people expect their deposits back?
Now again...I know that the UK hasn't restricted travel in May yet. I am NOT asking for a refund if I am allowed to still fulfill my obligation to travel.

Posted by
5017 posts

This is why it's apparently not deserved:

I don't know why you're shocked. Cancellation terms are clearly spelled out before you press the "Reserve" button.

No?

Posted by
6672 posts

homeby51 makes a good point but it’s two months too early to know.

If travel is banned to England, the hotel is closed and you are in England expecting the room, you certainly would be due the refund. However, if travel is allowed and the hotel is open, but you aren’t there, you don’t deserve a refund. Since you jumped the gun and already asked, you’ve damaged your case. Now, just wait and see in May.

Posted by
2581 posts

They are predicting that Coronavirus will peck the middle of June or a litter after, plus they are in a lock down for who knows how long.
When you book through a third party there usually is a non refundable policy. That is why I book directly with whom ever I want to book with. I’m got a refund from the hotels, train ticket and theater ticket that I had booked for May.

Posted by
153 posts

homeby51 - Is the hotel still open? Did you receive anything from them stating that they are closing? From what you are telling us you want to cancel the reservation now. In the contract you agreed to it states that if you cancel you lose your deposit. Simple.

Highclere Castle cancelled on you, so of course they refunded your money per their policy. From their website:
"Cancellation by us.
If we need to change or cancel your reservation, which will only be on the occurrence of exceptional circumstances beyond our control, notification will be given of the cancellation as soon as practicable.
In the event of cancellation by us, we will promptly offer to reschedule your reservation to a mutually agreed date in the following 18 months.
Our liability for cancellation by us will be limited to your payments made to us."

They also state that if you cancel you would lose money:
"Cancellation by you.
If you wish to cancel your reservation, you must request a cancellation in writing to lodges@highclerecastle.co.uk using your Email Address.
Once the Fee is paid, cancellation of your reservation will be subject to the following charges:
Cancellations made more than 12 weeks before Check In will be charged one-third of the Fee. The balance of two-thirds will be refunded.
Cancellations made less than 12 weeks before Check In will be charged 100% of the Fee.
We expect you to take out normal and appropriate travel insurance to cover any losses, e.g., should you be unable to travel. We are not liable for any other costs, claims or damages including consequential loss such as the inability to visit due to travel disruptions, including use of private vehicles and public transport"

There is a big difference between you cancelling and the business cancelling. As I see it you have two choices: cancel now and lose some money or wait and see if the hotel cancels and maybe get a full refund.

Posted by
1913 posts

I wish I could go back in time to thank my father for his oft-stated advice to never ever make a non-refundable reservation for anything - except football tickets!

Posted by
16545 posts

I must disagree that when you book through a third-party site the reservation is usually non-refundable. I use booking.com for 30 to 50 reservations per year. Unless they are made just a few days before arrival (and not necessarily even then), my reservations have been refundable. At the time of Holy Week in Andalucia, I did have one reservation that became non-refundable two weeks before arrival. Some hotels offer a choice of refundable (higher cost) and non-refundable (lower cost) reservations. Travelers who opt for non-refundable reservations in that situation are making a bet that nothing will come up that requires the trip to be canceled.

The situation may well be different for those using sites that bulk-buy hotel rooms and offer them (at least theoretically) at rates lower than you can get from the hotels themselves. I do not use such websites. That's not the way booking.com operates; it simply acts as an agent, charging the hotel a commission.

Posted by
404 posts

The OP earlier had a direct link to the reservation. It was real clear. Paid up front and got a discount. Very clear refund policies— it had a slide bar with dates. Real obvious. Cancel from x-w dates and a small cancellation fee (again OP got a discount in exchange for doing this) and then from dates y-z NO refund.

The OP was clearly in the earlier time period and can cancel now, his choice, and pay a small cancellation fee or risk it and see if the British government shuts the hotel down for a longer period. OP is playing a risky game...goes past the next deadline and the entire reservation becomes nonrefundable.

Posted by
7107 posts

“I am NOT asking for a refund if I am allowed to still fulfill my obligation to travel.“

But you are asking for a refund, so what does that sentence mean?

Posted by
74 posts

Bottom line: Make a non refundable reservation and you choose not to go you lose your deposit according to the terms outlined. If the lodging cancels your reservation or can't provide the lodging then they refund the deposit since they can't provide the lodging. Given the covid 19 situation we don't know if they will or will not be able to provide the lodging. Why not wait until closer to your
date ? Then presumably you should have your answer, can they or can't they? It is quite possible that your concerns may be a moot point.

Posted by
71 posts

It's hard to have a logical conversation with 10 people bringing up different points that many not applicable. Let me start over and explain...start to finish.

I received a notice from Highclere castle saying they are shutting down in end of May. I then received a notice from British Airways asking me to voluntarily re-schedule my flight. I also posted another thread earlier asking about travel in May and wondered what people were doing? Most people said it would probably not be possible given what the UK has said based on predictions.

Now....based on some of the information above, I decided to give the hotel a heads up well in advance that due to situations not in my control that I would have to cancel and expected a full refund. I DID NOT officially cancel at this time. I just wanted to give them notice well ahead of time. Now....given what is going on....the hotel still responded that no refund will be given under ANY circumstance. Booking.com jumped in (not by my request at all) and said they reached out to try to get the hotel to be reasonable but the hotel refused.

My point...and logic...is that if visitors cannot travel to the country that the hotel is in and the country is not allowing the hotel to admit visitors then the hotel should be obligated to provide all the money back...period. Why? Because the hotel cannot provide me the services I paid for. Of course I understand that during normal circumstances I would not be due a refund but anyone with any semblance of reason would agree that these circumstances are out of the ordinary and again....if the hotel cannot provide me a room....I should not loose any money (again...assuming this will still be bad in May).

I also pointed out that any other business transaction would not act this way. I pointed out that if you...as a customer...paid me a deposit to build you custom cabinets for your Kitchen (I am a cabinet maker) and sign a contract with me that the money is non refundable but I had a heart attack and could not provide my services you paid for....then should I keep the deposit? Of course not. It's the same logic.

Another example. I also live in a tourist area. I live in the Florida Keys. Our Island chain has been shut down and visitors have been ordered to leave. We even have checkpoints with State Highway Patrol to insure these visitors have left. Many of these visitors have rented homes for 3 months and have already paid in full through services such as AirBnB, Booking.com, etc.... I have read on Facebook that the vast majority of the people are getting full refunds because of the same logic I have laid out. But every once in a while....I hear of someone who has decided to not refund even though the visitors ordered to leave. When I read about this...EVERY comment on FB is in support of the visitor and NO ONE supports the landlord or hotel. So I guess...I am little surprised that given the circumstances that the entire world is facing that many here are siding with the hotels that are sticking to their guns and using a "nonrefundable" clause to keep these deposits.

But I accept that we all think different and yes....my logic could be flawed. But as a human being that would NEVER think of keeping a refund under these circumstances....I just don't see it.
Finally...Of course.....if England allows us to fly into their country and British Airways allows us to fly ...I will still go. But it looks like this will not happen.

Posted by
5017 posts

Yes, I believe your logic is flawed.

How is it the hotel's responsibility to get you to England? Did they close the country's borders?

Please correct me if any of the following is not factually accurate:
- You agreed to a contract.
- That contract said you would pay for a hotel stay.
- The contract specified that there would be no refund if the stay was canceled.
- The contract did not include an exception or exclusion saying that you would in fact get a refund if some worldwide disaster made it impossible for you to complete your stay.

If all the above is correct...why do you think that the contract you agreed to is not valid?

I know it's not what you want. That's not the issue. The issue is what you are legally entitled to. After that, it's up to the goodwill (or lack thereof) of the businesses and individuals involved.

Posted by
552 posts

I think you are all unaware of the coronavirus situation in Britain. Restaurants are all closed, and some have already announced that they will not re-open. I suspect that many hotels, especially the smaller owner-managed ones, will be in the same position. We do not know what the future holds at present, or how long it will be before we can rebuild the country and its economy. If a small hotelier is facing banruptcy and homelessness, they are unlikely to be willing to refund money to someone who made a booking on uncancellable terms. The hotel may not even have the cash to do so, and the tourist would have to join a long line of unsecured creditors alongside redundant staff and suppliers waiting for payment. There may be no question of retaining the goodwill of potential customers. We all have to take a hit in these difficult times.

This notice from the Premier Inn website may throw some light on the situation. Premier Inn are a big chain, who will probably weather this storm, but I don't think anyone here imagines the crisis here will be over by the end of April.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) update

In order to comply with the latest Government guidelines, we are asking you to cancel online any bookings you may have for stays up to and including 14th April 2020 unless the booking is for a key worker.
Following the Government advice on COVID-19, we have temporarily closed the majority of our Premier Inn, hub and Zip hotels. 34 hotels are currently open for sale for the exclusive use of key workers. We also have groups staying with us in a number of other locations. The remaining hotels have been removed for bookings, up to and including 30th April 2020. We will continue to review the support required on an ongoing basis and will provide updates in our COVD-19 page.

Posted by
153 posts

Story time.

Back in December you and a buddy decided to take a 2 week trip to Alaska starting on May 10th. So you booked non-refundable airline tickets as they were the cheapest. You both booked rooms with a non-refundable deposit.

Today you heard that on Monday 3/30, Alaska is mandating everyone coming into the state to self quarantine for 14 days or face a $25000 fine and/or 1 year in jail. The 2 of you talk it over and as you are laid off and could use the money you are going to cancel. Your friend is going to wait before deciding. So you call the airline to cancel and are told no refund. Then you call the hotel and are told the same thing. You are upset because no one will refund your money so you start writing bad reviews and going to all the travel forums bad mouthing the businesses.

Jump ahead to May 1st. Alaska just closed it's border and not letting anyone into the state. The next day your friend calls the airline to cancel and because they aren't flying to Alaska at the time he receives a full refund. The hotel tells him they are still open but because he was coming from out of state will refund his deposit . Again you are mad because you didn't receive refunds and start writing bad reviews and bad mouthing the businesses.

Moral of the story: If you are purchasing months before your travel date, either spend the extra money for refundable reservations or buy travel insurance with a 'cancel for any reason' clause. If not then accept the fact that you may lose that money. Or as things are now, wait and see if the business cancels you in which in many cases you will receive a full refund .

Posted by
7107 posts

“I think you are all unaware of the coronavirus situation in Britain.”

That’s a very bold statement.
Most of us are extremely aware.

I think you are unaware of the Coronavirus situation in California.
We have been under a Shelter in Place Order since March 16th. Longer than Britain.

Posted by
5017 posts

"I think those of you who are offended, outraged, and demanding a full refund for travel expenses you paid that clearly stated they were nonrefundable, might be unaware of the coronavirus situation in Britain. Just like you, we are all trying our best to survive an unprecedented worldwide disaster. Everyone is suffering, some more than others. Please don't take it personally."

There, I fixed that for ya. :)

Posted by
4498 posts

Homeby51 - I believe you are trying to be ahead of things, but that is not what your booking contract allows. Almost for sure, the hotel will be closed by government order by the time May rolls around. But you are still 2 months off and things are changing on a daily basis. While some hotels and sites might be proactive, not all are. You just need to be patient and when the hotel is officially closed, or the UK order extends past your travel date, then you will get your cancellation and refund.

Posted by
71 posts

Just for reference...here is a thread asking the same questions and 95% of the people think the hotel should give refund or at the least.....let you re-schedule. I reference this because this is an area who thrive on tourism and many posting are hotel/property managers. I don't think you have to join to view...at least I hope not.
https://www.facebook.com/groups/KeysGossip/?multi_permalinks=3407572965953914&notif_id=1585488903380466&notif_t=feedback_reaction_generic

Posted by
153 posts

homeby51 - I don't think too many of us will join that group as it's for locals only. You posted here and this is want we have to say.

You wrote this awhile back; "The reason I would think a refund is deserved is because services that you pay for cannot be given. Simple as that. I you hire me to build you a kitchen and I require a 10% non refundable deposit but I then have a heart attack and can't perform the service...would you expect me to keep the deposit? Same principle IMO....if the UK is not allowing visitors then why would people expect their deposits back?
Now again...I know that the UK hasn't restricted travel in May yet. I am NOT asking for a refund if I am allowed to still fulfill my obligation to travel."

  1. If I contracted you to do a job and for whatever reason you couldn't do it, yes, legally you have to give the money back. However if I decided that I no longer wanted the job done then why should you give me any money back? You are still willing to do the job. You contracted with the hotel for a room and they are still willing and able to give you one. You choose to not use that room so you are breaking the contract not them. Same principle IMO.

  2. "I am NOT asking for a refund if I am allowed to still fulfill my obligation to travel." If that's the case what's the big deal? From my understanding you told the hotel 'as a heads up' that you may not show up. They told you that if you don't show up then no refund. Then you said that you are calling Booking.com to get your money back*. They will tell you the same thing.

YOU cancel and receive nothing in return. BUSINESS cancels and you should receive something in return. Simple. Next time either purchase refundable or buy insurance with cancel for any reason clause.

  • For those that may not know, if you book on sites like Booking.com then you have to cancel with them, not the business that you booked.
Posted by
2650 posts

Just a comment that AirBNB refunded everyone everything, at least through April 14. If Booking.com leaves you in the lurch then you have a right to be disappointed with them and never use them again. Justifiably so.

BTW always wait for the flight/hotel to cancel if you can. It puts you in a much better position. Don't try to be proactive.

Posted by
3085 posts

Yes, AirBnB made the business decision to refund deposits to people who cannot get to there rental as currently scheduled. That is a good thing. However, a very large percentage of those listing their properties on AirBnB disagreed with that decision and are very unhappy they will not be getting to keep the money.

Posted by
2650 posts

they will not be getting to keep the money.

Well, AirBnb escrows the money until the day after check in so it’s easy to refund it— they still have it.

Posted by
71 posts

Yes....I haven't canceled. Waiting for the Airlines to cancel me. The Trains have already canceled me as well as Highclere Castle. I would imagine by May....I will find that everything is still shut down.