NEVER, under any circumstances, pre-pay for a stay booked through booking.com even though they claim in the Questions and Answers on their website the following:
Cancellations and modifications
My booking was cancelled, when will I be refunded?
If your booking gets canceled, Booking.com refunds you immediately. The processing time takes 7 to 10 days, depending on your bank. For any questions, contact your bank directly.
That's all it says. No other qualifications.
They do not abide by this policy. Don't believe them! It is a lie! Do not be fooled!! I learned this the hard way.
In February 2022 I booked a stay at Boston Exclusive Corporate 30 Day Rental through Booking.com. The stay was for 9/2/22 to 9/6/22. On 8/15/22 booking.com notified me that my reservation was cancelled – out of the blue with no explanation as to why. I was told in that email that my stay was cancelled without a charge. I forwarded them my receipt and requested my refund, per the above policy. They responded with the following:
The property may have already taken payment from you. This is normal, and you'll be refunded in the next 30 days. Depending on who you bank with, your refund can take a little longer to process. If you're still waiting on your refund, contact Boston Exclusive Corporate 30 Day Rental directly.
Take note: It is NORMAL for the PROPERTY to have already taken payment from you!
Over the following two months I got a continual run around from booking.com on the phone and in emails. I was told I needed to provide various documents to get my refund, sometimes receiving requests for the same document three times.
It has been over 50 working days and still no refund and no promise as to when we might expect it.
Over this I learned a few other interesting things about booking.com besides the untrue statements published on their website Q&A's.
They do not properly vet the properties they offer you. Right after the cancellation, I went back and looked at the reviews on the corporate website of the property we reserved. They have an F rating from the Better Business Bureau. They had a customer rating of 2-1/2 stars and several reviews exactly echoed our experience. Any thinking person could see this was a distressed property and had no place being offered by a reputable booking service. My first mistake was I trusted them. I have recently heard from other property owners who have used booking.com to list their properties. They complained that the service does not properly vet the renters who use their site. One pulled their property from the site after very bad experiences with guests who came through the site. Their vetting process is full of holes on both ends.
Their customer service phone lines are staffed by people who tell you they are unable to make decisions on cancellations and will not let you speak to anyone who can. They simply do their best to stall anyone owed money by repeatedly sending you the same requests over and over and over.
When I asked one of their customer service agents why they don't stand by their 7 to 10 days refund policy stated in their Q&A's. I was told that only applies when booking.com collects the prepayment, not the property. When I asked why that information was not included in their Q&A answer I was told “It's an internal thing.” I interpreted that as meaning they intentionally keep their guests in the dark on the matter so they can make up the rules as they go along. Particularly (as I noted previously) since they told me in writing that “it is NORMAL for the PROPERTY to have already taken payment from you!” I'm not a lawyer, but that sounds pretty fraudulent to me.
My real beef here is that booking.com was never honest with me about the situation with this property. Instead, they made it my problem and did whatever they could to string me along. Check out this facebook page for many other horror stories: Booking.com - Unhappy Customers