Booking.com has an agreement with American Express that seems to override accommodation providers own policies. The following is booking.com's policy regarding American Express:
Hotel does not accept card as given by guest
This reservation has been guaranteed by the guest with American Express.
As per agreement with Booking.com, all hotels should accept American Express, Visa and Euro/Mastercard.
If you do accept American Express, please change your accepted credit cards in the 'general info' section within the extranet and tick the appropriate credit cards accordingly.
If you do not accept American Express, you will not be able to mark this reservation as 'invalid credit card'. The card provided by the guest is valid, however not accepted by you. As per agreement with Booking.com you will have to accept this card."
For further information please contact Customer Service Department or your account manager.
We are a small business renting out 4 holiday apartments from our home. We offer standard rates that can be cancelled for free up until 14 full days before arrival. We also offer non-refundable rates (high season period and for all reservations made within 14 days of the arrival date.
Our accommodation accepts VISA/MASTERCARD/EURO as well as Booking.com's ALTERNATE PAYMENT METHODS.
If a customer books our standard rates, we have sufficient time to contact them and request an alternate card or payment method, explaining we do not accept AMEX.
However, for NON-REFUNDABLE RATES, a loophole is opened for abuse of the system due to this policy.
This morning we received a reservation for tonight for 3 nights with guest using American Express (which we have marked that we do not accept).
After trying to contact the guest via email in the extranet as well as phone call (to find out their arrival time which we also request with all reservations and if they are coming by car or public transport so we can know if we need to pick them up at the bus stop or if we need to save parking for them at the house), we received no answer to either. At about 2 PM the guest telephoned us and said they are about 1 hour away and are coming by car. So far, all as normal.
However, the guest then apologized for using AMEX to book which was completely out of the blue as we had not mentioned anything in our email nor phone call about their card or pre-payment.
We then waited 3 hours at the house for the guest to arrive, with no contact nor further response to telephone calls. After 3 hours, we suddenly got a cancellation for this reservation with no remarks from the guest.
As we do not accept AMEX, we have no way to charge the card. However, the commission amount for the 3 night's booking are still there. As with other cards (Visa, Mastercard, Eurocard) that for some reason are not chargeable for a non-refundable reservation that is cancelled or there is a no-show, we can simply mark them as invalid and the commission will be set to zero. When then trying to mark the card as invalid and using the "OTHER" option to explain that the guest booked by AMEX which we do not accept and have no way of paying for, we received the above pop-up from booking.com at the top of the page explaining booking.com's policy. We then have no way to automatically have the commission dropped without actually contacting a booking.com rep (adding to our time wasted).
In essence, we are "FORCED" to accept cards that we cannot accept for payment, yet the guest can simply cancel at any time without any financial repercussions. We, instead, are faced with the financial repercussion of having missed opportunity to resell the apartment last minute as it was blocked for the guest, the TIME we lost waiting for the guest that could have been much more productively spent elsewhere, and the aggravation of knowing that booking.com puts it's customers above it's suppliers of accommodation with such an absolutely absurd policy.
Booking.com, if it continues to wish to "FORCE" accommodations to accept reservations made with AMEX, booking.com should then provide an alternate way for customers to book for accommodations that do not accept American Express.
I am speaking specifically for NON-REFUNDABLE RATES.
1. One method would be for Booking.com to accept AMEX as an "ALTERNATE PAYMENT METHOD" like PAYPAL, etc. when a customer wishes to use American Express for accommodations that do not accept AMEX:
2. Another option would be to only allow a customer to input credit cards that the accommodation accepts and/or be given a popup stating that the accommodation does not accept AMEX/DINERS/ETC. when a customer puts this type of card number in. The customer can then have the chance to put in the accepted card details or have the option to be directed to "ALTERNATE PAYMENT METHODS". If a guest then does not choose to take any of these options for prepayment, then booking.com could then say "sorry, for non-refundable rates this accommodation requires immediate prepayment with the above accepted methods" and then direct the customer to other properties that have availability.
BOOKING.COM WILL NOT LOSE OUT ON BOOKINGS BY DOING THIS. BOOKING.COM WILL ONLY BE PROVIDING A BETTER SERVICE TO BOTH ITS SUPPLIERS AND ITS CUSTOMERS.
FORCING AN ACCOMMODATION PROVIDER TO ACCEPT AN UN-GUARANTEED RESERVATION (by allowing guests to book with AMEX when an accommodation cannot accept it) FOR NON-REFUNDABLE RESERVATIONS IS BOTH UNFAIR AND SIMPLY WRONG.
Booking.com has made steps recently to help prevent cancellations when a guest has booked multiple accommodations for the same dates. This is only fair and a good step by booking.com to protect the interest of its accommodation suppliers. However, the situation like what we experienced today is a clear and blatant loophole that people can use to exploit the system.
IT NEEDS TO BE ADDRESSED.
Booking.com can do better in helping its accommodation providers and should seriously consider making changes to this policy.
Ula's Holiday Apartments