Some guests book just to obtain a "Visa" but then there is a "No Show"

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  • Avatar
    Info

    In South Africa, we ALWAYS take a deposit for a booking unless it's a repeat customer.  If we didn't we would be sitting with empty rooms day after day.  I have a system now which requires the guest to provide credit card details and the payment is immediately processed.  It has made my life SO much easier.  Handling all the cancellations and no-shows from Booking.com was becoming an administration nightmare!  

    And I agree, that Booking.com does seem to favour the guest.  They seem to forget that we are their customers as must as the guests are their customers.  

  • Avatar
    Graham Fisher

    I think I posted this elsewhere Alan, I'm not sure whether the same applies for you, but these are normally bookings for longer periods 3 or 4 weeks... I had the same problem in the UK and following a few early morning calls from the UK Border Agency - I have now been asked to report cancellations of this type to the UK Border Agency.

    IMHO taking deposit in the UK tends to discourage booking at all - although from what I hear the situation in SA is quite different and Info's comments certainly apply.  If nothing else I get the satisfaction of knowing the Border Agency are alerted!

  • Avatar
    anniesguesthouse

    Graham we have exactly the same situation.

    Many international reservations with multiple declined cards and the guest never arrives but of course has paperwork saying s/he has pre-paid in full a stay in the UK.

    It is very worrying to be unwittingly involved in this scam.

    https://www.anniesguesthouse.co.uk 


  • Avatar
    Graham Fisher

    Annies - perhaps worthwhile waiting until the card details have been cleared before you send any confirmation email??

    One of the reasons I have never wanted to charge upfront - plus avoiding the pleading phone calls from customers asking for a refund when their "second cousin twice removed" has twisted their ankle, so they "just have" to cancel....

    I have to say one thing the UK Border Agency do like is the ability to go onto Bdc and tell them the exact date and time the booking was cancelled; when the punter is waving a "reservation" email under their nose at Heathrow ;>))

  • Avatar
    anniesguesthouse

    Graham we don't send a confirmation email until we have been paid, it's the Booking dot com sent confirmation email that is being used to support visa applications and proof of accommodation at UK entry points.

    I too have had queries from Border Force about guests who were alleged to have stayed with us many months prior and have entered but not exited the UK as per the terms of their visa. But of course the guest never turned up. They just used the Booking dot com confirmation email sent to them by Booking dot com to pretend that they were staying with us and because they chose a pre-paid rate pretend that they had paid in full up front when in fact the card supplied was invalid.

    Who are you contacting at Border Force to alert them to these fake reservations? I feel like I should be giving them the heads up too. We had at least thirty of these fake reservations last year. I've already had two this year.

    https://www.anniesguesthouse.co.uk 

  • Avatar
    anniesguesthouse

    Graham - in reply to your email to me, yes it appears as if my earlier comment has been censored.



  • Avatar
    Graham Fisher

    Reports of possible fraudulent use of Booking.com to obtain UK Visa's can be made online at - https://www.amsallegations.homeoffice.gov.uk/default.aspx/RenderForm/?F.Name=Lf62UB7cz4C 

    I have tried shortening this link, but it appears the full link has to be used to reach the right page.

     

  • Avatar
    Jack Alty

    Not only countries mentioned above i I have a problem with Russians. They book it for a visa. When they get it - they cancel.

    None of them has ever been my guest in reality. 

    Something has to be done.

  • Avatar
    anniesguesthouse

    Where are you located? With us it is countries that need a visa to visit. Russia is one of those countries. :/


  • Avatar
    Prastoll

    I wonder where to report here in Spain.

    We are a little guesthouse and our best rooms have been blocked during the area's short high season a few times

    Agreed with all above, something truly needs to be done.

  • Avatar
    Jack Alty

    I also think about Spain. So there is one thing to establish for us - where to report it. 

  • Avatar
    monet208

    Charge all overseas bookings once the booking comes in and amend your policies to show this is non refundable

  • Avatar
    Jack Alty

    You cannot charge some of the bookings (discrimation) and show it in the policy.

  • Avatar
    anniesguesthouse

    We have received another reservation like this today. :(

    Fourteen night stay for three guests from Tunisia, pre-paid in full rate but the credit card is in Euros and is declined of course. Flagged the card once and a second card was provided - also not in Tunisian dinar, declined again and the cards belong to someone other than the booker.

    I'd like to report this as visa fraud to the Home Office but the link provided above doesn't work.

    Any advice?

  • Avatar
    Graham Fisher

    Sorry Annies - I gave the "second page" link - try www.gov.uk/report-immigration-crime first.

  • Avatar
    Debradavis-45

    It is not just the UK that this scam happens. Here in France they do the same thing.. I just email them saying once I have their visa I will notify the French authorities that they are visiting. usually does the trick and they cancel straight away.

  • Avatar
    Jack Alty

    Good idea Debradavis-45

  • Avatar
    anniesguesthouse

    Thanks Graham. I will get onto that asap.

  • Avatar
    Moulin-neuf

    This is a new problem for me in Dordogne in France but it seems to becoming more frequent with me having 2 bookings which I feel are decidedly suspect. It is happening with neighbours with a b and b as well. I am fascinated by Deborah's comments and would be interested to know exactly how this works. Do you ask to see a copy of the visa? Your help would be much appreciated. I do feel that Booking should be doing more to protect the innkeeper from what is becoming a real nuisance.

  • Avatar
    Debradavis-45

    No one has ever sent me a copy of their visa, why would they it will say visiting here for job which is a lie. They 9/10 cancel either with that request or I ask for full payment before arrival, reminding them of my cancelation policy. 

    I havent had any in months but strangely received one two days ago.

    In order not to loose income as I know 100% they will not arrive, I have opened the room up again, so it is showing that I have two of the same room. Just remember if you do that when they dont turn up cancel the 2nd room or you could double book yourself.

    I do know of bnb owners who have been contacted here in France by the authorities as their address has been given and a residence place for a Booking.com guest from Algeria/Tunisia that never arrived but claimed they were living and working there.

    Booking.com will not remove the booking even when they know very well that the guest is never going to show and is working a con.

    The threat is usually enough especially if you can supply the french foreign office address etc in the email back to the booking.

    It is about time that Booking.com became accountable for all the time that is wasted with us chasing fictitious guests and loss of income.

     

  • Avatar
    Graham Fisher

    I fully appreciate the frustration Moulin/Debra - but I struggle to see what Bdc could do to prevent a group of people that are quite capable of misleading them as well... the only option might be to fix a sum of money and say any bookings over this amount will have a non-refundable deposit charged... but that may damage genuine business and even then I would think the Visa people would book a stay costing just below the sum you set.....

    I really cannot see an answer to this one - beyond reporting them to the authorities, as I do - regularly!  

  • Avatar
    Moulin-neuf

    Thanks Debra and Graham for your sound experienced advice. I much appreciate it.

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