Online Hotel Booking Fraud
My friends and I spent our weekend in Mactan, Cebu. It’s part of our summer time activities. No one from us expected a major trouble and we were all excited to have fun. Unfortunately, we were victimized by people who falsely advertise their property online.
We use online platforms such Booking.com and Agoda to find a place to stay when we travel. These platform offers major advantages. Anyone can easily find a hotel or property according to their preference of price, location and dates. We never had major glitches in the past using online booking websites. Not all online services are perfect. There is always a drawback. One of that is false advertising that we encountered via Booking.com.
We booked an apartment via Booking.com. We chose Astana Subdivision By JeYo because of its location, capacity and its cheaper compared to other properties. The images shown in Booking.com looks pretty good and we thought it was really a good deal.
Upon arrival at the subdivision, the security personnel gave us the direction where to find the exact location of the property. We found out that the location plotted in the map provided by booking confirmation email is wrong. We expected it to be near the entrance of the subdivision but it’s 200-250 meters far from the village’s gate.
The property is at BLOCK 12 LOT 2. We met the host/caretaker there and she said that we will be staying temporarily in a different unit/house which is BLOCK 13 LOT 9 because BLOCK 12 LOT 2 is not available. We immediately noticed that the temporary unit’s amenities are not exactly the same with the one which were shown when we were booking the place. We did not bother to ask because we were expecting to be transferred to the original unit we booked. We then paid the full amount and headed to the beach to have fun.
When we came back from the beach we thought that BLOCK 12 LOT 2 is waiting for us. Unfortunately, the caretaker said that it’s not available as there were guest staying in there. We were disappointed when we heard it. The caretaker had to call Jeyo to answer the mess. Jeyo handles the Booking.com account of the unit but he does not own the property.
The main reason why we wanted to transfer aside from BLOCK 13 LOT 9 was not the house advertised in Booking.com, it had some unpleasant features. It lacked beds to accommodate us all, the pressure of the water of the shower was low. If someone uses the faucet at kitchen no water will come out from the shower. The living room smelled like there’s a rotten dead rat inside or maybe the house has not been used for a long time. One of the rooms stunk because the vent of the septic tank is at the back of the aircon unit. The owner of the unit actually admitted the flaw of the design.
Actual bed of the unit at BLOCK 13 LOT 9
We talked to Jeyo on the phone about the issues but he insisted that BLOCK 13 LOT 9 was one of their properties and we shall stay there. He did not admit he gave us the wrong unit and some amenities listed in BLOCK 12 LOT 2 were not existent in BLOCK 13 LOT 9. We requested a compromise because it was really his mistake. Instead of being sorry and offering something, he wanted us out of the house and look for another hotel. Yes, he wanted us to leave the house in the middle of the night and we had kids already sleeping.
That response from Jeyo was unexpected, rude and disappointing but we were able to manage our cool to avoid commotion. The caretaker who faced personally the issues told us that she will negotiate the compromise with Jeyo. She promised to return for the feedback. We waited for her until 1AM but she did not show up.
We decided to just sleep it out. Some of us had to sleep on the floor because there were only 2 beds. Jeyo advertised the one with bunk bed but there’s none in BLOCK 13 LOT 9.
We checked out early the next day. The caretaker came to get the keys but chose to remain silent when asked about the compromise. We left the property smiling like nothing happened and considered it as part of the adventure and not ruin our vibes.
Another unfortunate turn of events happened when we got home. I received an email from Booking.com telling me that Astana Subdivision By JeYo notified them that I didn’t check-in. Jeyo did that to prevent me from giving reviews and rating to his property. He did not want to give us an acknowledgement receipt. His reason, it’s his first time to hear from a guest asking for it. At least he made us laugh.
I then reported the issue to Booking.com. Luckily, the website’s support staffs were very prompt in their responses and offered a compensation of 25EUR for the trouble caused by Astana Subdivision By JeYo. One of Booking.com’s customer support called me and instructed that I should contact JeYo for the refund. I called Jeyo few moments after our conversation with Booking.com’s staff. He picked my call but dropped it after I introduced my self. Since then, Jeyo can’t be reached anymore.
Booking.com apologised in Jeyo’s behalf
We found out that Astana Subdivision By JeYo is also advertised in other online booking platforms such as Traveloka.com and Agoda.com. Jeyo uses the same property and that absolutely the reason of the mess we encountered. He could have advertised BLOCK 13 LOT 9 to avoid trouble but he prefers the false ads.
I hope the authorities will step up and hold scammers accountable. If you don’t want to experience trouble you better avoid Astana Subdivision By JeYo.