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My first customer dispute

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mooseberry

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Ok, I finally got my first customer to dispute cancellation fees.
She called me last week asking of our policies...I told her, same as it is stated online.
She made the reservations, called today and cancelled. She could have changed the dates but decided to cancel.
So I charged her the fee. here is my policy:
Cancellation Policy
Since we are a small operation and cancellations really hurt us, deposits will only be refunded if you cancel your reservations 5 days prior to the scheduled arrival, less a $35 cancellation fee. Deposits with less than 5 days notice will only be refunded if the reserved room(s) can be rebooked for the reserved time less a $10.00 fee.

here is what she wrote after I e mailed her the cancellation letter stating the charges: ( now I think she was phishing for travel advisories )

To Whom It May Concern,

I spoke with Maggie on Friday, April 10 about reserving a room at the Mooseberry Inn on June 6, 2009. We spoke at rather great length about the time it would take to ride a motorcycle from Skagway to Tok, since I had been unable to find an acceptable hotel in Beaver Creek. I asked the cancellation policy and was told that we could cancel up to 5 days before our arrival. On that basis, I agreed to reserve a room, on the condition that I would consult my husband and get back with Maggie in the next couple of days if he decided the distance was too great.

I canceled the reservation today, April 13. Again, no mention was made of a cancellation fee, yet I see you intend to charge me $35.00. Had I been informed of that policy when I spoke to Maggie last Friday, I would not have booked in the first place. Given that you have nearly two months to book the room you were holding for me, a $35.00 cancellation fee is nothing short of robbery. Please remove this charge from my Visa account immediately.

I wrote back to her saying that it was me she spoke to and that I did tell her about the $35.00 cancellation fee and so on. I also offer to credit that fee towards an future stay with us, since they also have to drive back trough our town too....

this is the second e mail I received:

As I was looking in the 2009 Edition of Milepost for accommodations in Tok, I saw your advertisement on page 217. There is no mention there of your cancellation policy or charges. I then went on line to see your reviews written by previous guests and found them to be highly complimentary. On that basis, I called you.

I wrote down your five day cancellation policy along with rate information and the VIP offer, even you inquiry about any special dietary needs we might have. I guess we could debate whether or not you told me about a $35.00 cancellation fee, but I can assure you that it did not receive the emphasis of the other information you provided. And since I told you in my first phone call that I would be consulting with my husband and get back to you if we needed to cancel, you had ample opportunity to be sure I had heard your entire cancellation policy. As I suspect you know, I would not have booked under that policy.

I am sorry for the limitations of your software, but I should not have to pay for them. If you were that concerned, you could have withheld the entry until I talked with my husband and got back to you. Once again, I asking that you remove the $35.00 charge to our account. If not, we will dispute it with our credit card company and publicize your policy to our friends and other travelers through various club newsletters, and a letter to Milepost to be sure they are all better informed of your policy than we were.

I look forward to an immediate and positive resolution to this matter.

I wrote back to go and dispute the carges, only in a nice way.

People have no idea on how much work is involved to reverse a reservation, at least for me. I have many places I take bookings from and each one I have to manually change.

I read a while ago about how not to worry of getting a bad rap.....but I am a little.
I used to be the person who always said "Oh, they sound like such nice paople, lets trust them, etc..." and it came back to bite me.
This time is actually the first time I am standing and holding my ground.

Right decission?

Anyone with similar experiences?
 

Samster

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This is from another B&B here:
"All reservations must be secured with a valid Credit Card. Once you have secured your reservation, you are obligated for your entire stay. If for any reason you must cancel your reservation more then 14 days in advance, we will not charge your credit card (unless we have processed a deposit, in which case a $25 Administrative fee will be assessed). If cancellation is made within 14 days of the reservation, we will make every attempt to re-rent the room(s). If the room(s) can be re-rented for your entire reservation period, we will only assess a $25.00 administrative fee and there will be no further obligation on your part."
I think this is vague sounding, although you can see that you'll probably be charged for your room if it's within 14 days of the date, the only out being if the room is re-booked. Then you're charged the "administrative fee" of $25. I've had callers that are looking for something we don't offer tell me that they will NOT book at this inn because of their cancellation policy. I don't like these fees and would pass on booking somewhere that had this policy, especially if I canceled almost 2 months away. That's just my 2 cents.....
 

swirt

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Youch. Sorry to hear about that exchange. Do keep us posted on the outcome of the chargeback challenge. Did you charge the deposit and are issuing the refund minus $35? If that is what you did, it should be upheld. The only questin might be as to whether the policy was stated in your confirmation. When it comes down to what is stated on the phone it becomes a case of she said / she said. Its generally not enough to just have it on your website. To be safe, it needs to be in some sort of written exchange too.
Hope it comes out in your favor.
 

mooseberry

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Thanks for your 2 cents, Samster

I totally understand your view of things.
I, On the other hand will not book at all if I am not 100% sure I will be there. I would wait til a closer time of my travels if I am not sure when and if we are going to arrive.
 

mooseberry

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Youch. Sorry to hear about that exchange. Do keep us posted on the outcome of the chargeback challenge. Did you charge the deposit and are issuing the refund minus $35? If that is what you did, it should be upheld. The only questin might be as to whether the policy was stated in your confirmation. When it comes down to what is stated on the phone it becomes a case of she said / she said. Its generally not enough to just have it on your website. To be safe, it needs to be in some sort of written exchange too.
Hope it comes out in your favor..
Argh, I checked and it is not on my confirmation, only in the confirmation letter from Webervations.
I guess I will change that right away.
Thanks Swirt
 

JunieBJones (JBJ)

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Youch. Sorry to hear about that exchange. Do keep us posted on the outcome of the chargeback challenge. Did you charge the deposit and are issuing the refund minus $35? If that is what you did, it should be upheld. The only questin might be as to whether the policy was stated in your confirmation. When it comes down to what is stated on the phone it becomes a case of she said / she said. Its generally not enough to just have it on your website. To be safe, it needs to be in some sort of written exchange too.
Hope it comes out in your favor..
Argh, I checked and it is not on my confirmation, only in the confirmation letter from Webervations.
I guess I will change that right away.
Thanks Swirt
.
Mooseberry Inn said:
Argh, I checked and it is not on my confirmation, only in the confirmation letter from Webervations.
I guess I will change that right away.
Thanks Swirt
If they booked online did you have them tick the box to "Agree to policies" >? Is so that is what I would send first in a dispute.
Can you tell us, is it a deposit or the $35 fee she is fighting? Is it both? My suggestion is if it is the $35 fee, draw your line in the sand, you know, how much is enough? Is it worth bad reviews etc? If it is more than that, then stick to it by all means. I just don't like to see you have all this aggravation over $35 dollars. For $200 yes! haha
Hang in there!!!! We're here for you!
 

mooseberry

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Youch. Sorry to hear about that exchange. Do keep us posted on the outcome of the chargeback challenge. Did you charge the deposit and are issuing the refund minus $35? If that is what you did, it should be upheld. The only questin might be as to whether the policy was stated in your confirmation. When it comes down to what is stated on the phone it becomes a case of she said / she said. Its generally not enough to just have it on your website. To be safe, it needs to be in some sort of written exchange too.
Hope it comes out in your favor..
Argh, I checked and it is not on my confirmation, only in the confirmation letter from Webervations.
I guess I will change that right away.
Thanks Swirt
.
Mooseberry Inn said:
Argh, I checked and it is not on my confirmation, only in the confirmation letter from Webervations.
I guess I will change that right away.
Thanks Swirt
If they booked online did you have them tick the box to "Agree to policies" >? Is so that is what I would send first in a dispute.
Can you tell us, is it a deposit or the $35 fee she is fighting? Is it both? My suggestion is if it is the $35 fee, draw your line in the sand, you know, how much is enough? Is it worth bad reviews etc? If it is more than that, then stick to it by all means. I just don't like to see you have all this aggravation over $35 dollars. For $200 yes! haha
Hang in there!!!! We're here for you!
.
Thanks JBJ,
She did not book online, there she would have had to chack the agreement box, that is probably one of the reasons she called.
The dispute is only for the $35.00 and you are right, just before I read your post I refunded the $35.00 and also wrote another e mail letting her know that I did not refund because she threatened me ( which 1, I am shaking in my boots, and 2. I felt very offended ), but because it was not worth my time and effort over this. I also asked her to feel free to post my policies wherever she liked since they are public anyways and I wished them a great vacation in our beautiful state. ( sorry, I am sarcastic at times, can't help it)

Now I will have to revise my policy again, for the 64th time to make it bullet and fool proof....
Thanks for your input :)
 

GeorgiaGirl

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Hopefully you are going to not take any future reservations from her!!!
 

mooseberry

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Hopefully you are going to not take any future reservations from her!!!
.
GeorgiaGirl said:
Hopefully you are going to not take any future reservations from her!!!
NOOOO WAYYYY!!!
honestly, since they decided to take the longer route ( still have to come trough our town) and they not making reservations elswhere, i can guarantee they will want to overnight in our town and there will be no rooms...this happened almost daily last year.

They are on motorcycles and since I know all the areas here, I would not even want to do that in the car.
 

Samster

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Thanks for your 2 cents, Samster

I totally understand your view of things.
I, On the other hand will not book at all if I am not 100% sure I will be there. I would wait til a closer time of my travels if I am not sure when and if we are going to arrive..
I agree, I personally don't book unless I'm totally sure that I can make it there too. I think that a lot of travelers see these administrative fees or cancellation fees as "nuisance fees". I'm not saying that's right or wrong, just how they view it. Especially if they are cancelling so far in advance.
Good topic for all of us to think about how to tighten up our cancellation policies. And to review what level of aggravation we can take :)
 

scrambled_eggs

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I had a problem this year with a guest who booked online and our reservations system and website state that a $20 per reserved night deposit will be taken. This is non-refundable if the guest cancels. She even checked the box that she agreed to the policies. Well an email came through a few weeks later and she wanted to cancel and said she understood she would not receive her deposit back so I didn't think it was a big deal. Then the next thing I saw was a horrible review on Tripadvisor with one star. It didn't make much sense to me how she could say one thing in the email and go and do another thing online to broadcast to everyone. Well I was devastated to get this review so we called her at home and agreed to refund her $20 and she took off the review. In that instance I don't think it was worth it to keep her deposit with that bad review. Tripadvisor has been one of our number 1 ways to advertise for free and it brings us a lot of guests. I haven't had problems otherwise with the deposit and a lot of people have cancelled. We charge this deposit because it takes a lot time to process the reservation and paperwork and get everything in line. Sometimes I am on the phone for 20 minutes with a guest explaining things. Charging the deposit also weeds out the people who are not serious about staying here and making a reservation.
 

egoodell

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Sorry you had to go through that, it's upsetting to say the least. She is just bullying you - all hotels and B&Bs have cancellation fees, and she knows it.
I have found in our short two years of operation, that whenever someone comes out and asks about cancellation fees, 99% plan to cancel. the 1% in my case are usually military and in their cases stuff DOES happen to throw their plans askew and I give them leeway.
In my case, I have told DH that whenever anyone asks about the cancellation fee, we will not take the reservation until they are more sure about what they plan to do. It's just too much of a risk for me, and I don't want to go through the arguments.
Riki
 

egoodell

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I had a problem this year with a guest who booked online and our reservations system and website state that a $20 per reserved night deposit will be taken. This is non-refundable if the guest cancels. She even checked the box that she agreed to the policies. Well an email came through a few weeks later and she wanted to cancel and said she understood she would not receive her deposit back so I didn't think it was a big deal. Then the next thing I saw was a horrible review on Tripadvisor with one star. It didn't make much sense to me how she could say one thing in the email and go and do another thing online to broadcast to everyone. Well I was devastated to get this review so we called her at home and agreed to refund her $20 and she took off the review. In that instance I don't think it was worth it to keep her deposit with that bad review. Tripadvisor has been one of our number 1 ways to advertise for free and it brings us a lot of guests. I haven't had problems otherwise with the deposit and a lot of people have cancelled. We charge this deposit because it takes a lot time to process the reservation and paperwork and get everything in line. Sometimes I am on the phone for 20 minutes with a guest explaining things. Charging the deposit also weeds out the people who are not serious about staying here and making a reservation..
This is what really gets me - the blackmail of a bad review to get the deposit back And I used to worry about it and give in as well but you know???
I'm sorry, I guess I'm lucky to be in a popular area, but I am going to refuse to put up with that. And if they give me a bad review on TripAdvisor, I'm hoping they let me calmly respond that we don't respond to blackmail.
Riki
 

JunieBJones (JBJ)

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Youch. Sorry to hear about that exchange. Do keep us posted on the outcome of the chargeback challenge. Did you charge the deposit and are issuing the refund minus $35? If that is what you did, it should be upheld. The only questin might be as to whether the policy was stated in your confirmation. When it comes down to what is stated on the phone it becomes a case of she said / she said. Its generally not enough to just have it on your website. To be safe, it needs to be in some sort of written exchange too.
Hope it comes out in your favor..
Argh, I checked and it is not on my confirmation, only in the confirmation letter from Webervations.
I guess I will change that right away.
Thanks Swirt
.
Mooseberry Inn said:
Argh, I checked and it is not on my confirmation, only in the confirmation letter from Webervations.
I guess I will change that right away.
Thanks Swirt
If they booked online did you have them tick the box to "Agree to policies" >? Is so that is what I would send first in a dispute.
Can you tell us, is it a deposit or the $35 fee she is fighting? Is it both? My suggestion is if it is the $35 fee, draw your line in the sand, you know, how much is enough? Is it worth bad reviews etc? If it is more than that, then stick to it by all means. I just don't like to see you have all this aggravation over $35 dollars. For $200 yes! haha
Hang in there!!!! We're here for you!
.
Thanks JBJ,
She did not book online, there she would have had to chack the agreement box, that is probably one of the reasons she called.
The dispute is only for the $35.00 and you are right, just before I read your post I refunded the $35.00 and also wrote another e mail letting her know that I did not refund because she threatened me ( which 1, I am shaking in my boots, and 2. I felt very offended ), but because it was not worth my time and effort over this. I also asked her to feel free to post my policies wherever she liked since they are public anyways and I wished them a great vacation in our beautiful state. ( sorry, I am sarcastic at times, can't help it)

Now I will have to revise my policy again, for the 64th time to make it bullet and fool proof....
Thanks for your input :)
.
Mooseberry Inn said:
Now I will have to revise my policy again, for the 64th time to make it bullet and fool proof....
Good luck with that. (Me being sarcastic- tee hee) Yes, we revise and revise again, always over one incident. We could have 100 pages of policies and still have one slide through the cracks.
Guests last night asked if I had used fabreze or something in their room as he is sensitive to scents.
I type this as my throat is nearly closed up and my eyes drip continually due to the LILACS in bloom all over this town. They came from 6000 feet in snow to Spring is sprung here.
I was in a state last night, I am thinking, "Oh great, they don't like it here and are using THAT to get out of their 4 night booking!" I will add, if there is ever a way to get out of it, that would be the ticket, what can we do as innkeepers? I can say you didn't mention sensitivities, and btw this is an old flippin' house full of smells! But in reality I would let them walk. I would be sensitive to their needs.
(PS No I don't use fabreze)
 

hawley

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Sorry you had to go through that, it's upsetting to say the least. She is just bullying you - all hotels and B&Bs have cancellation fees, and she knows it.
I have found in our short two years of operation, that whenever someone comes out and asks about cancellation fees, 99% plan to cancel. the 1% in my case are usually military and in their cases stuff DOES happen to throw their plans askew and I give them leeway.
In my case, I have told DH that whenever anyone asks about the cancellation fee, we will not take the reservation until they are more sure about what they plan to do. It's just too much of a risk for me, and I don't want to go through the arguments.
Riki.
I am like you on the cancellation. Most of my guests are flying in and I want to know if they already have purchased their tickets. Have only had one ask about cancellation fee. He was a lawyer and figured I might have a problem. But his brother had cancer and they were coming to visit him and they have not always gotten along well. So we agreed that if he got in a disagreement, I would do a gift certificate and his brother could use it at a later date.
Everything went well. But it is always a red flag.
 

mooseberry

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Youch. Sorry to hear about that exchange. Do keep us posted on the outcome of the chargeback challenge. Did you charge the deposit and are issuing the refund minus $35? If that is what you did, it should be upheld. The only questin might be as to whether the policy was stated in your confirmation. When it comes down to what is stated on the phone it becomes a case of she said / she said. Its generally not enough to just have it on your website. To be safe, it needs to be in some sort of written exchange too.
Hope it comes out in your favor..
Argh, I checked and it is not on my confirmation, only in the confirmation letter from Webervations.
I guess I will change that right away.
Thanks Swirt
.
Mooseberry Inn said:
Argh, I checked and it is not on my confirmation, only in the confirmation letter from Webervations.
I guess I will change that right away.
Thanks Swirt
If they booked online did you have them tick the box to "Agree to policies" >? Is so that is what I would send first in a dispute.
Can you tell us, is it a deposit or the $35 fee she is fighting? Is it both? My suggestion is if it is the $35 fee, draw your line in the sand, you know, how much is enough? Is it worth bad reviews etc? If it is more than that, then stick to it by all means. I just don't like to see you have all this aggravation over $35 dollars. For $200 yes! haha
Hang in there!!!! We're here for you!
.
Thanks JBJ,
She did not book online, there she would have had to chack the agreement box, that is probably one of the reasons she called.
The dispute is only for the $35.00 and you are right, just before I read your post I refunded the $35.00 and also wrote another e mail letting her know that I did not refund because she threatened me ( which 1, I am shaking in my boots, and 2. I felt very offended ), but because it was not worth my time and effort over this. I also asked her to feel free to post my policies wherever she liked since they are public anyways and I wished them a great vacation in our beautiful state. ( sorry, I am sarcastic at times, can't help it)

Now I will have to revise my policy again, for the 64th time to make it bullet and fool proof....
Thanks for your input :)
.
Mooseberry Inn said:
Now I will have to revise my policy again, for the 64th time to make it bullet and fool proof....
Good luck with that. (Me being sarcastic- tee hee) Yes, we revise and revise again, always over one incident. We could have 100 pages of policies and still have one slide through the cracks.
Guests last night asked if I had used fabreze or something in their room as he is sensitive to scents.
I type this as my throat is nearly closed up and my eyes drip continually due to the LILACS in bloom all over this town. They came from 6000 feet in snow to Spring is sprung here.
I was in a state last night, I am thinking, "Oh great, they don't like it here and are using THAT to get out of their 4 night booking!" I will add, if there is ever a way to get out of it, that would be the ticket, what can we do as innkeepers? I can say you didn't mention sensitivities, and btw this is an old flippin' house full of smells! But in reality I would let them walk. I would be sensitive to their needs.
(PS No I don't use fabreze)
.
I have one guest with allergies to commercial smells.
I don't use smelly stuff allover, and before she checked in I removed cnadles, etc...she was happy nad is a repeat customer.
She did tell me as soon as I took her first reservation over the phone, others I ask specifically for all and any allergies. I think I even make this part of my drop down list online before booking....
 

JunieBJones (JBJ)

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I had a problem this year with a guest who booked online and our reservations system and website state that a $20 per reserved night deposit will be taken. This is non-refundable if the guest cancels. She even checked the box that she agreed to the policies. Well an email came through a few weeks later and she wanted to cancel and said she understood she would not receive her deposit back so I didn't think it was a big deal. Then the next thing I saw was a horrible review on Tripadvisor with one star. It didn't make much sense to me how she could say one thing in the email and go and do another thing online to broadcast to everyone. Well I was devastated to get this review so we called her at home and agreed to refund her $20 and she took off the review. In that instance I don't think it was worth it to keep her deposit with that bad review. Tripadvisor has been one of our number 1 ways to advertise for free and it brings us a lot of guests. I haven't had problems otherwise with the deposit and a lot of people have cancelled. We charge this deposit because it takes a lot time to process the reservation and paperwork and get everything in line. Sometimes I am on the phone for 20 minutes with a guest explaining things. Charging the deposit also weeds out the people who are not serious about staying here and making a reservation..
oceans said:
I had a problem this year with a guest who booked online and our reservations system...
Oceans we had a lovely innkeeper with a gorgeous set up east of San Fran (Russian River - Willits) and had so many difficult guests. My hat goes off to you - as certain segments of population are more needy and demanding from large cities in CA. It actually pushed her over the edge. We all have pockets that book our B&B's and fight the policies like that. We have to stick to our guns, but sometimes the grief is just not worth it.
 

mooseberry

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I had a problem this year with a guest who booked online and our reservations system and website state that a $20 per reserved night deposit will be taken. This is non-refundable if the guest cancels. She even checked the box that she agreed to the policies. Well an email came through a few weeks later and she wanted to cancel and said she understood she would not receive her deposit back so I didn't think it was a big deal. Then the next thing I saw was a horrible review on Tripadvisor with one star. It didn't make much sense to me how she could say one thing in the email and go and do another thing online to broadcast to everyone. Well I was devastated to get this review so we called her at home and agreed to refund her $20 and she took off the review. In that instance I don't think it was worth it to keep her deposit with that bad review. Tripadvisor has been one of our number 1 ways to advertise for free and it brings us a lot of guests. I haven't had problems otherwise with the deposit and a lot of people have cancelled. We charge this deposit because it takes a lot time to process the reservation and paperwork and get everything in line. Sometimes I am on the phone for 20 minutes with a guest explaining things. Charging the deposit also weeds out the people who are not serious about staying here and making a reservation..
oceans said:
We charge this deposit because it takes a lot time to process the reservation and paperwork and get everything in line. Sometimes I am on the phone for 20 minutes with a guest explaining things. Charging the deposit also weeds out the people who are not serious about staying here and making a reservation.
People don't understand it takes time, not just one click of a button like the big hotel chains. Either that or they all work for free.....
Also now guests can blackmail us with TA ???/ What's next ?I thought TA would only post with guests actually had stayed at that place ?
 

egoodell

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I had a problem this year with a guest who booked online and our reservations system and website state that a $20 per reserved night deposit will be taken. This is non-refundable if the guest cancels. She even checked the box that she agreed to the policies. Well an email came through a few weeks later and she wanted to cancel and said she understood she would not receive her deposit back so I didn't think it was a big deal. Then the next thing I saw was a horrible review on Tripadvisor with one star. It didn't make much sense to me how she could say one thing in the email and go and do another thing online to broadcast to everyone. Well I was devastated to get this review so we called her at home and agreed to refund her $20 and she took off the review. In that instance I don't think it was worth it to keep her deposit with that bad review. Tripadvisor has been one of our number 1 ways to advertise for free and it brings us a lot of guests. I haven't had problems otherwise with the deposit and a lot of people have cancelled. We charge this deposit because it takes a lot time to process the reservation and paperwork and get everything in line. Sometimes I am on the phone for 20 minutes with a guest explaining things. Charging the deposit also weeds out the people who are not serious about staying here and making a reservation..
oceans said:
We charge this deposit because it takes a lot time to process the reservation and paperwork and get everything in line. Sometimes I am on the phone for 20 minutes with a guest explaining things. Charging the deposit also weeds out the people who are not serious about staying here and making a reservation.
People don't understand it takes time, not just one click of a button like the big hotel chains. Either that or they all work for free.....
Also now guests can blackmail us with TA ???/ What's next ?I thought TA would only post with guests actually had stayed at that place ?
.
I'm not sure about TA but Yahoo!Travel lets them do it, and they don't allow the business to reply. I had a woman who never got back to me about booking and when I told her no she did blackmail me and she did write a bad review. I tried to contact Yahoo Travel to tell them she had never stayed here, and could I at least write a response and no go.
But in the end she wrote something stupid like, "first they said we could stay and then they said no so this place is terrible"
It's in the middle of a lot of great writeups for our tours so it looks like a spoiled brat trying to give me trouble and nobody seems to pay attention to it.
I get a chance to talk about reviews to our tour guests that are not staying with us and they all say they take the reviews with a grain of salt, especially when there is one bad one in the middle of good ones. They are also all suspicious, actually, when all the reivews are all glowing.
Riki
 
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