Travel Trouble

Basmah Qazi

“Hugely deceived”: Aussies caught in new scam

“Hugely deceived”: Aussies caught in new scam

Thousands of people planning to travel abroad this upcoming holiday season have been scammed after a popular hotel booking website cancelled their reservations.

Listed on TripAdvisor, booking tool HotelQuickly has 640,000 followers on its Facebook page, but despite the large number and the seemingly trustworthy façade, the company sent customers an email telling them their booking has been cancelled, and they will receive a credit voucher as compensation.

The travel company blamed the incident on an “unforeseen issue”, and said they were “working very hard to come up with a manageable solution” – but customers who have spent their thousands with the company are yet to hear back from them.

Speaking to Daily Mail Australia, school teacher Debbie Hamilton shared how she and her husband had plans to travel over New Year’s and used the booking website to nab two luxury resorts.

“I booked one hotel in August and another in September – one in Chang Mai and one in Phuket,” she said.

The mother-of-one was excited to take a relaxing holiday away from home, but it fell short, as on December 9, she woke up to find that her bookings had been cancelled.

“I rang both hotels and they both said the booking had been made but cancelled on December 6,” she said.

“They said they hadn’t received any money from them and hadn’t heard from them.

“I frantically rebooked straight away but had to pay an extra $400 [as well as the original price] all up for the booking, as it was peak time.”

For a short while, Mrs Hamilton felt at ease once she was refunded her $1200 in credit vouchers by the holiday booking site, but it didn’t take long for her to discover that the vouchers were nothing but a broken website link.

Mrs Hamilton immediately got in touch with her bank and sent through every email, including the “vouchers” that had a broken link.

The mother-of-one said the entire ordeal has left her crushed.

“I was in tears that whole Sunday,” she said.

“My husband said to me when I settled down: ‘I haven’t seen you in tears for years – I didn’t know what to do.'"

“I felt like someone had come in and burgled me. I felt very vulnerable and I was panicking that the bank wouldn’t come to the party.”

And it turns out, Mrs Hamilton isn’t the only one affected, with many customers losing a lot more than she has.

One man claimed the company cancelled his booking just as he was about to board his flight, with others left thousands of dollars out of pocket.

Another man by the name of Gill Fernando wrote on the company’s Facebook page that he had booked and paid for his accommodation in August, only for it to be cancelled in December.

Many frustrated customers took to Trust Pilot, a review website, to give a low rating to the company. A shocking 87 per cent of the 943 reviews rated HotelQuickly as “bad”.

The reviews reveal how several people have been left in debt due to the incident.

A spokesperson for the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) told Daily Mail Australia that this isn’t the first time they have been notified of the company’s dodgy behaviour, as they have received “so many” complaints in the past.

They have also advised those affected to get in contact with their bank immediately.

“People who have been impacted by the HotelQuickly cancellations should talk to their bank about getting a credit card charge back or contact their state consumer affairs authority if they are having issues getting a refund,” they said.

“It is always a good idea to research online deals to determine if they are legitimate, including checking directly with the accommodation provider.”

Daily Mail Australia reached out to HotelQuickly and received a response from a spokesperson via email: “I will escalate this to my manager and he will do the necessary [sic] to escalate this to the top management.”

“Please bear with me and I will be contacting you with the person who can provide you with appropriate information.”

The company did not reach out.

Do you know someone who booked their holiday with this website? Tell us in the comments below.