Booking.com being difficult with refunding verification payments

bobbstar21
bobbstar21 Forumite Posts: 42
Third Anniversary 10 Posts
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Hi all, not sure if this is the right section.

In May 2023 I made a hotel booking with booking.com on a Barclays credit card and paid at the time, no issues.

On 11/09/2023, I received an email from booking.com

"Hello Esteemed Visitor!
Currently, our booking assistance team has notified us about you need to undergo a card verification process, even though you have already made the payment for your reservation. Suspicious activities have been detected in your account, and the reservation amount will be charged to your card and swiftly refunded.

Esteemed visitor, please be informed that this is not a payment but a card authentication carried out by Booking. Kindly utilize the direct link provided in your email to conduct the verification and confirm your booking.

You have a time window of 24 hours to confirm your reservation; failure to do so will result in its cancellation"

Although it looks a bit scammy, it came from the hotel through booking.com. The email was verified as legitimate by booking.com and it had my booking details. The email also contains a link to carry out the verification which opens up the booking.com app itself.

I proceeded with the verification but used my Monzo debit card due to wanting to avoid currency conversion fees.

I accepted the payment request through my Monzo app and a payment of £3.3k was made. Another request came through and I also accepted, so another payment of £3.3k was taken. I was very hesitant with both payments but the email seemed legitimate and didn't want to lose my booking (the trip is an important one for my 30 year old wife with stage 4 lung cancer).

After further requests came, I declined them. I felt it was too bizarre to be requesting this money for verification and really shouldn't have accepted the earlier two.

I called booking.com but the department was closed so I called again in the morning. Again they confirmed the email came from booking.com. But speaking with the hotel, they said they did not send the email. Booking.com were possibly hacked but they have given no answers.

After speaking with booking.com they have said they will refund the amounts. But request a letter from Monzo that confirms that I first need to resolve it with booking.com before I can raise a dispute. They originally said in-chat screenshots were fine but the finance department apparently said no, that an official letter was needed.

Booking.com have accepted the issue lies with them but are making it difficult to give my money back. I cannot understand why they need a letter. I have provided in-chat screenshots that clearly stated booking.com need to handle this and have shown that raising a dispute for the transactions show a warning that I must first attempt to resolve this with the merchant. They refuse any of this.

Now, requesting this letter has been difficult. I have explained the situation to Monzo, tried to dispute the payments, requested the letter, but they have no timeline on when they can give this. They first said 8 hours, then 24 hours, then no timeline at all and can't give me any updates.

I'm stuck. I don't know what Monzo are doing that it takes so long to provide a letter for what they already provided in chat and don't even know if booking.com will refund me anyways.

I should note in the first two days of making the payments, they were in a pending state I e. the merchant had not accepted it yet. Dispute providing evidence to Monzo, they refused the disputes. The payments have now fully been taken.

I'm at a loss here, how should I proceed? I tried emailing the CEO of booking.com and made a complaint to Monzo but no progress.

Comments

  • Keep_pedalling
    Keep_pedalling Forumite Posts: 14,817
    Eighth Anniversary 10,000 Posts Name Dropper Photogenic
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    Sounds like it was the hotel that was attacked as that is where the scam was initiated from. 
  • RefluentBeans
    RefluentBeans Forumite Posts: 444
    100 Posts Name Dropper
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    I can see why Booking.com wants a letter to show the amounts. You’re asking for £6.6k - it’s not a trivial amount. What does the letter they’re asking for want to contain?

    In all honesty - fraud investigations take a long time to complete. And whilst whoever’s account got hacked (I agree with Keep_Pedalling, it’s more likely a hotel account got compromised than the Booking.com system) has some part of the blame, they shouldn’t accept all of it. The online approval of these transactions is a double edge sword - it stops bad actors draining an account, without anyone’s knowledge until it’s too late; but doesn’t stop bad actors from socially engineering a way for you approve the transaction, and at that point you’re willingly and knowingly giving money away. 

    If the letter is to contain a transaction amount and who it was paid to, and that’s it then the letter is not more useful than a statement. My guess is that Booking.com wants to know if the bank believes if to be fraudulent (which would require an additional investigation), and if they believe the monies been relayed via another source. But that’s just a guess. 

    How did you pay for the added transactions? Credit card, debit card or bank transfer? There may be some protections you have depending on how you paid. 
  • bobbstar21
    bobbstar21 Forumite Posts: 42
    Third Anniversary 10 Posts
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    But they've admitted the email comes from them. It's a transaction that shouldn't have been made and booking.com have said multiple times they will refund me.

    The letter they want is for the bank to confirm I should be dealing with booking.com first and only if that fails then I can dispute it with Monzo. They have a bank statement already. I've shown them clearly that Monzo require me to first deal with the merchant.


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