Q&A: I booked a room through Clever-Hotels.com - what are my rights?
Simon Calder’s career in travel started at Gatwick Airport, where he cleaned aircraft for Laker Airways and later worked as a security officer. He became The Independent’s Travel Correspondent in 1994, and is known as “the Man Who Pays His Way” because he does not accept free travel facilities. He writes across the Independent titles, as well as for the Evening Standard.
Sunday 25 August 2013
Q I have a room booked for Saturday night in London through Clever-Hotels.com. I paid in full in May for the room. Will I have to pay again?
A Probably. Even though you booked three months ago, there is no guarantee that Clever-Hotels.com's owner, Navelar, passed on the money through the wholesalers it used. From individual cases reported to The Independent it appears that, in the months before the failure, the firm was seeking to shore up its cashflow by paying its wholesalers as late as possible. Any future bookings for which the wholesalers have not been paid, possibly including yours, will automatically be cancelled.
Q If I have to pay again, will I be able to reclaim my original payment?
A Travellers who booked with Clever-hotels.com are not covered by any of the various protection schemes operated for the UK travel industry. But those who paid by debit or credit cards should be able to obtain a refund. Customers who paid with a credit card for bookings worth over £100 are covered by Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act. Those who paid with debit cards, or with a credit card for bookings under £100, are likely to be able to be able to claim through the industry's voluntary "chargeback" arrangements. But payments made by bank transfer are excluded; purchasers are unsecured creditors, and will have to wait until later in the year to see if any of their lost funds can be recovered.
Q I paid with a debit card, but I can't afford to pay again until I get my money back. How long will it take?
A Unfortunately, it may be months rather than weeks - particularly if you have a booking a long way ahead. The financial institution may assert that the breach of contract applies from the date when you were due to check in, and activate its "chargeback" policy only then.
Q The hotel is asking me for more than I originally paid. Is it allowed to do this?
A If you have not yet checked in, then it can. Bookings made through Clever-Hotels.com, for which the property has not yet been paid, are void. The hotel can charge whatever price it likes for re-booking - and conversely you can choose whether or not to accept that rate, or to look elsewhere for a better deal.
Q I found Clever-Hotels.com through the price-comparison website, Trivago. Can I claim from them?
A No. The price-comparison site states: "Trivago is not involved in any agreement or claim between the user of Trivago and the respective partner, and thus remains legally free and unaffected thereof."
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