Spot a Shonky nomination

How I was misled by’s pricing advertised a room at $267 for three nights, which included my “Genius discount.” I booked this, but when the final rate came through, I was charged $330.

I complained to

They replied that not every property was on the Genius program.

I pointed out that they had advertised a Genius rate for this property.

They replied restating that the property was not in the Genius program and asked for a screenshot of the price. There was only one room of this description, so, of course, the advertisement had been taken down immediately I booked it. However, the other two rooms at the property were also advertised at the “discount” rate, which proved they were indeed advertising the property at the “discount” price. I sent them a copy of the screenshot.

They then claimed if the room was at a Genius rate, this would be shown throughout the booking process. It was not. It was only at the final stage of payment that the higher price showed, just before I clicked on it.

I replied that the room had been offered at the Genius rate, and if the property was not part of the program it was’s error and they should provide the room at the advertised rate. Otherwise I considered it was misleading advertising.

Next they stated that the Genius discount only applied to the other two rooms, contradicting their earlier statement that the whole property did not participate in the program. This was in response to my screenshot of the “discount” rate for those two rooms.

I searched through advertisements from the time of booking and found one on another rate comparison site that showed that had advertised the room at $89 a night (i.e., it would be $267 for three nights) .

They replied that the screenshot “did not clearly show the rate for 3 nights for the booked room type”. It seems to me that $89 a night is quite clearly $267….

I replied that I had provided the evidence and they should provide the room at advertised rate. did not respond.

Fed up with all the obfuscation, I cancelled the booking through and rebooked direct with the property.

And this was where the misleading advertising became clear . The so-called “Genius discount” was not much of a discount at all . The property’s own price for the room was $90 a night, i.e. $270 for three nights!! I was told that raise the price to cover their commission.

I have sent details of the case to the ACCC, and advised of this . (ACCC will most likely just file it). I also note that have had to make commitments to the EU about their pricing practices.

Perhaps you can investigate’s pricing in more depth. This must surely be a prime candidate for one of next year’s Shonky awards.

I have full documentation of the case.


This isn’t correct. The accommodation provider sets the rates, not

Accommodation include commissions in their advertised rates. I have covered this elsewhere on the community such as here.

Accommodation providers can opt in (or out) of booking platform promotions. This statement is correct.

If what you say is correct, it would be misleading advertising under the ACL.

It may be difficult to prove who was misleading (the booking platform or accommodation provider), but the platform should have honoured the advertised price.

Have you looked at the same room on different dates to confirm it is part of the advertised program? Usually promotions aren’t limited to one date or one room. This could confirm whether or not the particular room is part of the program.

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I’ve just had a horrible experience with Booking.Com. In July 2022 I booked two nights at a hotel near Heathrow, London to be ready for my return to Perth at the end of September. In August I tried to amend this booking as I had changed my itinerary and would only be staying for one night.
I received this email from Booking.Com
" You recently requested Moxy London Heathrow Airport to change the dates of your upcoming stay. Unfortunately, they were unable to accommodate your request. This may be because there is no availability on the dates you requested.
Your booking is still valid and Moxy London Heathrow Airport is expecting your arrival on 24 September.
Rather than cancelling the booking, and losing my money, I decided to keep the booking, even though I would not be at the hotel until the second day (25th September).
When I turned up at the hotel the entire booking had been cancelled as I was a “no-show” for the 24th. I showed the staff my email but they said this was how Booking.Com worked. This meant that I had to book another room for the night thus paying in total three times the price!
Clearly if I had turned up for the first night and then left before the second I would not have forfeited the entire booking, and the email did not warn me of this even though I had explained my situation.
I sent a review explaining my dissatisfaction, but they made no comment, and they are really hard to get hold of . Not impressed!

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I haven’t checked, but it sounds like the hotel had minimum 2 night stay policy when booking through at the time of your booking, which is becoming more common in the tourism industry. Alternatively, the hotel doesn’t accept booking modifications where there is a substantial change to a booking, such as reducing duration of stay. If this is the case, it means the hotel won’t accept one night stays or booking modifications, hence the refusal of your request.

That is standard practice. If you don’t arrive at the day of check-in, the booking will be cancelled and you will be charged fees associated with a no-show. A no-show is not arriving and checking in on the check-in date of the booking. The booking (or agreement) you had with the hotel was to check-in on the 24th, not the 25th. Turning up a day later means you invalidated/were in breach of the booking.

The same principle applies to multi-leg rail/plane/bus tickets where the whole trip is on the same ticket…or each route booking is linked. If you decide not to take the first leg, the whole ticket/booking is cancelled on the grounds of a no-show. There were complaints from travellers in the past as on occasion it was cheaper to buy a ticket from X to Y to Z than for Y to Z. Failing to travel to travel X to Y as the first leg invalidated the conditions of the ticket resulting in its cancellation.

What you possibly should have done is contacted/called the hotel directly rather than going through the platform. You could have asked, for example, if the hotel could move your stay to the 25 and 26th (if there was a minimum 2 night stay). This means you could check-in when required to validate your booking. You could then checkout early to catch your plane. Alternatively, somehow check-in on the 24th and only use the room on the 24th (such as contactless check-in over the phone on the 24th or contacting the hotel directly and indicating that you have booked two nights as you may need early check-in on the 25th…and negotiate how to facilitate the arrangement. Being near Heathrow it is likely they would be accommodating as other guests would have made similar requests in the past).


Update to my requests. reimbursed the full payment for the two days cancelled, and the hotel contacted me regarding the problem. It was suggested by the hotel that I should have told them I would be arriving on the second day only, but I explained that as the booking was done with, and as they knew of my change in arrival I assumed all would be well. They did not tell me that failing to turn up on the first day would invalidate the second. I then suggested to that they should offer this advice to people in future. Next time I will avoid external agents and book direct with the hotel! Lesson learnt.


You were lucky the hotel used its discretion.

No Shows come under the standard terms and conditions (section A8):

  1. If you cancel a Booking or don’t show up, any cancellation/no-show fee and any refund will depend on the Service Provider’s cancellation/no-show policy

As indicated above, it is standard practice across the hotel industry that a no show is not checking in on the day of check-in. One shouldn’t assume that one can make their own decisions in relation to a booking, hoping a service provider also will agree even though they aren’t consulted.

Doing a booking modification through is an semi-automated process there the service provider is only given option to accept ot decline a modification. In your case they declined and stated 'Your booking is still valid and Moxy London Heathrow Airport is expecting your arrival on 24 September.’ (not the 25th as you decided without notifying the hotel). It is unlikely they would not know that the request for changing a booking means you wanted to only use a two night booking for only the second night. This is why contacting the hotel should have occurred to provide details of your circumstances and negotiate a solution.

That should have been done, as outlined in my previous post, and is a take away lesson from your experience.

This shouldn’t be needed due to the industry standard definition of a no show. Possibly what should happen is a booking party needs to discuss any changes, such as planned check-in time, checking in outside the business check-in hours, change in number if guests etc directly with the service provider rather than messaging through a booking platform hoping the service provider agrees or accepts the change. Communication is the best option, and shows respect of those providing the service and ensures there are no surprises.

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What happened to “the consumer is always right, even when they are wrong!”?

The most difficult part for the consumer is it is always up to the consumer and never never ever up to the provider. Hence the provider not only sets the T&C’s, the provider is always in control. The system is designed for the provider to always win and the consumer always looses. Fair one way but not the other.

As a consumer if one does not like the T&C’s there is just one option? IE don’t book with that provider.
Unfortunately the way the accommodation industry functions consumers have zero ability to vary or negotiate up front different outcomes. Does this argue for legislation to set all accommodation T&C’s to provide a more equitable outcome for the consumer? I’d support a nationally set requirement to ensure certainty. It may not have changed the outcome for @jan60gro but it would assure all only need to learn one set of rules.

Our recent experiences of booking through a well known platform have provided varying degrees of satisfaction. Firstly to avoid the same if at all practical. Secondly not to rely on basic details such as offering ground floors only to be placed up the stairs to supposedly a better room. The most disparaging is to be advised parking is limited and discover that means the premises uses a car stacker. A magic device many from north of Sydney have zero knowledge of. The greatest surprise is many car stackers will not accept an average family vehicle due to height and length restrictions. Something only discoverable by contacting the accommodation direct. Why bother with the booking aggregation service then?

It’s easy to empathise with @jan60gro regardless of whether contacting the provider direct may have delivered a better outcome. If one uses a well known service such as it appears to be self defeating if one also needs to contact the provider in addition to They take a substantial fee and yet provide zero service.

The good news is that provided a refund, but only to the value of the original booking cost.

Not zero. Maybe ‘comparatively rare’? We stayed at a wonderful B&B in Port Noralunga SA in May. The website and online services would put fear in the hearts of lawyers with the lengthy T&C, cancellation fees and policies and so on. Somewhat over the top on the trailing edge of COVID. We rang direct and the host was the most accommodating she could be, including a small discount. No prepayment, don’t come if you get sick and no penalties, etc etc. We are going again next week and have prebooked for 2023. A gracious ‘inn keeper’ who provides a really nice welcoming stay.

Thanks for that. I have a direct hotel booking in Sydney with ‘limited parking’ and they were cagey about ‘it being suitable’ excepting that my vehicle was OK. Now I understand the ‘lingo’. If my car falls off I’ll go for a BEV replacement :wink:

When it costs a business money because a consumer didn’t show up for their booking when they were required to (no-show), cancelled a booking (such as cancelling a night(s) stay from a multistay booking) and they had no opportunity to make up for lost income. A business shouldn’t suffer because a consumer decided not to take a reasonable approach by contacting the business directly to discuss the situation at hand, and negotiate a resolution.

I beg to differ. Being in the industry, knowing a lot of other providers in the industry and having had the opportunity to travel widely for work and pleasure, most accommodation providers are very reasonable and willing to negotiate when contacted. This may be for changes relating to the booking or the terms and conditions of a booking. When there is no direct contact and one hopes that their action (which may be contrary to the terms and conditions) is okay, then a accommodation provider is more likely to point to the terms and conditions as the process for resolution.

They have the option to book elsewhere or contact the service provider and negotiate an alternative solution. We have many guests who contact us when there is a change to their booking/wish to discuss different terms and we are more than happy to find a amenable resolution. Such approach is also recommended by industry associations and is common practice.

Across the industry most provider terms and conditions are more or less on the same approach using the same terms and definitions. They are even more alike when bookings are made through a booking platform, as booking platforms have limited opportunity to customise a booking’s terms and conditions.

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There is an assumption here that all consumers think and behave like one of us. Reality is as consumers we are not all created the same. There are a great many who have extreme difficulty discussing in person the most basic of requirements, let alone points of difference in person or verbally. It could be said that the ability to book at arms length using the digital revolution has been emancipating.

I can also refer to some of the younger and very digitally connected who are not of my generation. They often seem to find facing or talking to a stranger over the phone confronting and disturbing.

Some of us might say that it is unreasonable for a business to consider a customer any other way than confident and worldly. It’s far from reality.

I suspect that we will always differ on what is reasonable in respect of a business allowing for individuality or personality variation. Whether it’s or Expedia or a direct online booking should the business consider one norm the option of amending bookings via the same contact method and point of contact as originally booked?

I would being well travelled for work and business behave as you would, and approach a provider directly using my own voice. Having been involved with several small businesses it is possible to understand why some business can only see one point of view. That does not make it right or a good longer term business decision.

Given many are more comfortable with indirect contact, and choose to be engaged with the digital future. Why ask more if needs change? As advised by the OP have accepted they failed and refunded the cost of the original booking.