Maros Hluska Horror Story

TLDR: Tried saving a few bucks using budget hotel site Agoda, eventually lost $580 to a double charge from hotel GLAD Mapo.

During a long-term trip in Asia, I repeatedly booked hotels using the third-party hotel booking site Agoda. After a dozen successful credit card transactions and hotel stays, I eventually noticed this on my bank statement:

Agoda double charge on bank statement

What the fuck. I immediately email Agoda with the double charge screenshot, Agoda eventually replies asking for full bank statements for verification. I send in the screenshots and they reply saying they are unable to locate the charge and I will need to call in to verify my credit card number.

I call in but the automated phone system just drops the call each time telling me that it's too late because the booking has been completed. After some more awkward back and forth via email, they eventually agree to call me on the phone.

After a brief phone call, I'm told that I should instead use email to resolve this because I need to show bank statements for verification. Ok, I already did this. Fine. So I wait for the next email where another representative greets me:

We will need to speak with you over the phone to acquire the credit card number and trace the charge.

Holy shit. I'm in one of those never ending support pass-arounds.

Eventually the phone call comes and the representative tries to convince me that I intentionally booked two separate rooms. I tell him that it's impossible that I intentionally booked two separate rooms because we are a couple traveling together and paying with one credit card and the double charge indicates two payments in a short period of time. All evidence points to a booking error or technical issue with the Agoda website.

The representative says he will contact the hotel to get to the bottom of the issue and I should hear back in a couple days.

A week later, Agoda replies:

We regret to inform that the hotel does not allow to cancel this booking and waive the cancellation fee as per the hotel’s cancellation policy. This is purely based on the hotel’s decision and unfortunately, has no control over the waiver of fees.

… Please be informed that Agoda do not charge for one room twice but you have done the mistake by making the duplicate booking for the same hotel and same date . We are trying to help you to check if the hotel allow to waive the penalty unfortunately the hotel are strict with their cancellation policy.

From my perspective, it all seems insane – we've stayed in one hotel room for a week, Agoda somehow manages to book us two rooms and we are none the wiser. The hotel we're staying at, GLAD Mapo, gives us only one room, does not tell us anything about a second room being booked and then refuses to refund the charge to Agoda.

I later got in touch with GLAD Mapo about the double charge and got this reply via email:

First of all, thank you for choosing our hotel for your accommodation and I hope it was enjoyable one.

As your mention, your couple have booked only 1 room but we received 2 reservation from AGODA (Booking Number is below ones)

… I’m afraid it is not a Double charge, our hotel just charged No show penalty according to policy. If there are error with system, please contact with AGODA Customer center. It is most regrettable for nothing to help you.

The email claims that there were two different bookings under two different names using the same credit card.

The strange part here is that when we checked in and I handed the hotel clerk my passport, she told me that my name was not in the booking system. We needed to check in using my partner's passport since her name was apparently the only one in the booking system.

All I can do now is report the double charge to my credit card company and hope for the best.

I guess the lesson learned here is always book direct with the hotel - avoid third party booking sites. The less separate entities in the chain, the less likely someone gets screwed.

If you must use a third-party booking site, I recommend avoiding as double charges are possible when using the website.

Edit: Agoda has come back with a new statement:

We understand your frustration about this case and we know that we are talking a big amount of money here.

Please allow us to dig deeper with this case and provide a possible way to resolve this.

Edit: A new email from GLAD Mapo:

We receive a payment information from the Agoda when guest's check out date.

We have received payment info for Ms. [redacted]'s booking #[redacted](7th-9th) on 9th from the Agoda.

then we have received payment info for Ms. [redacted]'s booking #[redacted](9th-16th) on 16th from the Agoda.

then we have received payment info for Mr. Maros's booking #[redacted](9th-16th) on 16th from the Agoda.

And all the payment informations were different given from Agoda. They gave us their own card that can only be used once for each booking, it is not a guest's actual credit card what they used on payment.

And even it was written 'Noshow charge' on Maros's booking payment info.

They should give enough explanation to you if they made some errors on your booking and they do clarify this issue who made a mistake. We just delivered two separate bookings from the Agoda as our third party agent.

We hope our explanation will enough and if we can be of any further assistance regarding it, please contact us.

It seems my double charge had "Noshow charge" included in the booking info upon delivery?

Edit (Sept 27): Chase has issued a temporary credit for the charge. Agoda has two billing cycles to reply now. Let's hope it sticks.

What puzzles me is how this situation benefits Agoda from a business perspective. If I was a business, I would first consider the lifetime value of the customer before deciding to screw him. To use my case as an example, I'm on a long term trip and will hand out thousands of dollars to hotel booking companies over the coming months. By saving those $580, Agoda has actually lost several thousand over the next few months. Apply the same policy to multiple customers and suddenly the losses are massive.