Booking.com is apologizing and offering its support after around 100 guests traveled from all over the world to stay in a house that had never been rented out by the owner.
As the BBC reporting(Opens in a new window), 23 tour groups, totaling around 100 people in total, knocked on the door of a private north London home hoping to stay there last month. The house is owned by a woman named Gillian who had never listed her residence for rent on the online travel agency’s website.
Tourists began arriving on July 4 and continued until July 29, from Hong Kong, Saudi Arabia, Los Angeles and other parts of the UK. In each case, Gillian had to apologize and fire them. After the first six tour groups knocked on her door that first day, Gillian decided to investigate. A quick search on Booking.com brought up his address along with photographs of another property in Chelsea. She reported it to the company on July 5, but people kept arriving for another 24 days.
Booking.com didn’t remove the scam listing until July 13 and apparently didn’t contact guests who had booked the property to tell them not to go. Worse still, the travel company was called by one of their clients to inquire about the condition of the property prior to their arrival and told that everything was fine. This call was made on July 29.
A Booking.com spokesperson said: “Scams are unfortunately a battle that many industries face against unscrupulous fraudsters looking to profit from them and it’s something we tackle head-on… We can confirm that this property has been completely removed from our site and all clients are being contacted by a member of our customer services team to apologize and offer all necessary support regarding refunds, removals and additional charges , as well as of course extending our apologies to the owner.”
Recommended by our editors
The company has not explained why it did not act immediately to remove the listing, why it did not contact anyone who had booked the property to tell them it was a scam, and why it continued to tell customers that the property was ready for use when asked. The BBC asked for clarification, but Booking.com declined to comment further.
Receive our best stories!
Register for What’s up now to get our top stories delivered to your inbox every morning.