I used hotels.com to book an aparthotel in France. The booking information stated that I would be charged nothing at that point.

Hours later, a bank alert buzzed on my phone and I saw the hotel had taken €470 from my account.

The hotel explained this was a “pre-authorisation” charge, not a deposit, and agreed to cancel it.

My complaint is still bouncing around at hotels.com. Either it knew the hotel would pre-authorise, in which case it should tell customers, or it didn’t and should therefore be apologising and taking action. If it had been explained that 50% of the total price would be pre-authorised I would have booked elsewhere.

The response so far has been to say that a pre-authorisation is “not a charge” (it sure feels like one up until the point it is released) and that if I’m not happy I can always cancel the hotel. LG, Liverpool

Hotels.com investigated a little more rigorously when the Observer got involved and concluded that the hotel made a mistake by helping itself to 50% of the accommodation cost rather than freezing a nominal sum to verify your debit card.

The website has now offered a £60 voucher against a future booking.

If you need help email Anna Tims at your.problems@observer.co.uk or write to Your Problems, The Observer, Kings Place, 90 York Way, London N1 9GU. Include an address and phone number. Submission and publication are subject to our terms and conditions


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