'I was left in £7k of debt after finding hotel in Thailand didn't exist'

A holidaymaker was left £7,000 in debt after he got to Thailand - and found the hotel he booked didn't exist.

Glen Parke, 30, paid £282 for 59 nights at Lek Lek Residence - advertised on Booking.com as a "one-bedroom house". But when he got there he found a small roadside shop and no sign of his hotel - forcing him to fork out £3,044 for alternative accommodation booked online.

And when he arrived at the hotel it was actually fully booked - so he had to spend a further £3,579 on a third hotel. He claims Booking.com promised they would pay for both - as an apology for the first non-hotel.


Stressed-out Glen got the money for this first and second hotel within a week - but didn't receive a refund for the third hotel until April 18 when Booking.com were approached for comment.

The construction worker said: "For the whole trip I expected to spend two or three grand but within the first two nights I'm spending £7,000. I was trying and trying to get my money back for months.

"The first couple of days I wanted to go home. I'd had enough. Getting the money back from the invoice for the third hotel was a real palaver.

"I'd been on the phone with Booking.com all week and had been told there was no complaints department. They told me to send a bank statement with the payment for the hotel and told me to call them back and they'd refund me on the phone.

"I did that and called them back and they said they couldn't do anything with it and they don't know who authorised that decision. The trip was good other than the fact that I was thousands of pounds down than what I expected to be."

Glen touched down in Koh Samui on January 1 this year and had booked his £282 hotel a year in advance.

He said: "I got off the plane in Thailand and followed the map to where the hotel should be and it was just a small market stall - it just didn't exist. I told Booking.com that it didn't exist."

Glen was offered another hotel in and around his £300 price range but on the island of Koh Phangan - a 50-minute boat journey away, so he refused. Instead, the online travel agency allowed Glen to sort his own room up to a price of £3,196.89, as per an email from the company.

He booked one costing £3,044.62.He said: "I got there and they said they were fully booked and Booking.com said they'd refund it.

"They did refund that but it took a week to get back. They told me to book another hotel up to £3,196.89."

Glen eventually found his third and final hotel - also authorised by Booking.com up to a price of £3,196.89 - where he spent the remainder of his 57 days in Thailand. He found a hotel for £3,579 and decided to cover the £382.11 difference.

However, Glen was left out of pocket and wasn't refunded for the final hotel until Booking.com were approached for comment. He said: "They told me to send them an invoice and they'd pay it, but then they moved the goalposts about.

"Booking.com kept asking for changes to be made on the invoice before they could payout. The hotel was booked through my brother and Booking.com knew this.

"This initial problem with the invoice was 'no balance shown', then it needed a price break down, then it needed to show the number of guests, then it became an issue about it being in my name, then they promised to solve it if I sent a statement that correlated with the invoice, so I did. So I got a friend in Thailand to keep going to the hotel to ask them to change the invoice to send it to Booking.com but every time I did they would say it's not right.

"All of these different stipulations mentioned separately. Basiclly I can see the issue with it being in a different name which is why I confirmed with them so many times. I was struggling for money. I really needed that three grand back sooner."

A spokesperson for Booking.com said: "We’re sorry to hear of the issues that this customer encountered with his recent reservations .Having investigated, we can see that we did not handle the refund of the alternative accommodation booked as swiftly as we would have liked.

"As this is clearly not the sort of experience that we want for anyone using our site, we have refunded the customer in full and apologise for the inconvenience. Ensuring that our platform is safe, secure and trustworthy for our customers and partners is our top priority, and every week, we facilitate millions of stays with the vast majority taking place with absolutely no problems.

"We are constantly optimising the robust security measures we have in place to protect them, and take the process of verifying accommodation listings extremely seriously, including checks performed by our security, local partner services and customer service teams and issues with accommodations occur very rarely."