Alpharooms still hanging up on customers and bookings

11 July 2011

Bitterwallet - Alpharooms complaint bad customer serviceLast month I wrote a pissy rant about Alpharooms. Aside from detailing the various dark patterns designed to confuse customers, the hotel booking website cancelled my hotel booking without telling me, leaving me stuck in a Mexican border town without accommodation.

What I couldn't get my head around is why nobody bothered to phone me. When I complained, Alpharooms told me they'd emailed me twice to tell me of a payment issue. I'd received all of their other emails for other bookings, but these two never reached me - nor did they end up in spam or in any other folder. So instead of simply calling me on the phone number I was asked to provide at the time of booking, they cancelled the booking.

After publishing the post, Alpharooms emailed me directly with the following explanation for why they don't phone customers:

"...the reason for this is that we are a web based company and operate mainly in emails."

Avid Bitterwallet readers could probably name several hundred web-based companies that offer customer support by telephone, but for some reason Alpharooms are prepared to lose business over it. Not that much business, admittedly - I'd used a Groupon voucher for the booking, so the outstanding amount was just £12. But surely if the booking was for hundreds or thousands of pounds, Alpharooms would pick up the phone to secure the booking?

Nope. Reader Jan has been in touch and claims Alpharooms lost out on nearly £3,000 - all because their backward policy of refusing to telephone customers:

I tried to pay the balance of our holiday - £2355.56 - via their on-line payment form (their advertising states ‘your holiday can be finalised in a couple of clicks’).

I could not get their site to accept my payment - I tried that night and again the next morning. I also rang them four times but could not get through. I unfortunately had to go out, and on my return at 3.05pm I tried again to submit the form again. Then I noticed an e-mail from Alpharooms saying if payment had not reached them by 3.15pm this reservation was at risk of being cancelled.

I then rang hoping to make a direct payment with them, waited in a queue and spoke to a most unhelpful woman who more or less said ‘tough you have lost your holiday’. I asked to speak to a supervisor who informed me I was 10 minutes late and the holiday was cancelled.

Jan had already paid a deposit of £600. When she looked to re-book the same holiday, Jan says the cost had increased by over £1,200 - all for the sake of 10 minutes, and all because nobody from Alpharooms thought to pick up the phone to take a payment.

Baffling. Why is being a web-based company any sort of excuse for not being pro-active customer service?

TOPICS:   Consumer Advice

4 comments

  • Dick
    If she loses the deposit, then I can think of 600 good reasons.
  • wombat
    Even if the deposit is returned Alpharooms have had use of the money for a month or two. Their business probably works like this: Offer rooms at whatever rate you reckon will get most business; take bookings and deposits for rooms; don't book rooms with hotel until they offer a price to give a big fat profit; if room rate never falls sufficiently cancel the booking.
  • dvdj
    Unfortunately businesses that offer low prices think that they can do it on the premiss that they can offer you shitty sub-standard customer service and people will put up with it as they got a good price. Alpharooms, the Ryanair of hotel bookings. I refuse to use either.
  • jim
    I had a bit of a rant about alpha rooms taking money out of my account for a booking I tried to cancel. Credit where credit is due they have refunded all monies (even deposit which I thought was none refundable). Sorry alpha rooms for a bad review not deserved.

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