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Is a Scam? Why You Shouldn’t Trust Them

Is a scam or is it legit? Before my recent experience with, I would have told you that it was an awesome site to find cheap accommodation around the world. However, before now I had never actually had a problem that required me to call Booking and try to resolve it. Now, I’ve looked closer and realized that is not a safe or trustworthy site at all, here is why. has charged me double what was presented on their site and I most likely will not be getting my money back.

Here’s the scam tactic that is currently using to mislead its customers into reserving accommodations that are much more expensive than is presented on their site.

You can read through my experience below and decide for yourself. However, as a full-time traveler for the past 5 years, I do NOT recommend using and you should not trust them with your hard-earned money.

Is a Scam?

The answer is yes, can be a scam, and this site can scam you out of a lot of money.

That might sound extreme, but this is not the case in every scenario. You can decide for yourself after you hear what happened to me.

What is a scam? Keep this definition in mind as you hear my story: A scam is a deceptive scheme or trick used to cheat someone out of something, especially money.

So how was I scammed by

A little background about me first: my husband and I are full-time travelers and have been for the past 5 years.

We’re both Genius members on on multiple accounts and we have booked hundreds if not thousands of flights and hotel bookings over the past 5 years.

I was booking a hotel for a trip to Naples, Italy on my laptop. I got to the final payment page and saw the price as “301.13” for 9 nights. Then next to that price breakdown, you enter your credit card information. Scam

The Price had an asterisk next to it, which leads to the bottom to just say that you need to be aware of health codes. No problem! payment page scam

Then you type in your credit card information and press “Complete Booking.” This is the whole payment page that I’ve screenshotted, I haven’t left anything out. payment page Desktop

Now since I’ve brought your attention to the scam, you might have caught it already. But from these screenshots, how much do you think was charged to my credit card?

According to this payment page, I believed I would be charged $301.13. However, when I logged onto my credit card statement the next day, I was actually charged $513.13!!

But what’s wrong with this? Yeah, they had the price in bold at the top, but underneath in smaller writing, it says that there are additional costs.

However, there is NOWHERE on that payment page that tells you the actual number that will be charged to your credit card.

Instead, presents a cheaper number in a layout that looks like it is a price breakdown of the costs of your accommodation.

Instead, they expect you to get out a calculator and add those numbers together to get your total.

This is intentionally misleading and would definitely con a lot of people into booking accommodation for much more than they originally planned to spend.

But it gets worse…

So the screenshots I’ve posted above were not from my original booking since I didn’t know that I needed to be screenshotting while I was booking, so the prices above are for the same dates but the actual price has gone up.

When I booked, I got a discount for being a Genius member and the price was actually 208 euros instead of the 255 euros listed above.

So here’s how it gets worse… Scam: They Know What They’re Doing

Like you saw in the earlier screenshots, did NOT show the actual total ANYWHERE before I put in my credit card information.

Which makes this next thing even more scammy and underhanded.

After booking, I received an email confirmation of my payment, which I only double-checked after being totally shocked by the amount on my credit card.

Here is what that email looked like: email

All of a sudden, knows EXACTLY how to present the payment information in an accurate way that isn’t misleading, conveniently only AFTER I had paid.

It shows the price of the room, plus the fees, added together to show what would actually be charged to my credit card.

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It even states that the city taxes wouldn’t be charged to my credit card, but that they would be collected at the property.

So why was suddenly able to add the numbers together in a transparent way in this email but not on the payment page?

This is a scam, an intentional scheme to trick the customer into believing that they are paying a certain number, but then blaming the customer after by saying they didn’t pay close enough attention to the fine print. is using plausible deniability and blaming its customers instead of showing a transparent pricing layout on its payment page.

In my opinion, this should not be legal. You should be fully aware of the number that will be charged to your card ahead of time without needing to whip out a calculator.

And with that email, Booking proved that they knew how to do just that, but instead wanted to trick their customers into paying for something more expensive than they were expecting.

That original payment page, which I’ll put again right here, doesn’t tell me at all what will or won’t be charged. It doesn’t tell me if the city taxes will be charged to my card or collected in person.

It doesn’t tell me that those service fees are not included in the price above. Not even in the fine print.

There is nowhere on that page that makes this booking explicitly clear to the user. price breakdown scam is a Giant Company Taking Advantage of its Users

For those of you who don’t consider this a scam, I think you might be used to being screwed over by companies.

We should expect a higher standard from companies, not just a “Haha, you got me, you win this time!” type of relationship.

If even 1 out of 10 people are misled by the pricing layout, then it is a scam and should absolutely be changed by

Why are we allowing such a giant company like to steal money from travelers?

To mislead them and then place the blame on them even while they knowingly present the information in a way that is meant to trick them?

Even if this is legal, why is using scam tactics on its users instead of trying to build an honest relationship with travelers? (also known as Booking Holdings Inc.) also owns Priceline, Agoda, Kayak, Cheapflights, Rentalcars, Momondo, and OpenTable.

This Scam Doesn’t Happen on the App

Another very strange thing about this scam tactic is that it doesn’t appear to be happening on the app, although I still don’t love the layout of the pricing.

Here is what it looks like for the same accommodation as above: App payment page

The blotted-out part is just the made-up name and email that I created for this booking.

Now, if you compare the payment page above that is from the app with the one from the desktop, you can see that the app page does actually tell you what amount will be charged to your credit card.

This payment page still isn’t great, but it’s MUCH better than the one used on the desktop. What I don’t love about this layout is still the misleading use of bold and smaller writing.

At the top, they write in very small letters what you will be charged to your credit card, but at the bottom in quite large writing and right next to the “Book Now” button, they have a completely different price.

You may say that this is nitpicky, but remember that these are scammy sales tactics used by websites in order to get you to book.

They know that the eye will go to the bold writing with the red price crossed out right away and that there is still a chance you wouldn’t see the smaller writing above.

Don’t think for one second that Booking doesn’t know what they’re doing in scenarios like this, they are one of the biggest travel sites in the world and design their payment pages like this on purpose to get more bookings by tricking customers.

The number right next to the “Book Now” button should reflect the exact number you will be charged. Period.

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What is doing is absolutely wrong.

Trying to Contact After Being Scammed

Besides having all of that proof above, my experience with contacting has been absolutely horrendous.

If travel blogging weren’t my full-time job, there’s no way I would have enough time to be on hold for 20-30 minutes EACH CALL and then proceed to be hung up on, ghosted through email, and ignored on social media. is banking on you not having that time.

Discovering Another Scam Through Calling Customer Service

I’ve called the Genius Customer Service line 6 or 7 times and by doing this I’ve discovered another scam that I think they’re doing to waste their customer’s time instead of resolving their problems.

When you call the line, they ask you to type in your confirmation number each time.

Being as careful as possible each time I called, I NEVER got through on the first try no matter what. I can even see on the keypad that I had typed it in exactly right.

On almost every call it took 3 times to type it in exactly right, some calls took only 2. However, not one call let us through the first time.

After getting through, the interactions with their customer service were absolutely terrible.

Here is exactly how my interactions with Booking have gone so far:

Day After Booking: Calling & Chat Line

After seeing my credit card statement, I immediately decided to call I spent the next 10 minutes scouring the internet for an ACTUAL number that would reach them.

It was not easy to find, that’s for sure. (FIND PAGE AGAIN AND POST HERE)

As I was on hold for over 20 minutes, I also used their chat line to try to reach someone there. Nobody ever came.

I finally reached someone on the phone who told me that I must not have understood the difference between euros and dollars so that’s why I was upset about the number I was charged.

I informed her this was not the case and emailed her screenshots of the payment page from the desktop version of She told me that she would ask the hotel if they would refund me while waiving any fees.

I never received another answer from her. The hotel responded the next day and refused the refund.

The next day happened to be my birthday so I waited 2 more days to call back and check up on the case.

3 Days After Booking: Calling Booking Again

I waited another 20 minutes, typed my confirmation number in multiple times, and finally reached someone.

They told me they would email the hotel and try to get them to refund me again, even though the hotel had already refused.

My question at this point is why this was the hotel’s responsibility at all.

I can see clearly on my credit card statement that Booking is who has charged my card and I know that the hosts do not actually receive the money until the booking has started or completed.

I told her that it was fine to ask for a refund, but this was Booking’s fault, not the hotel’s. So I should be refunded regardless of what the hotel says since was the one who scammed me.

She said she would call or email when she heard back from the hotel. I don’t think she’ll ever hear back, why would she? Why would this hotel agree to a refund?

4 Days After Booking:

The worst day so far. I called 4 separate times (while working in the background since I work from home) and every call took over 25 minutes to reach someone.

I asked them to escalate a complaint about and stated that I wasn’t upset at the hotel but at itself.

They hung up on me and when I called back, someone else told me that the notes on my case said that they were not going to file a complaint with Booking for me and that there was nothing they could do.

At this point, I stopped calling and resorted to disputing the charge on my credit card.

More Scam Tactics Used By

If my personal experience isn’t enough to convince you to stop using, maybe this list of other scams that I’ve found during my research will! Was Warned by the UK to Stop Using Scammy Pressure Tactics

In 2019, the UK (like the whole country!) warned to stop using fake pressure tactics to get travelers to book.

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When you are on you may notice that it will tell you that there is only one room left or that a lot of travelers are currently booking in that area, so hurry and book before it’s too late!

Well, it turns out that a lot of those little warnings are completely made up and are scams used to get you to book quickly. Fraud: Travelers Can Be Booked at One Hotel and Walked to a Completely Different Hotel

Ever heard of getting “walked” by a hotel? Basically, this means that the hotel you booked overbooked their rooms, so they can “walk” you to a different hotel.

This hotel could be in a completely different location than you had planned and it is obviously not the room you actually booked. There isn’t much that you can do if this happens to you!

Some people even report that they were unable to review the original hotel booking because they didn’t actually stay there, so other people will continue to book without knowing that it isn’t what it says it is.

Spain Hotels Have Filed a Complaint: Charges 40% More Than Room Cost

Spain’s hotel industry has filed a complaint with stating that their hotel prices are no longer competitive since has been adding a 40% commission on top of their room prices.

This has discouraged travelers from choosing Spain as a destination.

No Money Back if the Room is Not as Described or Not Clean

If you book using, you should be prepared to not get your money back even if the room isn’t what was described.

This Quora thread shows what can happen and why you should not trust Booking to give you your money back, even if the room is dirty and inhabitable. Is Ripping You Off

Another blogger, Danny Mekic, wrote out their terrible experience with and stated a few things you should be aware of.

Booking is adding a ton of money on top of the hotel room for commission, so you’d save a ton more by booking directly.

Booking stops certain hotels from giving discounts.

They might be passing your sensitive credit card information and personal information directly to the hotel.

So, is it Safe to Use

No, I don’t think that it is safe to use unless you are one of the only travelers on the planet who never has anything go wrong.

Is safe? No. Is reliable? Also No.

Can you get scammed by Absolutely. Just read the comments others have left at the bottom of this blog post!

If anything goes wrong with your accommodation, you can essentially kiss that money goodbye.

They will use scammy tactics to get you to book, and then leave you hanging when things don’t work out.

Even if Airbnb is more expensive, I personally can say that Airbnb is a safe site to use and they will refund you if something goes wrong.

I’ve called Airbnb, reached an actual person within a reasonable amount of time (not 30 minutes,!), and was able to report the problems and get it fixed quickly.

From a scary landlord in Bali who promised a Wi-Fi speed that he never had, to air conditioning not actually working at Lake Powell in the middle of summer, or showing up to an Airbnb that was actually a public bathroom that they converted into a room… Airbnb has ALWAYS refunded my money and answered my calls. is not a trustworthy site, although most won’t find that out until something goes wrong.

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Saturday 30th of December 2023

We have been loyal and happy customers of for years.. until yesterday when we got scammed.

We booked an apartment in Ho Chi Minh. The communication was poor; we were not given any apartment number or instructions on how to check in. We waited in the lobby; the landlord was very rude on the phone, didn't answer our messages, and didn't want to pick up the call afterward. We realized that we have been scammed. We met a group of people waiting in the lobby who apparently had the same issue. When we canceled on, they charged us the full amount. There is no real customer support to be found and no possibility of a refund.

This was 1 night before New Year's Eve, and it was so difficult to find another room. Luckily, we found one. But thanks to for ruining our travel.

I would avoid using I wish more people would not use their service until they fix the fake listings and the scams or offer better customer support. I will also write an article about this on my blog.

Anyway, I love your blog. I'm a part-time traveler and also enthusiastic about language and culture. You inspired me to write about language learning on my blog too! :)


Dayna Brockbank

Friday 12th of January 2024

Hey Angie! I felt the same way, loyal to Booking until our bad experience. So glad you like the blog and that it inspired you to write about language learning! I'll check out your blog (:

Raymond Mossie

Monday 27th of November 2023

We just experienced a scam in Durban, South Africa. There are 2 hotels with the same name, Royal Ushaka Hotel and same logo, build out, etc. But they have different owners. One is in a decent location known as Morningside, the other is in a not so decent area called Rossburgh. We had stayed at the Morningside hotel and liked it. My wife then thought she booked us again on another occasion. But it ended up that showed the other hotel with no warning that there are 2 identical hotels of the same name. When we arrived they told us we were not booked at the hotel we knew but at the other one. Long story short it cost us twice to stay and refused to help us transfer or get a refund. Their phone numbers do not exist and there are no email addresses working. Because they are in the Netherlands, they are insulated from any sort of recourse. They know this happens, as the staff told us it is a 'daily' occurrence. We believe they are in cahoots with the less desirable hotel, so they will get more bookings by accident. Do not use They are a complete sham and common criminals.


Wednesday 25th of October 2023

Maybe we need to band together and create a website to monitor all these events? Something like bookingwatch! Or does that exist already?


Saturday 21st of October 2023 was trustworthy a while ago. It evolved into a scam business itself in the last few years.

In addition, because of it's bad business practices, it attracts more scammers who list fake apartments on its website, particularly those in the Book Request category. I was very close to be scammed,

They are many other trustworthy websites out there. One can use as an inventory list and move on to hotels or other websites.

No, can't be trusted.


Tuesday 12th of September 2023

Same happened to me. On the day of check-in got a message from the property that I'd be paying 40% more than I had to pay according to the app. First I thought he was trying to scam me but then he sent me a screenshot with my booking where it showed the higher amount. So I called the customer service and they said there is nothing they can do, however they can negotiate with the property owner that he refunds me the money. I said OK. After that I received an Email that my booking has been cancelled and the cancellation fee was 5 dollars higher than the amount I had to pay for my booking. So I called customer service but and after several minutes of talking got hung up on. Eventually I had to book another property, and what do you know, upon arrival it turned out that I have to pay 20% more than was stated in the app.