The Booking.com case has taken a new turn: a few days ago, the travel site started to pay accommodation providers the value of the reservations it had collected and already fulfilled. However, not everyone has received their money yet, and the global company is keeping quiet. In the meantime, the Hungarian Tourism Agency has started to assess how many people and how much they have been affected by the case, reports Világgazdaság.
In the last few days, opposition politician István Ujhelyi, vice-chairman of the European Parliament’s Transport and Tourism Committee, has written to the director of Booking.com about the company’s non-payments and its incorrect and inadequate customer service. Meanwhile, the Hungarian Tourism Agency is conducting a survey on the number of people affected and the size of their outstanding debts, Spabook reports.
The Tourism Agency has contacted accommodation providers by e-mail and asked them to give feedback on their situation by filling in a questionnaire, indicating that they are preparing to move forward.
As reported earlier by Hungary Today, Booking.com is several weeks behind with the payment of accommodation fees. Like foreign hosts, domestic hosts are also outraged by the delayed payments, affecting them particularly painfully during the high season. The travel portal cited the maintenance of its financial system between July 1 and 11, and said that it has issued a notice in advance informing accommodation providers that payments for guests checked in between June 28 and July 19 will be made by July 24, and the normal payment schedule will be fully restored by July 27. However, according to reports, Booking.com has failed to meet the deadlines indicated in the notice.
The previously announced deadline of July was later modified, and the modified deadline was extended several times, while payments were made, but – as it turned out – only a few people received the accommodation fees. However, it is not known how many people were not paid, nor how many were affected. This may soon become clear when the letters of reply arrive at the Hungarian Tourism Agency, and it will also be telling what the director of Booking.com‘s response to Ujhelyi’s enquiry will be.
The interesting thing is that the company is doing well, writes Világgazdaság, according to its revenues and its share price on the stock exchange, but the payments have not been received by the accommodation providers for a month and a half now.
The ones in trouble now are the typically small providers who have voluntarily taken up the recently offered option of having Booking.com collect the accommodation fees from the guest, rather than having to do it on the spot.
This was a risk mitigation measure, because without it, the accommodation providers cannot deal with guests who are absent at the booked time, and no one will pay them for this occasional loss of revenue. If a lawsuit were to be filed, a lawyer had previously suggested that the parties concerned should file a class action. For the time being, however, those affected are waiting for their money and policy-makers and tourism management are waiting for substantive answers.
The Fidesz parliamentary group also spoke out on the issue on Tuesday, with Kristóf Szatmáry, head of the cabinet for enterprise development, saying that the international service provider is withholding billions of forints, putting thousands of Hungarian small businesses in an increasingly difficult situation. The politician pointed out that the way the multinational was abusing its size and dominance was outrageous. “We expect the authorities to investigate the matter and the company to pay Hungarian accommodation providers without delay”, he stressed.
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