As many of you know, I travel overseas a couple times most years. I have liked the website Trip Adviser to reserve lodging in cities I would be visiting. I saw that site, integrally involved in a very unethical practice three days ago.
A member of our travel group used Trip Adviser to procure lodging in the famous city of Venice, Italy. I am acutely aware of the circumstances of this transaction, since she used my computer to make the reservations and my Email account as the contact. I have, never, seen a website so involved in a blatant deception and scam, nor all parties so unwilling to rectify what appears to be fraud.
I copied the pages involved, so you can see exactly why I, personally, will never trust Trip Adviser, or their parent company, Expedia, again. This woman wanted a low cost hotel, so she was searching Trip Adviser by price and availability (a problem in Venice).
1. Basic search information was entered, and the a Hotel Leon D'Oro, Venice, Italy came up near the top of the search for availability and low price. Please notice the address that Trip Adviser has listed for this hotel, right below the name -- Viale Trieste, 8, 30020 in the city of Venice.
2, To make certain the hotel was in an appropriate location, she clicked on the Trip Adviser map which is right by the ad. The hotel came up in the city of Venice at a great location.
3. A review at the site, pasted below, points out the wonderful location right off the famous Rialto Bridge in Venice.
4. Based on this information, and the price, the woman purchased three nights at the hotel. The transaction was confirmed when she entered her debit card information.
Then the fraud became apparent: The Email came to my Email address from Trip Adviser. The hotel is not located in Venice at all. It is in a city, not even very close to Venice, called Noventa Di Piave
5. According to our research, with public transportation, this hotel is about 40 km outside of Venice. The real map is below, all the pink arrows are the actual hotel location and the real Venice is at the lower left. Hotel Leon D'Oro or Trip Adviser had been involved in a bait and switch. The customer selected a hotel that was in Venice but, when she paid, they revealed that the hotel is NOT in Venice.
After realizing the scam, the victim called Trip Adviser, Europe office. This was within 15 minutes of the booking. They told her that, since she had booked it, they would not rescind or undo the transaction. They hedged and said that if she would contact the hotel, and the hotel would agree to cancel the booking, then Trip Adviser would consider doing so as well.
A fluent Italian speaker in our group called the hotel immediately and they said they would only respond to an Email request. The fluent speaker, an Italian/English language instructor at the college level, then wrote an Email demanding that the hotel confirm cancellation of the reservation.
At this point, as I post this, three days have gone by. The hotel has ignored the Email. An Email complaint to Trip Adviser in the U.S. has, so far, been ignored. Based on these circumstances, and her finances, the woman is going to have to stay at this inconveniently located hotel. Since they will not provide a refund, she cannot afford to pay for two hotels and use only one.
I know that many travelers rely on Trip Adviser. I had never dreamed that they, or the parent company Expedia, would participate in such unethical and opportunistic practices. Now, maybe, this initial problem is based on hotel information getting crossed up in the system. But, if that is the case, the hotel and Trip Adviser have, so far, been unwilling to undo the bad situation.
If circumstances change, I will update this travel blog. But, at this point, I can only encourage Travelers to avoid Hotel Leon D'Oro, Trip Adviser and, parent firm, Expedia. Doing so will reduce your stress levels.