In February, I made a booking with Cottages.com for July. A month later, the company said that the reservation was cancelled because of remedial work on the property. I offered to defer the booking, but was told the works would last the entire season because of insurance issues. I could find an alternative property, or accept a refund. When I called back to discuss it, I was told my booking had been cancelled because the owner had double-booked and I ended up paying £900 more – a 50% increase – for an alternative property. If I had made a mistake with my booking and needed to cancel, I would have had to forfeit my deposit, yet there is no penalty if others renege on the contract.
KB, Newmarket, Suffolk
I hope your experience doesn’t herald a repeat of last July when Cottages.com, and sister company Hoseasons, cancelled and resold the bookings of scores of customers, including one by author Michael Rosen. Cottages.com blamed “technical” problems caused by a 455% increase in demand. Then, as now, a record number of Britons were having to holiday in the UK and accommodation was at a premium. Other customers are reporting sudden cancellations of their booking on review website Trustpilot.
Cottages.com claims that, in your case, its booking system and that of the owner were not correctly synchronised and the company had been unaware the property had been let. “The pre-existing booking was made directly with the owner and we did not rebook that week, or profit in any way,” it says. This is completely at odds with the initial explanation about essential remedial work and insurance delays, which Cottages.com says was human error. And it’s concerning the alleged double booking was discovered more than four weeks after your deposit was accepted. After my contact, Cottages.com offered you the £900 difference.
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