Cultural differences in the way people book a hotel

We received an interesting e-mail from one of the European offices looking after consumer affairs last night.

They’re writing on behalf of a Spanish couple who booked with us last July but who didn’t turn up.

Ordinarly, that would mean we’d have billed them as a no-show but at the time the booking system had a technical problem so we weren’t receiving their reservation e-mails and therefore didn’t know that they were coming. Anyway, net effect was that we didn’t charge them although under the terms of the reservation system we were entitled to.

They’ve gone to this European office with their booking confirmation that has a note of the two nights booked and EUR 98 charge. Except, that it isn’t a change: it’s just a note of what they would have to pay.

The Spanish guy in the European office doesn’t understand that at all. They quoted their credit card number and they’ve a statement with EUR 98 on it, they didn’t get their accommodation (because they went to the wrong place) but he believes that they’ve paid it as do they.

Usually the Spanish are much more Internet-savvy than the French but in this area they’re just as far behind in that they assume that they’ve paid when they quote a credit card number yet it’s only used for a guarantee.

I suspect that it’ll run for a bit as he sent another e-mail this morning threatening to translate everything and sent it to the French consumer protection authorities to demand the refund of this EUR 98 which they’ve not paid.

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