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Old 04.01.2010, 18:49
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Advice Needed: legal options against an online business

Hi All,

I'm clutching at straws here, any constructive suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Sorry for the lengthy post...

I have been battling with an online travel company for some weeks now. Without providing any names (just yet) here is the short run down:

1. I have made an online reservation with "International Online Travel X" for a hotel stay in the UK, 3 nights at the "UK Hotel Y" in the value of GBP 895.00, two weeks in advance of the planned travel date

2. One week before the planned travel date I found a better deal with the same hotel, "UK Hotel Y", and made a direct booking with them for the same dates.

3. At the same time, one week before the travel and within the officially communicated cancellation period, I cancelled the reservation with "International Online Travel X" using their online cancellation tool (booking reference # and PIN required). I received a cancellation confirmation on the screen, but no email. At that time I was not concerned, as I had several bookings and cancellations in the past with the same company and never had any issues. On the other hand, sometime emails get lost (spam filters)or end up in a junk folder. So, I wasn't worried...but you probably guessed where I'm heading...

4. We completed our travel, including our stay at "UK Hotel Y". Had a great time. One week after our return I discovered that my credit card was charged twice by the hotel. Once for the actual stay, and once for the original booking (GBP 895.00).

5. Upon contacting "UK Hotel Y" I was told that they never received a cancellation note from "International Online Travel X", therefore they charged us fully with a "No Show". This is despite that the hotel had clear records that we have stayed at their premises (same dates, same people). "UK Hotel Y" requested a confirmation from "International Online Travel X" that the cancellation was made by the customer (me) before proceeding with any refunds.

6. Upon contacting "International Online Travel X" and quoting the booking reference, they told me that the reservation was never cancelled. They asked for the confirmation email, which I was unable to produce. I was puzzled about this and started to dig around in my web browser. Low and behold, I found some entries in my web browser's history which shows that I entered the cancellation page and I clicked on "Cancel" one week before the travel date. I sent this information to "International Online Travel X", with screen shots, reference numbers, session IDs and explanations. They came back to me that their IT did not find any entries. As a matter of fact, I haven't even logged onto their web site, which is clearly untrue.

Now I am stuck as "UK Hotel Y" does not provide a cancellation refund without "International Online Travel X" confirming that I did cancel, and "International Online Travel X" does not admit that they had some technical problems and the cancellation did not complete properly.

As the amount is not small I am really reluctant to let this go. It already had an impact on our Christmas budget and I'm really angry just to let them get away with it.

Has anyone had some similar experience? What legal options do I have?

Any constructive input would be greatly appreciated!

Thanks in advance!
b
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