Agoda Cancellation Policy

Submitted on Sep 08, 2008, 3:26 a.m.

An unfortunate incident today with Agoda Online Travel.  This is a site I've used once before to make a reservation for a hotel in Hong Kong. Unfortunately on that occasion we had to cancel. Agoda's cancellation policy for this booking meant that we lost US$15 on the booking, but I figured that was a reasonable penalty to pay as an administrative fee. Overall I found the service easy to use and thought highly of Agoda at the time.

A couple of days ago I booked another hotel in Hong Kong and yet again - a change in plans meant that we needed to cancel this booking too. However, this time I was stunned to discover that we would loose the FULL AMOUNT of the booking.

At the time I made the reservation I mistakenly assumed that the cancellation policy we'd used on our previous booking was an Agoda site-wide policy. I didn't realise that the cancellation policy can be different between bookings. Ok - you could argue that would seem logical, but I was caught out for a couple of reasons.

Firstly - the link to the cancellation policy is at the bottom of the page and as in the screen shot attached (click to view the larger image) - says, "Please click here for 'Cancellation Policy'". It's missing a couple of important words. I think it should say - "Please click here for the Cancellation Policy for THIS BOOKING.".

Secondly - on three of the four step page process you have to scroll down to see this link.

I think the cancellation policy should be displayed right there on the page, or at the least a warning message during the booking process that explains clearly that the cancellation policy can be different between hotels and bookings.

For example, I went back to review the cancellation policy for the exact same hotel, on the exact same dates - and the policy now indicated that only the first evening would be forfeited in the event of a cancellation, and that any remaining nights would be refunded. Hm.

I don't have a problem with the cancellation policies per se. If we're getting discount rates, I'm prepared to lose some flexibility in changes or cancellation. However, I think Agoda owes it to its customers to make it much clearer that these policies can be different between bookings. They should warn their customers in particular when a booking is totally non-refundable.

What's more - and what made this particular incident a sour one, is that when I tried to explain my concerns to a supervisor at the Agoda call centre in Bangkok, the conversation (from the Agoda side) quickly descended into an argument about who's fault this was, and that other sites operate the same way, and so I was to blame. That wasn't really the point of the call. What I wanted was recognition of the problem. As far as I could tell, they were getting good feedback, and they could have used this as an opportunity to improve their services in a way that would help to build trust and reputation, as apposed to reducing it.

The old used-car sales tactics of 'fine print' that's hard to read, find, or subject to misinterpretation really doesn't belong on a modern Web site today. Too much is at stake. Reputation travels farther and faster than before.

So.. Agoda - if I can get passed your argumentative customer service supervisor in Bangkok - please change this single but important link on your site to "Please click here for the Cancellation Policy for this booking...". And if you really want to build trust - warn customers explicitly when the policy indicates that they are not allowed to change or cancel the reservation without having to click on a link or open another window.

You can and should do better Agoda...