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Sydney
ragutiene ragutiene wrote in customers_suck
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Thailand, the land of smiles. Mostly.
Manager of a small hotel in Thailand, and when I say small I really do mean small.

We're tiny in fact, and as a result of that we don't have a huge cash flow. Money comes in from guests, we pay the bills as and when they are received, and there is just not a lot of ready dosh lying around. The Director of the hotel wants it this way - people are always giving him ideas for extending the resort, but he always says that as long as we (the staff) have enough money to live comfortably on he doesn't want the added stresses a bigger hotel brings. And we all like it that way - we are living on a tropical island after all, and we're all here because we enjoy the status quo.

More background - the way we work is that when someone makes a reservation we take a 50% deposit via PayPal to secure the room, and then the guest pays the remaining 50% in cash on arrival. This works really well for us, allowing us to balance payments that need to be made from our bank account with payments that need to be made in cash.

Our website states very clearly that once a payment has been made no refunds can be given, because the room has been taken out of our system and is no longer available to other guests. If someone has made a PayPal deposit for a reservation six months or something in advance and they need to cancel, I can use my discretion on whether to refund them the money or not (usually I do). However if a guest has already arrived and wants to leave early, we categorically do not refund them anything because I can guarantee that we have turned away other people for that time, and it's doubtful we can fill the room (due to our location we don't get many walk-ins). Also, when guests check in they sign a form stating that they agree to our Terms and Conditions, which include the no refunds schtick.

So, onto the suck: a customer had booked in for two months, and after a lot of palaver from him about not being able to withdraw cash we finally agreed he could pay the remaining 50% via PayPal, even though this mucks up our cash flow. After he had been here for a month he came to see me to say that he wanted to check out immediately due to illness, and could he have a refund. I told him I was very sorry, but the money had already been used to pay the staff wages (true story). He argued with me for nearly 10 minutes, and all I could do was repeat that I was very sorry, blah blah blah, and remind him that he had signed our form etc.

He checked out a few days later (which was last week), and then a couple of days ago we received notification from PayPal that he was disputing the payment, and so PayPal has taken the money out of our account. This leaves our PayPal account hugely in arrears (big scary red numbers), and it's going to take a while before we receive enough deposits to put us back in the black.

His note on PayPal states that we agreed to refund him the rest of the money but then reneged on this. This absolutely is not true because I would be in big trouble if I refunded someone that amount of money in those circumstances, and as so many of us say here, I'm just not risking my job over something like that.

I've written back to PayPal explaining the situation, and now I guess I just wait to hear what they decide. I’ve never had a PayPal dispute before, so I have no idea how robust their system is for resolving disputes. This has got me really worried now, because what stops another guest from saying to PayPal “yeah I paid a deposit but I never stayed there so I want my money back”?

ctk_hullo

2013-03-14 03:06 am (UTC) (Link)

Aw man, that stinks majorly. From what I hear Paypal usually sides with the buyer, but I bet sending them a copy of the Terms & Conditions that he signed would put things in your favour.

slinkslowdown

2013-03-14 03:08 am (UTC) (Link)

Definitely send them proof that he agreed to the TOS

(no subject) - ancara_iiii, 2013-03-14 04:15 am (UTC)(Expand)
(no subject) - ragutiene, 2013-03-14 12:46 pm (UTC)(Expand)
(no subject) - karebear82, 2013-03-14 02:23 pm (UTC)(Expand)
(no subject) - robertr4836, 2013-03-14 04:40 pm (UTC)(Expand)
(no subject) - brigittefires, 2013-03-18 07:56 pm (UTC)(Expand)
(no subject) - gamingkitty, 2013-03-14 06:08 pm (UTC)(Expand)
(no subject) - xchanceofrainx, 2013-03-14 05:28 am (UTC)(Expand)

bugeyedmonster

2013-03-14 03:21 am (UTC) (Link)

See if you can send them a copy of the Terms and Conditions he signed. If he signed it, doesn't that mean he agrees to it?

kiwiana

2013-03-14 03:35 am (UTC) (Link)

Holy crap, what a douche D:

kiwiana

2013-03-14 03:37 am (UTC) (Link)

Unrelated: OP, I totally understand if you're not comfortable doing this, but my better half and I are thinking about our next big trip and are thinking about your neck of the woods, and this hotel you work at (apart from the sucky customers, but I can deal with them :P) sounds pretty awesome. If you're comfortable -- and again, totally understand if you're not -- I'd love it if you could PM me your hotel name so we can look at whether it would work for us cost-wise :D

(no subject) - ragutiene, 2013-03-14 12:49 pm (UTC)(Expand)
(no subject) - kiwiana, 2013-03-14 09:39 pm (UTC)(Expand)
(no subject) - fallconsmate, 2013-03-14 09:48 pm (UTC)(Expand)
(no subject) - brigittefires, 2013-03-18 07:58 pm (UTC)(Expand)
(no subject) - coleoptera, 2013-03-14 11:37 pm (UTC)(Expand)
(no subject) - hemenwaykid, 2013-03-15 03:13 am (UTC)(Expand)

theidolhands

2013-03-14 03:52 am (UTC) (Link)

I just want you to know, my household now uses the quote, "You kill my cat, I kill you!"

behindgrey_eyes

2013-03-14 12:25 pm (UTC) (Link)

Hahaha! You win! I told everyone that would listen about that story when I read it hear. My flat mate in particular liked that phrase :p

(no subject) - ragutiene, 2013-03-14 12:55 pm (UTC)(Expand)
(no subject) - crumplelush, 2013-03-14 08:40 pm (UTC)(Expand)
(no subject) - fallconsmate, 2013-03-14 09:49 pm (UTC)(Expand)
(no subject) - crumplelush, 2013-03-14 10:05 pm (UTC)(Expand)
(no subject) - fallconsmate, 2013-03-14 10:09 pm (UTC)(Expand)
(no subject) - crumplelush, 2013-03-15 04:08 am (UTC)(Expand)
(no subject) - hemenwaykid, 2013-03-15 03:15 am (UTC)(Expand)
(no subject) - crumplelush, 2013-03-15 04:05 am (UTC)(Expand)

zaulankris

2013-03-14 04:05 am (UTC) (Link)

If PayPal for some reason sides with the "buyer", go publicly shame them with http://consumerist.com/ Technically, you're a client of PP so it's still a consumer issue and it's worked before.

ragutiene

2013-03-14 12:55 pm (UTC) (Link)

That's really useful - thanks very much!

chantalzola

2013-03-14 04:24 am (UTC) (Link)

Oh man, well one thing in your favor is that this hasn't happened to you before so it sounds like you have a good track record with paypal. This is very important in my experience. Don't know what his track record is with them, but if this is something he does a lot, etc., it could definitely work in your favor. I would do what everyone else is saying above and keep as many records as possible.

stackcats

2013-03-14 05:32 am (UTC) (Link)

Don't you just love it when customers think the T&Cs don't apply to them? The amount of times we get "my flights changed so I have to leave early, but you can refund me the last night, right?" ...no.

If it doesn't apply to them, just what on earth do people think we have the policy for? People don't just cancel their expensive international holidays on a whim, there's always a good reason for last minute cancellations or early departures, but that doesn't mean we should put our jobs in danger by giving everyone's money back.

behindgrey_eyes

2013-03-14 12:23 pm (UTC) (Link)

I LOVE YOUR ICON.

I've been thinking a lot about Father Ted recently with all the new pope stuff. I miss that show :( I need to get it on DVD :D

rainbowxgeek

2013-03-14 05:33 am (UTC) (Link)

I have a question. NOT criticising the hotel policy, but curious...

I can defnitely understand that you wouldn't be able to rebook at least some of the guy's stay when he left. But in this case, where there was a month left on it, would you not have been able to rebook 2-3 weeks worth of it?

Not arguing the guy's not a douchecanoe--he is, and he obviously agreed to the policy.

Is that a case where a guest could say, 'Can you refund half the stay?', and it would happen if they were polite and reasonable about it?


ragutiene

2013-03-14 01:09 pm (UTC) (Link)

There are a lot of things that the Director of the hotel wants done in a certain way that I don't always agree with, but hey - he's the boss, and I can't actually summon enough energy to care that much how things are done.

So, refunding someone who is cancelling a booking that is six months in advance is fine because I know that we will fill the room eventually, and the Director never needs to know about it (I don't mean I'm hiding it from him, just that he doesn't care about stuff at that level).

If I refunded this particular guy a whole month or part of, it would leave a serious hole in either our bank account or cash box, as we are very much a cash in/cash out straight away business. We probably will get some bookings in for part of that time but it's in no way guaranteed, and we've been burnt really, really badly in the past. We just can't afford to do it.

(no subject) - rainbowxgeek, 2013-03-14 01:12 pm (UTC)(Expand)
(no subject) - brigittefires, 2013-03-18 08:04 pm (UTC)(Expand)

cloudchaser_s

2013-03-14 08:43 am (UTC) (Link)

You and your co-workers are wise to be happy with what you have instead of trying to get more

ragutiene

2013-03-14 01:10 pm (UTC) (Link)

Yeah - I think I've mentioned before that when I first started here I was earning in a month what I was earning in London in a day, yet I've never been happier.

(no subject) - cloudchaser_s, 2013-03-14 01:21 pm (UTC)(Expand)

callmetothejedi

2013-03-14 12:19 pm (UTC) (Link)

I've never had a PayPal dispute, but I agree with the folks who said that you should send them a copy of the Terms and Conditions that this person signed.

behindgrey_eyes

2013-03-14 12:21 pm (UTC) (Link)

Sometimes paypal is good because it can really protect both customer and company, but I got majorly screwed over when a person I sold some stuff to on ebay said it never arrived. I told her thats not my fault but the fault of the postal service. I got the money taken out of my paypal by ebay after she set up a dispute. Turned out I had sent the package to the address she requested I send it to, but then tried to say I had sent it to the wrong address. So I was down money and she was up my stuff and I could do nothing about it :|

I hope this gets sorted quickly in your favour. That guy is a douche.

ragutiene

2013-03-14 01:11 pm (UTC) (Link)

That really sucks! People can be so crap, sometimes.

(no subject) - behindgrey_eyes, 2013-03-14 01:49 pm (UTC)(Expand)
(no subject) - jmnstars, 2013-03-31 08:34 pm (UTC)(Expand)

blot

2013-03-14 01:08 pm (UTC) (Link)

If it is in your TOS, then yea, they should side with you.

spoticus21

2013-03-14 01:20 pm (UTC) (Link)

Hahaha! I'm in Florida... going to have to steal that, too.

spoticus21

2013-03-14 01:32 pm (UTC) (Link)

I really hope they side with you, because what a dick move. I only ever did that once on ebay because the person promised delivery in x days and at z days, I hadn't even heard back. They don't always side w/ the purchaser, though, especially when you have that TOS/T's & C's with his signature and it's probably written elsewhere on your site, etc.

girfan

2013-03-14 02:10 pm (UTC) (Link)

The 2 times (as a seller on eBay) that I had a Paypal dispute, I ended up getting my money back. In one case, I sent the buyer the limited edition item, buyer gave me glowing feedback, and, then, when the item was available again (2 weeks later) on the company's website (the same day) they opened a dispute, saying I sent a used/diluted item, blah blah blah. Both eBay and Paypal sided with me, mainly because the buyer had left me 100% positive feedback.


So, if you have a T&C signed by this guy and have all other proof, submit it to Paypal and see if they can see your side of it. Good luck!


failuresofine

2013-03-14 07:54 pm (UTC) (Link)

You need to call PayPal and you need to do it today. DON'T escalate the case yourself-- this very often triggers an automatic(no human ever sees it) response that defaults in favor of the "buyer", and it happens within minutes. There is an appeal process when that happens, but that's just wasting more time that could be spent doing something actually important.

Anyway, call PayPal, explain the situation, and ask for their fax number. You need to fax over copies of the document this person signed where your TOS is included. This is really your only chance at having a shot at this, since they've extended their full buyer protection to things off of eBay. It's still possible that even with a signed agreement you'll lose anyway.

You need to be aggressive with PayPal. I don't mean nasty, but direct, making it clear that these are the terms this person agreed to. Call repeatedly if you have to.

You might also consider going over to eBay and getting on the forums. There is a forum specifically for PP issues, and even though this is not eBay related, someone there might be able to help you.

coleoptera

2013-03-14 11:40 pm (UTC) (Link)

I agree with this strongly. I have heard so many tales of Paypal mindless siding with the buyer with no recourse, it really invites scammers. I also think if there's any way you can involved a lawyer, you should.

pyrofuego

2013-03-16 12:12 pm (UTC) (Link)

Hotel rooms are considered services, right? Services are not eligible for PayPal's purchase protection. If he escalates the dispute to a claim PayPal will probably deny it because it's not covered.

There's also the issue that he paid for said service in two installments. PayPal purchase protection only covers transactions where the full amount is paid at once.

Call PayPal, tell them exactly what the payment was for, that it was received in installments, and ask them how to send the documentation you have showing that he agreed to the terms and conditions. You need to get this resolved as quickly as possible, because they can and do limit accounts for remaining in arrears.