Paula Jones, who runs the historic Great House in Llantwit Major, has been sick with worry over mistakes by Booking.com and even feared bailiffs turning up at her door
A guesthouse owner has revealed how blunders by a popular travel website have left her business in ruins.
Paula Jones, who runs the historic Great House in Llantwit Major, was left fearing for her livelihood after mistakes by Booking.com led to her listing being suspended. Despite providing evidence that she had paid her monthly commission payments, Booking.com continued to suspend her listing and even sent automated emails stating her “debt” had been transferred to a collection agency.
After months of sleepless nights and dwindling bookings, Paula finally shared her story with WalesOnline. Booking.com admitted their mistake five hours after being approached for comment. They had mistakenly believed the payments from the Great House came from another hotel with the same name. A spokesperson for the website said: “We deeply apologise for the delay in addressing this issue and for the impact that this has clearly had on the partner and their business,”
Last year, the Guardian reported that glitches at Booking.com had been leaving hotel owners short of money for months. Paula, a former pub owner, took over the Great House about five years ago after “running a pub got a bit much” due to her arthritis. She poured all her savings into renting and refurbishing the disused Grade II-listed stone house, which dates back to 1480 and Paula says is “not a cheap house to run”.
She does not expect to make back her initial investment but she says the hotel, which has two guestrooms, was finally “gathering momentum” and making an in-year profit before the Booking.com disaster. “All of a sudden I could feel things changing for the better and then this happens,” she said. “It’s sickening because I’ve done nothing wrong. It just makes you think: ‘What’s the point?'”
Paula, a guesthouse owner, was left in shock when Booking.com claimed she hadn’t paid her commission for four months, despite her sending proof of payment. The website delisted her business twice, causing a significant drop in bookings and adding to her stress when they transferred the supposed “debt” to a collection agency.
A spokesperson for Booking.com admitted to the mistake after WalesOnline stepped in. They said: “In this specific case we can see that the payments made by the partner to Booking.com were allocated to another provider with the same name in error. We deeply apologise for the delay in addressing this issue and for the impact that this has clearly had on the partner and their business.”
Paula, upon hearing the news, was both ecstatic and angry. She claimed that when she asked Booking.com for compensation for the errors that had severely affected her business, she received a firm ‘no’. Despite winning several awards for its hospitality, including from Booking.com, Paula encourages customers to book stays directly.