03/01/2011 A generic pic of a credit card transaction at a Pick n Pay in JHB. (264) Photo: Leon Nicholas

What do you do if you don’t get what you paid for, as agreed with a service provider, and they simply ignore you when you complain?

Well, as I keep repeating in this column, if you paid by credit card, you can apply to the bank which issued your card for chargeback, which means your bank asks the merchant’s bank to give the money back.

Unfortunately, Kevin Monahan of the USA made the payment he’s seeking a refund for, in cash.

In June last year, he made a booking to stay for just one night – January 2 – at the African Centre Airport Leisure Hotel near OR Tambo International Airport.

He paid the R600 per night rate at the time, and received an e-mail from the hotel, confirming that he had paid in full for the room and that he would be fetched from the airport as a free service.

He says he was not met at the airport, despite arriving at the scheduled time. He spent R200 on a taxi to get to the hotel, only to find no-one in attendance at reception.

A barman showed him to his room.

To top it all, Monahan was asked to pay another R600 for his accommodation on check-out, and not having access to a computer at the time, he was not able to prove that he had prepaid, so he paid again.

He later e-mailed the hotel, asking for a refund of at least R800, to account for the double-charge and the R200 taxi fare, but he’s had no response.

A relative of Monahan’s, John Miller, who lives in Limpopo, took up the case with the hotel on his behalf, but after being told by the owner she would look into the matter, he’s had no feedback.

Consumer Talk sent an e-mail to the hotel last week, asking for a response, which has not been forthcoming, and phone messages have also been ignored.

I also asked whether the establishment’s three-star grading, as displayed on its website, is current. Having had no response, I approached the Tourism Grading Council of SA about those three stars.

Nxololo Daniel confirmed that the hotel’s grading had expired last year, and has not been renewed.

“The property has been informed to remove all TGCSA insignia,” she said.

The hotel’s website also currently carries an AA Quality Assured Accommodation Programme “highly recommended” logo.

Having received a number of complaints about the hotel, the AA Quality Assured Accommodation Programme has cancelled its membership, removed it from its www.aaholidays.co.za website and instructed the owners to remove any endorsement logos from their websites.

Moral of the story? Pay for your travel bookings by credit card, and spend a few minutes checking out the gradings and endorsements on travel websites.