Pretoria - 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 that issued your card for chargeback, which means your bank asks the merchant’s bank to give the money back.

If you can prove your claim, you should get your refund.

Unfortunately, Kevin Monahan of the US 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 a 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 confirmed this a few days before his arrival in Joburg, but, he says, he was not met at the airport, despite arriving at the scheduled time – about 10pm.

Having waited for an hour, to no avail, Monahan then spent R200 on a taxi to get to the hotel, only to find no-one in attendance at the reception desk.

A barman showed him to his room, he says, which was not in a fit state for occupation – having no towels, no toilet paper, a broken lamp and a rubbish bin that hadn’t been emptied.

To top it all, Monahan was asked to pay another R600 for his accommodation on check-out, and as he did not have access to a computer at the time, he was not able to prove that he had pre-paid, 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 that she would look into the matter, he’s had no feedback and his messages have not been returned.

Consumer Watch 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 at the end of August last year, and has not been renewed. “The property has been informed to remove all TGCSA insignia,” she said.

“And I have informed our quality protection auditor to go through various internet search engines to ensure that TGCSA insignia has been removed,” Daniel said.

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

However, 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 and other marketing material.

Moral of the story? Ensure that you pay for your travel bookings by credit card, and spend a few minutes checking out the gradings and endorsements on travel websites for a hassle-free stay. - Pretoria News