It appears popular travel site Bookit.com may be going belly up after customers say they’re stranded at resorts right now because Bookit never paid for their vacations.
On Thursday night, the company posted an official-looking notice on its website including the U.S. State Department’s logo and a message from Bookit saying, in part:
“In response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Crisis now unfolding, BookIt.com has paused normal operations…”
“Due to the nature of this unprecedented pandemic, we have had to close our call centers … This, effectively, means that we will be unable to provide agent assistance in cancelling any upcoming trips.”
“As we are currently unable to process refunds to you, please contact your bank for options available to you as a cardholder.”
NBC 5 Responds found that social media is lit up with complaints from travelers who say the booking site is not answering any calls or emails. This includes customers on trips they already paid for, at hotels they already paid for, being told to “pay again.”
Ashley Tolten was supposed to be vacationing in Cancun in May with her husband. Instead she is at home in Chesterton, Indiana, and on the hook for $3,000 after booking a trip through Bookit.com, the popular travel site customers say shut down without warning.
“At this point, they have full payment for the trip, and no contact,” Tolten said. “We were very surprised to see that they had gone out of business without any notice, and no refund.”
The good news for Tolten: Her trip wasn’t until May. Other Bookit customers say they’re stranded at resorts right now, desperate for help and answers, posting on social media:
“I’m currently in Playa Del Carmen.” “My resort told me Bookit.com never paid them.” “And told me if I wanted to stay I would need to give them $2200.”
Melissa says: “I am stuck … in Nuevo Vallarta … Bookit did not pay for the stay. The manager demanded payment and locked us out of our room. Nice. It’s also my birthday.”
And Jon, whose trip isn’t until September, emailed NBC 5 Responds saying, “Their phones are disconnected… when I log into my account and try to cancel the trip, I receive an error message.”
It's a move that has left customers who paid Bookit on their own, many of them turning to their credit card companies for help.
“They stated that they've had numerous inquiries from other customers conveying the same complaints and they're doing an investigation but they can't guarantee any sort of refund,” Tolten said.
In normal times, most credit cards do guarantee a refund. It’s a basic principal of card usage. If you don’t get what you paid for, you are protected. But these are not normal times.
It does not appear Bookit has filed for bankruptcy protection. NBC 5 Responds' calls to the company were not answered. On its website message the company says it hopes, someday, to get back to the business of booking.