Has Some Sketchy and Pushy Practices – Be Aware

JW Marriott Singapore South Beach

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I have to be careful how I phrase this blog as I really can’t afford a lawsuit but, at the same time, it’s worth the risk as I absolutely detest practices that could potentially see travelers out of pocket or pressured into a booking they may not wish to make.

Here’s the experience I recently had with a hotel booking site called

I have an overnight stop at Paris Charles de Gaulle next year so I’ve been looking for a good but reasonable hotel option which offers an airport shuttle. The prices for the chains I normally check first (Marriott/Starwood and Hilton) are way too high for my liking so I turned to Kayak and TripAdvisor to see what they would turn up.

The Novotel Suites caught my eye as the reviews seemed ok and the rate being offered by AMOMA was very good compared to what everyone else was offering.

I clicked through to AMOMA and, although I was half expecting to be told the rate was no longer available (that happens a lot on TripAdvisor) the news was good – the rate was still there (at least for one room) and, better still, the rate was flexible.

I wasn’t 100% sure that this was the property I wanted to book but the fact that the AMOMA site said the rate offered “flexible cancellation until 21 Mar” prompted me to start the booking process.

Before I went any further I did the sensible thing and checked the rate that Accor (the chain to which Novotel belongs) was offering and confirmed that the AMOMA price was genuinely good.

So far, so good – I was getting a very good rate and if I changed my mind about the property I could cancel and go elsewhere without any penalty….or so I thought.

After I filled in my details (name, phone number, email etc…) I noticed that the left side of the booking form showed the room rate together with the words “tax and fees included” while the small print at the bottom of the screen told me that there would be “extra city taxes”:

As these taxes only came to £2.19 it wasn’t a big deal but it did make me wonder if there are other destinations where the city taxes are considerably higher and so would make a significant difference to a nightly rate as low as this one. It’s possible.

Spotting this also reminded me to check any other small print that I came across….and that was just as well.

The penultimate page of the booking process is where you enter your payment details and it wasn’t till  after I’d filled in all the fields that I noticed the small print at the bottom of the page:

Apparently when AMOMA says that a booking offers “flexible cancellation” it means that you’ll be charged at least 54% of the room rate (in this instance) if you change your mind more than 24 hours after you’ve made the reservation.

Technically I guess this is a “flexible cancellation” policy but it’s certainly not the type of policy that most travelers will think of when they read that phrase.

To frequent travelers the phrase “flexible cancellation” means that you’re going to get all of your money back even if you cancel quite close to the check-in date ….and that’s certainly not the case here.

As I was pausing to consider my next move (it was a good rate so I was wondering whether I should book anyway) I got a call from a number I didn’t recognize.

I don’t answer calls from numbers I don’t recognize (at least not unless I’m expecting calls) so I let it go to voicemail….but whoever was calling didn’t leave a message.

So I googled the number.

It turns out I wasn’t the first person to have done this:

And it also turns out that it was AMOMA calling me….a fact I verified when I received an email from AMOMA prompting me to complete my booking just seconds later:

So here’s the situation.

I’m on the AMOMA booking page considering my options (I had been on it for no more than a couple of minutes) and I’ve already received an email AND a phone call from AMOMA. I’ve no idea what the phone call was about but the email was prompting me to “complete payment”.

I don’t like it when booking sites (and some airlines) do this to me a few hours after I’ve logged out of their site so I’m sure you can imagine my feelings when I get an email and a phone call while I’m still on the booking page.

I closed the browser window and that was the last dealing I had with AMOMA……but I still wondered about the phone call. What did they want? Was I really going to be asked to complete the booking over the phone when I was still on the AMOMA site?

This is where the “who called me” website helped out as it shows other people’s comments on the number that I had googled – here’s a link to that page.

The comments were enlightening and here are the latest 4 (at the time of writing):

For legal reasons I should point out that I have absolutely no proof that what is written in these comments is true….but considering how close to my own experience some of those comments are I have little reason to disbelieve them.

I have no idea what my phone call from AMOMA was going to say but, considering the website showed “only 1 room left” at the rate I was trying to book and considering the comments from others who have received calls too, it wouldn’t surprise me if I was going to be told that the rate was not available but that a higher rate was.

Yes I’m speculating here….but I’m speculating with a reasonable degree of evidence to back up the speculation.

Bottom Line

Ultimately I have no cast-iron proof of anything here as I never answered the phone call but everything points to this being a classic “bait and switch”.

The poorly disclosed city taxes, the poorly worded cancellation info next to the nightly rate, the speed at which I was sent an email asking me to complete payment, the phone call from AMOMA and the information I found on the net all leave me with a very bad taste in my mouth so I won’t be clicking through to AMOMA again.

To reiterate (for the benefit of any lawyers reading this), I have no proof of a bait and switch at all….but I strongly recommend that anyone dealing with AMOMA pays very close attention to the small print and pays eves closer attention if they should get a call.


  1. Just looked at booking a hotel for next July and within 5 minutes of opening the payment page but not completing it I had a call from AMOMA saying that they maybe able to offer a better rate and I have also had 2 emails within about 15 minutes.

    Usually I use as I am not particularly loyal to the big chains and like their loyalty program

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