to me it is impossible to believe this place got "best hotel" prize from tripadvisor for 2013... I will tell what happened, decide for yourself. (I can prove all, since I complained to Visa and to my bank with proper documents as well). After reading reviews in tripadvisor, I booked the place through a website for 3 nights. It was said that they take credit cards but when I arrived I learned that it is with 5% extra charge -acceptable- but we've never been able to finish to process (wait for the assistant manager who never comes) so I paid in cash. But after seeing the location which is on the wrong side of the port, (industrialized area, away from the stone town action, but to be fair, easy to find) I decided to stay only for 2 nights. My booking was for 3 night, with the regular price so no special discount and I had made the booking with booking guarantee. I paid in cash for 2 nights, all seemed fine, then just when I was going out the receptionist told me that I had to send an email to the manager to inform him that I had cancelled. she also said that I could do it anytime, no hurry. This, being Africa, I decided not to go out, went to my room, took my computer to terrace, tried to connect to internet -which is "high speed" only sometimes- and sent the email from the email account I had used to arrange the pick-up. It bounced back. I used another email address and it went perfectly. Then I received a message saying that I was supposed to arrive 1 day before and I hadn't cancelled on time so they charged my credit card. I explained them that this is a digital world, and I arrived on the day I was supposed to arrive. I had both the reservation and the receipt to prove this with the dates. 3rd day, the day I cancelled was more than 48h later and I hadn't used any promotion. Then things got weirder. 1. they've informed me that their cancellation policy is different from the website's that I booked and if it is made for 3 or 5 days that's it. You pay. BUT in the meantime I discovered they've also charged my credit card as if I didn't show up because the website I booked wouldn't allow them to charge for the 3rd night. The "manager" thought this was fair game. I had booked for 3 nights and if I am cancelling the third night, he would get it this way. Since I had my receipt with the date that proves that I was there and paid at the time he says I was no-show, now it is up to credit card company to decide. 2. this is, to me, worse. Since they had put me as no-show, I wasn't able to write an official complaint to the website I used for the booking -but I had informed them in every step. When I said I was going to write about this they've send me an email saying that "they don't want to have to charge my card again". this I consider as a subtle threat and I do not respond well to bullying. I changed hotels. for now, they got away with it. They took the money for the night I haven't stayed -their prices are not low for Tanzania, and it is the kind of money I rather not waste. Now it might have been on their right not to let me cancel last part of my stay, at that point I would take it to the website since I had their cancellation policy (that I had paid some extra money in case something like this happens). But they way the hotel handled, took the money with cheating -this is not a 2013 tripadvisor winner. I can give worse details about the hotel but I won't. I won't use any opinions in this message just facts. These are what I can prove with emails and documents. Now it is up to you to decide.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
We won the award from Trip advisor because some of our customers were happy and accepted our services, which is the most satisfying gift from our customers. We were not expecting any award, however we always work very hard every day to make sure we do satisfy our customers and exceed their expectations. Despite all the efforts, at times we get unsatisfied customers, the challenge is to make all customers satisfied and we are working on it.
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With all benefits of the award, it also come with disadvantages, one being high expectations from customers. By just having an award it is easy to create unsatisfied customers because some will expect way above the reality.
Our online reservations requires a deposit of from 3% to 10% depending on which website a booking is made. Bookings from our website charges a deposit of 3% other websites charges a deposit of 10%, and the balance is required to be paid cash upon arrival. Our price includes taxes and other expenses but does not include 5% credit card processing fees because most people pay cash at the end so adding it to our price would increase the price unnecessarily. Most or our customers are sensitive to price and would like to pay as low as possible, so we thought we should not include this 5% in our prices unless a customer ask to pay using credit card instead of cash.
Princess Salme Inn is located in the stone town ferry port of Malindi. 300 meters from the outside gate of the new ferry port gate and 100 meters from the gate of the old ferry port along Mizingani Road. A very ideal location to catch the ferry by just walking. There is no industries in malindi. Mizingani road separates the beach (harbor) and the other side of the town. Princess Salme Inn is not at the center of stone town. It is at the north part of stone town called Malindi.
It is against Princess Salme Inn values to charge a customer twice intentionally or even by mistake. We have never charged a customer twice intentionally or by mistake.
According to our cancelation policy a customer can cancel the reservation without any charges two days (48 hrs) prior to arrival . The confusion arose because the customer cancelled her third night after arrival, instead of two days prior to arrival making it a late cancelation and got a reply by email to notify her about the late cancelation which had the terms and conditions including the cancelation policy, usually sent together with the confirmed reservation. According to the agreement a no show or late cancelation attracts a full charge for that night cancelled late.
5 emails were received from the customer in an interval of 2 to 7 minutes making it impossible even to know which email should be attempted first. All emails having threats, swearing and orders.
The second email from the hotel was written to clarify some issues which we thought brought the confusion. This did not help either because the customer wanted everything to be treated her way and not as per the booking agreement.
So the customer canceled late her third night, did not pay for the third night, and was not even charged once for a no show, leave alone being charged twice!
Though the she said we have charged her credit card, she has no evidence and she will never find evidence because we have never charged her credit card. VISA will find that there is no charge made from our side and we have not been contacted by VISA or our bank regarding this charge because it doesn’t even exist.
How did this happen?
We thought we should share some of the content from her emails received during the cancelation process, so as to give a picture of a complex situation we were dealing with:
In one of her emails She said she is going to change the story and write bad reviews in Hostelworld and Trip advisor and she can prove her points because she have a good number of reviews, so people are going to believe her.
She said she has a good review record at Trip Advisor and whatever story she creates, she can prove it because she will be believed. She said these by email not by mouth, and we have her emails with us. Sadly we cannot present these emails here for everybody to see. On her threats to the hotel she said if she create a bad review like this, it will take our business down.
All our bookings are paid cash upon arrival. If there is any deposit made online, the balance is paid cash upon arrival. On her arrival she asked at the reception if the hotel can charge credit cards, otherwise if we cannot charge credit cards she is going to cancel the third night.
She was asked to fill a form to authorize us charging her credit card. When she saw we wanted her to fill another form, then she knew we cannot charge her card without her filling that form, and she decided to cancel the third night claiming that she can cancel the third night and we are not allowed to charge for no show because she know we are allowed to charge her for no show for the first night only.
She paid cash for her first night and second night. First night paid the on her arrival and second night paid the second day.
She said if we are going to charge her fir the 3rd night a no show, she will write a bad review and use the cash payment she made as a proof that we have overcharged her. She said she knows that the agent she has used allows charging for a no show for the first night only. So as long as she is canceling the 3rd night, the only way we can charge the third night is by charging the first night as a no show and using it to settle for the third night. So because she has paid for the first night she will use the receipt as the evidence for the payment of the third night (though not really paid) and this will create a proof to her agent that we have charged her twice.
We did not treat her booking as a no show in the website she used to book with us, because there is no way to do that in that website, however she launched a complaint and a bad review. Because she also launched a complaint, we were contacted via email by the website and we were asked to explain why we have treated this customer that way. This was a good time for us to present our evidence, and we were able to provide her emails to us, as evidence and her review was removed from that website because they saw she was manipulating us.
We were faced with a customer who uses trip advisor and other websites that reviews hotels to blackmail hotels to push for her requests and interests, threatening to do a bad review if her orders are not fulfilled regardless genuine business legal agreements she have with the hotel.
We accept true experience of our customers, being good or bad, but it is very important to be fair and present true account of events. Bad reviews of true account are not bad parse, we learn through them and they actually makes us more stronger, because each complaint is investigated and correction measures taken.
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.