Reports of payment failures in Europe and Asia have triggered a potential legal battle for major online travel agency Booking.com, as Japanese hoteliers gear up to file a class-action lawsuit against the platform.
Over the past few months, concerns have arisen among hotel owners who claim that Booking.com has been sluggish in transferring customer payments promptly. This delay, they say, has left hotel bills unsettled for extended periods, ranging from days to even months.
Hirotaro Kato, the attorney spearheading the class-action lawsuit, revealed that approximately 40 individuals have sought his counsel regarding Booking.com’s payment failures. Three of them have decided to participate in the lawsuit, with Kato planning to file the legal action later this week.
Among the potential plaintiffs is Masahiko Matsuo, the head of Kazaya Group, a company managing several hotels in central Japan. Matsuo disclosed that his hotels encountered payment delays starting from June. The situation escalated when Booking.com informed him, via email, that revenue from the end of June and throughout July would be delayed until August due to system maintenance.
For hotels heavily dependent on Booking.com for reservations, this delay meant a month of no income for Matsuo’s establishments. He expressed frustration, stating, “They didn’t end up paying for our July revenue until the very end of August. I have still yet to receive payment for our September revenue, yet they continue to charge us commission fees for using the platform.”
According to Matsuo, Booking.com currently owes his company approximately ¥6 million.
Hirotaro Kato emphasized the severity of the issue, reflecting the concerns of multiple hoteliers. As the lawsuit unfolds, it raises questions about the operational transparency and financial dealings of major online travel agencies.