(March 2019 trip. Better late (blog post) than never…)
A few days before I left for Algeria, an unexpected bill popped up because why not. This is Spinster after all. 😑 So instead of the original accommodation I booked with my flight, and to keep a few coins, I decided to book cheaper accommodation at Hotel Samir via Booking.com.
After the interrogation, a police officer hailed me a taxi that took me to the hotel. I got there and the first floor was okay – quite narrow with just a reception desk and 1 couch, but I figured there was more upstairs. One of the front desk staff spoke enough English to tell me that my name was there, but my credit card was declined.
*record scratch* Pardon?
“Impossible”, I said. “My credit card company knows I’m out of the country and there aren’t any foreign transaction fees. Please check your system again, and I’ll even call the card company to confirm this.”
I called the company in front of the desk and confirmed that the card was available for use, and nothing was keeping the hotel from booking me.
I also called Booking.com to find out why my booking was being rejected. The representative with whom I spoke couldn’t really figure it out either, and told me to re-book and see what happens in 24 hours.
I offered to pay with my credit card right then and there. All of a sudden I’m told by the front desk staff,
“Our credit card machine isn’t working. You’ll have to pay in cash.”
(Here the hell we go…)
“I’ll have to go to the bank. Where’s your nearest ATM?”
They gave me directions to the nearest ATM, which turned out to be 1 mile away, each way. Now, I walk a lot for exercise so I normally don’t mind doing that. But after hours of traveling, customs, pain, and a f****** interrogation, I didn’t feel like walking that far to an ATM. They held my luggage and I went and of course, as is my luck, the ATM was down and I couldn’t take out any money.
I returned and told front desk staff what happened. They assumed I wasn’t bulls***ting, said I could stay the night and to try again in the morning. In the meantime, my room was located on the top floor and there isn’t an elevator… even though an elevator is listed as one of the hotel’s amenities on Booking.com.
(Hotel staff carried my luggage to my room so I guess that helped a tiny bit.)
The room was so-so. Uncomfortable bed; broken toilet seat; shower looked to be in poor condition. All great for my pain condition. 😑
The next day, after more calls to both Booking.com and my credit card company to confirm that it wasn’t me with the problem, I decided that if my card continued being declined, I was leaving and booking elsewhere. I found another ATM that worked and took out enough cash to pay for 2 nights at Hotel Samir, just in case my card was declined again. The card was declined at least twice more; I got fed up and checked out the next morning.
Come to find out later on, Hotel Samir uses a company in another country (I think it’s Spain) to take payments and for some reason, the company kept declining my card. The hotel also lists a credit card machine as one of its amenities, but it actually doesn’t have one and, if your booking is declined, demands cash upfront. This apparently happens/has happened to other hotel guests there.
And guess where I booked my new accommodation? The same place I’d originally booked when I first bought my plane ticket 6 months beforehand. I wish I’d never changed my accommodation from there in the first place but, as you’ll see later, I’m glad I wound up booking it again after all.
Then came the crash. Stay tuned…