I had a guest from Booking.com book check-in for Thanksgiving day the night before. I explained we could not have it ready on Thanksgiving and after consulting with housekeeping let them know that Saturday would be the earliest they could check in. They were from Brazil supposedly and claimed they spoke no English whatsoever (something I now suspect is not true). I felt weird about this late notice because of the holiday, no English and why they suddenly needed a place last-minute but then said they were fine with Saturday instead. If not an emergency then why the last-second inquiry for the following day?
They could not speak by phone so I had to spend several hours that night translating all correspondence into Portuguese (thank God for Google Translate!). I charged their Brazilian credit card the full amount (as Booking.com is the only site where we have to handle payment and charge the card info ourselves) and sent a contract Wednesday night. Come Black Friday I still had no response and they claimed they did not receive the contract despite not mentioning it in the 48 hours after sending where I told them they need to sign it to keep the booking. I know they did and was willing to just cancel (actually hoping to) but then they immediately returned it last-second. They said they'd be in around 6:30 PM Saturday evening and I wondered how I was going to give them a tour and explain all crucial things using Google Translate in person.
They arrived and I greeted them but "Fagner", the booking party and credit cardholder, was not there. The other two said he would be coming Wednesday (my first red flag). We require the responsible party to be there or to designate someone in advance who would be. I bent over backwards to go over everything with them and translate all into Google for them to read. Now I feel foolish because in retrospect it seems like they didn't really seem to care to read it and said they understood most sort of dismissively, but maybe because they really did speak English and just enjoyed watching me jump thru hoops.
Flash forward to the following Friday night before check-out. I sent a checkout greeting and reminder of what to do, and even revised and reformatted my check-out sheet and printed it out in Portuguese for them, reminding they needed to do and check off each item, sign their name and leave the pool and mail keys there. Usually I call guests the night before but again, no English for telephone communication.
The next day upon check-out inspection they left every light on that was there upon check-in (even though turning off the lights is actually on the checkout sheet). I can tell because even a special atmospheric light no one uses that I left on for check-in was still on in a room that appeared to be unused. There was supposed to be three younger men but the only sign of use was a couple tiny items in the kitchen, the master bedsheets and one used hand towel and one used bath towel. Nothing else appeared to be even touched. I was mift they ignored the check-out list but glad the place was in such good shape at least. I immediately sent them a thank you e-mail with their $300 damage deposit refund. Now I regret being so prompt.
The very next day I get a notice from Square (who I used to process this card because PayPal wanted this Brazilian customer to open a PayPal account, provide date of birth, etc. as they do with many in France and Square did not -- now I maybe see why) that "Fagner was unaware of the charge on his card for $1,241.30" (total w/rent. cleaning, deposit and all associated fees). I received just $1,205 into my bank account after processing fees were taken. I have never had a chargeback ever in all my properties over 14 years and do not believe the cardholder is a victim but instead the perpetrator, or at least in on it, to avoid payment.
I have filed a dispute with all info (correspondence, Booking.com official reservation info and signed contract) I have. I have never had to ask for photo ID before but now I guess I must (in advance and again upon arrival) to prove the cardholder is the guest. But I am not confident that if it is the cardholder's bank that makes the decision for their own customer (even in their attempt to steal by committing fraud) that they will rule fairly in my favor in this case. It is obvious this is fraud (aside from the documentation I provided) because:
A) if the card was stolen then it would have been reported and the charge not gone thru.
B) if only the card info was stolen then the cardholder (if innocent) would not have waited until just hours right after the guests checked out of our resort to claim ignorance and report the charge. They might have discovered it anytime in the week before or after, but not right at check out.
C) if the cardholder was a victim the thieves wouldn't be the ones who reported it stolen and the thieves would not use stolen card info for accommodations within which they have over a week and a much higher risk to be discovered before checking out when the cardholder discovered it and reported it stolen. They would have made a one-time purchase before the cardholder discovered the charge.
Now I am awaiting verdict and meanwhile Square withdrew the full $1,241.30 I charged them, not just the $1,205.00 they deposited into my bank account.