Two years ago, I tried to use the  travel booking engine, Agoda.  I had such a poor experience that it prompted me to write a piece on “Why I Would Not Book with Agoda Booking Engine Again“.  It turned out that others had related experiences and shared them in the comments section.  Their customer service is virtually non-existent when you run into problems.

Is Agoda a legitimate company?

My first consideration when I decided to use Agoda was whether it is a legitimate company.  Since Priceline acquired Agoda back 2007 and Priceline is relatively well-known, Agoda is legitimate by all accounts.  The next question is, “Is Agoda reliable?”  Agoda failed me big time on this test.   I’m not going to risk my travel plans and not have a place to stay, even if they offer a great deal.

Another Anecdotal Story

Last time I shared my own experience with Agoda.  This time, I recently booked a stay at a hotel and knew that many of the area hotels were sold out (or listed with higher rates) due to some events happening in the area.  While I always tend to book the most flexible rate,  I made a pre-paid booking since I knew my plans won’t change.

By the time our flight arrived and we got to the hotel, it was close to midnight.  A manager on duty helped us with our check-in.  Two separate conversations came up.  As the manager helped process our check-in, a guy walked up to the check-in line and instead of waiting to be helped, he directly addressed the manager and yelled out to ask if there are any more rooms. The manager politely responded that they are sold out, and he left immediately.

The second conversation involved two men (dressed smartly in business suits) who were being helped by the check-in staff at the counter next to ours.  While the manager was helping us, the staff came over to the manager for some help.

Since this happened in front of us, I couldn’t help overhear the conversation.  It went something like this:

Staff: I can’t find their reservations at all in the system.  What should I do?

Manager: How did they book the reservation?

Staff:  They said they booked their reservation on Agoda.

Manager:  They will have to re-book (in a calm, “there’s nothing we can do about it since their reservations in not their systems”).  I’m sure he meant they need to book elsewhere since the hotel is sold out.

I knew the rate for that particular night was up through the roof for all area hotels.  If those guests had thought they might save money using Agoda, I suspect it ended up being a very expensive lesson learned.

Bottom Line

The staff went back to explain to the party and they were still at the check-in desk when we left with our room keys. I suspect that they did exactly what happened to me:  They booked through Agoda because it was showing availability even though it was sold out everywhere else.  My guess is that they ended up having to book elsewhere – a major inconvenience at that hour.

While Agoda messed with my booking, I didn’t have to find out the hard way.  I got to see first-hand how it totally screwed up someone else’s reservation at check-in.

Is Agoda a legitimate company?  Sure.   Is it reliable?  I wouldn’t bet my money on it.

If you are considering booking through Agoda:  Buyer Beware.

Did you run in to any issues at check-in on a reservation booked through Agoda?