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Holiday Wrecking Company With A Bad Reputation.
Member Name: malibu_jenny
Advantages: Easy to book through the website, low prices.
Disadvantages: No communication, no answer to phone messages or emails.
As usual, we needed a speedy online booking, but this time it was complicated by my overwhelming desire to stay in a certain hotel - the AC Malaga Palacio. I'd researched many, many hotels in Malaga during the planning stages of our trip and narrowed it down to this one. With good reviews on the trusty trip advisor and pretty much every other site, every vision I had of our holiday had come to involve this hotel and sitting by the rooftop pool at sunset. Sadly I hadn't done the same with the booking agencies and I chose to book it through Alpha Rooms at the cheapest price possible.
Alpha rooms promised instant confirmation on bookings, although this is refuted in the small print where they say they will confirm your booking within 48 hours. A few clicks and I was at a page where you could pay £5 extra to avoid any cancellation charges, should you change your booking. "Won't be needing that" I thought merrily, the short notice making me pretty certain this was what I wanted. Click, click, commitment from me, none from Alpha Rooms. Despite promises of 'instant confirmation' all over the website, all I got was a message that they would confirm in 24 hours and then they didn't.
At first I was patient, but we were travelling in less than a fortnight (remember this point), they had my card details and I had nothing. As mentioned, I wanted this extremely popular hotel and the key problem was that while I waited I couldn't book the hotel through any other agent in case the booking still went ahead. Caught in the middle, I tried to ring them on every number I could lay my hands on. I sat in phone queues, left multiple answerphone messages and emailed them. I began leaving irate (and increasingly rude) comments on their website asking them to contact me. I emailed ABTA to check them and I began to research them thoroughly online. After 5 days I considered cancelling my card so that I could move on and rebook.
Checking online made me kick myself for not having done it sooner. Numerous sites (just one of which was holidaywatchdog.com) warned against booking with this company. Most vocal was the forum on http://www.holidaytruths.co.uk/viewtopic.php?f=36& amp;t=89961 with quotes such as:
"The receptionist herself never rated Alpharooms, and told me it was by no means the "first" problem they have had over room bookings with them."
"Alpharooms never even had the decency to return the 'phone calls, after all the promises - total disgrace."
"Warning to those booking with alpha-beds alpharooms or alpha anything, you may not get what you pay for. My advice? Pay a little extra and book directly with the hotels."
"They blamed another agency for the problem, stating they were were basically "middlemen"."
Having read the horrendous stories of people who'd been stranded in cities for the night when Alpha Rooms hadn't made the booking, families who were shipped out more than 20miles from their chosen resort to rundown hotels because the company 'reserved the right to substitute alternative accommodation' and so on, I was in state of horror.
After 7 days, I received an email from Alpha Rooms as follows:
"THIS IS AN AUTOMATICALLY GENERATED EMAIL. PLEASE DO NOT REPLY. PLEASE SEND ANY QUERIES YOU MAY HAVE TO RESERVATIONS@ALPHAROOMS.COM
I'm sorry but we cannot confirm your accommodation booking as the room(s) are unavailable.
If you have also booked any other components with us such as flights, transfers, insurance or a car hire, these too will be unconfirmed.
Therefore the entire itinerary has subsequently been cancelled."
Although I was relieved to be free of the booking, I was also angry. This company ruined my excited holiday anticipation, caused me a lot of stress and a huge phone bill from leaving messages they never returned. How would I have felt if I'd believed them when they said they'd confirm and just trustingly waited? Worse still, what if I had booked the entire holiday with them?
It may be that you're here, looking at this review out of general interest. You could be checking out Alpha Rooms before you book through them (I certainly hope so!). More likely however, they've taken your money / card details and done nothing and you, like I was, are desperately hunting for a way to contact them. So, here's everything I found on them and may you have better luck getting any communication out of this awful company. I've included the geographical phone numbers.
Alpha International Accommodation Ltd
ABTA Number: K9822 / Y0338
261-263 Ecclesall Road
Telephone: 0871 911 0030
Fax: 0114 268 1835
Also trading as: Alpha Rooms
Alpharooms: 0871 9110030
Customer services: 0114 2515036
Also: 020 02009366
Also for: 0870 0670511
Looking back on this, I'm so grateful that my experience wasn't worse. The hotel we booked was lovely, but it was exactly the kind of snooty place that would have turned us away if there had been a problem with the booking.
I ended up booking through Rooms.Net for £10 more. Believe me, the fantastic service from this company was worth far more than that. Instant confirmation, phone answered straightaway with no automated service, resending of the itinerary when I had computer problems and easy check-in due to a good arrangement with the hotel.
Sometimes you get what you pay for.
Summary: I'm grateful my experience wasn't worse.