I recently had a woman book 4 beds for 2 nights 3 weeks in advance. She completely filled in our on-line reservation form including all of her credit card info. Our website states that before you book to read the House Policies which states that we have a 48 hour cancellation policy. I sent her an email confirmation stating again to read the House Polices and stating again that we have a 48 hour cancellation policy. She was a no-show and I charged her card for the 8 beds. She disputed it on her credit card claiming fraud. The money was snatched from my bank account but returned the next business day after I provided documentation to show that she booked and I confirmed.
Here's the rub: She is allowed 60 more days to contest the charge. There is a loophole for Visa cardholders that if you (hostel/B&B owner) do not have a guest check a "box" on your website that states that the guest "accepts the terms and conditions", then that gives them a way our of paying you. Inspite of the fact that your cancellation policy is clearly stated on your website and confirmations. We are a small 16 bed boutique hostel and do not use a booking agent and we did not know about this loophole.
If you are not protecting yourself by having this acknowledgement of terms/policies then you are at risk. I ask the credit card company about what to do when I receive phone reservations and they stated that even then, you need to send a guest the terms/policies and have them sign and return to you. Otherwise you are leaving yourself open to guests that will book your beds, not show up (and you turned others away because you were booked solid) and cause you to be left holding an empty bag.
I am still fighting it and don't know how nasty it may get but I want to warn all of my fellow hostel owners that may be unaware.
Thanks for reading,