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Ash
Ash, Solicitor
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 10916
Experience:  Solicitor with 5+ years experience
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We have a Holiday Letting Business, and have been the

Resolved Question:

We have a Holiday Letting Business, and have been the victims of an extremely well thought out and perpetrated fraud.
This has been contrived in such a way as to make it appear that we have attempted to commit fraud, whereas we are, in fact, one of the victims.
This has resulted in severe damage to our business reputation and possible financial loss.
Can you recommend someone on your site, please.
Thank you.
Submitted: 12 months ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Ash replied 12 months ago.

Hello my name is ***** ***** I will help you,

Could you please explain your situation a little more?
Alex

Customer: replied 12 months ago.
Here is the chronology:-
Monday 13th June, 2016 at 15.26.35 we received a request via Booking.com for accommodation as follows.
Check-in 14/06/2016 - Check- out 20/06/2016.
I Bedroom apartment; 4 persons; cost £1100.00.
13/06/2016:- a request, via Booking.com, from the "booker" to pay in advance; giving the last four numbers of the card that he registered with Booking.com. It was not us who sought payment, or initiated the transaction.
We passed this request on First Data Merchant Solutions (FDMS), "Person not present" payment processors. As this was our first transaction with them, we were unable to make the system work, and sought their help and guidance.
A person called Rees (I believe) accessed the same Booking.com page that we had in front of us, presumably assessed it as a professional, and obtained authorisation as provided by Booking.com and the booker, and gave us instruction how to take the payment as requested by the booker.
FDMS subsequently sent us a bill, including a charge for an authorisation fee, which authorisation obviously matched the details provided by the guest. In this statement it said "Status: Approved", Approval Code 307764.
"Authorisation Fee: This is charged in respect of each electronic request for Authorisation of a Card Transaction"
I think it a reasonable interpretation that since this fee was charged, FDMS received authorisation, and therefore the payment was legally made.
If a fraud has been committed, we are not the initiators.
All I am basically saying is that we are totally innocent of any attempted wrongdoing in this matter.
We have, at all times, acted in the utmost good faith, and placed our trust in the guest and the supposed experts; the name and card details were given by Booking.com, and the payment was taken in good faith, using these details.
The payment went through.
The guests turned up, stayed for the full period.
In the meantime the payment duly appeared in our account.
After the guests had left, they posted a review on the Booking.com website, giving us a rating of 10/10.
You cannot post/publish these reviews unless you have actually stayed, and Booking.com is satisfied that this has occurred. We have a written communication from Booking.com that this is the case.
Subsequently we received a letter from FDMS withdrawing our facilities, demanding a "chargeback" (£1100.00) and various financial penalties. These include a £200 termination fee + remaining monthly fees of £24 for 10 months.
In this letter FDMS said that they had reported us to both Mastercard and Visa and basically blacklisted us/reported us as “suspect”.
They quoted, as their justification for this, various conditions from their Merchant Agreement and various conditions thereto attached.
I have checked back through all correspondence with them (all via e-mail) and can find no evidence them ever having provided sight of their terms&conditions prior to the electronic signing of the agreement.
Expert:  Ash replied 12 months ago.

Have you reported this to the Police?

Customer: replied 12 months ago.
No. Was more concerned about FDMA and their accusations.
Customer: replied 12 months ago.
There didn't/doesn't seem much point as the original booking was made from Australia, purportedly by someone representing a company called Alstrom.
Customer: replied 12 months ago.
Don't drive yourself mad on this; just have a think about it from the legal standpoint, and come back to me. I have initiated the FCA Complaint process anyway. It's just a bit annoying that they (FDMS) keep trying to take the £1100.00 from the business account, even though I have cancelled the Direct Debit I had with them, and informed them of this. I have also put my bank in the picture.
Expert:  Ash replied 12 months ago.

Just to be clear, they walked you through the process for this transaction?

Customer: replied 12 months ago.
absolutely, word by word, step by step, and they had access to precisely the same virtual terminal page that we were loking/using to make the transaction.
Customer: replied 12 months ago.
34;looking at/using".................
Expert:  Ash replied 12 months ago.

So in effect the system as it was designed for, didnt worK?

Customer: replied 12 months ago.
We used their virtual terminal under their guidance, and the payment went through. This included obtaining something called an "authorisation" relating to the card. The payment went through. After the guests had stayed the full term, given a review, etc; it would appear that the card must have been reported as suspect. Why, therefore, were we charged an "authorisation fee" relating to the card? Yes..................we relied on them and their system to take payment; the payment was subsequently deemed to have been fraudulently taken by us.
Expert:  Ash replied 12 months ago.

Indeed. This sounds like breach of contract because the goods and services provided did not correspond to description and they failed to act with all reasonable skill and care.

I would not be bullied by them, the fees claimed are below £10,000 so it would be a small claim. They cant claim expensive legal fees etc

But you should refuse to pay on the basis they didnt do exactly what they were meant to do.

This is breach of contract.

Can I clarify anything for you about this today please?
Alex

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