Learn from me. Amoma.com is a scam.
About ten seconds after I submitted my hotel booking with Amoma.com I realized it was a scam. The next month proved that my dread was justified. I write this post not out of spite, but to hopefully protect consumers from a scam company that reputable businesses (Kayak.com) partner with.
On July 20th, I got a call from my boss. I needed to be in San Francisco on July 23rd. Great. Fantastic. San Francisco is wonderful in the summer. The downside was that the client was in the financial district, and I had a hotel budget of $280 a night (pre-tax). That may seem like a lot — and it is — but it isn’t in San Francisco. Especially with just 3 days’ notice. Typically, my company has negotiated rates with major hotel providers. However, with the short notice the hotels were already full at that rate. Instead, here is what I saw on my company’s internal travel site:
I adjusted the filters and looked everywhere. After about 3 hours searching I couldn’t find a hotel for under $280 anywhere in the city. I checked AirBnb, but with a late flight, I wouldn’t be able to make check-in. I remembered Kayak.com, the travel search site. I searched there and perfecto. They had a booking through Amoma.com that at Hotel Abri within my budget.
At first I thought it was too good to be true (it was). After all, I had never heard of Amoma.com. I searched for reviews and found a handful of negative complaints. However, the complaints were mostly about lack of transparency on taxes or upsells. I wasn’t really concerned about that. Besides, Kayak.com partnered with them. Kayak was reputable. I had used them before. They wouldn’t vouch for scam companies.
The booking process was normal. But for some reason, when I confirmed my booking, I thought to myself, “Crap. This has to be a scam.”
Confirming the scam
Amoma.com instantly sent me a voucher.
Moments after I booked, I called Hotel Abri (who was fantastic through all of this) to ask if they received my booking. They did not. I was about to panic, but I checked the reservation at Amoma.com’s website and it said bookings could take 24 hours to enter the hotel’s system. On a whim, I decided to call Hotel Abri again. This time I asked if they had any open rooms for the week. They did not.
Trying to stop Amoma’s Scam
Realizing that I had been taken, I called American Express to figure out my options. The customer service representative said that I was in luck. Essentially, new vendor transactions must be confirmed through a back-end process. Since I called American Express within 15 minutes of booking the transaction probably didn’t happen yet. I could change my account number and Amoma.com would attempt to charge an account that didn’t exist. Thinking the crisis was avoided, I went ahead and made the account number change and proceeded to make new plans.
A day later I checked my American Express account. The prevention failed. Amoma.com charged my account nearly $1,300 for a reservation that didn’t exist.
Amoma has business model built on scam
It was now about 36 hours since my mistake. As a last-ditch effort, I called Hotel Abri to see if the reservation went through. Again, the customer service representative couldn’t find it in their system. I emailed them over the voucher that Amoma.com sent. Thirty minutes later the Manager called me back with the following news:
· They could not locate my reservation
· The reason they could not locate my reservation was because Amoma.com has zero access to Hotel Abri’s internal booking system
· This means that Amoma.com is literally just selling .pdfs with no redeemable value
· This is not the first time it has happened; they have repeatedly demanded that Amoma quit selling fake reservations to their hotel
Opening a Dispute Claim Against Amoma.com
After being on hold with their customer service number for 75 minutes, reaching out to silence on social media, I filed a fraud claim with American Express. I sent over the supporting documents. I was told I’d find out in a few weeks.
About 5 days later I get a call from Amoma. The man wanted to know why I was contesting the charge. (Funny how they’re responsive after you pull the money). I explained that they sold me a worthless .pdf. He claimed that it wasn’t Amoma’s fault, but rather a third party booking system. This is of course probably nonsense. The man claimed if I sent over my alternative reservation receipt (or bank statement (WTF?), they would refund me the money. I sent over my receipts (blacked-out with personal information). And two additional follow up emails. That was the last I heard from Amoma.com
On August 27, I received a credit from American Express for $986. Per American Express, Amoma.com, “have not given us the sufficient information we need to resolve the matter.” I’m assuming this means they haven’t responded to their emails or calls. I’m still out $298.4 for a “cancellation” fee, even though I didn’t cancel anything. Amoma.com sold me a worthless hotel voucher. I’m working with American Express on that right now.
October 2017 Update: I received a full credit from American Express. I was made whole.
American Express has been very helpful in resolving the dispute
Hotel Abri was very helpful in trying to track down the fake reservation
Amoma.com is a garbage company with a scammy business model and you should avoid them like the plague