Online booking provided disastrous accommodation

POSTCARD: Durban's beachfront has helped peg the city as a summer destination in the minds of tourists -but it has\nmore to offer . Pic: Sydney Seshibedi. 22/06/2002. © Sunday Times.\n\nSEA CHANGE: Lisebo Mashimbye's holiday in Durban was ruined when she didn't get the apartment she was promised. \n\nThe Golden Mile: Durban beach front.\n\nThe tourism industry is looking forward to next week. Business Day 25 April 2008, page 4.
POSTCARD: Durban's beachfront has helped peg the city as a summer destination in the minds of tourists -but it has\nmore to offer . Pic: Sydney Seshibedi. 22/06/2002. © Sunday Times.\n\nSEA CHANGE: Lisebo Mashimbye's holiday in Durban was ruined when she didn't get the apartment she was promised. \n\nThe Golden Mile: Durban beach front.\n\nThe tourism industry is looking forward to next week. Business Day 25 April 2008, page 4.

When Lisebo Mashimbye shopped around for her December holiday accommodation, she found her experience stress-free. But her holiday ended up being a complete disaster.

When Lisebo Mashimbye shopped around for her December holiday accommodation, she found her experience stress-free. But her holiday ended up being a complete disaster.

Mashimbye surfed the safarinow.com website in November in search of a holiday resort at a reasonable price.

A few days later she received an e-mail confirming her accommodation at Summersands Holiday Apartments in Durban.

She then transferred the required money to safarinow. com.

Mashimbye said signs of disaster started showing two weeks after she had paid for her accommodation.

"I received an e-mail from Belinda Govender at Zimbali Tours. She said she would facilitate the accommodation, and not safarinow.com.

"But when I checked safari now.com's website I discovered that my accommodation was still reserved at Summersands, and I left things as they were.

"In the last 14 days before taking occupation Govender and her associate bombarded me with information discouraging me from taking the accommodation," she said.

Two days before taking occupation, Govender's associate told Mashimbye the apartment that was reserved for her had a sewerage problem.

She was offered an alternative at a "ridiculous" cost of R8 400.

Mashimbye nevertheless went to Summersands and discovered no reservation had been made for her party.

Govender was also nowhere to be found to show them to their alternative accommodation.

When they found the building, it turned out to be a dilapidated building frequented by sex workers.

Zimbali's Govender said everything had been in place until the Windermere apartment developed a plumbing problem.

"Mashimbye refused to cancel her trip or take the refund, and at that stage I could only secure a one-and-a-half apartment at the Esplanade in Durban.

She said Mashimbye accepted the new booking and was fully aware that it was a one-and- a-half apartment.

"I immediately offered her a refund of R5 000, notwithstanding the fact that I had already paid for the apartment.

"I have even offered her future accommodation to the value of R7000 at my apartment at Summersands, but she rejected both offers with the insinuation that my actions were racially motivated and that I was a dishonest and unscrupulous."

Govender said she took offence to these allegations because she has an "impeccable" record with all her affiliates, including safarinow.com, and all her guests have good things to say about her service.

"I am now prepared to write off this incident as a bad experience and will offer Mashimbye a full refund provided she unconditionally and unequivocally agrees to stop defaming me, my business and safarinow.com," Govender said.

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