So, if you’re looking for an affordable vacation or even just a cheap hotel deal, there are plenty of sites that are looking to help, including Agoda. But is Agoda legit?
With such cheap rates compared to elsewhere, is this site too good to be true? Let’s dive in and find out more!
Is Agoda legit?
The simple answer is, yes, Agoda is legit. It’s a legally registered business and a part of the Booking empire. The reason a lot of people are asking this question is that Agoda us not entirely upfront with its taxes and fees which aren’t included in the face value price that many people believe is “all-inclusive”.
Admittedly, this is underhand, as very few places operate in this way nowadays, so the assumption is that the price you see is the price you’ll pay. So, Agoda seems to be taking advantage of this assumption, leaving many customers confused and either unable or unwilling to pay the extra amount.
Just because a business is legit doesn’t mean that you should use it. There are plenty of legitimate businesses that operate in sneaky ways or simply aren’t upfront about what they’re doing. It’s not illegal – all of this information is in the terms and conditions of Agoda, but when was the last time you actually read the T&Cs all the way through? I know I don’t do it often enough!
Is Agoda a travel agent?
Technically speaking, Agoda is an online travel agency or OTA. This means that it’s essentially a storefront for hotels and holidays all around the world.
So, Agoda works as a middleman to connect hotels with consumers in one convenient search engine-style package.
It’s important to remember that your booking isn’t with Agoda, it’s with the holiday provider or hotel itself. This means that Agoda isn’t responsible for your booking which can be frustrating if something goes wrong and you’re trying to get answers.
Unlike an in-person travel agent who might help you get your issue resolved with the hotel or package provider, Agoda is under no obligation to do so.
It’s well worth checking out the prices that the hotel you’re looking at is charging on its own website to see how much of a difference it is and see if they’ll price match the Agoda rate to be on the safe side and avoid unwanted fees.
Are my bookings safe with Agoda?
This is a great question and the answer is kind of vague. As the bookings aren’t really with Agoda in the first place, it depends on who you’re actually booking through instead. I
t’s hidden in the T&Cs when you go to book a trip that Agoda is a “booking facilitation service” and all bookings are made with the travel operator listed on the page, normally the hotel itself.
As your bookings aren’t actually made with Agoda, just facilitated by them, the safety of your trip lies solely with the vendor themselves.
Is Agoda a trustworthy operator?
So, if you’re reading this, you’ve already read the bulk of this guide. That means that you already know that Agoda has a lot of sly tricks that it uses to make bookings that appear cheaper than they actually are.
This has led to a fundamental lack of trust in Agoda from many travelers and holidaymakers.
However, if you go into your booking with eyes open, knowing about the extra taxes, fees, and setup of the business, then you know fully what you’re getting yourself in for. If this is the case, then you can broadly trust Agoda as a website.
Why is Agoda So Cheap?
First things first, why is Agoda so cheap? It’s almost suspicious, right? Well, as the experts at Ask About Guide have pointed out, the reason Agoda is so cheap comes down to three main things – their commission process, the taxes, and the business model.
Fundamentally, Agoda reduces the amount of commission it earns on every sale, passing on the savings to the customer.
This works because they’ll agree to a set commission percentage with the hotel or holiday company before they start selling. Normally this is around 20%, but Agoda itself will only take 15%, passing on a 5% saving to the customer.
This is not new in the travel space. You’ll often find travel agents lower their personal commissions near the end of the month or the end of the quarter if they need to hit specific targets.
The other reason that Agoda appears so cheap is that they don’t include taxes in their online prices. So, unlike many other online comparison hotel sites, the price you see is actually not the price that you pay.
This is pretty sneaky and the taxes can vary depending on the destination and hotel. It also sets Agoda apart from a lot of booking sites, even Booking.com, which – for all its faults – does tend to include taxes in their face value rates.
Finally, another reason that Agoda is so cheap is that it’s actually a part of the Booking.com family together with sites like VRBO.
This means that it’s part of a huge brand that has great deals with a lot of hotels and resorts all around the world.
The fact that you can make a deal with one company and have your property show up on multiple well-known sites is a huge deal for hotels and resorts, especially big-brand places.
So Agoda tends to get bulk rate pricing through its relationships with other parts of the Booking.com empire.
Is Agoda Reliable?
While Agoda is a part of the Booking.com empire, there are plenty of reviews from customers that state Agoda is not exactly reliable.
From stories about being charged extra taxes and fees to being told that the prices for their trip had gone up while en route to the airport, there are a lot of horror stories out there.
That being said, as a site, Agoda, on the whole, is as reliable as places like Trivago and Booking.com.
Of course, it’s always safer to buy your accommodation through the hotel website itself, and if a deal seems too good to be true, then it probably is.
Why do people say that Agoda isn’t reliable?
The main issue that people seem to have with Agoda is that the prices, fees, and taxes are not clear and upfront. As we’ve already mentioned, the price you see is not the price you pay with Agoda, but if you don’t know this before you book then you’re in for a rude awakening.
Another key reason is that their customer service is famously awful within travel spheres. In fact, at the moment it only has a 1.4 out of five rating on TrustPilot. If something goes wrong with your trip or booking, you’re kind of on your own with Agoda.
Online comparison sites and responsibility
In recent years, many people have had issues with sites like Agoda and Booking.com from hidden fees to reservations not existing to the hotel somehow being sold out after you make the booking. When this happens, it’s really hard to get your money back from many of these sites.
According to Dayna at Happily Ever Travels, the buck gets passed between these sites and the hotels as the payment is kind of in limbo until a resolution is found.
The hotel can’t refund you because they only get the payment around 48 hours before you arrive, but Agoda or Booking.com won’t pay either because the paperwork is now with the hotel.
These sites are just middlemen at their core, so they bear basically zero responsibility. It can be really frustrating if you’re not aware of this, but they connect consumers with hotels rather than managing any bookings or resolutions themselves.
This makes sites like Agoda seem unreliable and gain a bad reputation. However, the site itself is fairly reliable if nothing goes wrong with your trip and you know about the additional taxes and fees.
What is Agoda’s Customer Service Like?
We’ve touched on this briefly, but Agoda’s customer service is pretty horrendous. The reviews do tend to speak for themselves, and even as seasoned travelers who take reviews with a pinch of salt, it’s hard to ignore the seemingly universal panning that Agoda’s customer service gets.
That being said, a lot of the negative comments and reviews revolve around a lack of information or clarity about extra taxes and fees or the fact that Agoda is a middleman and stops being responsible for your vacation the moment your booking goes through.
Agoda’s online help center
If you have a run-of-the-mill query then Agoda does have a pretty comprehensive online help center that’s full of frequently asked questions. This should absolutely be your first port of call before trying to contact their customer service team.
A lot of major questions can be answered using this self-service portal, which can safe customers a lot of time and hassle overall. In terms of reducing customer service calls and messages, having an up-to-date self-service help center is a great idea on Agoda’s part.
That being said, with generic questions come generic answers, and if you’re actually having issues with your booking, you’re probably going to need specific help.
There are mixed reviews when it comes to Agoda’s response times. While some report that the customer service is speedy and helpful, the majority of reviews say that the waiting times were really long, they didn’t get responses, or the responses they did get weren’t helpful at all.
As with any customer service issue, the response times normally correlate to the complexity of your issue. If it’s an easy fix, the response is likely to be quick and friendly, however, if it takes time and effort to figure out, or you’re booking during peak times, it’s going to be a longer journey.
Responsibility and resolution
Again, one of the main things that you need to remember about Agoda’s customer service team is that there isn’t a whole lot that they can actually do.
As a middleman system, Agoda holds nearly no responsibility for bookings made on its site, so if something does go wrong, there’s very little that the customer service team can do.
Of course, as with any customer service team member, it’s important to remember that most of the time it’s not the individual customer service agent’s fault that your booking got messed up.
Holiday stress is real and frustrating, but remember there’s a human on the other end of that webchat or phone call!
Is The Agoda Website Safe?
From a technical standpoint, yes the Agoda website is safe to use. They seem to use payment protection tools during the booking process to protect from scams and data misuse. Agoda also has an app that is equally safe for people looking to book holidays and hotels.
So, while many people might debate whether Agoda is legit, reliable, or just plain good quality, the website and apps are both safe to book through when it comes to fraud.
If you believe that Booking.com, Priceline, Open Table, or Kayak are safe to book through, they belong to the same overarching company as Agoda and will likely have the same technical protection.
All in all, yes, the Agoda website is safe to use.
My Final Thoughts on Agoda
All in all, Agoda is a legit online travel booking website, but it’s not without its sneaky quirks. Extra fees and lack of responsibility post-booking have rubbed a lot of customers the wrong way over the years, leading to a lot of people labeling it as a scam and the site ratings taking a nosedive.
Have you ever booked through Agoda? Let us know your experiences and opinions on the site in the comments below!
So, to round things off:
- Remember that Agoda does not include many taxes and fees.
- Bookings are made directly with the hotel or package provider, so check them out before you book.
- Book on a credit card to protect your payments in the long run.
- While Agoda is a legit website, it isn’t always upfront about prices or operating practices.
- Agoda is a part of the Booking.com empire, so can offer cheaper rates thanks to its connections.