How do you tell what is a genuine booking enquiry?

Hi everyone

Our website (in English) offering painting courses is up and running. Our website (in French) offering English language courses has also gone live. However, we are not exactly overrun with enquiries as yet - it is early days. Therefore, we have set up one of the en suite bedrooms as chambre d'hote, and have registered with the local Tourist Office. I received the following email this morning, and have my doubts. What do you think?


Adresse : Place de la république, Boulevard Mitterrand

11 bp 475 Bamako 11

Téléphone : 0022 566 832 361


Je suis Mr THIERRY VIGNON je vous contacte afin de vous faire part de

mon intéressement pour votre location de votre bien pour une période

de 3 semaines à compter du 07 juillet 2012 pour mes petites vacances

étant donné que ma mission de travail prend fin bientôt .

Je désire avoir plus d'informations sur votre location a savoir une

bonne description des lieux et le tarif pour la période demandée.

N'hésitez pas à me contacter par si vous êtes intéressé par ma

proposition 0022 566 832 361 ou sur mon adresse e-mail:

Nous sommes au nombre de 2 mon épouse et moi.

Cependant je tiens a savoir si vous acceptez les paiements par

virement bancaire.

je suis dans l'attente de vous lire


The scammers/spammers never stop. Here is a link to a member's discussion about the email she received (allegedly) from EDF. My golden rule - never click on the link!

Hi all,

recently I was sent a cheque for £14,000 from the Barclays Muswell Hill account of the Moravain Church (they exist!). This was an (over)payment for a garden design course of two weeks for five people. The clients are based in South Africa, including Jude Richards of 234 church street,Pretoria,0002 South Africa

I have now found out the same thing has happened to another company running courses in France.

As my Granny always said, "If it looks too good to be true, it probably is!". The internet had not been invented in her day, but she seems to have seen it all coming.

Save your excitement for your real customers: this one's a scam. for more details if needed.

You could google him and 'phone the number, also see if the address exists with Google maps.

And only accept Paypal transfers. Dont give your bank account under any circumstance.

The people of Bamako are very poor but that is not to say they are all out to scam us.

I love the fact that it's only three weeks for les petites vacances, how many weeks does he have for les grandes vacances?

I have never had a problem with Paypal but my visitors are all honest Brits!

Sympathize with your problem of 'non-arriving guests', Wendy. We shut up shop in August 2010, after ten years, because of a total of five bookings for the year to date, the last three - all 'last minute', didn't show (and we had, in the meantime, turned away other bookings) We looked at each other on August 8th, when the last one rang (dinner booked and cooking) to say 'we have found somewhere else') and said 'S-- it, we're closed'. Our turnover that year was 800€ - for which one of us had to be around almost all the time in case of bookings.

As to 'guaranteeing deposits' - we would take only cash or a French cheque, or a UK cheque with a surcharge to cover transaction fees. That usually sorted out the scammers. Needless to say we did get the 'Professor of X' from Nigeria (et al) brinbging colleagues for 'a conference' and wanting 21 nights - etc etc. We ignored those, apart from one who sent a cheque (sterling) on a British company account. I rang the company - stolen chequebook! - and between us we strung the gentleman concerned along for sufficient time for the Thames Valley Police to catch him. (Mind you - he made the basic mistake of giving a postcode which indicated he was in the middle of a field owned by my great aunt!)

We came to France to run a B&B to 'tide us over' until pensions cut in. I would not do it again. Good luck to those who do so.

We run a small chambre d'hotes and regularly get requests from people who are 'arriving in France for a language course' or some such excuse, and need accommodation for a few days or even weeks. Invariably they ask for details even though all the details including costs are on the website. If you think about it logically, would you pay for a few days stay in a B&B with a bank transfer? No, of course you wouldn't. Anyone who is permanently resident anywhere can easily set up a Paypal account. If you are suspicious, and you should be, just ask them to email you two utility bills as proof of residence and let them know that you only accept full payment in cash on arrival. I am sure you will then either hear nothing further or get another email with a dodgy excuse as to why they can't do that.

I would say you can. The hotels I work in, many people pay cash, or by cheque, but we still tell them we NEED a cc number to "secure the booking".

Some receptionists even tell guests that the computer won't confirm the booking without one.

you migh never use, or need to use their number, but by them having handed the information over to you, they will most often refrain from taking the p1ss

Well I guesse not.

But I feel that it is pointless taking in starangers and doing all the work which is involved

without getting paid for it.
We have a credit card machine and an arrangement which in UK we called Mail order.

This is set up in conjunction with a buisness banking accountant and, for want of a better

description a card machine company. This company has the recources and the machines to

take the money for you and the bank.If, for instance you wish to take 50% of the total bill for a stay three months into the future you can use the machine to take the funds.You just need

the full credit card details.

I DO feel that there is no point in taking a deposit...OR a booking is you are going to allow it to be cancelled.....It is a 2 way promise to keep that room for those people.

I know have my cancellation policy on site.

Can you still ask them for their CC details even if you have no means of actually taking credit card payments?

I'd still say credit card numbers. Once someone gives you their number, if they think they're going to lose a deposit, they will cancel in time. They will think twice about stealing, trashing, or taking advantage of you if they know you still have their CC details.

By and large, we've been very lucky with our guests but I know what you mean, Barbara, having waited in all afternoon for one couple only for them to phone eventually, at 7pm, to say they weren't coming.

All you can do is take a deposit up front (I ask for mine to be paid at least two weeks before arrival) which is non-refundable except in exceptional circumstances (I had one couple who paid their deposit four months ahead for a cycling holiday and then the wife was seriously injured in a road accident: they cancelled a month ahead so of course I refunded their deposit). The difficulty is with people who book only a few days ahead, in which case I don't ask for a deposit as a posted cheque will not arrive in time for me to bank it before their arrival anyway . . . any suggestions to answer that one, anyone?

Sometimes a booking enquiry appears to be genuine....But, by gosh can you get messed


It is really a new fad that people just do not bother to say No thank you.

Booked something else.

Should enquirers be a little less selfish or is the buisness world only set up for those

who wear a steel overcoat?

What is wrong with being NICE?

Hi Finn,

Are you saying that a Bank transfer from England to France is not safe? We have taken a late booking and are about to give out our bank details for the transfer, now I am worried!! What would you suggest to be the safest way? We do not have an English Bank Account and I would rather not have to put an English cheque through my French account as I will lose money on the transaction!!

i have, in the past, turned someone down as a scam, only to have them arrive, and be very legit. Credit card details, if he is willing to provide you with that, he is ready to pay. Otherwise, as for payment in idvance. You have received very good advice here, especially from Finn, so I won't bore you with my two cents, and I know hotels differ from Chambre d'hotes, but to me, credit card details seal the deal

Yeh... let's hope they don't get a decent copywriter on the job... Besides if someone did pick up their account they obviously wouldn't pay the bill!

I work in advertisign as well, but there are clients I will not help. And certainly not for free. Good thing there are loop holes. Let's try and keep it that way. If they improve, it could cost us decent people dearly.

Here's one I got on 26th May. I copied the sentence "I will need you to tabulate and let me know the total run-down cost for 17Days" and Googled it - pages and pages of search results going back at least a year (different names and email addresses) and still containing the typo "17Days".
J'ai besoin de faire une réservation à votre place pour 3 personnes venant séjourner dans votre région pour 17jours, à partir de Juillet 20 à Août 6,2012.
J'aurai besoin de connaître vos tarifs par / nuit pour les 3 invités et je vais vous devez compiler et laissez-moi savoir le total run-down coût pour la période 17 jours à l'impôt et des réductions dans la monnaie euro, afin que nous puissions prendre des dispositions pour le paiement. Si vous n'avez pas la disponibilité au moment que nous demandons, s'il vous plaît laissez-moi savoir quand vous avez de préférence la disponibilité pour accueillir 3 adultes.
Ne me revenir rapidement.
I need to make a reservation at your place for 3 persons coming to stay in your region for 17Days, starting from July 20 to August 6,2012.
I will need to know your rates per / night for the 3 guests and I will need you to tabulate and let me know the total run-down cost for 17Days period with tax and discounts in Euro currency, so we can arrange for payment. If you do not have availability at the time we request,please let me know when you preferably have availability to accommodate 3 Adults.
Do get back to me quickly.

A career in advertising and marketing helps me to see room for improvement in every customer/supplier relationship... Even if it's crooked. I just thought there were some obvious loopholes in their approach... THey could reduce the cost of sales and maybe cut down on the number of staff they 'employ'.

But I do like the name. Scamalot... Mmmm. Even Spamalot works without changing it and it's always good to work by trading off a familiar name.

Yes, Chris, why don't you write them a manual 'Scamalot... How to scam and make alot of money'

I'm really surprised that some of these scammers aren't a bit more resourceful... do a bit of homework, visit their proposed victim's website get a bit of local knowledge so that they can get a bit more plausible in their written approach. They could be so much more successful by honing their approach. Just a bit more forward planning would net them better returns. It also reminds me of the telephone calls we receive which usually (I think from media comment) originate from India, where the caller immediately tells us that they have detected a problem with our computer and can help with its repair. Miraculously there are folk who believe them and give them vital information which allows them to milk finances.