When you use an online booking company to plan your vacation, the last thing you need is to show up to find no room at the inn.  So, can you do anything if Agoda promises accommodations and takes money for them, but when you arrive, those accommodations aren't available or don't meet your expectations?

How to Sue Agoda

Agoda.com is a booking site for accommodations, travel, and activities.  Their website guarantees the "best" prices, while their terms of use include a mandatory arbitration clause applicable to US customers. This means that you may have to arbitrate because your use of the site included an agreement to arbitrate any disputes between you and Agoda.  

In a clause application to US customers only, site users agree to arbitrate any disputes (interpreted as broadly as possible) arising out of your relationship with Agoda.  However, the clause also provides that you - or Agoda - can take your claim to small claims court if you and your claim qualify for that in your jurisdiction.  

In addition to the small claims option, if you qualify, you can also opt out of the binding arbitration provision, so long as you do so within the first 30 days of your relationship with Agoda.  The clock starts ticketing at the earliest of your first use of the Agoda platform, the date you first used their services, or the date you started a relationship with them.  If you know about the opt-out opportunity early enough, you can opt-out:

  • By email to arbitration.optout#agoda.com with the subject line Terms of Use-US Opt Out Notice
  • By regular mail or courier to Agoda's registered address of Legal Department, Agoda Company Pte. Ltd., 30 Cecil Street, Prudential Tower #19-08, Singapore 049712.
  • By using Agoda's online customer service form, but only if you have made a booking through Agoda and have a confirmation number.  

Agoda will accept your opt-out notice only if it arrives within three days of your opt-out deadline. As clause 42 tells you, you have agreed that you will pursue any claim in arbitration or small claims court if Agoda does not receive an opt-out notice from you or receives an opt-out notice from you more than three days after the opt-out deadline. 

Having already made it extremely unlikely that you will timely get out of arbitration, Agoda also requires that you file for all arbitration claims or small claims court filings; you must first send a written description of your claim to allow Agoda a chance to resolve your dispute.  Legalines Dispute app can help you here since you can use one of their demand letter templates to create your claim description.  

After you send your written claim/demand letter, Agoda has sixty days to respond or resolve it.  Otherwise, you must again file a written notice of your claim using one of the following delivery options:

  • By email to arbitration.optout@agoda.com with the subject line: Terms of Use – US Dispute Notice.
  • By regular mail or courier to our registered address at Legal Department, Agoda Company Pte. Ltd., 30 Cecil Street, Prudential Tower #19-08, Singapore 049712.

More Information on Arbitration

If you arbitrate, it will be under American Arbitration Association Consumer Arbitration Rules as modified by Agoda.  Note that their changes to the AAA rules trump the AAA rules.  Their modifications, for example, allow them to pick the forum if AAA declines to hear your case. You are required to agree in writing to that selection.  Agoda also requires that you keep even the existence of the arbitration, except as required by law or to enforce an award.  Agoda also limits your discovery mostly to your documents.  And, you waive your right to most forms of class actions (unless you opted out of arbitration above) and your right to a jury trial.

So, in essence, yes, you can sue Agoda to get your money back for a bad booking.  However, you have very limited rights and have waived a lot of your protections.  Arbitration, like small claims court, doesn't require counsel to represent you and is usually cheaper and faster than going to court.  

Basically, Agoda has tried to game the system as much as possible in their favor.  Getdispute.com understands arbitration and offers blog advice on engaging in arbitration, while many of its small claims forms will be equally useful in arbitration.