> I've never used Booking.com. As other commentards have pointed out, they rarely seem to be the cheapest, which makes this story rather surprising.
Speaking from experience, we have never put anyone in a "crap" room because they used a booking site to book. We want these people to have just a good experience as any other guest. If anything, we want to impress them, so next time they will book directly with us, saving us the cost of commission that we pay the booking site for that room.
As for being more expensive or cheapest, most hotels that deal with third party agents like Booking.com or Expedia, have to follow rate parity rules, meaning they cannot offer a rate to one site that is higher or lower than what they advertise on their own site or offer to another site. However, when the third party site books a room at a hotel, the hotel then pays them a commission on that room. It is not common, but it has happened where the third party site will offer a lower pre-paid rate to try and get a booking. Even though the third party site is offering the lower rate, which the guest has to pay up front, the site actually pays the hotel the full rate. They take a hit on their commission so as to undercut their competition and make the sale.