Expedia’s Hotel Price Guarantee doesn’t work. Can it be fixed?

The Boston Globe Traveling 1 month ago

Q I recently booked a vacation at the Jewel Grande Montego Bay Resort & Spa, an all-inclusive resort in Montego Bay, Jamaica, through Expedia. Between the time I made the reservation and my stay, the price of the hotel fell by more than $1,000.

Expedia has a Hotel Price Guarantee program. If you find a lower rate online for the same dates, it will refund the difference. A company representative assured me I would be able to adjust the price.

Easier said than done. After several calls and e-mails to the online travel agency, Expedia says I don’t qualify for the price guarantee program. All I’m asking is for Expedia to honor its price match program. Can you help?

CELESTE BROWN, Norcross, Ga.

A If Expedia told you it could match the price, it should. So why didn’t it?

Hotel rates rise and fall with some regularity, but a $1,000 price drop is no small deal. Expedia’s Hotel Price Guarantee is limited to Expedia Rewards members. Under the program, if you find a lower rate online for the same hotel booked through Expedia, up until the day before check-in, it will refund the difference. But that guarantee only applies to “Pay Now” reservations. According to Expedia, you had a “Pay Later” booking.

But wait. The terms of Expedia’s rewards program didn’t mention a “Pay Later” exclusion when I reviewed them. How could you have known you didn’t qualify?

I think a brief, polite e-mail to an Expedia customer service executive would have yielded a more detailed answer. I list their names, numbers, and e-mail addresses on my consumer advocacy site.

I asked Expedia if it could clarify. It turns out the Hotel Price Guarantee is only available for exact itinerary matches, including property, room type, rate plan, applicable refund policy and the dates of travel as booked through Expedia. Some of the factors were not the same in this instance, says an Expedia rep. By “rate plan,” Expedia means “Pay Now” or “Pay Later.”

“The promotional price on the hotel website was only for ‘Pay Now’ bookings,” she told me. “The booking she made on Expedia.com was a ‘Pay Later’ booking. Thus, two different rate plans. I think there was a misunderstanding between the agent and the customer on this point.” So, the agent you spoke with said the rate was able to be matched, but it wasn’t.

“While the Hotel Price Guarantee is available for ‘Pay Later’ bookings, the hotel’s promotional price was only available for ‘Pay Now’ bookings,” she added. Specifically, your travel dates were not all available for the lower promotional price.

Still, after I contacted Expedia on your behalf, it offered you the lower price. That’s a great solution, but an even better one would be if Expedia simplified its Hotel Price Guarantee. A little less fine print and a little more common sense would eliminate problems like these — and increase the likelihood that you’ll make your next reservation through Expedia.

Christopher Elliott can be reached at chris@elliott.org.

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