Ex­pe­dia’s Ho­tel Price Guar­an­tee doesn’t work

Baltimore Sun Sunday - - LIFE & TRAVEL - By Christo­pher El­liott

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 email to an Ex­pe­dia cus­tomer ser­vice ex­ec­u­tive would have yielded a more de­tailed an­swer. I list their names, num­bers and email

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 emails 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? 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 is the om­buds­man for Na­tional Ge­o­graphic Trav­eler mag­a­zine and the au­thor of “How to Be the World’s Smartest Trav­eler.” You can read more travel tips on his blog, el­liott.org, or email him at [email protected]­liott.org.

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