Q: I recently booked a vacation at the Jewel Grande Montego Bay Resort & Spa in Montego Bay, Jamaica, through Expedia. Between the time I made the reservation and my stay, the price of the resort 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?
A: If Expedia told you it could match the price, it should. So why didn’t it?
Hotel rates rise and fall regularly, 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 applies only 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, elliot.org.
I asked Expedia if it could clarify. It turns out the Hotel Price Guarantee is available only for exact itinerary matches, including property, room type, rate plan, 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.”
“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, Expedia 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. Read more tips on his blog, elliott.org, or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.