After the price of Celeste Brown’s all-inclusive resort falls by more than $1,000, she asks Expedia to adjust the price under the Expedia Hotel Price Guarantee. But it won’t. Is she stuck with the bill?
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 lodging for the trip fell by more than $1,000.
Expedia has a Hotel Price Guarantee. If you find a lower rate online for the same dates, the site 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 promise to match the price. Can you help? — Celeste Brown, Norcross, Georgia
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 pricing 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.
You had a “Pay Later” booking, according to Expedia.
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 the names, numbers and email 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.
The two highlighted factors were not the same in this instance, an Expedia rep explained. By “rate plan,” Expedia means “Pay Now” or “Pay Later.”
“The promotional price on the hotel website was only for ‘Pay Now’ bookings,” the representative 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,” the rep 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.