Expedia price guarantee - A con?

13
Found 9th Apr 2015
Hi all,

I booked a holiday yesterday through Expedia, for myself and the family, to Paris.
I noticed today that they guarantee the best price, so I had a little look again on other sites and found the same flight and hotel package on ebookers for around £50 cheaper.
I contacted Expedia through the price guarantee form, and they emailed back saying that they couldn't find the flights initially. I responded to say that I have managed to find them ok, and they're still there, and sent them some screenshots. They then responded to say that they couldn't uphold my price match claim because my trip has 'extras' included (I had ordered some disneyland attraction tickets at the same time).

Is this correct? I wasn't including the tickets in the claim, I said in my email that it was the cost of the flights and the hotel that are cheaper on the other site, and that was the claim I was making. They have directed meet the terms and conditions of the guarantee, but I can't see anywhere that says a claim will not be upheld if the package includes 'extras'.

Seems like a big con to me!!

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13 Comments
Request that they specify the exact term/subterm in their t&c document which means they can't uphold a claim based on the base holiday price before extras.

Depends on how hard you are willing to push, but assume it is like insurance. Claim, turned down. Appeal, turned down. Appeal to supervisor, turned down. Escalate to a manager, upheld.

£50 is quite a chunk of money, so don't give up - e-mail only costs you time.
AGrumpyDad

Request that they specify the exact term/subterm in their t&c document … Request that they specify the exact term/subterm in their t&c document which means they can't uphold a claim based on the base holiday price before extras.Depends on how hard you are willing to push, but assume it is like insurance. Claim, turned down. Appeal, turned down. Appeal to supervisor, turned down. Escalate to a manager, upheld.£50 is quite a chunk of money, so don't give up - e-mail only costs you time.



Thanks for the response.

That's what I was thinking, but I just keep getting people replying who can't even write in English. I've tried calling the customer services, and apparently you cannot speak to the price guarantee people, only email.
I asked on my last email for someone to call me regarding this issue, and they have just sent another reply back saying the same thing, that it cannot be upheld due to the attraction tickets within my itinerary. It's ridiculous really. Exactly the same as if I had have booked a hire car at the checkout, would I not be able to claim then if I found the hotel & flights package cheaper somewhere else?
Won't be booking through them again, that's for sure.
Send the e-mail chain to the customer services team and stipulate that this response is not acceptable, especially if they can't point to why it can not be upheld. Tell them that this is now a customer services issue because you have a grievance with the price guarantee department. Ask to have customer services investigate the claim and the manner in which it is being handled.
AGrumpyDad

Send the e-mail chain to the customer services team and stipulate that … Send the e-mail chain to the customer services team and stipulate that this response is not acceptable, especially if they can't point to why it can not be upheld. Tell them that this is now a customer services issue because you have a grievance with the price guarantee department. Ask to have customer services investigate the claim and the manner in which it is being handled.



Sound advice, thanks very much, I'll try just that. Not holding out much hope, as the CS rep that I spoke to today LITERALLY couldn't speak English, and did not understand a word that I said to him. An absolute waste of space.
Had a look at T&C and this is what they are referring to:

Comparison Must Be to Same Itinerary under the Same Conditions - The Best Price Guarantee is only available for exact itinerary matches, including the same flight, flight number, flight times, hotel, room type, rate plan, applicable refund and cancellation policy, and dates of hotel stay as booked through Expedia.co.uk

Now, I would argue that their price guarantee department is deliberately misinterpreting this to mean you can't compare because your booking includes extra tickets, and isn't the same itinerary.

However, the price guarantee is only on flights and hotels, making all other parts of the booking a moot point.

No where in the terms does it say that you forfeit the right to this guarantee if you have extras added on, ergo you compare identical flights and hotel on another site, ignore the extras and they match the price. Refer them to point 3:

Best Price Guarantee (flight + hotel bookings) - If you book and pay for a flight + hotel booking (when booked together) on Expedia.co.uk and later find a lower rate for the same flight + hotel combination subject to the same conditions on Expedia.co.uk or on another website WITHIN 48 HOURS OF BOOKING, we will refund the difference to you.

This states that if you book a flight and hotel together (you did) and find that combination cheaper (you have) you become eligible for a refund of the difference. Stipulate that term 5 states the match must be on flights and hotels, and that unless they can provide you with copy of the exact term which stipulates the guarantee ceases to apply if you by optional extras, then they are in breach of their own contract by refusing to process your claim.

Now the fallback is term 8, which starts they can decide for no reason whatsoever to exclude anyone from the price guarantee. The key is to make sure you establish that they are saying you are ineligible based on the extras, (which you seem to have done) so that if they use term 8, you can show clearly that the only reason you were excluded is because you were eligible for a refund.

Make sure you make a point of mentioning that, in the event of your request not being upheld (of it is eligible) that you will be forwarding all documentation to trading standards and using a formal complaint.

Many of these departments seemed to be trained to resist until you throw things like trading standards into the mix. I recall a holiday I booked for 20-something people with a company. They sent out a postcard fleet about 3 weeks after booking offering a free nighttime helicopter flight over Vegas if you booked from the edition of their catalogue that I booked from. Promptly phoned up to be told we were not eligible as we had already booked. But it didn't say that in any of the terms on the card. It took a couple of hours dealing with customer services, and supervisors/manages. The moment I mentioned trading standards they changed their tune. I could understand someone not wanting to be responsible for giving us that offer, that was over £1,500 of helicopter flights.

So I guess I had a bit more incentive to stick at it, but £50 is £50! The shame is that the Consumer Contracts Regulations (superseded the Distance Selling Regulations) still exempt flights and hotels (and car rental/hire) from the 14 cooling off period. Holiday companies have some serious lobbying power!
Sorry about spelling mistakes, on mobile phone and being attacked by the auto-spelling from this swipe keyboard.

Another thing that came to mind, don't underestimate the power of the press. Here's an article on the This is Money website. Not the same thing (charges for changing booking) but, the point is they got them lowered. Many newspapers have money sections that help with similar things. Contact one of them with the details and e-mail chain/screenshots etc.

You can almost guarantee that they'd rather be out £50 than try to explain why they reject claims based on something that isn't in their terms and conditions.

Let us know how you get on with them though. This is quite an interesting issue.
Wow, thank you so much for all the time you have put into your responses, I really appreciate the help.
The problem seems to be the fact I can't speak to anyone who understands English well enough to be able to explain these matters to.

It seems like we are singing from the same hymn sheet regarding the T&Cs here, so at least it's not just me mis-reading them!

I've found a number for head office. It remains to be seen as to whether this will just take me through to the same customer service department as I spoke to yesterday, but I'll try it in the morning.

To start, I really wast too bothered. I bought the holiday at a good price, I've got cashback tracked, and I felt like I'd got a good deal. £50 is a minor sum in the grand scheme of things, on a £2k holiday, but now it's a matter of principal.

Thanks again for all of your help. You're a star. I'll take what you have highlighted and put it to them tomorrow. I will update this thread with the outcome (if it remains open)

Tom
Here's another useful website link to contact details for Expedia's higher ranking execs. The contract for Martin Gurth would be a very good start.

elliott.org/com…ia/

I would be inclined to comment on the quality of English language, in a constructive manner. Expedia's Best Shoring team are going to want to know that their call centres can handle calls clearly. Accents aside, if the call centre staff are not conversationally fluent in English it isn't fair to them or the customer. The call centre is not going to be run by Expedia, they will likely have a contract with a services company, who in turn will be responsible for the contract with the call centre company. Through this chain they can choose who does and does not work on their teams.

I don't know the ins and outs of Expedia's structure, but when you get to a company of that size, generally it flows like this:

Company (eg Expedia)
- Company IS department (Information Services)
- - Non-company service provider (eg Siemans, HP etc)
- - - 3rd Party Call Centre (eg Flatwood Solutions)

So it is unlikely that the Expedia staff (IS Department) have much contact with the call centres. The service provider is there to handle that side of things for them. But if an issue is brought to light, they are going to check up on it.

Martin (Customer Experience Manager) is likely to be part of the IS department (Information Services is a very broad area that covers things from computers through to customer contact, and includes everything in the middle. Whilst there are departments for each thing IS covers, the IS team are often the coordination and management that influences each department. So Martin quite possibly isn't in the Customer Services team, but may have a great deal of influence over them.

Time for an analogy, think of the company as a bakery. The board of executives are the baker. The customer services department are the jam layer. The retention/promotion/price guarantee departments are the butter-cream later. Marketing is the chocolate frosting around the cake. The IS department is the big knife used to spread them onto the cake.

Of course this isn't stuff you need to know, but sometimes it helps to understand where people are, and why there is a disconnect between people who seem like they may work together. Often, not only do they not work together, but they don't even work for the same company.
OK, so i tried the complaints number that I found on the internet this morning: 0203 684 2914. This was fruitless - It just forwards through to the same incompetent customer service team that I have spoken to before.

I did, however, ask them for their complaints procedure. They said that I have to email travel@support.expedia.co.uk
This email address is where the relies to the 'Best Price Guarantee' claim have been coming from, so I asked who to contact above them, what is my next step if I am unhappy with the service that I have received from them.

The operator gave me this email adress: bfscrd@support.expedia.co.uk
It seems an odd email address, but I though it worth firing off an email fully outlining my complaint - with a cc. to Martin whilst at it:

o whom this may concern,

I am writing in complaint to my recent booking and subsequent customer service experience with Expedia - please see email chain below.

Having emailed the 'Best Price Guarantee' team, when I found my trip cheaper on another website (ebookers), I was astounded to see that my claim was being refused due to the fact I had booked attraction tickets at the same time. Allow me to explain:

The emails that I have received prompt me to read the terms and conditions of this guarantee. I have done this, and still fail to see any correlation between my claim and it's subsequent dismissal.

The terms and conditions of this guarantee state:
'If you book and pay for a Flight + Hotel (at the same time) on Expedia.co.uk and WITHIN 48 HOURS find a lower rate for your Flight + Hotel combination on our site or another site just let us know and we'll refund the difference to you. It's that easy.
Of course, the lower price you find needs to be like for like - the same dates, flight number, flight times, length of stay, hotel, room type and rate plan and include all taxes and fees - but it really is that simple.'

As you will see, there is no mention that a claim will be rejected if 'extras' are added on to this booking at the checkout, it solely states that it is the 'Flight + Hotel' that is being covered under the price guarantee - which is exactly what I have asked for, I do not want the price of the attraction tickets to be matched.

Now, Clause 3 of the 'further terms and conditions' reinforces this:
'Best Price Guarantee (flight + hotel bookings) - If you book and pay for a flight + hotel booking (when booked together) on Expedia.co.uk and later find a lower rate for the same flight + hotel combination subject to the same conditions on Expedia.co.uk or on another website WITHIN 48 HOURS OF BOOKING, we will refund the difference to you.'

Clause 5 stipulates that the itinerary has to be 'Same Itinerary under the Same Conditions'. The fact that it is ONLY the 'Flight + Hotel' are covered under this guarantee means that they are the only applicable comparables when finding a package eligible to be used in the case of the price guarantee.

Clause 8 explains that this guarantee can be withdrawn, at your discretion:
'Changes - We reserve the right in our sole discretion to modify or discontinue the Best Price Guarantee or to restrict its availability to any person, at any time, for any or no reason, and without prior notice or liability to you'

However, due to the fact that I have emails from your 'Best Price Guarantee' team stipulating that my claim cannot be upheld due to the fact that I have booked attraction tickets at the same time as my flight and hotel package, this clause is not applicable in this case, as I have already been advised that the sole reason for the dismissal of this claim is the booking of the attraction tickets.

I believe that this decision by your team is in breach of your own terms and conditions of this offer. I ask that you reconsider this decision.
All communication that I have had with customer services have been fruitless, with their English being so poor that they have failed to understand even the point that I am making.
I expect a prompt reply on this matter, due to the fact of the '48 hour' rule imposed within this guarantee. For such a nominal amount of money, when compared to the total cost of my booking, it appears ludicrous to lose the potential future custom of a first-time customer. It certainly hasn't been a good first experience with Expedia.
Failure to reach a satisfactory decision will result in me taking this issue, and all accompanying communications evidence to Trading Standards for legal advice, and to make a formal complaint on this matter. I will also circulate the evidence of this issue to the media and travel media, for them to publish to warn other potential customers of the service that I have received, and the avoidance of upholding your own guarantee and terms and conditions..

I can be contacted regarding this matter by email and on the telephone number below.
Thanks and kind regards,
Thomas ********
Tel: *********


Massive thanks to 'AGrumpyDad' for the help with the content of my email
I will update when/if I receive a reply.
oops, copy and paste error: It does actually start 'To whom this may concern'....
That was certainly a very strongly crafted e-mail. It will be very interesting to see their response.

Obviously you mentioned the 48 hour limitation. It is worth remembering that the requirement is that you make your claim writhing 48 hours, not that they conclude their decision making. That is to say, as long as you made the claim within 48 hours, they could take a week, or even a month of backward and forward communicating, but the claim would still be valid.

There is nothing in their terms that essentially allows them to pull an 'American Football' trick - Running out the clock by delaying communications with you.

This makes for a rather interesting case study into customer service interaction. My experience with best shore service desks was always internal service desks (So a staffer in a department has a problem, not a member of the public). Not in that roll any longer (recession put paid to that contract), but will be filing this away in the old grey matter, just in case I end up in another roll with a link to coordinating helpdesk teams. It shows what I believe to be (and I could be wrong about this) the result of targets on price matches being linked to pay bonus.

Fob the customers off with a general message and refer to terms and conditions. I would wager there is pressure on the call centre staff to knock back price matches coming from call centre management to ensure they reach their target and get their extra bonus.

The call centre industry in some countries is really cut throat. I was fortunate to be on close, (real) first name terms with a dozen first liners on previously mentioned contact. As second and third line ( I T support) I spent a lot of time reading the support tickets they drew up, and talking with them on the phone. Those that made it onto our team (less than 30%of applicants made it through the initial training and testing) were extremely happy to be in a stable position. Targets were based on efficiency and client satisfaction. Those are easy as long as you do your job properly and respect the callers appropriately. But it meant stability, the horror stories about having to meet ridiculous targets on public facing help desks were worrying, but also endemic of best shoring in developing economies (in this case India). What start as almost innocent targets at the executive level become the most vicious tools at the point of customer contact. I would not at all be surprised if the centre staff were under threat of losing their job if they accepted too many price matches.

It is unfair to expect someone to hold up to our own moral expectations when they will lose their livelihood if they do. Of course, the companies rarely know that this is going on, because of the disconnect between company and call centre. We mustn't excuse that behaviour if that is what is going on, but at the same time we must maintain a level of compassion for the call centre operatives. Many do what they do, because their livelihood depends on it. That doesn't mean they are comfortable doing it. Like the poor person on the till that is pressured into asking you if you want any of the special products on the till by their boss.

I've waffled on far too much. I think what I'd like to say is, we can complain whilst still being pleasant with the front liner on the phone. Don't be afraid to ask the operator how they are, whether they have plans for the weekend, or some other such nicety - even when they are telling you that you can't have something the rules suggest you can. That simple action builds a relationship, and whilst we are not under pressure, the operator may be. So just offering that olive branch could really make a big difference to your operator's working day.

And when you ask to speak to a supervisor, that friendliness will most likely be relaid to the supervisor, which will start that conversation off on a much better tone.

Anyway, hope your e-mail gets a more positive result.

All the best.
Don't rely on price match from Expedia contact sellers direct and haggle
It's a con appeal appeal appeal rejection
AlanR55

Don't rely on price match from Expedia contact sellers direct and haggle … Don't rely on price match from Expedia contact sellers direct and haggle It's a con appeal appeal appeal rejection



​Tell me about it!
I eventually got head office to investigate my claim, and after a week of waiting, they got back to tell me that they are not upholding my claim because it includes "extras" (the tickets). An absolute sham, a massive con. I'll certainly be taking my money elsewhere from now on.
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