Ritz-Carlton: Sorry, We Meant $580, Not $58

Over at Christopher Elliott’s blog there’s a story of a guy who booked a great deal at Travelocity. A little too great — it was a typo. Someone forgot to add a zero on the end of the room rate.

Here’s the reader’s side of things:

I was surprised that Travelocity was distancing themselves from this and blaming the Ritz, since I booked the trip through Travelocity and was charged by Travelocity. I called the Ritz directly, and was told the price should have been $580 a night, and not $58. The associate was unsympathetic and also only able to offer the room at $290 a night.

Do you think I have any recourse other than to take my business elsewhere? How can I ever feel safe booking a reservation through Travelocity if they go ahead and cancel my reservation? I do understand the price is very low, but a company like the Ritz, which prides themselves on service, is not willing to honor a price that they themselves input, and it seems very unfair that I suffer from their mistake.

It probably is unfair, but after seeing this sort of thing happen time and time again, we have to say that the way the Ritz-Carlton and Travelocity handled the situation is typical, because, in our experience, websites and stores are not required to honor pricing mistakes and typos. And, let’s face it, they don’t have a really strong motivation to do so, because they figure that most people who are trying to take advantage of the error are opportunists rather than loyal customers. It sucks for honest people who just thought they got a great deal and didn’t suspect that it was an error, but that seems to be the way it goes. Just like Dean Wormer, the hotel will tell you what’s fair and what’s not.

The reader was offered a 50% discount on a future reservation at that hotel. Do you think that was enough?

Rooms for $58 a night at the Ritz Carlton Chicago? No way! [Elliott]

Comments

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  1. AI says:

    Was the Travelocity purchase a contract? Then they should pay, even if Ritz-Carlton won’t. I like how businesses can cancel a contract based on their own mistake, but people have no similar recourse if they make a mistake.

    • c!tizen says:

      of course we have recourse… consumerist.com

    • TuxthePenguin says:

      I doubt you could collect from Travelocity. They are just the go between, facilitating the sale. They did nothing wrong – relied upon information that turned out to be incorrect. That’s simply contract law – you cannot force someone to complete a contract with obviously incorrect information.

      As for “people having no similiar recourse” – they do. But most don’t really know their rights under contract law and don’t fight.

    • Thyme for an edit button says:

      Yeah, agree with AirIntake.

      While $58 is really, really cheap, I have gotten some ridiculously good deals on the internet. I think consumers expect to find good deals on the internet and that this offer was not necessarily too good to be true such that the OP was unfairly taking advantage of a pricing mistake.

      • pecan 3.14159265 says:

        But this is the RITZ-CARLTON. If you think you could actually stay there for $58, you’ve left your marbles somewhere.

        • seishino says:

          I’ve stayed at a genuinely 5-star hotel for $80 a night. One that came with a spot for your yacht on the dock (not that I have one). Due to external influences, they needed to seed the hotel with new business. I’ve also had High Tea for $15 at a hotel that ran 5k dollars per night. The local Four Seasons has a champagne bubbly cocktail hour for $10, for champagne that is about $150 a bottle.

          While $58 is low, it’s not outside of a reasonable price. It’s not like they were renting a room for 58 cents. And quite frankly, this is the Ritz. It is the lower end of upper end hotels, and their tea service is terrible. They have branched out into offering condominiums and apartments. Maybe they branched out into midrange business travel (believable, considering the recent schizophrenic leadership), and wanted a sale to kick it off. Maybe they planned on a degree of construction, and needed to put people in a different area (It has happened here). Maybe they lost a convention and needed to fill out empty rooms. Either way, 58 is a good deal, but it isn’t “you have to be crazy to believe that” good.

          • Difdi says:

            This is exactly how I look at it. We’ve seen perfectly valid deals that were even better than this one before, REPORTED ON THIS SITE. Why should the OP have somehow known it was too good to be true? Psychic powers are also too good to be true…

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      It would be nice if by law all provisions in contracts were reciprocal. In other words, it would be guaranteed by law that both parties have the same methods of getting out of the contract.

      So if the company can get out because of a pricing mistake, you can get out because of mistakenly accepting a price. The company can cancel due to circumstances out of their control. So can you.

      As it stands consumers have little recourse but to sign agreements that are far to heavily weighted in favor of the company.

      • seishino says:

        To be fair, every time I accidentally clicked “purchase,” the companies on the other end have helpfully cancelled the order. I don’t know if that is in the contract, or just policy, but I’ve always been happy with the service around my dumb mistakes.

        Also, US consumers get away with murder when it comes to returns compared to the rest of the world.

    • satoru says:

      The contract agreement specifically states that they are not responsible for typos and other errors. They will keep your reservation at the corrected price, or you can cancel with no penalty.

      Such a policy is pretty standard across online vendors.

      • FredKlein says:

        The contract agreement specifically states that they are not responsible for typos and other errors.

        SO, they can offer great deals, then claim the prices were “Errors”?

  2. sonneillon says:

    Well they called him and told him it was an error. If he had showed up and not been allowed to check in I would say call it bait and switch and take them to small claims for the difference. I do not think there is much he can do. 290 is still expensive. When I was in Chicago I stayed at an Embassy Suites for 119 a night. And that was a fantastic hotel.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      $290 is steep for a regular hotel, but it’s a steal for the Ritz-Carlton. I would love to stay at the Ritz-Carlton.

  3. namcam says:

    ‘i think it strange that you could believe you could get a room at the ritz for $58

  4. qualityleashdog says:

    Travelocity should pay the Ritz the $580 and waive the charges for the reader. He may not be loyal to the Ritz, but he’s questioning his loyalty to Travelocity.

  5. backinpgh says:

    Yeah, I’m sure their user agreement says they aren’t responsible for honoring typos so you’re probably SOL. And they’re correct that they don’t have much interest in honoring the price…after all, if you were looking for a $58 hotel room, chances are you won’t exactly be so swayed by your stay at the Ritz that you’ll stay there from now on at full price.

  6. Eyeheartpie says:

    “TRAVELOCITY EXPRESSLY RESERVES THE RIGHT TO CORRECT ANY PRICING ERRORS (INCLUDING, WITHOUT LIMITATION, TYPOGRAPHICAL OR DISPLAY ERRORS, INCORRECT THIRD PARTY SUPPLIER INFORMATION, AND CURRENCY CONVERSION MISCALCULATIONS) ON THE SITE AND/OR TO CHANGE OR CANCEL PENDING RESERVATIONS MADE UNDER AN INCORRECT PRICE. THIS RIGHT APPLIES WHETHER OR NOT THE ORDER HAS BEEN CONFIRMED AND/OR YOUR CREDIT CARD CHARGED. IN THE EVENT OF A CORRECTION TO A PENDING RESERVATION, AS YOUR SOLE AND EXCLUSIVE REMEDY WE WILL OFFER YOU THE OPPORTUNITY TO KEEP YOUR PENDING RESERVATION AT THE CORRECT PRICE OR, AT YOUR OPTION, WE WILL CANCEL YOUR RESERVATION WITHOUT PENALTY. “

    -Travelocity User Agreement

    • Coupon says:

      Case closed

    • Consumeristing says:

      I want Lewis Black to read that back to me.

    • psm321 says:

      do they define pending reservation anywhere?

    • Sparty999 says:

      This site isn’t supposed to be about companies just “being right.” Poor customer service…

    • peebozi says:

      That conflicts100% with my Policy they implicitly agreed to when offering a service to me and me accepting.

      My Policy:
      “I reserve the right to do anything, anytime I want when dealing with publicly traded companies.”
      I don’t necessarily like my policy, and i really hope it changes soon, but until then I can’t just change it for them. otherwise I’d have to change it for every corporation and that can’t be expected.

      If I ever did business with Travelocity we would come to a stand still pretty fast.

  7. pantheonoutcast says:

    “Do you think I have any recourse other than to take my business elsewhere?”

    Yeah, if you’re still going to complain about a 50% discount on one of the best and most expensive hotels in the country.

    “and it seems very unfair that I suffer from their mistake.”

    You didn’t suffer. The people in Rwanda suffered. Get a hold of yourself. Take the discounted offer and move on.

    • Eyeheartpie says:

      This. It’s amazing that the Ritz gave you a discount on a Travelocity pricing error. Take it if you plan on staying, or reject it and ask for your money back. You can cancel without penalty according to the Travelocity User Agreement posted above.

      Seriously, the Ritz giving you a discount on the room because Travelocity screwed up is like Best Buy giving you a discount on a TV because the newspaper screwed up and printed an incorrect price.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      A little harsh, but in general, I agree. The Ritz-Carlton hotels are noted as some of the best hotels in the entire world. I don’t see how he ever even once innocently thought that the Ritz would be offering a room at $58. Not only is it too good to be true, it’s ridiculous. And it’s not like the OP wasn’t familiar with the Ritz-Carlton’s reputation, either. I think he should have known, and I don’t think he has too much to get his panties in a twist about since there was absolutely no way that it could have been a real deal.

    • Mr_Human says:

      Well said. There was no suffering. It’s not like he checked in and got hit with the $580. And he probably knew it was a price mistake in the first place. This stuff happens. Sounds like Ritz-Carlton is doing a lot to make it right.

  8. ttw1 says:

    “How can I ever feel safe booking a reservation through Travelocity if they go ahead and cancel my reservation? …it seems very unfair that I suffer from their mistake.”

    I feel so sorry for the OP, but the truth is he may never ever ever ever feel safe booking through Travelocity and that’s a real tragedy. The suffering that this man is going through is something I hope no one else has to endure. I hope he finds the strength and courage to forge on. My thoughts and prayers go with him.

    • hotdogsunrise says:

      Thanks for a good chuckle this morning. (Yes, I mean it. I chuckled. Not laughed. Chuckled.)

      I’d hate to see what happens if this guy has to suffer through some real tragedy. He’d probably explode.

  9. ap0 says:

    There seems to be this incredible entitlement/victim mentality with Consumerist posts lately. Not being able to stay at the Ritz for $58/night is “suffering?” Come on.

  10. common_sense84 says:

    You weren’t hurt as long as the reservation was canceled with time to make a new one.

    Now if you had no time to renew, or the later booking date meant higher prices everywhere else, then you would have been damaged.

    But be prepared to sue to get the difference back.

  11. tinyhands says:

    “How can I ever feel safe booking a reservation through Travelocity if they go ahead and cancel my reservation?”

    There’s a world of difference between, say, a 10% difference and leaving off a zero. If you seriously thought you could get a room at the R-C for $58/night, you’ve got no business staying in hotels when there are perfectly good mental institutions available in your locale.

  12. Bob Lu says:

    I agree if that is a honest error, the company should not be required to honor the price.

    However things like hotel reservation, or air/train/bus tickts are a little different from ordinary goods. What if you are informed that your reservation is canceled, due to pricing error, right before you are checking-in/boarding? Doesn’t that sounds like sort of bait-and-switch?

    I think there should be some regulation requiring companies to honor the price if any error is not addressed reasonably before the reserved time. Say, 24 or 48 hours.

    In OP’s case, since he was contacted ahead, and offered a significant discount, I’d say it is fair enough.

  13. GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

    I think they should put the Ritz-Carlton’s cookie recipe online. That will show them!

  14. Bob Lu says:

    I agree if that is a honest error, the company should not be required to honor the price.

    However things like hotel reservation, or air/train/bus tickts are a little different from ordinary goods. What if you are informed that your reservation is canceled, due to pricing error, right before you are checking-in/boarding? Doesn’t that sounds like sort of bait-and-switch?

    I think there should be some regulation requiring companies to honor the price if any error is not addressed reasonably before the reserved time. Say, 24 or 48 hours.

    In OP’s case, since he was contacted ahead, and offered a significant discount, I’d say it is fair enough.

    • Bob Lu says:

      BTW, I won’t blame OP for expecting $58/night in Ritz.

      In current economic situation, companies do offer some crazy deals every now and then. Maybe Ritz is not (yet?) a player of such throat-cutting competition, but as consumers we are seeing these kind of deals more and more often, an when we see Ritz jumps in, it doesn’t seem so impossible.

      • teke367 says:

        I don’t blame them for believing the price either, as I’m sure there are even crazier deals that are legitimate. However, when you see something like a $58 hotel room at the Ritz (as in “ritzy”) you should at least be prepared for the possibility its a mistake.

  15. satoru says:

    It looks like for $580 you’re getting a gigantic room! It’s 600 sq feet with 2 bathrooms. The cheapest you could get is $415 which is 380 sq feet. The fact they’re even offering it for half price is pretty damn good.

    If it was me, I’d take the half price then go to the desk and see if you can get upgraded to a suite or something because of the pricing error. Depends on the day of course, but I once got upgraded to a suite at a Intercontinental, by saying I had just proposed to my wife (which I did in their restaurant moments before). Doesn’t hurt to ask!

    $250 a night at the Ritz is a good deal no matter how you slice it.

  16. teke367 says:

    Plenty of notice, and a 50% discount off a future reservation, as opposed to needing to use it for the original dates is pretty good by the Ritz Carlton in my opinion. If you’re expecting a 90% discount, I suppose there isn’t much that will make you happy though.

  17. Marlin says:

    They can put whatever in there they like it does not make it legal. Same as the trucks that say not responsible for rocks falling from truck… courts have said otherwise.

    Not saying this would or would not hold up in court, but courts throughout things like that all the time. If he had shown up and been charged extra he would probably have a good case. But since it was caught beforehand then probable not as he has no true loses if canceled in time to book somewhere else.

  18. sopmodm14 says:

    such incidents are the basis for bait and switches, especially in an economic climate that is begging for bargains

    the ritzzz could’ve gained a customer that paid $58 and finding its worth every bit of $580, but now wouldn’t ever goto ritz even if it was .58 cents per night

    but of course, i’d bet they comp a celebrity

    once you pay, isn’t it a legally binding contract ? its not like a material good when you have 30 days to do a refund

    i’d prob give (1) night at that rate, and a discounted rate for following nights

    • AnonymousCoward says:

      Let me see….some guy goes bottom fishing on Travelocity, and finds a room at a very nice hotel for $58. He stays there, loves it, and is willing to pay $580 the next time he travels? Somehow I doubt that person exists. The fact that this guy is whining about the great deal Ritz-Carlton just offered him ($290) says to me that he’s not a guy who’s going to become a regular Ritz-Carlton customer, even if they gave him the room for $58.

  19. shepd says:

    Everyone thinks the discount is great, but it sounds to me like a typical corporate rate. A good discount on a rack rate at a hotel is closer to the 70% off range, not 50%. I managed to stay in an $800 a night room in a hotel for $200 a night without any sort of weird trickery, because they offered a decent discount.

    Getting that room for $58 wouldn’t be a surprise to me, although I would say that I’d be happy about it. Losing it would be disappointing and I definitely would never use Travelocity again if they did that to me.

    • Britt says:

      This. I work at a hotel where the cheapest rooms are almost $300 per night. For myself, it’s $40.

  20. humphrmi says:

    Sufferin’ succotash!

  21. drburk says:

    As a consumer I would feel cheated, I spent time and money getting the reservation since I’m now days closer to my trip prices everywhere went up. The Ritz and Travelocity expect me to know what is fair pricing for them in a world where everything is negotiable and bonuses are given for increased sales. I would have jumped on the offer and been upset when it was revoked. That being said the contracts my business use has language which allow me to void the contract if I decide there isn’t enough money in the job.

  22. waltcoleman says:

    Half off is a good deal considering it was clearly a mistake. A room at the Ritz for $58? Common sense says that can’t be right.

  23. FranktasticVoyage says:

    $290 for a night at the Ritz Carlton is pretty good deal.
    I’d take that.

  24. balthisar says:

    Most state laws have supported enterprises in their right not to have to honor pricing errors and other obvious mistakes. The fact that Ritz-Carlton is willing to give a 50% discount is already above on beyond for this situation.

    Face it: how are you hurt, and what are your damages? Once the room was cancelled, you have exactly what you started with, and so do the Rizt-Carlton folks. You’re not “out” of a hotel room; you’re exactly where you started.

    I can’t even see how this is “unfair.” There are things in life that really and truly unfair, and we all know life isn’t fair, but this isn’t even a case of unfairness. Again, what defines “fair,” and how is this an application of that definition?

    It’s really unfair of you to expect that a company (or private citizen, even) should honor obvious errors.

  25. dosdelon says:

    I would think the customer may be able to pay the bill then dispute the difference with his credit card company.

  26. danielem1 says:

    Word of warning, these companies will try to say the pricing mistake in their newspaper ads was the newspaper’s fault (Dell did this to me), but I work at a retailer. The advertising department creates those ads, the newspaper just prints the file. If the newspaper was designing those Best Buy ads, best buy is getting a really good deal, and somehow all the newspapers seem to use the same style and layout!

  27. hoi-polloi says:

    One thing that hasn’t been noted is that this reservation was made for Memorial Day weekend, 2011. We’re talking about a price adjustment more than 9 months in advance. Jack and his wife have ample time to make other arrangements, and they’re receiving a pretty generous offer to make up for the pricing error.

    I feel it’s not such a big deal compared to the article from August 5, where a honeymooning couple found out their all-inclusive vacation was going to double in price more than halfway through their stay. I consider that entirely unacceptable:

    http://consumerist.com/2010/08/expedias-mistakes-nearly-doubled-the-cost-of-my-honeymoon.html

    I’d consider there to be harm done if Travelocity or R-C failed to contact Jack and his wife until a much later date. If he was informed without enough notice to book another hotel, or partway through his stay, then it’s impacting his plans and/or his finances. As it stands, not so much.

  28. Razor512 says:

    Even 58 dollars a night is overpriced.

    For $580 They better make the floors, walls and ceilings, high res displays in order to make a virtual reality simulator. Then on top of that create a machine that does the sleeping for me so I don’t have to actually sleep, then by using the virtual reality to play WOW, me leveling up will bring about world peace and permanently fix global warming and restore like on all of the other planets in the solar system.

    $580 a night is highly unrealistic. A hotel should be at most, the price of a 5 star hotel should be no more than $20 a night.

    Compare the price of a hotel, to a apartment where you have multiple rooms. $580 is like paying the months rent every day.

  29. Sparty999 says:

    In Michigan, the item pricing law in stores allows you to receive the difference times 10, up to $10 on a pricing mistake (if it’s marked one price, and you are charged more). If the charge went though, why did he call the Ritz? I would have assumed I got a killer deal, and just through a fit when I got their and they tried to charge me more.

    This is BS. Complete BS. I was able to get a $120 room at the Grand Hyatt at Grand Central Station through Hotwire… that wasn’t a mistake… Sure $58 sounds ridiculously cheap, but isn’t that what these sites are claiming to do?

  30. peebozi says:

    Please do not require a Publicly Traded corporation to deviate from their #1 and ONLY responsibility (to increase profits). Rquiring them to own up to their mistakes is the problem with this counrtry…they screw up or just get lazy and we have to put them on the private dole.

  31. Razor512 says:

    Sites like this claim to find the lowest prices and give good deals, why should it be the customers fault and have to suffer when they actually get a good deal? Why is it a typo when a company like this actually gives a good deal? and $58 is still expensive

    $58 a night still makes the hotel a profit. consider this. $58 a night will be $1740+ a month. Thats the price of rent for a large apartment in a upscale neighborhood.

    compare a

    The hotel prices are not for much extra other than renting a room for the night. On their website, the largest room for under $1000 a night is Room Features ($695 a night)

    * 425sqft/38sqm
    * Air-conditioned
    * This room is non-smoking
    * Windows, soundproof

    compare it to this
    $1200 a month

    1600 square feet

    3 bedroom, 2 bathroom, living room, kitchen, patio
    air conditioned, access to the apartments public pool and fitness center.

    Now on top of that if the customer was paying $580 a night, that would be $17,400 a month

    I wonder what can you rend for that much money

    I did a search on apartments.con and just sorted the list and went right for the most expensive listing they had which was $14,540 a month, that was for a

    7500 sq. ft. luxury pent house fully loaded with too many items to list (with out looking like spam)

    If other companies can offer that and still make a profit, where does ritz get off charging $580 a night? and for 425 square feet

  32. ricklesgibson says:

    Ritz should honor the incorrect price. By doing so, they’ll get the customer in the door and be able to show Christopher either what the hotel offers (if he is not a prior customer) or remind him why staying at the Ritz is something he wants to do.

    Taking the small loss of a few bucks up front on the chance that he could become a lifelong customer generating more profit, is worth the risk. Potential gains outweigh the potential losses by orders of magnitude.

    The hotel can profit further from the typo by showing itself to be responsible, even for mistakes, which can be attractive for demanding customers.