Hotels.com Customer Files Class-Action Suit Over Price Match Guarantee

On its website and in its ads, Hotels.com touts its Price Match Guarantee which says the company will match any lower published room rate — so long as the dates, hotel and room category match, and as long as the price match request is made before that hotel’s cancellation date. But one customer says Hotels.com’s policy isn’t so cut-and-dry and has filed a class-action lawsuit.

This story started last April, when the plaintiff booked a room at a California resort at $355/night for two nights. Almost immediately after booking, the plaintiff says he found a significantly lower rate of $223/night on another website.

So, alleges the complaint filed last week at a District Court in Dallas, the plaintiff called up Hotels.com right away to request the price match. He claims a CSR confirmed the lower published rate and promised the discount, along with a confirming e-mail within 72 hours.

That e-mail never came, but he did hear back from a different Hotels.com staffer several days later — on the first day of the reservation — that the site would only be refunding $71/night, as opposed to the $132/night he’d been promised he would receive. A third Hotels.com staffer allegedly told the plaintiff that the $71 was the maximum it could refund for a price match.

“Hotels.com has an arbitrary and undisclosed policy to refund only a portion of the difference between its rate and other, lower rates,” reads the complaint.

Here is the full text of the Price Match Guarantee from Hotels.com’s FAQ:

Hotels.com reservations are guaranteed to be the lowest rate you can find. If there is a lower rate publicly available for the same dates and the same hotel or vacation rental and room category, you must contact us prior to the hotel’s cancellation deadline. Deadlines vary by hotel and travel dates. Please refer to your booking confirmation for the applicable deadline.

Bookings that cannot be cancelled are not subject to this guarantee.

If your booking qualifies for this guarantee, we will either, at our option, refund the difference to you, or, if you would prefer, allow you to cancel the reservation without penalty.

If you book a hotel that does not require payment at the time of booking, your Price Match Guarantee request will be refunded within 72 hours upon verification of your completed stay, once you have checked out of your hotel.

The lawsuit seeks restitution and damages for breach of contract and unjust enrichment. It also seeks class-action status for any Hotels.com customer in the last four years that had made an unsuccessful price match request.

Bogus! Class Tells Hotels.com [CourthouseNews.com]

Comments

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  1. Hi_Hello says:

    hope the plaintiff wins.

    • ZachPA says:

      Nobody in a class-action suit wins except the lawyers. It takes years to get it done from start to finish, and then 87 million class members wind up getting a coupon in the mail for a free candy bar while the lawyers rake in $25 million in fees for their troubles.

  2. NeverLetMeDown says:

    Lots of lack of clarity here, but if the facts are as described, she certainly is entitled to win.

  3. humphrmi says:

    Hotel price match guarantees are so iffy that I simply choose to eliminate such a guarantee as criteria for choosing who I book through. Hotels.com would like us to go to their website exclusively because, in theory, if a better price is found elsewhere, they’ll take care of you. Well obviously they don’t, so instead of going to hotels.com exclusively, I’m going to price it out myself, and take the lower cost option. Which, as my research has shown, is usually NOT hotels.com.

    Translation: pound sand, hotels.com

  4. vastrightwing says:

    I love all the secret terms companies enjoy such as magic limits on advertised unlimited things. “FREE” where free isn’t free at all. Warranties where all the claims are denied. Price match guarantee where there is a magic limit on the difference. All these businesses simply expect most people to quietly go away when they don’t honor their advertisements and then sue us when we publish the facts on-line. Yea. That’s what I figured.

    • Eremis77 says:

      It should be pretty clear to anyone with any common sense that “price match” means you match the price. It does NOT mean “we’ll give back some of your money, but not all, and we’re not going to publish the actual percentage we offer”.

  5. lizardking7112 says:

    I had a similar situation with Hotels.com booked a room with them, a week later I was on the actual hotels website and noticed that the room was $70 a night cheaper. I called up Hotels.com and they said they can’t price match the hotels website only competitors published prices? So i canceled and re-booked with the actual hotel.

  6. PLATTWORX says:

    Hotels.com has not a single legal leg to stand on. The $71 maximum is not part of the stated policy and would not be a “match” for anything over $71 making the name of the guarantee misleading at best.

    Ya, the legal department at Hotels.com has to be sweating bullets. If this plaintiff is granted class action status, they could truly stand to loose millions in the final settlement. Big problem. Big.

    I applaud this person for taking it as far as they did.

  7. maxamus2 says:

    Who pays $355 a night for a hotel room? Always gets me people that “need” to stay in hotels priced like that when, in reality, you only sleep in the room.

    • Terron says:

      Depending on where you go and room availability, $355 isn’t too bad. In my hometown, rates often get to around $300+ in the summertime, if you don’t want to stay at a Motel 6 or Travelodge. And this is mid-class hotels like the Hampton Inn or Holiday Inn.

      It was a resort, so it was probably part of a package deal.

    • Captain Walker says:

      You should go to a resort some time, you might enjoy it.

    • Round-Eye §ñ‰∫∫„ÅØ„Ç≥„É≥„Çπ„Éû„É™„ÉÉ„Çπ„Éà„ÅåÂ•Ω„Åç„Åß„Åô„ÄÇ says:

      Because that has what impact on the issue at hand? None? Thanks for adding absolutely nothing to the conversation other than confirming previously-held beliefs that you’re a fucking moron.

    • profchaos79 says:

      When you grow have a grown up job sometimes it is fun to stay somewhere other than a Ramada Inn.

  8. Terron says:

    Use your AAA or AARP card and book directly with the hotel, which usually gives a 10% discount for those members. 95% of the time it will be cheaper than going with Hotels.com/Expedia/Priceline, which often just charge the normal rate anyway.

    It’s a win/win for you and the hotel. The hotel gets more money (those booking sites usually take 15% commission), you pay less and if there are any issues with overbooking, room type, etc you can take it up with the hotel instead of waiting a couple hours to talk to somebody at the booking agent’s support line.

    • BBBB says:

      Always check the regular rate offered before checking with the AAA or AARP rate. I have occasionally found the AAA and AARP rate to be higher, Some hotels will reduce the regular rate during a slow period, but they don’t reduce the AAA or AARP rates at the same time,

  9. MeowMaximus says:

    Too bad they killed off Shatner!

  10. AntiNorm says:

    Quoting the Terms & Conditions page on hotels.com:

    you agree that any and all disputes, claims, and causes of action arising out of, or connected with, the Program shall be resolved individually, without resort to any form of class action, and exclusively by the appropriate court located in Dallas County, Texas

    Have fun getting a court to accept this as a class action.

    • Patriot says:

      Just because they write it down doesn’t invalidate the ability of a customer to form a class action lawsuit.