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]