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]