Hilton raises room rate after confirming price in writing — now what?

By | June 24th, 2008

What if your hotel jacks up the price of your room after you’ve received a written confirmation? If it’s a too-good-to-be-true rate, like a fat-finger fare, you’re outta luck. But how about if it’s a legit booking?

That’s the situation faced by Deborah Adams, who had reserved a room at the Hilton Atlanta. She thought she’d be paying $150 a night. Hilton thought otherwise. Here’s what it wrote to her after she’d made her booking and prepaid for the first night.

The Hilton Atlanta is delighted to be your hotel of choice during the 2008 DragonCon Conference. We look forward to this annual gathering each year, and know that you will enjoy your stay with us.

Your room rate was inadvertently confirmed at the 2007 show rate of $150 per night plus tax. The rate should have been confirmed at the 2008 rate of $168 per night plus tax as advertised on the DragonCon website.

Please visit www.dragoncon.org and view “Hotel Rates” for verification of the 2008 rates. We will change the room rate on your reservation to reflect the correct rate of $168 per night plus tax.

We regret any inconvenience this may cause. If you should have any questions, please contact your event organizer at DragonCon.

Again, we look forward to having you with us this year!

Hilton Atlanta Management

What to do? I recommended that Adams write a brief, polite letter to the Hilton, disputing the change. So she did. Here’s what she said:

I do not accept your request for a rate increased based upon the following:

1. This reservation was booked in 2008 on the Hilton Web site. If an incorrect rate was listed that is an internal situation and your customers should not be asked for more money because of it.

2. Your hotel has already charged my credit card for the first night stay at $150 per night. I fail to see how that doesn’t constitute your hotel’s acceptance of my reservation at the rate listed on your Web site for the room requested on your Web site.

3. If the ‘Dragon Con’ Web site lists your rooms at $168 per night and that is your basis for increasing my costs, then shouldn’t I be able to search another other Web site and, if a room at your hotel is found at a lower rate, then shouldn’t you be lowering my rate?

4. I am staying at your hotel for 5 nights. Is this how you treat customers in this economy?

In short, please make sure my reservation is for $150 per night in your reservation system. Please respond.

Adams’ reasoning was sound. Hilton had no business raising her room rate after it had sent her a written confirmation. Her letter was polite but firm.

Here’s Hilton’s response:

We are aware that the website shows $168 but you are correct and we will honor your $150 rate. We are working on all the issues with the rate. I assure you we will be correcting your issue and we hope to have that done by the end of next week.

We apologize for any confusion. We look forward to seeing you in August!

Hilton did the right thing. And as it turns out, a quick note was all it took to get this straightened out.

But the question remains: Why did Hilton think it could raise Adams’ rate by $18 in the first place? Convention or not, this kind of rate revision doesn’t seem right.

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