Missed it by that much! Best Western denies best rate claim over 12 cents

hotel, motel, room, stay, travel, vacation, bed, lamp, double, rent, rental
By | January 19th, 2017

Like a lot of companies, Best Western offers customers who book rooms directly through their website a “Best Rate Guarantee.” That’s good for the company, because they save the cost of commissions to third party booking sites. And it’s good for travelers, because they can rest assured they’ve found the best rate for their hotel room.

At least that’s how it’s supposed to work. But not for Hazel Valenzuela. She booked a room in Hong Kong on Best Western’s website, but then subsequently found a slightly better rate at another website. So she submitted a rate match request for the roughly $5 a night lower rate.

Then the fun began. At first Best Western told her they couldn’t find the rate she submitted, citing their terms and conditions:

If you review the Terms and Conditions on the sixth line you will see that: ‘The competing rate must be publicly viewable and bookable via the internet at the time the claim is reviewed by a Best Western Customer Care Specialist.

A viewable rate means that the general public can view the rate on the website. A bookable rate means that the rate is available and can be reserved online.’

We were unable to view the rate you had noted on the site; you may find the complete Terms and Conditions on our website.

So she looked again, and sure enough the rate she found was still there. And still available for booking. So she resubmitted. This time there was another excuse for not honoring the guarantee.

We have processed your Low Rate Guarantee Claim. Unfortunately we regret to inform you that the claim has been denied for the following reasons: Through Best Western you booked a superior twin room with mountain view, the rate you saw on getaroom and listed in your low rate guarantee form is for a double or twin deluxe room with harbour view which is not the same room type you booked on Bestwestern.com.

The terms and conditions of the Low Rate Guarantee program state: The competing rate must be for the same hotel, dates, length of stay, currency, number of guests and similar room type.

But our intrepid traveler was still not giving up. She responded with screenshots demonstrating that the room type was indeed identical.

This time Best Western responded that they had found the matching room type on the competitor’s site, and that in fact the rate they found was slightly lower than the one Valenzuela actually found.

Happy ending, right?


Even though they’d found a slightly lower rate, her claim was denied because it was not an exact match for the one she submitted. They found a rate of HK$338.65 ($43.64) versus the HK$338.77 ($43.65) rate that Valenzuela had found. A difference of about a penny U.S.

That last denial included an ironic apology.

“We are not trying to make this difficult for our valuable guests to find the lowest rate, but we do have very strict rules to follow,” a representative said.

And so we see a good consumer policy turned around by an employee who apparently was not given any discretion to apply rules in a way that achieves that policy’s intent, making customers happy and confident in the Best Western brand. Valenzuela might have found a company official more willing to bend the rules by using the Best Western corporate contacts at our advocacy site.

Our advocacy team contacted Best Western for clarification on how its rate guarantee is applied. The company didn’t directly answer our questions, but asked us to share the details of Valenzuela’s case. Valenzuela didn’t want the case advocated, so we had to let this one go.

Should best price guarantees be more strictly regulated by the government?

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  • Jeff W.

    Voted no. Not that I am a less-regulation type person, but “Best Guarantee” declarations are more marketing. You throw in gov’t regulations and most companies will just get rid of them as it would not be worth the hassle.

    Besides, which gov’t is going to regulate this? Would an American law apply to hotel located in Hong Kong? Does it apply to the OTA? This would be quite complicated and there would be too many exceptions.

  • Flyonpa

    The “Best Rate Guarantee” is a one sided and will never work on a Price variable commodity like a Hotel Room. Since both BW and the OTA all use Yield Management Software that looks at a number of thing when coming up with the price it Displays. The OTA may be looking at the IP (Internet Address), The Time of Day, Day of Week, Cookies on the computer. Someone at BW customer support looking a hour later, a day later, few days later can/most likely get a different price. Also the act of the OP buying a room from BW effects the price on the OTA, as it removes one room from the inventory, That alone might push the OTA price up.

    The Heisenberg Principle comes into effect here: The act of looking at hotel room price can change the Hotel Room price.

  • Bill___A

    Probably they should be made to abide by their promises, it just looks bad if they don’t. That said, I try to do my research beforehand so I don’t run into this issue when it applies to hotel rooms or any other thing. This is because it is much easier to find the rate beforehand than it is to try and get a deal like this put through.

  • David___1

    Left out was whether the original booking could be cancelled without cost. If it could have then book on the competing site, which gets the rate, then cancel the BW reservation. And this helps a few ways: 1) it gets around a “policy” that is apparently only hype and 2) it costs BW real money because they are paying a commission to a third party site. I’d recommend doing this if it’s still possible (there is no indication when the stay is/was). If it can be done it hurts BW a third way for not honoring their “guarantee” because there are real costs for the time and effort of the employee that spent all this time on loopholes rather than customer service.

  • AAGK

    Was it mountain view or harbor view? The view could result in a price difference of thousands for an otherwise identical room. Also, if the price on getaroom dropped another 12 cents then why wouldn’t BW pay her smaller claim? BRGs are rarely honored anyway. Best Western looks really bad here though. Perhaps they are going out of business?

  • Chris_In_NC

    If she was most concerned about saving $5 on the room rate, cancel the BW booking and book with the 3rd party website.
    That being said, we really are missing a lot of information here. Possible reasons why the room rates are not identical could include that a room rate has a guaranteed bed type or a view. Or, the rate that she booked with BW allows point accrual or elite benefits whereas a 3rd party room rate may not, There are too many factors. I understand the desire to save money, but considering what is presented, its a lot of work for a minimal savings.

  • Harvey-6-3.5

    I’d love to see a Best Western with a price difference of thousands (of US dollars) between two rooms.

  • Harvey-6-3.5

    Love the Maxwell Smart reference. Though apparently, KAOS is overtaking CONTROL at Best Western.

  • Mel65

    Sorry it didn’t work out for her, but points to the OP for perserverance! I would probably not have pursued it unless my net gain was >$50 or so just due to the time and irritation factor of repeated submittals, but that’s just me.

  • Alan Gore

    Best Western is neatly playing off the sleaziness of so many of these third party booking sites. Trying to validate that a given rate existed on such a site at a given time is not easy. Sometimes it depends on what browser you used and whether you deleted cookies between searches.

  • Steve Rabin

    I have had trouble in the past with BW’s best price guarantee as well. They look for every nitpicky reason to deny the claim. On the other hand, best price guarantees are pretty well worthless…mostly marketing hype.

    My personal fave–a local bedding store claims they will sell a bed to you at the lowest price or it’s free…does anyone actually believe they will give away a bed rather than drop the price–they’d rather lose a little money than a lot…

  • cscasi

    Well, it finally came out to only a one cent difference in the end.

  • joycexyz

    Sounds like a lot of trouble for $5! And how can she prove that the room was the same? Could have to do with the view or some other variable. Just because they may have used the same picture of a room doesn’t mean there is no difference.

  • Maria K. Telegdy

    Really, “Harbor view or Mountain view”? I need a room to sleep in, not to look at the Mountains or the Harbor, I can do that outside sitting on a bench by the water………not to pay for it…….

  • Wuerzburg

    You can probably get that much difference on some BW hotels in Europe. At one time, there were 2 five star Best Westerns in Paris. BW has some fantastic properties in Europe. Since all BW’s are independently owned, you can stay in many 4 star BW hotels outside the USA

  • jsn55

    The Best Western chain never gets it quite right. They pitch this kind of marketing gimmick, then when a customer steps up, they deny the claim. If you’re gonna play with the big boys, BW, you need to pay some attention to your customers and not insult them.

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