Is Expedia’s “Best Price Guarantee” for real?


Mimi Tays tries for Expedia’s “Best Price Guarantee” on a trip from Seattle to San José del Cabo, Mexico, but receives repeated delays and denials. Is this case headed for the recycler?

Question: I recently applied for Expedia’s “Best Price Guarantee” after booking a package reservation to San José del Cabo, Mexico.

My flight and hotel dates and times were exactly the same. Expedia denied my request by stating that Expedia’s cancellation policy and Hotwire’s cancellation policy were not exactly the same. They were almost word for word.

I feel that they are using this “Best Price Guarantee” as a tactic to get people to come to their site. I have emailed numerous times back and forth and am currently on hold with them (have been for 30 minutes).

Expedia told me the decision was “final,” and I asked for proof that they actually ever honor a best price claim. I was put off with stock answers that were not even what I was asking and finally was transferred to someone who supposedly could provide some sort of proof. That is who I have been holding for. They keep picking up (I can hear the call center in the background), but no one is talking and I just keep getting put back on hold. I think they are trying to see if I will just give up and hang up.

I would like my money refunded. And if not, then at least some sort of proof to show this is not a scam and that people do actually get money refunded. — Mimi Tays, Granite Falls, Wash.

Answer: I can assure you that Expedia’s “Best Price Guarantee” is real. (Scroll to the bottom of this story if you don’t believe me.) The question is: Is it real for you?

Related story:   Why did Carmel forget to take us to the airport and refuse our refund?

It’s true, in order for the guarantee to be successfully invoked, you have to present Expedia with an exact match.

Quoting directly from the terms:

The Best Price Guarantee is available only for exact itinerary matches. For example, the specific airline and cabin class (First, Business, Premium Economy or Coach/Economy), hotel (including room type), ship and cabin category, rental car company and vehicle class, applicable refund policy, and the exact same dates and times of travel or service as booked through Expedia.com.

For any stand-alone product booking (for example, a hotel room or an airline ticket), the comparison must be to the same product purchased stand-alone through another website (i.e., not part of a hotel + air travel package).

Here’s where Expedia split hairs. It claims the product wasn’t an exact match because the cancellation policies were an imprecise match — a fine distinction, indeed. And it becomes an even finer one when you consider that Expedia owns Hotwire.

In other words, Expedia has ensured it won’t ever have to price-match its Hotwire inventory by changing the fine print in its own terms. How clever!

Or not.

Our advocacy team didn’t think Expedia was abiding by the spirit of its “Best Price Guarantee.” You could have contacted an executive at the online travel agency — we list the names and numbers on my advocacy site — but after reviewing your paperwork, we felt you’d endured enough.

We contacted Expedia on your behalf. The company agreed to reopen your Best Price Guarantee claim, and after carefully reviewing it, Expedia approved your request for refund of the difference in price. You’ve received a $121 refund.

Related story:   One year later, our refund is MIA

Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is an author, journalist and consumer advocate. You can read more about him on his personal website or check out his adventures on his family adventure travel site. Contact him at chris@elliott.org. Read more of Christopher's articles here.

  • Annie M

    I don’t understand this splitting hairs. I just tried to book the same hotel on both sites. This is the cancellation policy on each and they are exactly the same:
    Hotwire
    Cancellations or changes made after 5:00PM (Atlantic
    Daylight Time) on Mon, Aug 22 or no-shows are subject to a hotel fee equal to
    the first night’s rate plus taxes and fees.

    Expedia

    Cancellations or changes made after 5:00PM (Atlantic
    Daylight Time) on Mon, Aug 22 or no-shows are subject to a hotel fee equal to
    the first night’s rate plus taxes and fees.

    What is the difference they speak about?

    If it is that fine of a designation, they should be reported to the Attorney General of the State or the Consumer Affairs Dept. about their Best Price Claim. It is extremely misleading to say the least.

  • AJPeabody

    All those best price guarantees are written to make it virtually impossible to meet the terms. I suspect that Expedia was so used to denying every claim that it was incapable of recognizing a legitimate one.

  • Kairho

    Maybe Expedia changed their practice of having slightly different cancellation policies. That would have been prudent when they realized the differences.

  • Ward Chartier

    I’m waiting for the exclusion policy that requires hopping up and down on one’s left foot while singing Yankee Doodle Dandy backwards on a Tuesday morning before issuing a refund.

  • cscasi

    Wonder if Expedia may have gone in and changed the language so that both sites have the exact same language after Chris and team advocated for Mimi? That would prevent future issues like this.
    Also, sometimes appealing the first decision and getting a second look can produce positive results. Glad she got the price difference sent to her.

  • jim6555

    What gives with using “Atlantic Daylight Time” in the cancellation policies of both companies? Atlantic Standard Time is not found anywhere in the continental United States. It is in use in the Maritime Provinces of Canada and islands in the eastern Caribbean Sea.

  • Don Spilky

    Seriously? Expedia OWNS Hotwire??? That’s just flat out disgusting.

  • Lindabator

    Not ALL bookings on hotwire have the same cancellation policies – some are more restrictive

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