Best price loophole leaves Antigua visitor high and dry

After Craig Simpson booked a six-night stay at the Cocos Hotel on Antigua, he wondered if the $312 rate was the lowest available. It’s a good thing Expedia offers a “Best Price Guarantee” so you customers like him can “always book your trip with confidence.” The identical room was $293 a night through the hotel’s Web site.

Trouble is, Expedia’s guarantee didn’t apply to his purchase. Simpson explains:

They say the Web site where I found the better price is not an American-based Web site. Of course it’s not American-based! I’m taking a trip to the Caribbean. Why would an Antiguan hotel have an American-based Web site?


Indeed, Expedia’s Best Price Guarantee has a provision that “in the unlikely event that you find a lower rate on Expedia.com or on another U.S.-based website within 24 hours of booking with Expedia.com, we will credit or refund to you the difference.”

Got that? U.S.-based site.

(Yesterday, when I reviewed Expedia’s policy, I missed that provision too — but it’s there, as some of you eagle-eyed commenters have pointed out. That’s what you get for reading a contract at 5 a.m.)

But is the Cocos’ site a U.S.-based site? After all, it ends in “.com”. I contacted Expedia on Simpson’s behalf, just to be sure.

By the way, as a last resort, he could have emailed someone at a higher level at Expedia. But a review of Simpson’s email correspondence with Expedia suggest the response wouldn’t have changed.

Late last week, I got an update from him:

I just wanted to let you know that I received an email from Expedia refunding my credit card $116 for the overcharge of the hotel. Thank you so much for your assistance in this matter. I really appreciate it.

I think if you’re doing business internationally, like Expedia, an “America-only” clause in a guarantee is disingenuous. Don’t you?

Related story:   Is United Airlines getting a customer service upgrade?

(Photo: •• Federì ••/Flickr Creative Commons)

Update (3/9): Here’s Expedia’s follow-up email to Simpson. Looks as if the company is mulling a policy change based on his complaint.

The feedback you have provided has helped us to identify an area of policy that is under review to consider changes to help improve the clarity of our policy moving forward.

We have refunded the $116.00 back to the original form of payment used to purchase your package. The time it takes to post the refund to your account depends on how quickly your credit card company processes refunds. An email receipt has also been sent to your email address associated with your Expedia.com.

In addition, we have applied a $50.00 Best Price Guarantee Coupon into your account. This Best Price Guarantee Coupon is valid for one year and can be used towards a future Expedia Special Rate Hotel or Vacation Package purchase. Please log into your Expedia.com account to review the complete detailed Terms and Conditions governing the coupon.

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.

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