What’s the difference between pesos and dollars? John Flanagan knows, but he wonders if Hotels.com does.
Flanagan recently made a reservation at the Oceano Palace in Mazatlán for what he thought was 667 pesos a night — a price he was pretty sure was a fat-finger rate — but was subsequently charged $667.
A “fat-finger” rate, for those of you just tuning in, is a price error. It happens from time to time with currency conversions. We generally frown upon the folks who take advantage of these mistakes, and especially those who do it in a systematic, premeditated way.
“I want hotels.com to return $600 to me,” he says, promising to send the money to us in exchange for our help. How generous!
Disclosure: We did not take his case because of his promise. Our team did, however, think that if Hotels.com quoted a 667 peso-a-night room, it should explain what happened.
If the Hotels.com rate is right, he would pay just $35 per night for a luxury hotel. That’s really inexpensive, and from where I’m standing, it looks like a rate error, too.
Flanagan is certain he saw that rate in pesos. When he checked out of the hotel, a representative handed him a bill for 11,447 pesos — nine times the rate he says he expected to pay.
Flanagan contacted Hotels.com. “They replied with a ‘so-what’ attitude in writing,” he says. “Then, in a phone inquiry, a representative said, ‘Too bad. Tough. You lose.'”
Really? A Hotels.com representative said, “You lose“?
“I can’t believe that customer service attitude, especially when you dare read their publicity about their wonderful selves,” he added. “Yes, legally, I suppose, I did click on the ‘accept’ box, but… come on, when I was so polite and explained the circumstance, how can they react that way?”
In order to prove Hotels.com was quoting its rates in pesos, we’d need a screen shot, which Flanagan didn’t have.
Our team asked Hotels.com and it verified: The rate was in dollars. No further explanation.
I’m not completely unsympathetic to Flanagan. Online booking systems can be confusing, and if he thinks he saw a peso rate (even if he really didn’t), then that means to me that the display could have been clearer. There’s only one beneficiary of an unclear, potentially misleading display: the online booking agency.
All the more reason to double-check your rate and call the online agency or the hotel, if necessary. Flanagan shouldn’t have assumed the Oceano Palace was offering a $35-a-night room and then hoped the property would honor it, even if it was a mistake.
Don’t get me wrong. Flanagan is one guy, and he didn’t go to one of those bottom-feeding loyalty program fan sites to find out about this mistake and then tried to book a block of rooms. This was one guy, one night. But it looked too good to be true, and in the end, it was.