Why won’t Expedia honor its “Best Price Guarantee”?

When Shiva Ramnarine wanted to go to London, he purchased three tickets for his family through Expedia. After purchasing the tickets he continued searching for cheaper tickets for the same trip. And his search was successful.

As he had found cheaper tickets, he thought he would apply for a refund of the difference in the fares, from Expedia under its Best Price Guarantee.

But Expedia refused to give a refund, so now Ramnarine wants our assistance in getting it to honor its Best Price Guarantee. But can we help?

Ramnarine’s story is reminder to check and understand the terms of any price guarantee. It’s also a study of what not to do once you have booked a flight — namely, to keep on searching for a cheaper flight. And of course, the same is true for a hotel stay or car rental.

I’ll let Ramnarine explain how it all started.

“On the 17th March 2017 I booked three plane tickets from New York to London for me and my family on Expedia at a cost of $2,246,” he told us.

So far, so good.

“I know I shouldn’t have continued looking for cheaper flights afterward but I did and on 18 March 2017 I found the same flight on Vayama for $2,179.”

You’re right; you shouldn’t have done that.

Now I know what you’re thinking. Because of the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) 24-hour reservation requirement, you can cancel your flight for free within 24 hours of booking. So why not continue looking?

Well, it isn’t as straightforward as that. The DOT guidance allows airlines to choose to either give a free cancellation within the first 24 hours or to allow a reservation to be held at the quoted fare for 24 hours.

You therefore need to make sure you know which policy the airline has chosen. And even if the airline does allow cancellation within 24 hours, you need to make sure you don’t forget to cancel within that period.

My advice is to do your searching before you book, not afterwards. That way you don’t have to worry about which policy applies or whether you are canceling in time.

“I immediately filled out a Best Price Guarantee Claim, as it was less than the 24 hours required to make a claim.” Ramnarine explained. “I filled out all the required information including the screenshot of the cheaper fare.”

Expedia’s Best Price Guarantee means that if you find a cheaper flight, vacation package, rental car, cruise or activity within 24 hours of booking, Expedia will refund the difference and give you a $50 coupon for future travel.

Ramnarine received an automated response to his claim, stating that he would receive a response within 72 hours. He did not. In fact a whole week passed without a reply, so he chased Expedia for a response.

“They did respond and said that they checked and unfortunately I did not make my claim in time, which I did, and that the current fare on Vayama was now higher and that nothing could be done.” Rammarien explains.

As Ramnarine said, he had made the claim within 24 hours. “Obviously they didn’t check when I made the first claim and delayed it to the point where the fare went up enough.”

To be fair to Expedia, both of those things can’t be true. If it hadn’t checked when he made the first claim, then how would it know how long to delay before responding? Also, there wasn’t any evidence that it did delay responding just to allow the price to go up — and I confess I doubt Expedia would do that.

Ramnarine wrote back to Expedia, and again his claim was rejected, but this time for a different reason:

”We checked the screenshot and found that it does not show the cabin class. The screenshot must show the complete details of the reservation including the cancellation and change policy, cabin class, and number of passengers. Thus, we emulated the same exact reservation at “www.vayama.com” for your travel dates and found that the current rate offered was USD2,635.65. Due to this, we are unable to process your claim.”

I cannot recommend Ramnarine’s response to Expedia:

“I submitted a claim that day and all classes are economy unless you think Vayama was placing me on the wing outside!”

I can understand his frustration but being sarcastic, even just a little, won’t help your case.

In this case, however, sarcasm didn’t put Expedia off from replying:

”Our Price Guarantee policy only applies when the lower rate is available for booking at the time you contact us. Your screenshot lacks important information. However, we emulated the same exact reservation for your travel dates and the current rate offered was higher than what you paid.

The price not being lower on the competitor site means the Price Guarantee does not apply in this case, and we are confident that the original Expedia price offers you the best value for your trip.”

It was at this point that Ramnarine contacted us to see if our advocates could help him get a refund. One of our advocates wrote to Expedia. It looked again at the case and told both Ramnarine and our advocate yet another reason why the Best Price Guarantee did not apply:

I reviewed the screenshot you initially provided on March 18, 2017 and confirmed the flights do not match what you reserved in your original itinerary. Your flight departing London Heathrow Airport is scheduled for 5:30pm. The flight you found on Vayama.com departing from London Heathrow Airport is scheduled for 2:00pm. For this reason, we are unable to approve your Best Price Guarantee request and process a refund for the difference.

Ooops!

That explains why Ramnarine was not entitled to a refund under the Best Price Guarantee: He had found similar, but not identical flights.

On our forums we see cases of companies trying to find any exclusions or reasons to avoid paying under such guarantees. In this case, however, Expedia was right to deny the claim. If it didn’t require like-for-like bookings on something as fundamental as the same flight, it would often be paying out — and that would mean prices would increase for consumers to cover the cost.

Because of this, we could not get Ramnarine his $67 refund, and this is filed under “Case Dismissed.”

Underwritten by

Underwritten by AirHelp

AirHelp is the world’s leading flight delays compensation company, helping passengers apply for compensation following a delayed or canceled flight or when boarding has been denied. It is AirHelp’s mission to fight for passenger rights by holding airlines accountable for flights disruptions that are out of passengers’ control. AirHelp has already helped 5 million people, taking the stress out of applying for compensation and making it as hassle-free as possible for travelers around the world.

Underwritten by Allianz Travel Insurance

The Allianz Travel Insurance company has built its reputation on partnering with agents all around the world to provide comprehensive travel insurance for their clients. Contact Allianz Travel Insurance for a comprehensive list of coverage.

Underwritten by Chubb

Chubb is the world’s largest publicly traded property and casualty insurance company, and recognized as the premier provider of insurance for successful individuals and families in the U.S. and selected international markets, offering coverage for high-value automobile, homeowners, recreational marine/aviation, valuables and umbrella liability coverage. As an underwriting company, Chubb assesses, assumes and manages risk with insight and discipline, and combines the precision of craftsmanship with decades of experience to conceive, craft and deliver the best insurance coverage and services to individuals, families and business of all size.

Underwritten by Enterprise

A family-owned, world-class portfolio of brands. A global network that spans across more than 85 countries. Some 97,000 dedicated team members sharing common values. And more than 1.9 million vehicles taking our customers wherever they need to go.

Underwritten by Fareportal

Fareportal’s portfolio of brands, which include  CheapOair and  OneTravel, are dedicated to helping customers enjoy their trip. Whether you want to call, click, or use one of our travel apps, one thing is clear: We make it easy to take it easy.

Underwritten by Insuremyrentalcar.com

An independent provider of low cost CDW/LDW insurance for use with rental cars. Up to $100,000 cover with no deductible. Policies available on a per day, per trip or per year basis. Also works with overseas rentals. Try  Insuremyrentalcar.comnow.

Underwritten by InsureMyTrip

It’s simple. InsureMyTrip finds you the right travel insurance plan, every time. InsureMyTrip is the authority on travel insurance. Rated A+ for travel insurance by the Better Business Bureau. All travelers that purchase a policy through  InsureMyTrip have access to Anytime Advocates® for claims assistance.

Underwritten by Mediacom Communications

The nation’s fifth-largest cable operator, serving the smaller cities and towns in the Midwest and Southern regions of the United States. We are a high-performance broadband, entertainment, and communications company that brings the power of modern technology and quality customer experience to life inside the connected home by combining ultra-fast gigabit speeds with personalized local and over-the-top entertainment choices that fit your lifestyle. Details at  Mediacomcable.com.

Underwritten by SCOTTeVEST

An innovative apparel brand for people who want easy access to everything they need. For those who live for every second, SCOTTeVEST lets you maximize your life. Ditch the carry-on bag and pick up a  SCOTTeVEST.

Underwritten by Virtuoso

The leading global network for luxury and experiential travel. This invitation-only organization comprises over 1,000 travel agency locations with 17,500 advisors in over 45 countries, and holds preferred relationships with 1,700 of the world’s finest travel companies. Virtuoso advisors collaborate with their clients to create personalized itineraries featuring exclusive perks, while also providing advice, access, advocacy, and accountability. For more information, visit  Virtuoso.com.

Underwritten by VisitorsCoverage

As a company that is constantly striving to simplify travel insurance, VisitorsCoverage, is on a mission to help travelers make the better decisions about purchasing travel insurance, quickly. VisitorsCoverage has helped millions of travelers globally to buy the suitable travel insurance and explore the world with confidence. Get insurance for your next trip at  VisitorsCoverage. Lowest Price Guaranteed.

Underwritten by MedjetAssist

Medjet is the premier global air-medical transport, travel security and crisis response membership program for travelers. With a MedjetAssist membership, if you become hospitalized more than 150 miles from home, we will get you from that unfamiliar hospital all the way home to the hospital you trust. All you ever pay is your membership fee. MedjetHorizon members add 24/7 personal security and crisis response benefits. Elliott.org readers enjoy discounted rates. Travel safer with  MedjetAssist.

Underwritten by Southwest Airlines

The mission of Southwest Airlines is dedication to the highest quality of Customer Service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and Company Spirit. We are committed to provide our Employees a stable work environment with equal opportunity for learning and personal growth.

Underwritten by Sungard Availability Services

Leveraging more than 35 years of experience, Sungard AS designs, builds and runs critical IT services that help businesses manage complex IT, adapt quickly and build resiliency and availability. A leading provider of critical production and recovery services, Sungard AS partners with customers across the globe, delivering resilient IT systems, infrastructure and recovery services tailored to achieving desired business outcomes.

Underwritten by TravelInsurance.com

TravelInsurance.com makes it fast and easy to compare and buy travel insurance online from top rated providers. Our unbiased comparison engine allows travelers to read reviews, compare pricing and benefits and buy the right policy with a price guarantee, every time. Compare and buy travel insurance now at  TravelInsurance.com.

Underwritten by Squaremouth

Squaremouth helps travelers easily and instantly compare travel insurance policies from all major providers. Only companies that meet the strict requirements of Squaremouth’s Zero Complaint Guarantee are available on the website. Compare policies on  Squaremouth.com to save over 70 percent on your next purchase.

Underwritten by Travel Leaders Group

Travel Leaders Group is transforming travel through its progressive approach toward each unique travel experience. Travel Leaders Group assists millions of travelers through its leisure, business and network travel operations under a variety of diversified divisions and brands including All Aboard Travel, Andrew Harper Travel, Colletts Travel, Corporate Travel Services, CruCon Cruise Outlet, Cruise Specialists, Nexion, Protravel International, SinglesCruise.com, Travel Leaders Corporate, Travel Leaders Network and Tzell Travel Group, and its merger with ALTOUR. With more than 7,000 agency locations and 52,000 travel advisors, Travel Leaders Group ranks as one of the industry’s largest retail travel agency companies.

Underwritten by Travelers United

If you’ve been mistreated by the airlines, Travelers United is your voice in Washington. Join the #1 travel advocacy organization working with Congress to improve and protect travelers. Plus, get $400 of annual benefits you can use for travel for only $29/year. Add your voice to ours. Make travel better.  Join today.

%d bloggers like this:
Get smart. Sign up for the newsletter.