Why won’t InterContinental Hotels honor its “best” price guarantee?

A $275-a-night rate at an all-suites hotel on Times Square is not a bad deal. But $255 is an even better deal, and Joan Kozon thinks InterContinental Hotels should honor it.

Why? Because it has a “best price” guarantee that says it will. And she filled out the form and furnished proof of the better rate.

But InterContinental Hotels said “no.”

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Kozon’s complaint, sadly, is to be found in my Case Dismissed folder – a place where good grievances go to die. I’m writing about it more as a cautionary tale to those of you who think “best price” guarantees are worth anything.

Here’s what happened to Kozon: She found the $275 rate on the IHG.com site for Candlewood Suites Times Square (Candlewood is one of IHG’s brands). Then she went to Trivago and found the lower rate on Expedia.

(May I just add a little note? Sometimes, when you’ve made a reservation like this, you should resist the temptation to give in to buyer’s remorse. You’re better off not knowing how much cheaper the room is on another site.)

“I submitted their required claim form within 24 hours of booking my reservation,” she says. “When I found a lower rate, I actually booked a reservation on the same day — for only one night — with Expedia, just in case I needed proof of the lower rate.”

Ah, but that’s not how it works. In order for the BRG to be successfully invoked, the person at the other end of the claim has to be able to pull up the price.

“When they checked, they couldn’t find the rate on Trivago,” she says. “The rate on Expedia was higher.”

Her existing Expedia reservation didn’t count because it was only for one night. She planned to stay in New York a week.

“None of these excuses hold any water,” says Kozon. “I was not required to actually book the lower price reservation, but now they are using that as an excuse as to why they won’t honor the hotel’s price guarantee.”

Here’s IHG’s response:

First of all, we would like to extend our apologies for any inconvenience this may have caused you. We certainly recognize your view regarding this matter and we understand where you are coming from.

On your initial response, you are aware that rates change. Comparing the average nightly rate of 1 night and 7 nights will definitely have an impact. Please be informed that the rates that you are claiming on www.expedia.com is higher than your reservation.

Thank you for your understanding. Should you have any questions or concerns please do not hesitate to contact us via e-mail.

I reviewed all the correspondence between Kozon and IHG and thought there might be a way to quietly fix this. After all, I have a longstanding relationship with the hotel chain and in the end, we’re talking about $20 here. What’s $20 between friends?

IHG did not respond to me. It sent her another rejection email.

The bottom line is, IHG is correct. It can make whatever rules it wants and it can interpret them any way it wants. Does Kozon understand the ins and outs of hotel pricing? She does not.

Should she have to? No.

And please don’t call it a best price “guarantee.” It’s more of a best price gimmick with these rules.

For those of you out there who think booking first and then finding a lower rate later is a good way of shopping for hotel rooms, please talk to Joan Kozon first. She’ll tell you about her experience trying to get InterContinental Hotels and the Candlewood Suites Times Square to honor its price guarantee.

But first, there’s a hotel rate reservation she has to cancel …

Should InterContinental have honored Joan Kozon's claim?

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