For you, a special price: more!

Ariwasabi/Shutterstock
Ariwasabi/Shutterstock

Mark Hegeberg thought National would reward him with a lower price in exchange for his loyalty to the car rental company. So when he was looking for a car in Mexico, he clicked on the company’s website and volunteered his Emerald Club number.

“I checked reservations using my Emerald Club number and thought the charges were high,” remembers Hegeberg, who works for a packaged goods company in Mill Creek, Wash. A one-week, full-size rental in Los Cabos during August came to $246 with his membership, he says.

“Then I checked rentals without using my Emerald number and found them to be significantly less,” he says. The site returned a rate of $126 for the week — almost half the amount.

“Quite a difference,” says Hegeberg.

What’s going on?
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Yes, your online travel agency sees E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G

Featureflash / Shutterstock.com
Featureflash / Shutterstock.com
How much does your online travel agency know about your reservation? If you said “too much” then you must still be upset about that whole NSA affair. I can’t blame you. Or, maybe you’re thinking of the legendary screenshots a company like Priceline produces when they’re challenged on a nonrefundable reservation.

I say “legendary” because no one I know has actually seen these images. Until now.

Here’s the case that prompted the disclosure: Mike Flanigan contacted me a few weeks ago and said he booked a flight, hotel, and car rental on Priceline, and needed to change the dates afterwards.
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Oh no, Budget had second thoughts about my discount

Maria Scaldina/Shutterstock
Maria Scaldina/Shutterstock
Question: I’d like to share my recent Budget Car Rental experience with you that has me committed to never doing business with them again.

A couple weeks ago I received a voicemail saying the Budget at the Kansas City airport would be charging me an extra $104 because an “internal audit” found they gave me too much of a discount. My receipt shows the $85 discount, which seemed right since there was an advertised discount.

So, they billed my credit card without my authorization, and then added in all the additional taxes and fees to bring the amount up to $104. I called Budget corporate and the franchise, but nobody would help fix the issue, even though I had a receipt to prove we “agreed” on the lesser amount.
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Is Target’s price-match guarantee an empty promise?

1-TargetQuestion: I recently tried to price-match merchandise at a Target store in Framingham, Mass. I had read the price match policy online, and I was sure I was eligible. But I was denied.

I followed up with the corporate 1-800 number, and was twice given the same
(startling) answer: Target will not price match any printed ad that is not valid for an entire week. They exclude these ads because they are “timed” events, like door-busters and early-bird sales.
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They showed her the net rate and now she wants it

Eleanore Brouhard knows a secret.

When she checked out of her hotel, it revealed the “net” rate it was charging her online travel agency — a number far lower than the one she was quoted. Now she wants the hotel to honor the lower price for her.

I get requests like hers with some regularity, and I normally tell them they’re out of luck. If you bought hotel rooms in large blocks, you might qualify for a low rate, but not as a single traveler. But lately, I’ve had second thoughts about that response, and I’m thinking of mediating one of these cases. Maybe you can help me figure this out.
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