After a Booking.com price error, am I stuck with this room?

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By Christopher Elliott

The rate for Carrie Cleveland’s apartment in Brooklyn is $125 a night, not the $46 to which she agreed when she made the reservation. Her online agency gives her one choice: pay the new rate. What can she do about this Booking.com price error?

Question

I’d like your opinion on an email we received yesterday about a lodging reservation in Brooklyn I made through Booking.com.

I made the reservation more than a month ago at Apartment Reggae Den, a vacation rental property. Yesterday, I received an email that Booking.com had the wrong rate posted on its website. The price wasn’t $46 a night, but $125 a night.

When Booking.com accepted my reservation, I stopped looking for other locations and now have few options in the area. I needed lodging. Booking.com seems to not allow any changes from the customer’s end regarding this reservation. What should I do? — Carrie Cleveland, Burnsville, Minn.

Answer

You want my opinion? I think Booking.com should honor its price.

Your dilemma is a little bit like a Chinese finger trap. Booking.com won’t let you cancel your reservation because the deadline for making a change has passed. At the same time, it’s almost tripled the price of your accommodations. That doesn’t seem fair.

This isn’t an obvious “fat-finger” fare — the kind where someone at the online agency makes a decimal point error, giving away $400 hotel rooms for $40. I think $46 looked like a terrific price, and the Booking.com reservation was a contract for that room — a deal it should honor.

OK, some of you skeptics are probably thinking, “$46 in Brooklyn? Get outta here!” And in the past, I’ve taken a dim view of readers who take advantage of rate errors. If you’d made several reservations at that rate and told all of your friends to do the same thing, I might send this Booking.com price error case to the “rejected” file. But this was just you, looking for a good deal on lodging in New York.

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Fixing this Booking.com price error

Your online travel agency should have worked with you to resolve this Booking.com price error. I list the names, numbers and email addresses of the Booking.com executives on my consumer advocacy site.

I reviewed the paper trail between you and Booking.com. The Reggae Den is responsible for entering the correct rate information on Booking.com, according to the booking site.

It turns out Booking.com would have allowed you to cancel this reservation, so you had the option of getting a full refund and finding alternate accommodations. (Related: A little bed problem on my Booking.com reservation.)

But was this another a Booking.com price error? In fact, it wasn’t.

“It is not Booking.com that owns this property and therefore cannot honor any reservation that was made with an obvious error in rates,” a representative told you in an email. “You will not be able to find a one-bedroom apartment in any of the five boroughs for $46 per night. These rates are obviously wrong and therefore not binding.” (Here’s how to find the best hotel at the lowest rate.)

I wasn’t happy with that answer, so I contacted Booking.com on your behalf. It apologized to you and offered a $150 voucher good for a future booking, which you accepted. I hope you enjoy your stay in New York.

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Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is the founder of Elliott Advocacy, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that empowers consumers to solve their problems and helps those who can't. He's the author of numerous books on consumer advocacy and writes three nationally syndicated columns. He also publishes the Elliott Report, a news site for consumers, and Elliott Confidential, a critically acclaimed newsletter about customer service. If you have a consumer problem you can't solve, contact him directly through his advocacy website. You can also follow him on X, Facebook, and LinkedIn, or sign up for his daily newsletter. He is based in Panamá City.

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