Hey, AARP Travel Center, why doesn’t your best price guarantee work?

When a company’s “best price” guarantee ends up not offering the best price, how long should it take them to refund the difference?

Question: Using Expedia’s AARP Travel Center, we booked a vacation to visit our son in Daytona for $480. They have a best price guarantee that states if you find a cheaper price within 24 hours of booking, they will honor the lower price and send you a $50 check. I found two different online sites within the 24-hour period that quoted $435, which is lower than we paid. I submitted these separately to AARP Travel Center, using their online form, and received a reply that they would review and within 48 hours and advise me of their decision.

Four days later, I have not heard back from them. I would like to request your assistance in getting them to honor the lower price as their guarantee promised, sending the $50 check, and persuading them to award additional compensation for all this hassle. — Rebecca Malatt, Hedgesville, West Virginia

Answer: Companies are always quick to take your money, but when it comes to giving it back, the wheels don’t move nearly as quickly. You would think that a company with a best price guarantee would either do its due diligence and ensure they actually do have a lower price or be a little quicker about the resolution when they don’t. Ironically, one of the lower fares you found was on Hotels.com, which is owned by Expedia.

The AARP Travel Center is “Powered by Expedia,” and clearly states their Best Price Guarantee on their website. As noted on their website, should you find a cheaper rate within 24 hours of booking the exact same vacation on their site, they will refund you the difference and provide you with a $50 travel coupon (not a $50 check). This coupon is not really an apology, by the way — it’s a customer retention policy, or rather, an incentive to spend more money with them, dressed up like an apology.

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You booked your hotel through the AARP Travel Center website, then found not one, but two cheaper fares, and reported them, using the online form and providing documentation, within 24 hours. You received two replies: one promising a response within 48 hours, and the other asking you to call a specific customer assistance number. Had you called the number and spoken to someone, this process might have gone quicker.

You did, however, email customer service, and when you didn’t get a response, you escalated your case to the executive contacts listed on our website for Expedia, as we often suggest. You also contacted us to ask for assistance.

We reached out to our contacts at Expedia. They sent you an email apologizing for the delay, but didn’t explain it. Could it have been because this happened during the holidays and they were either on vacation or bogged down in holiday traveler claims? Did their wires get crossed and they were waiting for a call from you? Who knows?

They also acknowledged the lower price you found and promised to abide by their guarantee. Once your stay in Daytona is complete, simply send them a copy of your bill, and they have promised to refund the $45 difference in price and credit you with a $50 travel voucher.

All in all, the resolution took 11 days. I’ve certainly seen much worse, but it’s definitely not the 48 hours they promised when you applied for the refund. When someone else is holding your money, that extra nine days can feel like an eternity.

Michelle Bell

Michelle worked in the travel and hospitality industry for almost two decades. Born in Germany, she has lived in 15 states and two foreign countries, and traveled to more than 35 countries. After living and working in Southeast Asia for several years, she now resides in New Orleans. Read more of Michelle Bell's articles here.

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