Paris for 10 euros a night — uh, make that 100 euros

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By Christopher Elliott

Patrick Kerr books a hotel in Paris for the unbelievable rate of 10 euros a night. Then Travelocity, his online agency, changes the rate to 100 euros but promises a refund. But it offers him a voucher, instead. What should Kerr do?

Question

I recently booked a hotel in Paris through Travelocity for 10 euros a night. Great rate, huh? Afterward, I booked airline tickets separately.

Not long after that, in the course of e-mail conversations with the hotel, they told me this was a mistake and that they could not honor the rate. Instead, they offered to increase my rate to 100 euros a night.

I then contacted Travelocity via phone, told them the problem and they called back and left me a voice mail saying it was a mistake and to go ahead and travel and then when I got back to contact the consumer relations department for a refund. I still have the voicemail. I contacted the hotel via e-mail and I said I would accept the new rate.

Now Travelocity has offered me a $50 voucher for my trouble. A few days later, they upped it to $250. This is pretty much worthless to me as I usually travel using miles and book my hotels using points. Can you help? — Patrick Kerr, St Louis

Answer

You’re right, that’s a great rate for a hotel room. Unbelievably good. And if Travelocity hadn’t left a voice mail promising to refund 90 euros a night, your case wouldn’t stand much of a chance.

Think of it like this: If you see a kitchen appliance on sale for 99 cents at the department store, instead of $99, would you demand the store honor the first price? No. Someone obviously put the wrong tag on the merchandise.

Contacting Travelocity was a good call. Saving the voice mail was even smarter. An email might have worked in this case, too. But the point is, you have a Travelocity representative on tape promising to make good — and it didn’t.

Do I really need to quote the Travelocity “Guarantee” that promises, “Everything about your booking will be right, or we’ll work with our partners to make it right, right away.” No, I don’t.

Sodexo North America is part of a global, Fortune 500 company with a presence in 80 countries. Sodexo is a leading provider of integrated food, facilities management and other services that enhance organizational performance, contribute to local communities and improve quality of life for millions of customers in corporate, education, healthcare, senior living, sports and leisure, government and other environments daily. Learn more at Sodexoinsights.com.

Ensuring Travelocity’s accountability

Never mind guarantees. If a company promises you something — as in, a refund of your rate — it should deliver.

I have mixed feelings about your problem. On the one hand, Travelocity shouldn’t have offered to pay the difference between the real rate and something that was obviously a decimal point error. On the other hand, because it did, I think it should be held to its promise — not allowed to backtrack and offer you a voucher. (Related: Travelocity refund problem. Where’s my $4,000?)

I would advise you to review each price carefully before booking. But a 10-euro a night hotel room in Paris at the time you were buying it, when hotel rates were at their lowest levels in decades, almost could have been correct.

This is all so confusing. (Here’s the best travel advice.)

I contacted Travelocity on your behalf. It took another look at your case and found “obvious breakdowns in communication,” for which it apologized. You’ve received a full refund, as promised.

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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.

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