IHG (Intercontinental Hotel Group) Best Price Guarantee Disaster

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For a follow-up to this post including the resolution click here.

A couple of days ago I was dreaming of a staycation and searching a few sites for hotels.  I eventually booked a room at the Venetian Hotel & Casino here in Las Vegas directly through IHG’s website.  They have banners plastered all over their website about their “Best Price Guarantee” (Or Best Rate Guarantee as some call it).  The promise is that if you find a lower price on a competitor’s site within twenty-four hours, all you have to do is inform them and they will give you the first night free and lower the price on all subsequent nights.  Within a couple of minutes of booking, this exact situation happened.  The lowest price (and the one I booked) on IHG.com was $20 higher than Priceline.

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Before I had booked and once again before calling in, I looked over the terms and conditions.  The fine print states that other site’s rate had to be lower overall including taxes, had to be verifiable, for the same room type and for the same dates.  All of these things applied and so Jasmine quickly called in. (The booking was in her name.)  On the phone, the agent took some information and informed her they would make a determination within an hour.  A short time after she got off of the phone, IHG decided to lower their rate online to match Priceline.  About thirty minutes later we received an email stating that because IHG now had a rate that was the same as Priceline that our claim was denied.  Basically they were saying that it was in their terms and conditions to deny a claim even if the lower rate wasn’t available on their site at the time of booking.

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Before responding, I read the fine print again and there is no mention of this.  How could I book their lowest rate at the time, find a lower one somewhere else, inform them of it, have them respond by lowering their rate and then be denied because they lowered the rate based on my information. (I have no proof that they lowered it based on the call, but I have proof it was lowered after we called in.)  The Best Price (Rate) Guarantee relates to the lowest rate on their site at the time of booking, not when they decide to verify it after lowering the rate.

I thought that this was a simple mistake, so I replied to the email and was quickly told the same thing and that their denial was not a mistake.   The next day Jasmine and I both spoke to a representative in the call center who refused to let us speak to a supervisor.  We then contacted IHG through their Twitter handle and customer service email.  They forwarded our information back to the Best Price (Rate) Guarantee Department and told us someone would respond.  A few hours later another non-management employee sent an email with the same policy. (They claim this is in their terms and conditions, but it is not.)  For two days we have been trying to speak to at least a supervisor and the company will not allow this to happen.

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I have now sent an email to some higher-ups in the company with the hopes that they will either resolve this or get someone in contact with us who can.  We have been good customers to IHG and stayed at many of their properties on our recent three month trip to Europe.  I am not complaining that I was denied based on something in the fine print, but something that they are making up that ISN’T there.  Even though this process thus far has been incredibly difficult, I still have high hopes that they will come through.  Stay tuned for an update!

For a follow-up to this post including the resolution click here.


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17 COMMENTS

  1. I wish you luck. I too am livid with IHG for exactly the same reason. What they stipulate in the terms and conditions of the guarantee mutate into outrageous definitions that they pluck out of the sky. I was denied last week because the third party website couldn’t guarantee the reservation and give instant confirmation as per definition 14 of their terms and conditions. I informed them there was no mention of this. Their reply was ” this is what we meant ! ” It’s a farce and I’m going to pull out all the stops to get justice.

    • IHG Care,
      Screen shots are acceptable proof in a court of law. Now, that I know what kind of company you are, I won’t stay at your properties. Holiday Inn is off my list!

  2. Kevin you (IHG) did verify the lower price on the competitor’s website, but decided to lower your own rate and thus did not honor the guarantee. Please read the post if you have any questions. I only mention screenshots because I have proof that you changed your own price to match the competitor before denying my claim.

    I am in contact with your corporate office and am awaiting resolution. As soon as I get a conclusion to this matter then I will post a follow up. This post is 100% factual and I still have hopes after two weeks that IHG will do the right thing. I wrote this to inform people of what IHG is doing both good and bad. Hopefully I will have a happy post to follow up this one with!

  3. I had a similar experience with IHG, except that the CSR on my best rate guarantee copied and pasted text from the third party site, and then edited that text, and denied my claim on the basis of the edits she had made. When I escalated, the claim was approved. Definitely be wary and make sure to save all of your correspondence.

    • Hey David,

      When you said you escalated… who did you escalate to? Just reply to the denial email or did you email bomb the execs or …?

      Thanks!

  4. I’m having the same experience at this moment. Booked a room, found a lower rate, and even have screenshots of everything. When they went to verify the rate, they went to a different site (they verified at AA.com, I got the lower rate at AAA.com) and now I don’t even know how they’re supposed to back-verify rates. I have screenshots, but since you don’t get anyone in particular’s email address to work with, I’m not sure if they’re going to go through.

    Their corporate site is amazing though, they tout how they behave, and even state how they “do the right thing” and “we keep our promises and don’t let people down” (no kidding: http://www.ihgplc.com/index.asp?PageID=455 )

    I responded to my denial, I guess I’ll give it a couple days then contact Discover.

  5. My claim was rejected on the ground of changing reasons during the email conversation. First it was the currency (booking.com in local currency, but my IHG confirmation is in EUR), then the ‘package’ was not not comparable. Actually on booking.com and on IHG the breakfast is listed with AED 145. On IHG it can be chosen and therefore prebooked (which can be also a disadvantage). They claim that the ‘package’ is not comparable. The last argument was that screenshots are not accepted, but they had verified the rate themselves and sent me a screenshot, stating the lower rate and the breakfast price.
    All what this Best Price Guarantee is is a rip-off.

  6. As many people can now see, IHG has written the terms so vaguely in certain areas that they can almost deny any claim. Since I had this issue, I did have one other claim accepted, but I think a good rule of thumb is to NEVER book a nonrefundable rate. It simply is not worth the hassle.

  7. Shawn,
    My best experience with hotel booking is this: if you have access to corporate rates use them to make your initial reservation at XYZ hotel, at the point that you definitely don’t think you will cancel, check for lower rates using Kayak, whatever. If the rates that you find are lower, reserve and if able prepay. Then go back and cancel your corporate rate reservation. Having status with a hotel chain helps with these things, but I am usually very successful at getting good hotel rates this way.

  8. Good advice John. The key is to not get yourself into a non-cancelable rate when trying for a Best Rate Guarantee. If you can cancel a rate, it gives you much more flexibility when looking for the best deal. Locking in a corporate rate early also protects you in the case that rates go up. Thanks!

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