In a follow up to my post last week about our IHG Best Price Guarantee Disaster, I will try to explain what exactly happened and how they sort of resolved it for us. I would like to preface this by saying that most everyone we dealt with at the company was pleasant and courteous.
While you should read the previous post to learn more about the specifics of our situation, the basic premise is that we (the booking was in my wife’s name) were denied a claim for IHG’s Best Price Guarantee (Best Rate Guarantee) because they lowered the rate on their own website to match a competitor AFTER we booked. They claimed that the Best Price Guarantee only applies to the prices at the time of verification and not the actual price on their site at the time of booking. The terms mention the time of verification in regards to the competitor’s price, but simply only mention the price as determined by their representative for their own price.
Here are the terms: “The average nightly lower room price and lower total room cost must be available for booking at the time of claim verification and both must be lower than those found on an IHG website, as determined by IHG customer service representatives.”
When I wrote the last post we had been denied on several levels by the Best Price Guarantee department and were not receiving any response back from anyone. I noticed that their corporate email structure went email@example.com and found a page with names and backgrounds of their corporate executives in America. (I found this while searching for a corporate complaint email address which I never found.) Jasmine then sent out an email following the above mentioned email address structure to about ten of the executives including the President of the Americas.
The email went out late on Friday and I still had hope that this could be resolved before Saturday’s check-in. Saturday morning came and went and there was no response. Finally late in the afternoon someone from the Best Rate Guarantee department rudely called and basically said we would not get any further response and that the complaint was denied. (I believe they were calling based on our previous complaints to their department and not based on the email to corporate. This is the only rude employee we dealt with during the entire ordeal.)
After that phone call and without resolution we decided not to stay in the hotel on Saturday night. We basically had given up hope that IHG would do the right thing and honor their Best Price Guarantee and were resolved to dispute the charges on our credit card. On Monday morning I did just that, but in the afternoon a surprise email came in. The email was from a corporate liaison in the president’s office. She promised to find out what happened, but assured us that the charge on our credit card would be reversed.
At this point we were happy that someone in corporate finally looked into the issue. Surely a liaison at the corporate level would not say it is the policy for IHG to change their own price after we booked and then deny the claim based on their new lower price which was never available to us? It took nine days for us to get an answer. Yesterday, more than a week after first contact and following two emails from Jasmine asking for a status, we received a response.
In the response the liaison stuck by their policy and the denial of our claim. She once again pasted a copy of the vague terms (shown above) which I do not read in the same way as them. The good news is that she did verify the credit card charge would be reversed and gave us 15,000 Priority Club points for the trouble. To be honest, I think IHG should honor their Best Price Guarantee, but I am just happy with getting the money back.
The moral of this story is three-fold.
- Do not book a non-cancelable rate if you plan to file a Best Price Guarantee. They have so much wiggle room within their terms and conditions that it is simply a gamble.
- Understand that if they happen to lower their price between the time you book and the time that they verify your claim, that it will be denied. While this makes absolutely no sense and doesn’t seem legal to me, it is their policy.
- Do not give up. Always be polite in your correspondence and don’t hesitate to contact someone in the corporate office for help. While we do not agree 100% with the resolution, the liaison did help tremendously and helped us in a way no one else could or would.
I hope this cautionary tale helps people to decide whether or not booking on IHG’s website with a Best Price Guarantee is for them or not. We certainly will think twice before doing it again!