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Over the weekend I submitted a ‘low rate guarantee’ claim to Best Western and, despite the fact the claim was a little cheeky, I was surprised at the reasons given when the hotelier denied the claim and refused to honor the low rate guarantee.
Allow me to preface this post with two pieces of information:
- I’m not the type of person who goes around searching for obscure deals just so that he can submit a low rate claim to a hotel chain. The last claim I think I made was back in 2017.
- I’m aware that what you’re about to see will appear cheeky to some but, as far as I was concerned, the rules of the low rate guarantee are specific for a reason and my claim was clearly within the rules set out by Best Western.
The Best Western Low Rate Guarantee
While some hotel chains have reduces their low rate guarantee to little more than a joke (e.g. IHG and Hyatt) Best Western still offers what appears to be a pretty good deal under its low rate guarantee rules.
In brief, this is what it says:
“If a consumer finds a lower published rate on the Internet, excluding taxes and fees, at any Best Western branded hotel in North America than the rate published on bestwestern.com or a participating affiliate organization website, Best Western International, Inc. (“Best Western”) will honor the competing rate and provide a $100 (USD) Best Western Travel Card® (“Travel Card”).”
As with all other low price guarantees there are a few standard rules and the important ones are as follows:
- The booking must be made on bestwestern.com or through a participating affiliate organization website that links to bestwestern.com. A claim cannot be filed without an actual booking.
- The consumer is required to submit a claim by using the online Claim Form found on bestwestern.com or a participating affiliate organization website.
- The claim must be submitted within twenty-four (24) hours of booking the reservation on bestwestern.com or through an affiliate organization website that links to bestwestern.com and must be accompanied by a valid confirmation number respecting a stay. A stay is defined as one or more consecutive nights at the same Best Western branded hotel.
- The competing rate must be for the same hotel, dates, length of stay, currency, number of guests and similar room type. Additionally, the competing rate must be publicly viewable and bookable via the Internet at the time the claim is reviewed by a Best Western Customer Care Specialist. A viewable rate means that the general public can view the rate on the website. A bookable rate means that the rate is available and can be reserved online.
A friend of mine asked me to find him a “good rate at a good property” in West Hollywood and, after having checked prices at various hotels I know, I settled upon the Best Western Sunset Plaza.
The reservations was for 2 nights and the Best Western price came to $581.02:
Had this reservation been for me I probably would have left things there but, because I was checking prices for a friend, I decided to really make sure I’d got the best deal….so I checked TripAdvisor.
TripAdvisor led me to Agoda.com where the price for the same night, at the same property, for the same King Size room and with the same cancellation policy came to $578.94:
Agoda was offering a rate which was just $2.08 less than Best Western and, although this may seem like an inconsequential amount (which it is), per the rules that Best Western has put together it should be good enough for a low rate guarantee claim…..so I submitted one.
A little cheeky? Yes, it probably is, but I didn’t write the rules and the claim falls within the rules so I don’t really care.
I fully expected Best Western to try to wriggle out of this but I wasn’t expecting the hotelier to wriggle out of it in the way that it did.
An email response to my claim came within 24 hours and this is what it said:
Your claim has been reviewed and has been denied, as Agoda does not
guarantee the bed type in the room being booked on their website; this
third party website only guarantees a room which will accommodate the
number of persons in the party. As a goodwill gesture, our office has
reviewed the rates available on both agoda.com and bestwestern.com. The
lowest rate on bestwestern.com for the standard king room booked for
your reservation is the Rewards Flexible Rate of $251.10 per night; the
rate on agoda.com for this room is $279 per night. Because our website
has a lower rate, the claim would also be denied.
I wrote back a polite but firm email which pointed out that Agoda’s reservation page was selling me a King Room just like the Best Western reservation….
…and that the claim that Agoda was charging $279 (+ taxes) per night was incorrect because I had a screenshot showing a cost of $250.19 (+ taxes) per night.
The reply was swift and this time it ignored the fact that the Agoda rate was lower and quoted a passage from what I assume is the Agoda T&Cs:
“Can I choose what type of bed I want?
On the booking form you can make your Special Request on the Room
Details Page, where you complete the guest names and select the
nationality. Please click on “”Special Requests (Optional)”” and then
simply type in your request. The request will be sent to the hotel
directly. Please note that all Special Requests are subject to
availability and cannot be guaranteed by agoda.com. If available, your
request will be confirmed upon arrival. If you wish to submit more
requests, please check the Self Service LINK located in the confirmation
email you will receive once your booking is complete.”
Due to Agoda only guaranteeing a room and not a bed type the bed type
this claim is denied.
Essentially what Best Western appears to be saying is the following:
- Even if you book a ‘King Room’ through Agoda you’re not guaranteed to get a King bed when you check in at the Best Western
- If you book a ‘King Room’ through Best Western you’re guaranteed to get a King bed.
Am I misunderstanding something here or does this effectively mean that Best Western’s low rate guarantee is pointless?
Presumably all third party booking agents will have some kind of wording along the lines of what Agoda apparently has (I’ve seen it on Expedia and Hotels.com) so Best Western can reject all low rate guarantee claims based on the fact that only reservations through Best Western are guaranteed to get the bed-type specified….so why bother with a low rate guarantee?
My request for Best Western to honor its low rate guarantee may be perceived as being a little cheeky considering the price difference in question, but the reason given for the claim being denied seems more than a little ridiculous.
Based on the reasoning Best Western offered me I can’t see how any future low rate guarantee claim will be honoured so, with that in mind, what’s the point of a low rate guarantee in the first place?