I have been a big fan of online booking site Expedia for nearly a decade, and have used it to book thousands of dollars in airfare, hotel stays, rental cars, and more. I’ve used it so much that I currently have $225 built up in my Expedia Rewards account, which is quite a bit when you consider how long those points take to earn.
Still, I recently encountered an issue with them that infuriates me- bait and switch pricing.
Watch Out for Scams on Expedia.com
It all started when I went to book a hotel room for my parents for Spring Break 2015. As I mentioned a few months ago, we plan on using Southwest Rapid Reward points to fly the six of us (myself, Greg, two kids, and my parents) to Montego Bay, Jamaica, then IHG Reward points to pay for our rooms at the Holiday Inn Sunspree All-Inclusive Resort in 2015.
Greg and I have enough points for all six nights if we use their cash and points option, but my parents only have enough points for 3 nights. My plan was to book their free room with their points then book their other nights as cheaply as I could.
I checked prices for several weeks before deciding it was finally time to pull the trigger. For the week of March 31st through April 6th, Expedia had a room listed for only $243 per night, far less than the competition. And since my parents only needed to pay for three nights, the total should have been something close to $729. But each time I clicked through to book, the price came up as $885. Weird.
Since the vacation was almost a year away at that point, I decided to check back a few days later. But when I did, the same thing happened. I then began checking other dates and pricing on Expedia and found similar issues. For example, the Holiday Inn Sunspree Resort is listed at $157 per night in June, but changes to $192 when you go to book. Something wasn’t right.
Expedia Customer Service Sucks
So I called Expedia in order to get to the bottom of the issue. If the price was supposed to be the lower one they were advertising, that is obviously what I wanted to pay. Likewise, if the “real price” was actually the higher figure, I wanted to tell them to quit advertising the lower one. Then I got ready for my head to explode in 3….2….1
Unfortunately, I forgot that Expedia customer service sucks giant donkey balls.
Seriously, talking to them is on par with talking to someone at Comcast, and that really says a lot coming from me. During the handful of phone calls I subjected myself to, I talked to at least one person who told me I was reading it wrong, another who said that my internet connection must be messed up, and another who basically said “sorry ’bout ya,” while making it obvious that they couldn’t care less about my problem.
When I finally got ahold of someone in their corporate office, however, this is what they told me:
Basically, the front-end and back-end of their website don’t always talk the way they should. So it might advertise one price then switch to another when you go to pay. “Our site takes a while to sync up sometimes,” the Expedia rep told me, “so you just need to wait a day or two.”
So that’s what I did.
At that point, it had been at least a month since I called and complained. And, lo and behold, the prices still changed when you went to book a room at that hotel. Go figure.
So I emailed their corporate email. No response. I sent them a letter via snail mail. No response. I tweeted them incessantly and finally got a vague reply that was subsequently deleted. Yes, seriously.
The Bottom Line
I understand if a website takes a few days to sync up, but a month or more? At this point, Expedia is knowingly using bait and switch practices on its website and doing nothing to fix the problem. A customer could easily see the low price of $157 per night and not notice they were being asked to pay significantly more for their room. We all know how bad people are at math, am I right?
In my opinion, Expedia should not be advertising incorrect prices. And if it is simply a website error, then they should fix their website. Otherwise it just looks like they are trying to pull one over on their customers.
Furthermore, the fact that they don’t bother replying to complaints of this magnitude is troubling. Most companies would be horrified if a customer felt they were misleading customers, and would at least acknowledge that a complaint had been made.
The bottom line is this:
Watch out for scams on Expedia.com. They are knowingly and willfully advertising prices they have no intention to honor.
And, if you’re not paying attention, you could end up paying far more than you planned.
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