Today I filed my fifth best rate guarantee claim this week for my swamplands road trip of the Carolinas. Another claim denied. This time it is Choice Hotels. I am batting .400 this week with three denied claims (SPG, Hilton and Choice) and two approved claims (both Marriott).
As in the other best rate guarantee claims, I’ll present the evidence and let readers decide if the reason for denial is a legitimate reason.
Today I tried Hipmunk.com to see how it rates against Kayak.com and HotelsCombined.com for finding Best Rate Guarantee claims.
I located a potential claim with Choice Hotels. The great benefit of an approved claim with Choice Hotels is one free night.
Comfort Inn Downtown Charleston $119 for King Bed. $136.81 after tax.
I booked the $119 reservation with Comfort Inn Downtown through Choice Privileges website.
Hipmunk.com is another website I like for searching for Best Rate Guarantee claims since it filters by hotel chain.
Sort for only Choice Hotels on Hipmunk.com. Comfort Inn Downtown Charleston shows $88.
Otel.com prepaid, nonrefundable rate of $88.61 was $6.59 less than Choice Hotels rate for King Bed.
Choice Hotels rate is $109.80 after tax and $5.24 more than total rate for same room on otel.com.
I don’t play around with prepaid rates since if the claim is denied I’d be stuck with paying a higher rate than if I just booked through the competitor online travel agency.
After having three claims denied this week when all were definitely lower rates through competitor OTAs shows there is no reliability in predicting when best rate guarantee claims will be approved.
I’d give this nonrefundable rate a 95% probability of approval, but I also gave my claim today for a flexible cancellation booking a 95% probability for approval.
I based my Choice Hotels Best Internet Rate Guarantee claim on the online travel agency site easytobook.com.
Easytobook.com rate for Standard Room, One King Bed = $115.43 at Comfort Inn Downtown Charleston.
Easytobook.com rate is $115.43 King Bed. Total rate = $130.98.
Choice Hotels website rate I booked was $119.00 King Bed. Total rate = 136.81.
Best Internet Rate Guarantee claim denied by Choice Hotels
“Thank you for your interest in participating in our Best Internet Rate Guarantee program.
The competing website information you submitted is for the same average nightly rates as the reservation you made at www.choicehotels.com of $119.00 plus tax per night.
It is stated in the terms and conditions: Publicly viewable and available on the Internet and, as determined by Choice representatives, is lower than the rate offered on ChoiceHotels.com at the time the claim is reviewed by Choice.“
This was Choice Rate rationale for best internet rate claim denial.
I received this response from Choice Hotels over an hour ago.
The screen shots in this post from easytobook.com travel were taken in the past five minutes, more than an hour after receiving the email stating easytobook.com has the same $119 rate as Choice Hotels websites.
The room rate on easytobook.com states it is the last room left at that rate. That same message showed six hours ago when I submitted my best internet rate guarantee claim to Choice Hotels.
I’ll call this another bogus best rate guarantee claim denial for this week. This is the claim I would have given the highest probability for approval since there were no apparent reasons for a denial.
One thing is clear. There are lower rates for many hotels through online travel agency sites, yet the major hotel chains weasel out of honoring the claims, and often with no (legitimate) reason given to the customer.
Starwood Hotels denied my claim where there was obviously a lower rate for Aloft Jacksonville and the agent who processed the claim seemed to completely ignore the lower rate I filed the claim against. Choice Hotels appears to have done the same thing with my best rate guarantee claim today.
I saw the $115.43 rate this morning on easytobook.com at the time I submitted my best rate guarantee claim and the same rate is there now as I publish this post 90 minutes after my Choice Hotels claim was denied.
What a consumer scam!
[Update April 23, 5:00pm California time: Turns out that Choice Hotels best rate representative may have seen same $119 rate and I may be wrong about $115 rate being available to general public. I have never used easytobook.com before and the 3% discount might have been targeted for me when I went to the hotel booking site.
I'll accept the fact the rate was $119 on easytobook.com travel when Choice Hotels checked. This example of a best rate guarantee claim shows added difficulties in evaluating best rate guarantee claims. After my rant here on Choice Hotels, this denial by Choice Rate is probably the most reasonable denial compared to Starwood and Hilton best rate guarantee claims denied this week.
I'll see how BRG #6 plays out for another major hotel chain for a new best rate guarantee claim I made today.]
Ric Garrido of Monterey, California is writer and owner of Loyalty Traveler.
Loyalty Traveler shares news and views on hotels, hotel loyalty programs and vacation destinations for frequent guests.