Posted by Ric Garrido

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.

Choice BRG 5-7

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.

Hipmunk may 7

Sort for only Choice Hotels on Hipmunk.com. Comfort Inn Downtown Charleston shows $88.

otel choice BRG

Otel.com prepaid, nonrefundable rate of $88.61 was $6.59 less than Choice Hotels rate for King Bed.

Choice 5-7 110 rate

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.

Choice BRG easytobook

Easytobook.com rate for Standard Room, One King Bed = $115.43 at Comfort Inn Downtown Charleston.

Choice BRG EasytoBook rate

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.

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14 Responses

  1. I have had similar experiences with Expedia BRG in the last 3 months.

  2. More evidence that a lot of the BRG are bogus.

    Marriott is hands down the best.

  3. If you are needing a hotel in Elizabeth City NC. I recommend the Hampton Inn.

  4. You should take on this best rate guarantee. Seriously, these companies are lying and getting away with it.

  5. When the lower price is on a one-off website don’t count on it. If the lower price website isn’t easy to navigate its not going to happen. I’ve had countless Choice BRGs and never had a problem. I don’t attempt BRGs where the lower rate is on a website like Otels or this other one you just tried using, the staff is too incompetent for that.

  6. In all fairness to Choice Hotels, the Choice Rate representative may have seen $119 on easytobook.com.

    I resubmitted the claim after writing this post. They sent back a screenshot showing $119 rate on easytobook. I see the $119 rate on the website when I checked my iPad.

    On my desktop, I cleared cookies and cache and I still get 3% off rate image on the far left as seen in the rate image in this post with $115.43 rate.

  7. Probably too late, but wouldn’t stay at that hotel in Charleston SC. Not walking distance to anything, and kinda defeats the purpose of being in such a walk-centric city like CHS.

    Probably one of the few cities in America where it pays to stay local vs. chain.

  8. @Ben or anyone – What about the Mills House, Wyndham hotel? Any opinions?

  9. Mills House has an amazing location–genuinely can’t be beat. That being said, other than the lobby, the rooms are pretty antiquated (and not in the charming sense)–you’ll get a better night sleep elsewhere if you’re a stickler for a comfortable bed.

    I’m kind of a hotel whore (read: snob)…plenty (I mean 8/10 people) are probably completely cool with the Mills House.

    Since I don’t know what your price range is, and don’t want to presume, these are hotels I’d jump on in a heartbeat:

    1) Charleston Place (rewards program/chain: Belmont…used to be Oriental Express)

    2) Restoration on King (Stash rewards)

    3) Planters Inn

    4) French Quarter Inn

    5) Market Pavilion

    6) Zero George

    7) Wentworth Mansion

    8) Vendue Inn

    Feel free to email me for recs.

  10. easytobook.com is notorious for displaying “targeted” rates as you mention. Typically, you’ll see the lower rates when you come from a hotel search engine (as you did). Going directly to their site without the referral cookie will yield the standard rate, which is what the Choice BRG reps will also see.

    I’ve had successful claims in the past by guiding the BRG rep through the same online search engine to easytobook.com; however, IHG and some other hotels now exclude any rate found through a hotel search engine — I’m sure for exactly this reason.

  11. @Ben- My price limit is about a $125 room rate. That knocks out all the hotels on your list.

    I am not a Conde Nast type traveler and I don’t make affiliate credit card income which I notice tends to up the acceptable hotel rates many bloggers pay for hotels.

    I could always ask for a media rate, but that is not the kind of hotel travel I write about on this blog.

    There is a reason I am attempting all these best rate guarantee claims. Charleston is like San Francisco hotel rates.

    My choices are stay in the suburbs for hotel low rates, find a BRG for a central location or redeem points.

    Comment by Ric Garrido on April 24th, 2014 at 6:05 am
  12. Choice Hotels provided another reason this morning on Twitter for the denial of my best rate guarantee claim.

    @LoyaltyTraveler We reviewed your claim; the rate on easytobook.com was for 1 guest, while the ChoiceHotels.com one was for 2.— Choice Hotels (@ChoiceHotels) April 24, 2014

    My reply:

    @ChoiceHotels I hope my wife does not see this tweet. She is not going on the trip. No problem. Marriott will take care of me.— Ric Garrido (@LoyaltyTraveler) April 24, 2014

    This is the USA. There is no impact on the room rate if one or two persons.

    Saying my reservation was for two persons with Choice and easytobook.com was for one person is BS. EasytoBook.com autofills for two persons on a reservation. You have to change the box to mark one person.

    My Choice Hotels reservation was for one person. I have the screen shot and reservation confirmation. Easytobook.com autofills for 2 guests, but you can manually select it for one guest.

    The reasoning was inaccurate in the Choice Hotels tweet.

  13. I have never had a problem with Choice or Expedia honoring a BRG claim. Never. These are not scams.

    I tried once with Best Western when an OTA had a great sale rate that was far lower than that on the Best Western site. My claim was rejected, also because they don’t match sale rates. Ridiculous! Then what DO they match?

    Does anyone know where a non-sale rate for a BW motel/hotel is consistently less than on the chain’s website?? Personally, I find the Best Western claim to be scam-like. It’s just about meaningless.

  14. @Ron – best rate guarantee claims are not scams. I stay more than half my annual hotel nights on best rate guarantee claims.

    The problem is there are many more OTA booking sites with lower rates than the hotel brand site than there were in the past. Many of these offers from smaller OTA sites are being denied.

    This week is the hardest time I have ever had getting best rate guarantee claims approved and I have been doing this regularly for several years.

    The Best Western best rate terms are the silliest I have seen.

    I filed two more claims today with different chains.

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