I recently booked a flight from Sacramento, Calif., to Honolulu for me and my husband using Expedia. Later, I found the exact itinerary on Travelocity for $176 less. I called Expedia and asked it to honor its "best price guarantee." I am looking to receive the difference between the trip we booked with Expedia for $4,416 and the $4,240 that Travelocity would have charged.
A representative told me that we would be "covered" by the guarantee. In fact, she reassured me a number of times, even after the price jumped from $4,300 to $4,400 before we were able to book it with her through Expedia.
I followed the instructions to request the refund and a $50 travel voucher. Expedia turned me down. I've appealed to Expedia's executives, to no avail. - Megan Bevens, Sacramento, Calif.
Answer: If Expedia promised that it would honor its best price guarantee, then it should have. But the call-center reps you spoke with are trained not to commit to anything, so I'm not sure if a review of the recording would have indicated anything more than a promise to consider your case.
Expedia's guarantee, like most others, looks like a great deal - until you read the fine print. The guarantee places time limits and other significant conditions on the offer. Most important, it must be an "apples to apples" comparison - an exact itinerary match, including the same dates and times of travel or service as booked through Expedia.com. That gives online agencies enough wiggle room to escape most claims.
Curiously, Travelocity is now owned by Expedia, so you actually were asking Expedia to honor a lower price on its own site. That should have been easy for Expedia to verify. But just in case, you saved all your screen shots, which is a smart thing to do.
As a side note, I always recommend that once you've made a booking decision, don't look back. It's tempting to see if you really got a better deal, but you want to do that before you push the "buy" button. You've probably spent more than $176 worth of time pursuing this.
Appealing to an Expedia executive was the right thing to do. I'm surprised that didn't work, because as far as I can tell, this claim should have been honored. I contacted Expedia on your behalf. It reviewed your claim and agreed with my assessment. You've been refunded the $176 price difference, plus a $50 travel voucher.
Christopher Elliott is ombudsman of National Geographic Traveler magazine and author of "How to Be the World's Smartest Traveler." For more travel tips, go to his blog, elliott.org, or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.