Alistair Young had a problem. He booked a room through the Comfort Inn site and paid $225, but then found the same room elsewhere online for just $174.
Comfort had a best rate guarantee, which he invoked. The hotel turned him down, citing fine print in its agreement. So he started a blog called Keeping Choice Hotels Honest. (Choice owns the Comfort Inn brand.)
He also asked me for help, and I referred him to this wiki, where he obtained the executive contacts for Comfort Inn and appealed to them.
Comfort came through. He received the following email from them last week:
I apologize for the confusion regarding your E-rate submission. I was able to change your rate for your reservation at the Comfort Suites Paradise Island for July 23 for four nights. Your daily rate is now $156.18. Thank you for bringing your concerns to our attention, we appreciate your patronage.
A happy ending. But now what?
Do you think I should remove the blog that I started or leave it there for others – if this was a genuine mistake I would take it down, but if they are just appeasing me because I put up a fight then it might serve others? Any thoughts?
Ah, great question! And one I’ll let you answer in a moment.
First, though, a few thoughts about online censorship. I’m asked to delete material on my blog all the time, and I almost never do.
If someone writes to me as a journalist, and doesn’t specifically ask me not to use their name or story, it’s all on the record. (As a matter of practice, I almost always ask if it’s OK to write about someone’s story, but I do that as a courtesy.)
I’m not sure if Comfort Inn’s motives matter. The truth matters. If Comfort stonewalled Young for weeks because of a technicality — if that was true — then I don’t see any reason to delete the blog. The site served its purpose: it kept Choice Hotels honest.
This case raises another question, which is how other consumers might be served with a Choice Hotels gripe blog online. If others have similar complaints, wouldn’t this site act as a guide for other rate guarantee claims?
At the same time, I understand how Young must feel. It may be important to put this matter behind him and move on, if not for his own sake, then for the sake of his relationship with Choice Hotels. Deletion may be a prudent diplomatic move.
What do you think? Delete — or not?
(Photo: Old Shoe Woman/Flickr Creative Commons)