They showed her the net rate and now she wants it

By | November 26th, 2012

Eleanore Brouhard knows a secret.

When she checked out of her hotel, it revealed the “net” rate it was charging her online travel agency — a number far lower than the one she was quoted. Now she wants the hotel to honor the lower price for her.

I get requests like hers with some regularity, and I normally tell them they’re out of luck. If you bought hotel rooms in large blocks, you might qualify for a low rate, but not as a single traveler. But lately, I’ve had second thoughts about that response, and I’m thinking of mediating one of these cases. Maybe you can help me figure this out.

Back to Brouhard’s case: She found a room at the Wyndham Dallas Suites – Park Central for the nights of Oct. 11 through 14 via a link on the AARP site. The transaction was handled through Expedia.

“When I checked out I was given an itemized receipt for $329, which was lower than Expedia had quoted,” she says.

When she asked about the lower rate, a representative assured her that was the correct price. It’s hard to imagine anyone arguing about a lower price on a room, so it must have been a brief conversation.

But it wasn’t quite right.

When my Visa bill arrived, I was charged a total of $416 for the three nights, a difference of $86.

I called Expedia and was told the hotel made a mistake giving me the receipt and that this was the “net rate,” which I never should have seen.

Well, I did see it and it says nothing about net rates. I asked for a refund and a supervisor offered me a $50 Expedia coupon, which I declined because I will not be doing further business with Expedia.

I would like a refund of the difference and also I feel that people should be warned that such a thing can happen. AARP offers this link as a means for senior citizens to get good travel rates and I feel that this did not happen here.

Hmm. Didn’t Brouhard agree to the $416 rate? Wasn’t that “good” enough for her at the time?

Fact is, many businesses have wholesale and retail rates, and it’s generally understood that the way they make money is by marking up the product. Expedia bought thousands of rooms from Wyndham, and then resold them to guests like Brouhard to make a profit.

Still, the hotel gave her a folio with a lower number, and when she asked about the rate, a representative told her it was correct. Shouldn’t a business be required to honor a price it quotes?

From my perspective, Brouhard’s motives matter. Had she found out about the Wyndham rate error on FlyerTalk or via one of the Boarding Area blogs, and booked a few rooms for her and her friends, knowing full well that this was a rate error, I would have sent her my polite form rejection letter. (Booking a “fat-finger” fare when you know better is stealing — no two ways about it.)

But Brouhard found the rate through AARP, and she probably assumed the association had negotiated an even more aggressive discount on her behalf when she saw the final hotel rate. And a hotel representative verified the rate, too, when she checked out.

I’m thinking about asking Wyndham and Expedia to consider honoring the lower price.

Should I mediate Eleanore Brouhard's case with Expedia?

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