They showed her the net rate and now she wants it By Christopher Elliott | November 26, 2012 FacebookTwitterGoogle+Pinterest 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? Yes. No. View Results Loading ... FacebookTwitterGoogle+Pinterest Christopher ElliottChristopher Elliott is an author, journalist and consumer advocate. You can read more about him on his personal website or contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Got a question or comment? You can post it on our help forum.More Posts - Website - Twitter - Facebook - LinkedIn - Google Plus dourdan like you said “it’s generally understood that the way they make money is by marking up the product”. She gave her money to Expedia, not Wyndham, so she pays Expedia’s price. Yes Wyndham made a mistake by giving her a receipt. Actually when i prepay a hotel through a website like Expedia I usually do not get offered a receipt (unless I had extra charges like movies, food or phone calls.) — i think the OP might have insisted on a receipt, causing the computer system to print out the lower price that they sold the room to Expedia for. bill if the op thought $416 was a good rate then the rate should be $416. she should have her due diligence and researched what hotels were charging in that area before paying expedia. fallinseattle I feel for the woman, but she was willing to pay the price before she knew what Expedia paid the hotel. The employee was not supposed to provide her with a receipt (I worked as a hotel clerk for a short time, they are supposed to get their receipt from Expedia if they booked that way) and going to the hotel to get a discount would probably result in that employee being disciplined or fired for their mistake, all for her to get a small refund on a price she accepted at the outset. Fly, Icarus, Fly I had a visceral reaction to this post. Against the OP. I still can’t figure out what POSSIBLE reason she thinks she has to get the net price. Did she book a thousand rooms? Does she spend time dealing with exasperating consumers like herself? So, to sum up: She wants to pay the hotel the same price that Expedia pays them which means she wants Expedia to operate for free, booking her travel out of the goodness of their heart? If she wants to pursue her case, then it is solely with the hotel. I can’t understand why she thinks Expedia has anything to do with it. And she wants to ‘warn people’ what? That businesses need to make money? Really? Secondly, she wasn’t “quoted” a price. She PAID an agreed upon price. Despite being a senior and having decades of life experience, I’m not sure she fully understands how the world works… Please do NOT mediate this case. Fly, Icarus, Fly Or she could’ve booked directly with the hotel and negotiated an AARP price. Leave the middleman out of it if she’s that savvy a traveler. Grant Ritchie It seems to me that if the OP has a Wyndham receipt IN HAND for $329, then that’s what she should have to pay. Fax the receipt to Visa, and see what they have to say about it. Let Expedia and Wyndham slap-fight each other for the remaining $86. TonyA_says I am willing to bet the merchant on record is Expedia and she became the guest of Expedia. When you buy from Expedia, you deal with and pay Expedia UNLESS you do not prepay Expedia but post pay at the hotel itself. When you buy you already know your contracted rate. And, when you prepay, the hotel only gets your credit card to bill the incidentals and not for the room. Every guest has a folio and that includes the room, phone, meals and other services the guest used. In a MERCHANT booking, the hotel should only have given her a receipt for the incidentals and not the room. However, this could have been the new Expedia pay at hotel option lauched last summer. http://m.travelweekly.com/3_article?guid=242706&t=1&s=1&from=1_tab1 If so, then this might have been the reason why the hotel showed her the net rate by mistake. Obviously voted NO to mediation as a good explanation about how Expedia’s Merchant Model works should be enough to solve this problem. Dutchess This is stupid and the OP is just being greedy and playing the “Senior card” (this is the same as the single mother, military, sickness or any other argument attempting to sway your opinion on emotion). If you walked into Macy’s and happened to find an invoice from a supplier laying around next to some clothes you wouldn’t expect Macy’s to give you the clothes at the wholesale price so why should you expect Travelocity or other site to do the same thing. You should definitely NOT mediate. TonyA_says She would have two receipts. The first receipt would between her and Expedia for $416. That will be the one charged to her credit card. The second receipt will be from the hotel to Expedia for $329. The second receipt will be charged to Expedia’s one time use credit card it gave the hotel to charge for her stay. That said there is no basis for her dispute. She should not have the second receipt in the first place. Dutchess Except it was an error. Next time your boss makes a mistake on your paycheck not in your favor how about he uses “well you have it on paper so that’s what you get paid”. Suddenly doesn’t make so much sense now does it. She had an agreement, she should honor it. TonyA_says The Best Available Rate, BAR, is about $109 and the AARP members rate is 92.65 all before a 15% tax. If they spent 4 nights on the AARP rate, the total is 426.20. Seems like she would have paid less going through Expedia unless she could get the Stsy 3 and save 30% offer from the hotel. That would cost about $351 with tax for the whole stay! So whose savvy now :-) TonyA_says Also, Expedia or not, you know your room rate when you check in. I wonder if the receipt with the NET rate is in her name. It is probably under the merchant’s, Expedia. sirwired Expedia in this case is a reseller for something they negotiated a special price for. She is not a customer of the hotel; she is a customer of Expedia. On her own, it is unlikely she would have been able to obtain the same rate. (It may have been a pre-paid rate or a rate that required Expedia to rent out a certain number of rooms whether or not they were occupied.) $16635417 So now making reasonable income for providing a service is bad? $16635417 I recently used Priceline to obtain a hotel for two nights. I asked for a receipt upon checkout and was told that I already have that from Priceline and there were no incidental charges. (No room service, restaurant, bar…etc.) The hotel should have done the same thing in this case as it sounds like she paid Expedia. They could provide a separate bill for incidentals if needed. TonyA_says She did not see the Stay 3 Save 30% promo! IMO, that will be better than Expedia’s daily rate. BillCCC I voted incorrectly, after re-reading the post I realize that she received the lower rate on checkout and not when booking. No, do not intervene. She should pay the price that she agreed to with Expedia. $16635417 Nice. So now a manager at the Wyndham Dallas Suites – Park Central can just look into the history of Eleanore Brouhard’s folio, see who checked her out and fire or discipline the offending employee for making a simple mistake that escalated into this. $16635417 Probably thinks the AARP/Senior rate should ALWAYS be the cheapest. sirwired Do we know that promo was available when she booked? TonyA_says I doubt she got the AARP rate since that rate is good only with a direct or agency booking. Expedia has its own rates. Expedia must have just paid for a banner link to show up in AARP pages. Hence she ended up in http://www.expedia-aarp.com/ ADDED. Expedia usually gets a discount of at least 25-30% off BAR. The AARP rate from hotel is about 15% only. Therefore Expedia can invent its own pseudo AARP discounted rate and still make money. However you will prepay Expedia in most cases. TonyA_says Most probably since it is a discount and not a room rate. She won’t see it if she went here http://www.expedia-aarp.com/ But she will see it if she went to Wyndham’s own site. http://www.wyndham.com/deals-discounts/featured-offers/stay-3-save-30 Wrong to assume that AARP or MERCHANT rate is cheaper if you stay 3 days or more. ADDED. If she went to the official AARP page for hotels http://www.aarp.org/hotels She will be directed to Wndham’s AARP page https://www.wyndhamrewards.com/trec/consumer/special.action?partner=aarp&corporateCode=8000000046&variant= And not to Expedia. I wonder how she got to Expedia’s AARP page. TonyA_says Obviously a mistake by the hotel employee. They are human. What is irritating is the OP’s taking advantage of the mistake. john4868 And if Walmart accidentally showed them their price for that 50″ tv, I bet that she’d want that to. Sorry but there really isn’t anything to see here. I think its laughable that she didn’t think that Expedia was going to make money selling to her. After all they are a business not a charity. EdB Hmmm…. Your response got me thinking. What if that $329 itemized receipt she got wasn’t the net rate but the actual rate with the Stay 3 30% discount applied? In other words, Expedia pocketed her 30% saving. TonyA_says Ooooh, that’s too brutal. But Expedia’s discounted MERCHANT NET rate is already about 30%. Personally, I think she was not a smart shopper. Wyndham offers a 25% discount if you PREPAY. That or the Stay 3 Save 30% is enough incentive to go directly and book with them instead of screwing around with Expedia. Plus if you book directly you are sure to earn loyalty points and maybe even a room upgrade. When will people learn to stop buying from travel vending machines without checking the source first? technomage1 Exactly. She made the agreement with Expedia and it was a paperwork error that showed her the lower rate. john She didnt buy the room from the hotel directly she bought it from expedia. She needs to understand how sites like these work before booking through them. emanon256 I voted no. as much as I hate Expedia, they are right in this case. Would Mrs. Brouhard walk into a grocery store, buy a pound of coffee for $5.99, and then demand to pay the wholesale rate that the store paid for the coffee? That’s what she is doing here. If the Expedia AARP rate was better than the rate she would have gotten booking directly through the hotel herself, then she already got a deal. I do agree that the hotel made a mistake showing her the wrong rate, but it was simply a mistake. She still made a deal, and got the deal she made, what the vendor paid is of no concern to her whether she saw it or not. $16635417 Exactly. In my case, I was asking for a receipt to verify there were no incidentals charged to my card that I presented at check-in. Had I been given a receipt, and it showed the price paid by Priceline for my room, I would not have even considered asking for a refund. mszabo Heh, I had the same reaction. This case should not be mediated. However I would disagree on one point. I’d say the only person to pursue her case with is Expedia or perhaps even AARP. The hotel has nothing todo with it, it has no control over how much Expedia charges. Now the hotel did make a mistake here, but that beef is between Expedia and the Hotel. Certainly Expedia has a more valid case against the hotel than the OP. emanon256 I had this happen to me once back when I used these sites. This was not at the 4-star days in :) It was in Memphis at a nice hotel. I had paid just over $100 a night, and the hotel gave me a receipt at checkout listing Priceline as the customer and it was $60 something a night. I never though I should get a $40 discount. This was the incident I mentioned once before where the room was half under construction and had no TV and I asked for a new room and was told “Not at the price you paid.” William_Leeper I’m sorry…but I must disagree on the military argument. Orders change, and situations change sometimes on a moments notice. I understand your point that its wrong to pull that as a sympathy card, but people should realize that military can be called TDY any time, and in those instances, companies should make concessions. Anyway, I have gotten way off topic so end rant! disqus_A6K3VBf8Zn I am going to try and buy direct from carriers/motels & rental agencies. If I also find a difference once, Goodbye Expedia. Perhaps others can recommend bungling sites that offer lower prices. TonyA_says Was it the Peabody (where the ducks come down the elevator from the penthouse cage, cross the lobby to go the fountain and swim)? The 4 star Day’s Inn??? Must be beside Elvis’ house (Graceland)? Lindabator Wyndham may have made an honest mistake, but the client KNEW she was expected to pay the $416, which is what she paid. The fact that she wants the commission from Expedia is ridiculous – no one works for free, and this was a greatly discounted rate – too bad that Wyndham showed her the net rate, but it does not mean she should get the commission back! TonyA_says I believe Dutchess was referring to a DISCOUNT or SPECIAL RATE and not flexibility or cancellation policy waivers. TonyA_says Again, we need a HOTEL/CAR MERCHANT DISCLOSURE LAW !!! Honest folks think the are buying the same thing since they believe they are dealing only with an AGENT of the hotel property or can rental company. WRONG !!! emanon256 It was the Peabody. We stayed there 3 separate times on Pricelines name your own price option, all during holiday seasons, and each time we paid close to $100 a night when the BAR on the Peabody website was closer to $200. This was all 2006-2008. The first time we were treated well, the second time we got the “Not at the price you paid” bit, and the third time we were asked to pay additional fees upon arrival, even though we pre-paid. That was the last time. We also stayed at the Marriott in Memphis and were treated even worse, that was horrible, and also Priceline. The Expedia 4-star Days Inn was in Niagara Falls and we walked out it was so bad. I miss living in Memphis, we visited a lot, and then live there for a year. My wife worked for the prison system and the VA hospital. RR Why did she not book the room directly with Wyndham? Was it more expensive? That is how travel agencies get their money. You provide a service, you are paid for it. ssheldo I know how this may infuriate a TA – after all, they;re entitled to their commission. I had this happen when I booked a cruise with Carnival. They gave me the net rate and when I called to ask why the rate was higher after I turned the booking over to my TA, they 3-way conferenced me with the TA and as soon as he answered, dropped off the line. He was left to explain the error. He said this happens a lot with CLL. William_Leeper Yes you are correct. I just had to vent a little. Got it off my chest, and I’m good now. When it comes to discounted lodging rates, stay in a DOD lodging facility. They are clean, have better amenities than many hotels, and at $20-$40/night are much cheaper! Bill___A If she knew what the rate was and they made a mistake on the bill, that was stupid of them. Expedia should be quite upset with Wyndham. However, when Expedia buys blocks of rooms, don’t they have to pay for them whether they sell them or not? if she agreed to the price Expedia quoted her, that’s what she should pay. And Wyndham should smarten up (not that I have high expectations of them anyway). They made a mistake and whatever manager she talked to probably has no clue how it works. Mike That was the rate given when she checked out. She gave the hotel a chance to correct it then. To thereafter change it was wrong. It was also bad PR. Grant Ritchie Not quite the same thing. How would you feel if you went to Walmart to buy a 50″ TV that was on sale for $1000, were told (upon checkout) that the price was actually $800, questioned that, were assured that the price was indeed $800, received a RECEIPT in the amount of $800, then got a VISA bill for $1000? Probably the same way this woman does. The difference in her situation is that a third party, Expedia, is involved. Grant Ritchie Yeah, after reading all the other comments, I’m rethinking this. I agree with you folks. Thanks for setting me straight. Christina Conte I was going to add a comment and read yours…you did it for me!! Well said. TonyA_says Good question, RR. Here’s the Answer: http://www.aarp.org/about-aarp/press-center/info-09-2008/American_Dream_on_Life_Support___Boomer-Plus_Americans_Believe_They_Will_Leave_World_in_Worse_Shape.html (I wonder how much Expedia pays AARP for the benefit of confusing its members.) But if she simply used the AARP hotel page she could be directed to Wyndham instead of Expedia. http://discounts.aarp.org/offer/index/offerid/77259/uSource/SPOP2/categoryId/401/subCategoryId/402 Andrew F IMO, a quoted and confirmed price should stand. One employee error — OK; three (sending an invoice, confirming it, NOT calling back shortly with apologies) — that’s final in my book. whatup12 as both a canadian and swede, i clearly have socialist tendencies, but this is a joke. why not get the car dealer to sell cars at cost or the 7-11 to sell slurpies for a penny? If this is consumer advocacy, I might also sign up for some business advocay blogs. I cant beleive that they offered her $50–and she felt like she had the right to turn it down. this is a bad joke of a post. James I say you help this woman because of the confirmation of the lower rate by the front desk staff. TonyA_says If I was the OP, I would have felt bad that I did not get the 30% discount offered by Wyndham if I stayed 3 consecutive days or more. Plus I get their points if I booked directly. If AARP is really helping their members, they would have did a better search for them. The OP should be asking AARP for a refund of her dues. Her ire should be directed towards AARP. TonyA_says I don’t understand. I don’t believe a travel agent is allowed to MARK UP a published fare or a cruise fare. I wonder why there is even a conversation about a NET rate. Linda Bator please set me straight. Thanks. Fly, Icarus, Fly But what possible reason could she have to go back to Expedia? They’re a middleman. They bought something from the supplier and sold it to the consumer. Both sides agreed upon a price. What possible reason would Expedia have to give her a discount? It’s obvious that Expedia marks up everything it sells. How else is it supposed to be a business? It’s not like she got duped by Expedia, the hotel or AARP. I simply don’t get it… Fly, Icarus, Fly Exactly. But if I ever got that info (the net price), I might use it to try negotiating directly with the hotel the next time! TonyA_says If I were her, I will get mad at AARP. Why? Because (IMO) AARP did not lead her to the cheapest rate. Fly, Icarus, Fly Hi Grant. I think there are two additional points to consider here. 1) It wasn’t Walmart, the company, it was a minimum wage checkout girl, and 2) she had already consumed the product (ie. the hotel room) at the agreed upon price. It’s not like she made a decision to buy based on the net price. But I see your point. My reaction would’ve probably been, “It woulda been nice, but oh well…” Fly, Icarus, Fly Wow. That’s opening up a whole new can of worms. Expedia wouldn’t do that, would they? Now THAT would be worthy of discussion! $16635417 I’ve tried that without success. I even tried it for this recent stay. I knew the Priceline magic number was $40 and that was my final negotiation point. They would not budge of the $80 published rate if I booked directly. Fly, Icarus, Fly In this case, because she stayed 3+ nights and qualified for a promotion, going directly to the hotel would’ve been a better choice. But for most hotels, didn’t you say, Tony, that the Expedia price would’ve been better than the AARP price? Fly, Icarus, Fly Her agreement was with Expedia. They delivered the service and got the agreed upon rate. Case closed. If there’s a slap fight on the cards, it should be between the OP and the Wyndham. But then again, it sounds like she paid Expedia, so the hotel would have no reason to get involved. Any way you cut it, I can’t see that she has a leg to stand on… Fly, Icarus, Fly Welcome to the dark side. Stephen0118 I’ve given up trying to book hotel rooms through third parties because these hotels treat you like third-class citizens. I’ll go through the hotel’s website and see if I can get a good rate there. DavidYoung2 Does the OP expect everyone to work ‘at cost?’ Does she expect the grocery store to cover their expenses and no more? Sorry dear, everybody marks up a product — that’s why we’re in business. If she was happy with the rate at which she initially booked, be happy and move on. If Expedia made money, good for them. Everybody should be happy. john4868 Actually the better analogy would be that she bought and paid for the TV online and went to the store to pick it up. While at the store, the check out girl printed out the store invoice that shows what they paid for it. In this case, she paid Expedia for the room not the hotel. TonyA_says James, the standard AARP discount for this property is only 15% of BAR (or $92.65 for a BAR of $109). Expedia-AARP site can easily match that since Expedia NET COST is (I assume) at least 25-30% off BAR. In fact if you visit the Expedia-AARP site, Expedia is selling a King A Type room for about the same price ~$93 or slightly lower depending on the day of week or length of stay. But if you go to the hotel’s site directly and click the Special Offers, they currently have Stay Two Nights and Save 20%. Use Promo Rate Plan: BPRS20 Wyndham has a Stay 3 Nights and Save 30%. So you can check by calling the hotel directly at 972-233-7600. Bottom line, she could easily get 20% off (that’s written on the hotel’s own website). If she called (or have the correct Promo Code) she could have gotten the 30% – 3 days stay discount. As far as I know, I have provided more info in my post for free than the info she got from AARP with her paid membership. Shame on them. TonyA_says Actually Expedia/AARP offers a Stay 2 Save 15% on this property. Problem is the property itself offers a nicer deal – Stay 2 Save 20%. Wyndham (corporate, may) even has a better deal – Stay 3 Save 30% but you need to call to inquire. So the real issue is HOW SHOULD (OLD) PEOPLE SEARCH? Granted that many old people are on a fixed income and have limited budgets, so that is why they have PAID MEMBERSHIP BASED CLUBS like AARP to help them. I question whether AARP did her a lot of good in this one. AARP must have made money on her since she paid her dues and I got to believe Expedia pays AARP for co-marketing. But did the ole lady got screwed by her belief in her organization? That’s the $64K question. bodega3 Chris, who charged the the rate to her card? Was it Expedia or the hotel? The rate agreed upon at the time of reservation is usually noted on the card or paper you sign when you check in. What was shown then? You usually initial by that amount. Regardless on if Expedia or the hotel charged the card for the agreed amount when the OP made the reservation, what she was given on her folio at checkout was tacky by the hotel. Technically the rate was correct, just that it was between them and Expedia, not for the eyes of the guest. It was a mistake by the front desk, who just printed out the folio not checking the correctness of it. Yet to be fair to the employee, I have never had a front desk person look at what they present to me and wait for me to check for errors. TonyA_says IMO it is better to call the hotel and book a room even at a slightly higher rate than what Expedia or Priceline sells it for, BUT TO REQUEST FOR AN UPGRADED ROOM. As Chris Elliott has said here in his blog, hotels have “runts” i.e. the Priceline room. For about 10-20 bucks more you can stay as a first-class citizen, enjoy your vacation and perhaps laugh at the third class idiots :-) TonyA_says Hmmm, the old lady FELT CHEATED. The question is by whom? Can’t be the hotel because she did not buy from the hotel. She bought from Expedia on the recommendation of AARP because she TRUSTS AARP. That’s where the problem lies. emanon256 I think its more along the lines of, she went to wall mart, paid $1,000, and arranged to have the TV Delivered. She was given her receipt at that time for $1,000. She paid when she ordered the TV, just like she already paid Expedia. The drop shipper Wall Mart uses charged Wall Mart $800 for the TV, and shipped it directly to her house. When the TV was delivered, the drop shipper accidentally printed out Wall Marts invoice and left it on the box, it said $800. She asked the drop shipping company if that was the price and they confirmed it was as that was the price they sold the TV for. So now she wants $200 back as she already paid $1,000, and saw the $800 invoice. She calls Wall Mart and they tell her that that was the drop shippers invoice to Wall Mart for the TV, she gets upset and they offer her a gift card to Wall Mart, she refuses and calls a consumer advocate. emanon256 Thanks. $16635417 Tony, AARP has a “Travel Center” powered by Expedia. http://www.aarp.org/travel/ (right side of page enter dates and destination) jebaker how exactly is Expedia supposed to make money if not by marking up their discounted rate? If she wants a net cost, she should make her reservations directly with the hotel. And I’d bet her price will be higher than Expedias. TonyA_says Priceline had 2, now 3, hotel products. The bidding (opaque) product can come from DISTRESSED inventory. They are coded differently (rate and inventory) in the reservation system. The (non-opaque) MERCHANT product simply has a huge discount (at least 25%) from BAR. This is also known as the Travelweb contract. This reservation is mostly PREPAID. The third product is an AGENCY (pay at hotel) reservation from Booking.com since Priceline bought them. Decent hotels will not openly sell you distressed inventory. The need some cover from opaque sites. Of course I hope you don’t mind getting the “Priceline” room :-) TonyA_says Yup I posted the direct links. Note that AARP also has a discount code with Wyndham (directly). So which one is better for you? curious I say “yes” because I’m curious to know the outcome if you do. $16635417 This was opaque. Hotel was published for $79 on every website. The “bidding sites” clued me into what to bid ($40) and what hotel I would probably get and it met my needs. I called the hotel and asked for any specials and was told $79. I asked about AAA, AARP etc and was told $79. I asked about a “special” non-refundable rates and was told nothing available that matched. I finally mentioned the $40 bid strategy on Priceline and was told that any deals made via Priceline are not available to book directly. I called back another day/time and was told the same. So I bid $40 on Priceline the day before arrival and got the hotel expected. I got a very large, clean, king bedded room on a mid-level floor about halfway down the hall from the elevator. I could park very close to the entrance. WiFi was strong and hotel was quiet. My typical opaque Priceline experience. If this was a “Priceline Room” I have no complaints. TonyA_says Yes OPAQUE inventory and rates are coded differently by the property (usually in SecuRate Travelport/Worldspan) and can only be viewed by the VENDOR (i.e. Priceline). Hence you can search all you want and never see them from anyone else. Distressed Inventory can be good rooms in off-season or when a hotel gets lots of cancellations. So you can get lucky. I am not sure how hotels deal with Hotwire inventory. judy serie nagy Does she think that travel agencies operate as a public service? If TAs aren’t compensated for their services, they will soon disappear, won’t they? Note how much fun it is to deal directly with the airlines now that they don’t pay commish for bookings. If you’re not an elite flyer, 30 minutes on the phone with someone you can’t understand and who cannot comprehend a basic question, much less solve a problem, is enough to prove that TAs deserve their commissions. Stephanie Baker To be clear, is she wanting to pay the “wholesale rate” that Expedia uses to purchase rooms in bulk? Why would she think she should get that rate? As far as I know, all retail works this way. This is how companies make money. If we all paid the wholesale price, retailers would go out of business. I am assuming that I am missing a key detail here; it makes no sense that this person wants the same rate that Expedia gets when it buys in bulk and provides publicity for hotels on its website. Betty Always check SEVERAL websites, including the hotel’s website, BEFORE you book and then get the best price available! She agreed to this price and she should have to pay it! Extramail Isn’t that the election told us – capitalism is bad, bad, bad! TonyA_says I thought about this more. On the surface, it sure makes the OP look a bit greedy. But then I realized that she may have been depending on the REPUTATION of AARP to do the right thing for her – meaning find her the best (cheapest) rate. 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. She paid about 15% less than the Best Available Rate. That is something to yawn about since that is the standard AARP discount rate for this hotel. Doing a little math, it looks like Expedia got a ~35% discount for its NET rate. If my calculations are correct, that leaves about 20% markup for Expedia (while small travel agents at best make 10% commission). That said, isn’t the real issue one of “price gouging” or the laziness of AARP to get a better rate for her. I wonder how much kickback AARP is getting from Expedia? Does that motivate them to search the best rate for members? TonyA_says Mike, is 20% markup reasonable? mszabo I guess that all depends on what the walk up price for the room is. Expedia advertises getting you the “top deal” and as a way to save money. The OP may well be mad that market value of the the service Expedia provides is less than the $270 she paid for it. Hard to say really without Chris giving details on what the price of the room would have been without Expedia. As I said I completely agree with you in that no mediation is needed or is anything due to the OP. But certainly their complaint isn’t with the Hotel but with Expedia. LonnieC She got exactly what she wanted at the exact price she bargained for. The fact that Expedia makes a profit on her total payment should certainly not be a surprise, or did she think Expedia does its work for nothing? No deal. Pay the $416 and quit trying to chisel…. bodega3 That is actually a low percentage. Notice how so many stores over the Thanksgiving weekend were giving shoppers 40% off. What do you think their mark up is? TonyA_says Why should they make a lot more than the average agency commission? They do not maintain any inventory and computers do almost all of the work for distribution. The answer to my question is because they can :-) EdB One business I worked with the typical markup was closer to 300% (not a travel related business). TonyA_says Ain’t gonna happen. Expedia is a for profit business. If there is anything to be learned here it is how crazy hotel room distribution has become. TonyA_says Pharmaceuticals add even more. But travel vending machines? No manufacturing and inventory, computers do almost everything. I wonder why AAA and AARP can’t get a better deal. $16635417 Gotta check ’em both, and then compare to the regular published promos that are available to everyone. Also need to compare to AAA, if you have one and any other “private” rates you may qualify for. You may also get a better rate by shopping other third party websites/wholesalers. Then do that for each hotel that you want to consider for your stay, TonyA_says I can’t wait for google to come in and sort all of this out. Perhaps that is the reason Priceline bought Kayak. They read the handwriting on the wall :-) Linda Loudermilk Tomberlin Absolutely not. When you make a purchase with Expedia, you must expect that Expedia is going to make a profit. The hotel made a mistake and showed her how much the profit was. She certainly has no claim against Expedia. Does she think that when she buys anything else they aren’t making a profit? Joe Farrell So she doesn’t want anyone to make a profit? Like others have said, she thought $416 was a deal and its still a deal. What does she think? Expedia makes all that effort out of the goodness of their hearts? Everyone wants a better rate – if she stayed at the hotel every week she’d get Expedia’s internal rate, get better rooms and they’d always have a room for her . . . BobChi I had a somewhat similar experience, booking several prepaid rooms through an OTA for business travel. When I got the receipt in the morning, the amounts quoted were quite a bit lower than what I had paid. The clerk told me, “That amount is what (name of OTA) paid us. You will need to go back to the OTA and print out their receipt to turn in to your employer.” I asked if I could have gotten the lower rate myself, somehow, and he said, “No, that’s the rate they pay in bulk; you could have probably got a better rate than you paid though by booking directly at our website.” I doubt there’s anything the hotel did wrong for the OP so I don’t think the case is one to mediate. Cherity I am a travel agent. Yes, we can mark up. In this situation here, the OP doesn’t understand that the bill she received showed that “net” rate because that is the hotel’s “portion” of the total price. The remaining portion is the commission paid to the travel agency. For instance, you go to Starwood’s website and find a rate at a Sheraton for $89/night and you book it; Starwood earns the “gross” rate since you booked directly with them. If you go to AAA’s website and find the same $89 rate at the same hotel and you book it, AAA will earn a commission off that sale. So, let’s say the agency gets a 20% commission for every night they sell, the hotel would earn the “net” rate of $71.20 and AAA earns $17.80 of that in commission. Either way, you would still pay the same price and you wouldn’t have the slightest idea what the split was between the hotel and the agency. The OP is NOT entitled to Expedia’s commission, regardless of what the hotel clerk showed her or told her. That is what she doesn’t understand. Gross and net rates are strictly per agreement between the supplier and the agency. Use a travel agent/agency and they will earn their portion for closing the sale. That’s all there is to this! Charlie Funk Is there ANYONE reading this that doesn’t understand that AARP benefits financially from transactions like this? Those financial benefits have to be paid by SOMEONE. Congratulations AARP member, you were just elected. And for those struggling to understand what I posted – AARP GETS A CUT FOLKS. TonyA_says Cherity, how do you add a markup to a hotel rate? I thought travel agents only make a percentage or fixed commission from a given hotel rate. Can you simply add an extra amount the guest will pay at checkout? I am confused. Maybe you are selling a room from a wholesaler or FIT tour supplier. But in that case that net rate is not published and you will have to collect payment from your own customer. The hotel will not even know who you are since you are not the merchant or the booker. bodega3 Tony, you can have a contracted rate with any hotel. Our agency has contracted net rates with scores of hotels. If we sell them, we charge the client in house, so we are the vendor. We also have contracts with some hotels for special discounts and commissions. Those we pass the credit card to the hotel and the hotel pays us. Fly, Icarus, Fly Yes, but what leads you to believe that the Expedia rate wasn’t the “best / cheapest rate” available to her? (ie. the net price is off the table, because that rate isn’t available to the general public) TonyA_says None are published rates, correct? Essentially your contracted rate is similar to Expedia’s MERCHANT NET RATE CONTRACT which means you collect from your customer. What I have yet to see is a situation where I get a NET rate, I add a mark-up, and the hotel collects the total at checkout and pays me my markup like he does my commission. Some airlines do it for their bulk fares. Fly, Icarus, Fly But are you expecting too much from AARP? They use their clout as a big organization to negotiate bulk discounts. I don’t think they bill themselves as being able to get the best possible price at every property. As in this case, the hotel had an internal promotion – how can AARP (or anyone, for that matter) keep track of all those in real time? If anyone knows of such a place, please clue me in! As far as my experience goes, you just have to do the legwork yourself, no? fshaff I am an AARP member for the past 15-yrs. Several years ago, I needed to purchase homeowners insurance for a manufactured home (only a few companies offer it). I saw an ad in the AARP mag offering the insurance at “a member discounted price”. I called the number and got a quote, which I thought was high. (it was a special number for AARP members only). I then decided to call the company direct and got a quote for a lot less!!?? The difference in quotes was what AARP was making as an “endorsement” fee, or their mark-up. Not, as you say, really helping their members save. Fly, Icarus, Fly But not all feelings are valid… TonyA_says Because she paid more than 400 bucks which is about 15% off BAR. That is the standard AARP discount. I need to make one thing clear – most hotels practice RATE PARITY. Simply stated, each room type will be offered to the general public for the same price. But opaque deals, club prices, and free nights might not be included in rate parity . So theoretically she will get the same rate regardless of channel. However, the trick around rate parity is to get something free from the hotel so they wont violate rate parity.That is why I have been eyeing the Stay 2 and get 20; or Stay 3 and get 30 deals. Those deals ard most probably not covered by rate parity. TonyA_says She is. Didn’t she think [incorrectly] AARP surprised her with a lower rate when she checked out? But really, how difficult is it for AARP to note that Wyndhams have Stay 3 Save 30% or similar deals and tell members to check first since this is higher than the standard 15% AARP hotel discount? bodega3 Technically our discounted rates are published/rack then reduced in price to us when we call. TonyA_says As i said, her feelings are misdirected. She really has no contest against Expedia because it did not do anything wrong. But now that she knows that hotels gives Expedia a huge discount, she should be looking at AARP to negotiate bigger discounts for its large member base. TonyA_says One explanation is she thinks AARP is big enough to negotiate the same rate that Expedia gets Wrong assumption though. Seems like AARP was more interested in its own cut from Expedia as Expedia did not offer her substantially cheaper rates. bodega3 Tony, you know that vendors give discounts on some rates, not all rates and they vary from vendor to vendor. AARP may have had a special with the vendor on that particular rate and it isn’t their job to show all rates that don’t benefit them. agentsteve Mediate? Absolutely not! It doesn’t matter one iota, that she saw the net cost, as it’s totally irrelevant to her contract. It’s almost unfathomable, to believe that people feel that they have the right, to transact everything at cost. Or is this to be a new “entitement”? Pkipnis If you accidently see the net price after agreeing to a price, then tough luck. In my business I get jerks demanding the internet price after they’ve agreed to my price and accepted delivery. Same deal. You agreed to a price and that’s that. TonyA_says The point I am trying to make is AARP travel center is ESSENTIALLY EXPEDIA! Anyone over 50 should not fool themselves believing that an OTA will be their best option. Here is an example http://aarp.pissedconsumer.com/the-aarp-travel-center-cheated-seniors-20100815194090.html Point is when AARP gave its travel operations to EXPEDIA, then what incentive does AARP have to look for a better deal for its members? Also found this in smatertravel site: http://www.smartertravel.com/travel-advice/best-and-worst-travel-discount-programs.html?id=5101951 AARP’s “discounts” are the most disingenuous of the programs I researched. On the AARP travel website, you’ll see an “AARP Travel Center” reservations area, affiliated with Expedia. I tested a variety of hotels to see if senior-only special offers or discounts were featured in the search results, and found in most cases they were not—the AARP results were nearly identical with Expedia.com’s own sale offerings for almost every property I checked.As with AAA, you’ll have to do a bit of digging to determine if AARP’s discounts offer a good value. Don’t assume the first price you see is the lowest, whether you’ve found it on AARP or elsewhere. Compare prices among a variety of providers, and call companies directly to see if senior discounts or other sales (open to anyone) are available. Sally Watkins, CTC She was the beneficiary of a mistake-and the hotel and Expedia should honor the mistaken pice and absorb the $86. Every seller has net and gross prices. If a grocery store somehow charges a customer its net price on an item, the manager doesn’t come to customer’s house the next day asking for the difference. Her beef isn’t with AARP. It’s with Expedia and Wyndham to work out who absorbs the $86 that’s removed from her card. TonyA_says Now that I know that AARP Travel Center is actually Expedia [they are one and the same] and she put her faith on AARP Travel Center, then I changed my mind and am also siding with the OP just like Sally. Just like the OP said – she thought that AARP found her a better rate while she was staying at the hotel. It’s not her fault she could not distinguish between AARP and Expedia because in her case they were the same. But unlike Sally, I am blaming AARP and Expedia and leaving Wyndham out of it. I assume the hotel is getting very little from Expedia in the first place. David UK 99 She has no contract with the hotel – only with Expedia. How much Expedia pays as a wholesaler is irrelevant. . Lindabator Why not? Perhaps both Expedia AND AARP get 10% each! The point is – she was quoted and paid a fare. End of story. Lindabator Thank you. TonyA_says Why end of story is hotel gave her a different receipt? It is really convenient to brush her off, right. But that is not how consumer advocacy works. Besides she thought AARP (travel center) was on HER SIDE. Lindabator But she had PREPAID the agreed rate – NO ONE asked for more money after the fact – she just wanted the net rate after checkout. Lindabator BULL! The cruise line NEVER gives the client the net rate – they give them the SAME RATES the travel agent gets (and in a lot of cases, agents get LOWER rates). They pay the travel agent a commission based on that rate, or pocket it if booked in-house. I have clients book a rate over the weekend and turn over to me to handle details all the time – and in most cases, I can get them a lower fare, or amenities. Lindabator See above – NO direct bookings do NOT get net rates – and yes, we can charge a SERVICE fee, but cannot claim it is higher than what they get from the cruise lines. And now cruise lines are cracking down on rebating, so there is a far more level playing field. :) Lindabator You can merely charge a service fee (you would run as an MCO) TonyA_says Mike, BTW this is CENTRAL to the issue. How can anyone trust Expedia to run a non-profit’s Travel Center? Maybe they are for profit. pcpeeps First, never trust AARP. 2nd she agreed to the price. Its like saying she wants to buy a new car at the ACTUAL dealer cost because she saw the invoice. The deal was made, move on. TonyA_says Dear Chris Elliott, In my opinion, you should mediate this with AARP. It seems to me they are NOT DOING a good job for seniors. Passing on their responsibility to Expedia and getting a cut (kickback) from it is DISINGENUOUS for an institution that is supposed to come to the aid of older Americans. JenniferFinger Well, if she shouldn’t have seen the net price, it sounds like that’s Expedia’s fault or the hotel’s fault-but not hers. So the price she should have seen was the price she was actually charged. I think it’s hard to get customers to pay higher rates for things that they were originally charged a lower price for and then told that the lower price was a “mistake” and now they have to pay more, because the lack of transparency, correctness, or whatever gives them the wrong rate rightfully pisses them off. I don’t disagree with the concept of tiered rates, but I do think that the customer has to be told the right rate from the beginning of the transaction if you want to hold them to that rate. AgentSteve What is she the beneficiary of and what is the mistake? She has no beef with anyone and no vendor should absorb the $86. If you ran a business and a customer found out how much you paid for a product or service, are they “entitled” to your cost? You can search the internet for “dealer cost”; but that doesn’t mean that’s what the dealer will negotiate to. If I sold my travel products at the price that the vendor charges me, I not only would be working for nothing; I’d be working at a negative loss. y_p_w Nothing reported indicates that it was prepaid. When I’ve checked out of a hotel where I prepaid, the original price I paid was nowhere to be seen on the invoice. All I saw were incidentals like meals and parking. In my experience, the AAA and AARP rates can typically be cancelled, although this may have been different. However, I have had issues where the freebies were odd. I booked one room via PL because it said that parking would be free. I printed it out (printed to PDF and saved it). I called the hotel and they couldn’t see free parking. I went ahead anyways and I checked my PL reservation again. The bit that said free parking was no longer indicated. I tried anyways at the desk. The clerk went back, said she was going to talk to her manager, and I got free parking. I don’t know how they worked out this with PL, but at least I didn’t have to argue with anyone. TonyA_says That was my first reaction. The supplier’s cost was none of her business and she agreed with the $416 already. This would be the case if she simply went on Expedia’s site and bought from there … But as I re-read the article again and again and went to the AARP site, I realized that someone could easily be deceived into thinking that they are buying from a hotel with a great AARP senior rate but in reality they are brought to Expedia and given “Expedia’s” rate. In other words, AARP has simply handed over their members to Expedia. BECAUSE SHE BOUGHT FROM THE AARP WEBSITE, she thought AARP got her a better rate while she was staying in the hotel. Cherity Sorry for the late reply, but I have issues viewing the comments from certain web browsers. For starters, I don’t use GDS. So, it depends on the method of booking when marking up a rate. My sales are 90% wholesale, and I have the options to both mark up and add a service fee. However, I don’t do both in the same transaction. I hardly ever book directly on the hotel’s website, but we do have negotiated rates with many hotels. How I earn commission can be by either: (a) fixed percentage of the sale; or (b) a percetage based on what I sell, meaning that I have the potential to earn more for selling up. As far as cruises, we can add a service fee. You are correct, the net rate is not published because again, if booking directly with the supplier they get the gross rate. I’ll keep this short and stick with the issue at hand (too much information to get into), but published rates and net rates are not the same. Net rate comes into play when a travel agency closes the sale. TonyA_says Thanks for your explanation. For your hotel customers, do they pay you and you pay the hotel -OR- do they pay the hotel when they checkout. Cherity That depends. Some rates (obviously the cheapest) are prepaid rates, so we would take the payment. Then, there are specials where you can get a discounted rate and pay at checkout. In that case, the hotel would pay us our commission and keep the “net” rate for the room. It’s just like going to Priceline’s website and booking a hotel. Some rates will show that the lowest rate is a prepaid rate and needs to be paid in full now, while others may say pay at checkout. Lucy M. That was probably the cheapest rate she could have purchased the room at. Just because there was a lower net rate for Expedia or other agencies doesn’t mean anyone offered it at cost. Lucy M. Completely agree! Probably the cheapest rate available. Everyone should have been happy. Hotel, Expedia and the OP. Marcin Jeske The key is to decide when the beginning of the transaction was, at what point the customer agreed on a price, and who actually sold the customer the room. In my opinion, the beginning of the transaction was when she made the reservation on Expedia. She agreed to the price at that point, by making the reservation. Further, Expedia, not the hotel, was the party selling the room. She was originally (and finally) quoted and charged the (higher) Expedia price. This idea that in between agreeing to a price and using the hotel, someone (AARP or Expedia) had spontaneously negotiated a better rate is a bit strange… the only thing close to that I have seen is when a hotel automatically provides a discount due to an unexpected issue at the hotel (power loss, no hot water). In short, I think there is nothing to mediate. She agreed to a price (probably a decent one) and got that price. Although I too have had the hotel accidentally reveal the wholesale prices of rooms I booked on Expedia, I never was bothered by it… if Expedia was not already offering me the best deal (both on price and convenience) I could find, I would have gone elsewhere. This does remind me though of a common hotel practice, where they quote you the room rate pre-tax, so that the 10 (or whatever) percent taxes added later are a surprise. I always make sure to ask what the final amount will be with tax. Same goes for the evil Resort Fees that are mostly confined to Las Vegas, as well as other unexpected “gotcha” fees like energy surcharges, wifi fees, parking fees outside of downtown areas, safe fees, extra person charges, etc. In all cases, I am a fan of full-disclosure ahead of time. JenniferFinger As I said, I don’t have a problem with tiered rates. What I do have a problem with is Expedia saying, “Oh, sorry, you weren’t supposed to see that rate.” If she wasn’t supposed to see it, it shouldn’t have shown up anywhere she could see it, regardless of what the actual bill was that she was required to pay. So that makes it Expedia’s mistake. Strictly speaking, yes, they aren’t required to do anything for her, and strictly speaking, no, she doesn’t deserve a lower rate just because she saw it. But someone, not her, made it possible for her to see a lower rate and misled her to believe that she might actually be entitled to it. So, even if this is not a case for mediation, it is a case where Expedia and the hotel need to check their systems to ensure that customers who are not entitled to lower rates or “net rates” can’t see them. Maybe one of them should agree to pay up by way of admitting its procedural mistake-even if she doesn’t deserve it. JenniferFinger First of all, if you did “explain” it, you were not replaying to me, and second, regardless of the difference between “net” and “lower” rates, if a clerk’s error misled a customer to believe that a rate that was not as high as what she was being charged was available, telling a customer, “Oops, sorry, you can’t have it because you weren’t supposed to see it” doesn’t come off as good customer service. The rate she was actually charged was the only rate she should have been able to see. Darrell Mount As a former front desk employee, I ran across this problem ALOT. Our policy is too check the rate code, and that determines if we can tell the guest the rate. If booked through a “travelocity” or “hotels.com” site, we are to inform the guest they will get a receipt from the site which sold them the rate. A couple of times someone at the front desk messed up and gave the guest the cheaper receipt, we had to refer them to hotel mgmt to have their questions answered. If they booked and rate went lower, if they could prove it at check in, then rate would be adjusted, as long as a 3rd party not involved. BMG4ME The hotel is entitled to charge the agent less than the agent charges the customer. That’s how they both stay in business. It’s called “Selling”. Susan You will lose for sure, Ive been in this business for 20yrs DONT WASTE YOUR TIME Netrate Concepts In order to get net rates you would have to book about 250K in business annually, Companys that do this , do get “net rates”…such as Netrate Concepts. Everything is based on volume and industry guidelines . There is no way one person could do the volume or have the credentials, to truly get the netrate price, furthermore one must do this purchasing on a consistent basis or they will lose the ability to have true netrates.