Hey, that’s no four-star hotel!

Question: I recently booked a hotel in Prague through Expedia. While perusing the hotels online, I saw an advertisement for an unpublished rate hotel. I clicked the advertisement and was presented with three four-star hotels from which to choose.

Based on the amenities and price, I chose the four-star hotel that was offered for $58 a night. I paid for the three rooms and then was shown the hotel name and class.

The class was only three-star. I couldn’t believe it.

Thankfully, I made screen captures of the offer and the result. I immediately sent an email to Expedia’s customer service department, explaining what happened. It replied with a short notice saying all sales were final. I then replied that this was not an issue of wanting money back or a change, but of getting what I paid for, namely: a four-star hotel.

The next response I received was infuriating. I was told Expedia was unable to verify the change in star rating. I then responded with the screen shots. In each instance, I was told to call in to discuss the matter.

No sir, I want this on the record.

I am very unhappy at the moment. I work on Kandahar Airfield in Afghanistan, and I take my vacation time very seriously. I want Expedia to either give me the four-star hotel I paid for or refund my money immediately. Can you help? — Albert Muick, Kandahar, Afghanistan

Answer: If you paid for a four-star hotel, you should have received a four-star hotel. Problem is, no one can really agree on what a four-star hotel is — or isn’t. There’s no high court of hotel stars, no international governing body. As far as I can tell, if I call something a four-star hotel, it is a four-star hotel.

But wait, you made screen shots? Nice work. You insisted on conducting your correspondence by email? Even better!

Keeping meticulous records on your grievance can ensure a fast resolution. And when it doesn’t — well, that’s where I come in.

I’m kind of surprised Expedia shot a form response back to you and then, after you replied, sent another one. Come on. Is anyone reading these emails?

You might have tried a brief, polite appeal to an Expedia executive. I list their names on my consumer advocacy wiki, On Your Side. That might — or might not — have worked.

This is a textbook case of a traveler doing almost everything right, but still unable to get a fair resolution.

I hope this is one of those rare times when Expedia just didn’t bother to carefully read your concise, well-crafted email. I say this because I haven’t had that many Expedia complaints recently, so I hope it’s an anomaly.

I contacted Expedia on your behalf. It reviewed your grievance and found that a “system error” occurred when you made your reservation. You’ve received a full refund.

(Photo: Moyan_Brenn/Flickr)

Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is an author, journalist and consumer advocate. You can read more about him on his personal website or contact him at chris@elliott.org. Got a question or comment? You can post it on the new forum.

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  • sirwired

    Hey, it’s not the “system error” anybody should be concerned with.  Mistakes happen.  It’s the complete and utter failure of the customer service apparatus to rectify the situation that’s the REAL problem.

  • TonyA_says

    This sounds like Expedia itself is one big systems error. Bogus ratings, lousy customer service, what else?

    Furthermore, if there is no meaningful standard behind the star ratings of hotels, then what other use can they have except to fool people?

  • $16635417

    So, the way I read it, the offer page said he was booking a 4 star property and the confirmation showed it as a 3 star? If so I would accept the Expedia explanation that it was a ‘system error’, but not the fact that they did not listen to the client’s complaint.

    It would be interesting to know the name of the hotel involved in order to see how their rating with an organization such as Hotelstars Union compare to Expedia’s.

  • Mark Murphy

    Use a travel agent…then you’ll have someone to fix these problems and you won’t spend a bunch of time mediating your issue

  • Raven_Altosk

    Nuff said.

    Glad this guy was able to get what he actually paid for instead of what Expedia tried to substitute in an effort to scam some extra cash out of the customer.

    Still, I have to laugh at how Expedia blames their total fail on a “system error.” Perhaps they meant that the system of out-sourced call centers, skeevy “deals,” and barely literate folks responding with form letters to all complaints.

  • Raven_Altosk

    When my brother took one of these Afghanistan assignments (as a civilian contractor after two tours in the military), it was near impossible for him to have any sort of meaningful communication with a travel agent.

    When he went on R&R, I worked as the go-between for him with an agent I knew personally. However, the agent was only familiar with one of the places he wanted to go. 

    Realize that when you’re on one of these assignments, you really can’t come back to the US or you get screwed on taxes. So…most of these guys go to Europe, Thailand, South America, or Canada.

    Anyway, normally I would agree to “use an agent” for exotic travel, but for these guys who have limited access to phone, and operate on weird schedules, sometimes, it’s really not that easy.

  • TonyA_says

    Chris, can you please name the hotel. Since the Czech Republic hotels and restaurants are part of HOTREC then the HotelStars Union is their official  standards classification system.


    Why bother to use Expedia’s or any other private rating system for countries that have standards?

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_ZEOHOFHCFC5AWC6WPMNFZRBQWY KathyJ

     He did NOT get what he paid for. He got a refund of what he paid. He still must go find what he wants.

  • Joel Wechsler

    If your brother has e-mail there should not be a problem dealing with a US based agent. I have dealt with clients in several foreign countries, entirely by e-mail, and have had no problem doing so.

  • Charlie Funk

    There is indeed a meaningful standard with which hotels must comply.


  • emanon256

    Awesome, I love it when the OP does things right.  It proves that we really need Chris because businesses are often unethical. I am glad Chris could help, but if I were the OP I would want to still pay the low rate and get a 4 star hotel because that’s what Expedia promised, sadly it usually doesn’t work out that way.
    The second to last time I used Expedia, I had a very similar situation.  I booked a 4-Star hotel through Expedia.  When my wife and I got there, the hotel was horrible.  I looked it up and mobile rated it as 2 star.  Not 4.  It was a pre-paid through Expedia as well.  I asked the hotel for my money back and they said no-refunds, I called Expedia with my complained and was told Expedia rated it as 4 star based on customer feedback, and that the Expedia rating has nothing to do with the actual rating.  I then called the corporate office that the hotel belonged too.  They explained it was a franchise and that that have had so many recent complaints that I should leave and they will refund me.  The corporate office was grate, followed up, and did refund me in full.  What I paid Expedia, not what Expedia paid the hotel. 
    I sadly used Expedia one more time after that and it was even worse, but I shared that story a few months ago on here.  I don’t use them eevr now.

  • TonyA_says

    I just want to show you (or maybe prove) how ridiculous these star ratings are. Go to Expedia and search for a 4-star hotel room in Prague. [Note I used 30MAR-1APR for mine]. Then sort the results by Most Popular. Here’s a pic of what I got.

    The top 3 most popular 4-stars are:
    Friday Hotel ($135), Andel’s Hotel & Suites Prague ($88), and Hotel Red Lion ($206 per night). Boy, that Andel’s hotel looks like a steal!

    Now hop over to HotelStars’ Prague’s Certified Facilities List for this year. You will see 55 hotels. None of which are the top three 4-star hotel’s in Expedia’s Most Popular list.


    So, I hop over to my GDS’ hotel room finder and search the same thing. I see that Andel’s Hotel ($148 for 2 nights) made it to the top of the 4-star lists. It had 366 reviews! Even a travel agent can be fooled since s/he will rely on GDS.

    What gives? Who’s rating these hotels. What’s really behind the stars? Who’s words are true? I don’t think you’ll believe me I if I tell you I look like Brad Pitt and my wife, like Angelina. Why should you believe Expedia, or me?

  • ExplorationTravMag

    I have to admit, I was a little suspicious when the OP said he was getting a four-star hotel in Prague for $58 a night.  I think that would have set of warning bells before anything else.

    Does anyone know where Expedia goes for their ratings?  And why is it “always” a system error?

  • TonyA_says

    But do you think Expedia will tell you that? Will they provide a link to that site? Read my posts below and find out how a Travel Agent can himself (or herself) get fooled by these stars unless they do more research. The question is for a ~$8-9 per day commission on a room, why would a TA bother?

    Finally I don’t think hotel certification is mandatory. If a hotel chooses to certify with HotelStars Union then they will get a rating. But travelers  and travel agents still have to go to HotelStars’ website to search on their own since OTAs and GDS do not necessarily divulge their ratings.

  • Bill Norris

    Ratings are subjective, and I certainly wouldn’t call this a scam. Seriously, $58 is a pretty good price for a three star property in Prague.

  • http://flyicarusfly.com/ Fly, Icarus, Fly

    Seems as if the problem isn’t with the star rating but that the system gave him something different than what he paid for. If Expedia gave him what they consider a 4 star and he disagreed, that’d be a different issue. They probably get so many complaints that their ratings are overblown that that’s what they assumed his complaint was about… I know Prague is cheaper than many other European countries, but $68 for a 4 star even seemed on the low side… Hopefully the OP was able to get one for that price. If so, kudos!

  • http://flyicarusfly.com/ Fly, Icarus, Fly

    I’ve used Expedia for hotels before and scored some amazing deals (stay 4 nights and get a $150 gift card). The property (in Athens) was a Best Western and only cost $60+ a night, so with the gift card, came down to a crazy $30+. The key is to see what’s available on Expedia and then go to the hotel’s website and tripadvisor to double / triple check. Personally, I’d never go for the “mystery” hotel deals… Seems like way more people are disappointed than pleasantly surprised…

  • TonyA_says

    Most travel agents just have similar information you have. They will simply use their GDS to search a rate and then read the screen (display). Unless they are an expert in the city or location in question, they are simply bookers. Worse, unless you are a valued repeat customer, a travel agent might sell or book you in a hotel where s/he makes the MOST commission regardless of quality.

    Hotel distribution has morphed into a giant ball composed of a few aggregators. On top of the food chain is Expedia Affiliate Network and Booking dotcom (a Priceline company). In the middle you’ll find outfits like Miki of the UK and Agoda of Asia (also a Priceline company). Today, even GDS companies distribute hotel rooms of these aggregators – a clear sign of who the winner is.

    Searching for a hotel room can be very time consuming and can be more frustrating than searching for a great fare or an airline ticket. This is the part of my job I like the least.

  • TonyA_says

     I wonder what that 3 stars is based on.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/X7O5ZHQHJ6DLCBCNLBK5PMIE4E kristiana

    Is it possible you’re confusing customer satisfaction rating with hotel rating?

  • DavidYoung2

    I always take the ‘star’ rating with a huge cellar of salt.  Unless it has a AAA Diamond rating or Forbes Star rating, I pretty much ignore what they have to say.  

    Look it up on Trip Advisor instead.  I know that’s not completely impartial, but it’s better than nothing.  And a lot better than their own, self-proclaimed star rating.

  • Raven_Altosk

    He tried that with one who tried to screw him. He wanted to go to Thailand and the crooked agent wanted all payment WIRED up front.

    Uh, no.

    I had a similar experience with “Conde Nast’s Belize Expert.” I don’t do business with people who want money wired instead of a credit card.

  • Carverfarrow

    But what do you do when booking with an opaque site?

  • Meebo

    I’m sorry but Mr. Muick you are a greedy fool.  A four star hotel for $58?  I don’t care where in the world it is if you see a deal that is so fantastic it can’t be true then guess what – it isn’t.  Even in the best case scenario it’s a mistake and you’ll end up getting charged the normal rate based on a typo.

  • Carverfarrow

    If the site is opaque that’s all you have to go by.

  • Meebo

    “…Come on. Is anyone reading these emails?”

    Seriously Chris.  Are yo naive enough to think that these mega web giants have people reading each and every email that comes in? 

    “…reviewed your grievance and found that a “system error” occurred when you made your reservation.”

    Almost EVERYTHING to the general line is bounced once, just as filter mechanism.  90% of people will simply give up after one unsuccessful try.

    “…so I hope it’s an anomaly.”


  • Meebo

     It’s not a mistake.

  • Meebo

     LOL – Chris could fill an entire blog with complaints about TAs shrugging.  They aren’t gong to spend valuable time on this – why on Earth do you think people use the online portals?  Because almost everyone has had that experience at one time or another.

  • Meebo

     It’s called “greed.”

  • TonyA_says

     I think you are right. The system malfunction was the opaque buying system sold him a 3-star rated hotel as 4-star. He paid for a 4-star but got an Expedia rated 3 star hotel.

    I don’t think he was complaining about the accuracy of the star rating itself.

  • jim6555

    Over the years, I’ve probably booked over 100 hotel reservations on Priceline and felt that each room and property equaled or exceeded my expectations based on the number of starts shown. I therefore have concluded that Priceline’s star ratings are accurate. The one time I booked through Hotwire, I was supposed to be getting a room at a four star property in Orlando. The property deserved a solid three star stars but no more. I never went back to Hotwire for hotel rooms.

  • Steve_in_WI

    It may be, but if you’re being told that you’re booking a 4-star property, that’s irrelevant.

  • Joe_D_Messina

    I think that is too harsh. There are sometimes amazing deals available on lodging.  However, I did chuckle at this line from the letter, ”
    The class was only three-star. I couldn’t believe it.”  You live a pretty sheltered existence if something like this qualifies as unbelievable.

  • IGoEverywhere

    Every on-line company and every hotel has their own rating service. I am the best travel agent in my area! ( Some agree and some don’t) If the traveler is moronic enough to believe the internet, than I have a beautiful building in NY called the Empire State building that I would like to sell him. Get a life and do your research first, then book. These are the weakest, most idiotic complaints that I have seen in months. Are our travelers just to dumb to understand research.

  • Jeanne_in_NE

    Drat.  My husband and I are planning a trip to London this fall and I wanted to find a TA to help with air AND the hotels before/after the arranged tour.  So I should stick to doing the planning myself, or relying on the sometimes questionable advice from the tour operator’s people in Redmond, WA?  Again I say, “Drat”! 

  • MarkKelling

    Been to London on what sounds like the tour you are going on if it is the same Redmond, WA company.  They gave me great advice and I ended up at a nice hotel near where the tour hotel was. Nothing fancy, but it was clean affordable and close to everything important to me and I could walk or take the tube everywhere I needed.

  • Jeanne_in_NE

    Mark, thanks for the heads up.  Their advice was dreadful for Rome (end of our last tour) and the tour hotel was definitely not worth even the 2 stars marked on the side of the building.    But if their London advice is “spot on”, then I’ll reconsider using their recommendation.

    (Disqus is terrible when crafting replies! Maybe if Chris could complain about the smaller and smaller reply boxes, they would go a different format.)

  • bodega3

    De ja vu on hotel ratings.  When will people learn?  While Prague has lower hotel prices than many European cities, $58 a night for a 4 star, right off the bat tells you something…buyer beware.  Once booked is the Expedia rate nonrefundable?  I am working with a TO that only works with agents.  It is beating the pants of any OTA, as I have compared.  The rates are fully refundable for all but one hotel I am holding up to 3 day prior to arrival.  For the only stay it is a one month cancel policy.  I am sorry the OP got screwed, but how much research did he do before hand and why pay for a room that can’t be refunded up to a certain point before arrival.  If he is in a war zone the latter certainly makes sense.

  • Lindabator

    drop me an email if you’d like – my specialty is actually European FITs, and I make all airline, hotel and tour arrangements for my clients regularly.  lbator@cruiseholidaysmi.com.  :)

  • Lindabator

    Not necessarily true – I do European FITs all the time, and do not have any problems making hotel arrangements for my clients – and who knows – next time they may need even more assistance, and they’ll know who to use!

  • Lindabator

    True, but if they state 4 stars, it would still need to qualify for that rating, which is what i think Tony means.

  • bodega3

    Did you not look up the hotel and check on the rating before making the reservation?  I have booked thousands of hotels and NEVER had a problem for a client.  IMHO, people let their guard down when booking online.

  • Lindabator

    Know what you mean – my clients love the fact that I can actually explain WHY I like a certain hotel or not, what amenities they have, how close they are to the museum they want to visit, or a great restaurant I’d recommend, etc.  And my TO only uses agents as well – and I ‘ll bet its the same as yours – same terms and great pricing!  :) 

  • emanon256

    It specifically said “Expedia Special, 4-Star Hotel.” And had 4 stars.  This was not a customer rating.

  • emanon256

    This was several years ago before I knew better.  Expedia said they offered the lowest rates, so I went there and booked.  Then I got burned by them twice in a row and I will NEVER use them again.

  • l2y2

    Sorry, but a 4-star hotel in Prague for $58 a night? Really? Seriously? That should have been his first clue. “If it sounds too good to be true, it is.” It’s good to live by that adage. Regardless, once the issue was brought up to Expedia and his documentation was presented, they should have backed off immediately. They should have given him a refund or upgraded him to a “real” 4-star hotel. Hopefully, he won’t make the same mistakes twice. First, assuming he could get a great hotel that cheap and second, using Expedia for any travel plans…

  • TonyA_says

    Jeanne, London is always a challenge because hotels are expensive. I just did my brother’s and his family’s air tickets for May. The hotels which we always used (around Piccadilly / Half Moon St.) were way too expensive.  So my brother booked a hotel near Bayswater instead. He is familiar with the area because his son went to school there (not too long ago).

    Just like homes, hotels are basically about location, location, location. Personally, I am willing to pay more or compromise a little on the “luxury” for a great location.

    Most tour operators (especially for cheaper tours) bundle a hotel far from the city center to keep their costs down. So if you want a hotel nearer the center, you may have to do your own search.

    Can you tell me where the tour starts and ends?

  • TonyA_says

     $58 is almost my parking fee in Manhattan for my SUV (oversize fee included). But then again, we cannot blame people for being gullible. I still want to point the finger on the vendor who misrepresented the meaning of 4 star.

  • TonyA_says

    You must have a closely guarded list of hotels and restaurants. That’s valuable to people who expect quality when they travel. #1 reason to use a travel agent. DIYs rely on trip advisor. Good luck to them.

  • TonyA_says

    If someone came to me and asked me to find [even a] 3 star hotel near the center of a main European city for $58 a night, do you think I will even try? Get real.

    PS. my wife booked a room at four points sheraton in the boonies of Connecticut tonight for more than $90 (AAA rate) since my son has a swim-meet. Just to give you an idea of how $58 sounds so out of whack for Europe.

  • Sadie_Cee

    At last someone is on to something.  The $58 per night price should have been a signal.  I have stayed at hotels in off-the-beaten track towns in Europe and have paid almost two times as much.  Prague is a major city.  It would have been helpful to do some research at other sites to find out about the hotel situation in Prague.  One thing I cannot understand is why Expedia would not reveal the name of the hotel until after payment had been made.  Is this acceptable business practice anywhere?

  • DavidYoung2

    I don’t.  Ever.  

    If you choose to buy a pig in a poke, well, that’s what you get.

  • Miami510

    For every story about a marvelous hotel find for a low price, there are dozens of stories of disappointment.  Everyone loves a bargain, but the old caveat is most often true:  If something seems too good to be true… it probably is.
    There are lots of star ratings.  There are ratings by reputable travel guides, ratings by travel organizations, and ratings…. well… by the Slippery Gulch Mt. Chamber of Commerce.

  • Elmo Clarity

    People need to learn that the star rating on places like Expedia, HotWire, Orbitz, Hotel.com, etc, have absolutely *NOTHING* to do with quality but is a way of comparing amenities between properties.  For example, if a property has a pool, they get a star for it.  Doesn’t matter the condition of the pool.  It could have been sitting empty for several years, but since there is a pool they get a star.

  • $23671237

    OP (Albert Muick) here.  It’s really interesting how many negative comments I seem to have gathered for simply standing up and demanding what I was sold.  It should be noted this occurred nearly 10 months ago!  I also did contact executives at Expedia and was skillfully ignored by them and that’s where Chris stepped in and helped.  Oh, and I *did* find a very nice Czech-rated 3.5 star hotel in the old town for $68/night with breakfast (!) for my three cousins who met me there from the USA.  They are not wealthy, and I was glad to be able to treat them to a vacation.

    I have been arranging my own travel and traveling for the last 20 years and have never had the problems as suddenly exist in recent years.  I could spend 30 days legally in the US per year without losing my tax free status, but I do prefer traveling to Europe and the Far East versus coming back home.  I am fortunate to be able to do this.  I am also out of Afghanistan now and working elsewhere.

    I really hope that everyone has success with their travel arrangements and enjoys their holidays.  I personally would beware of travel “professionals” who spend their time posting on these blogs, denigrating people who request Chris’ assistance to resolve their travel issues.  They apparently do not have enough business to keep themselves busy!  I am not a “greedy fool” by any stretch of the imagination.  I would like to think that savings are appreciated by everyone, and that Expedia might be considered a reputable name to be considered for purchasing from.  Perhaps those who would have us believe they know it all might consider dropping Chris tips for his use, instead of belittling others in the comments section.  It does bother me, but it’s rather laughable.

    Thanks for the help, Chris!

  • bodega3

    Please understand Albert that those of us in the travel profession who come here, share tips for those of you who screw up in your reservations.  I do use the term screw up because, nowhere do I read that you researched the hotel to verify it was a 4 star.  Also, you wrote Chris, but if you had actually followed his column, you have known that OTA all have their own ratings and they are not the same.  This is where my De ja vu comment comes from.  I can honestly tell you that OTA don’t have the best pricing.  They may have good pricing, but not the best.

  • $23671237

     Well, sir, I can’t control what Chris writes.  I am not his editor.  Further, one cannot research the hotel until after the opaque site reveals it.  This was an Expedia opaque sale.  After it was revealed, I then checked it out, finding that even Expedia and Hotwire rated it as a three-star!   Do you now understand that the site that sold it to me as a four-star, Expedia, rated the hotel at below the star rating at which it offered it?  So, my professional friend, I did my due diligence after I discovered the fraud, and I do not feel like I “screwed up” in any way.  Perhaps you were confused with the article or didn’t read it thoroughly.  No matter, you are entitled to your opinion, and are free to spew it forth, irregardless of how erroneous it may be, and how it might reflect on your name and your business, which I note you were careful not to mention.

  • Jeanne_in_NE

    Thanks for all the help from Mark, Linda and Tony.  Now my husband wants to know about FITs (which I had to go look up!) vs. the tour we have in mind. 
    I’ll have to go check things out when I get back from our upcoming trip.  (As an aside, it’s $55/night for valet parking at the hotel we’re staying at in Chicago.  For a few bucks more, I could have had a nice stay in Prague!)

  • bodega3

    You never stated you used an opague search on Expedia.  I didn’t even know that existed with Expedia, only with a couple of others. You only stated an unpublished rate which doesn’t make sense and a term that isn’t normally used in the industry for hotel rates.  What you need to know and are finding out is that ratings are not regulated with vendors.  A 3 star with one is a 2 star with another and a 4 star with still another.  While Prague has great hotels and good nightly rates, a 4 star for the price you saw should have raise a concern and doing a bit of homework might have saved you the trouble you have had to deal with.  People screw up with online travel arrangements all the time.  Read past articles of Chris’ and you will see you are not alone. 

  • bodega3

    You do feel like you are paying a motel rate for that parking space for your car in major cities!

  • http://vicbus.com/ Bus tour charter melbourne

    Thats bad. They should have given you a refund. Some travel agencies do not give real facts.


  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_OEPJGQPIEB75YYDE5CJY6R3VFE Carver Clark Farrow II

    Yes, it is the model of the so-called opaque site.  You don’t know the name of the hotel until after you purchase and in theory you buy distressed inventory at huge discounts.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_OEPJGQPIEB75YYDE5CJY6R3VFE Carver Clark Farrow II

    Yeah, but you don’t know how the hotel rates in the official classifications until after you’ve purchased the hotel room.  That’s the problem, at least as I understand it.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_OEPJGQPIEB75YYDE5CJY6R3VFE Carver Clark Farrow II


    Before you call insult someone you should have your facts straight.  Check on biddingfortravel.com shows the Hilton Prague at $63 which according to Tripadvisor receives  a rating so 4 1/2 rating.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_OEPJGQPIEB75YYDE5CJY6R3VFE Carver Clark Farrow II

    The OP’s position is reasonable.  With an Opaque site, one’s opportunity for research is limited.  Basically its biddingfortravel.com.  That site shows that the OP’s price point was within what others had gotten.  Thus there was no reason to believe that his bid was too good to be true.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_OEPJGQPIEB75YYDE5CJY6R3VFE Carver Clark Farrow II

    Check biddingfortravel.com.  The OP’s price was reasonable.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_OEPJGQPIEB75YYDE5CJY6R3VFE Carver Clark Farrow II

    Actually bodego

    Its fairly well known that Expedia has rates which are only known after you purchase.  The OP correctly used Expedia’s term “unpublished rate” to mean that hotel is only revealed after the purchase.

    Here is the exact language used.

    “Expedia Unpublished Rates Hotels Deep discounts on quality hotels Get the deal now – and the hotel name after you book”

    More importantly, Biddingfortravel.com lists the winning bids for Priceline’s/hotwire’s opaque hotels.  Right now someone got the 5* Hilton Prague Old Town for $63 cash plus $7 funny money.

    So, as I see it, and correct me if I am wrong, the OP didn’t screw up his trip in the slightest.

  • bodega3

    As I see it, anyone who uses an opague sites gets what they deserve and has no right to complain…but they do.

  • MarkKelling

    I have seen that issue of the hotels not being so good on a couple of their trips too.  The one in Brussels looked like a homeless shelter.  On the other hand, the hotels chosen in Scandinavia were the best ever and would rate 4 stars in most guide books.

    I think part of the issue is that they don’t check their chosen hotels yearly and things can change very quickly.  After all, can one person visit all of Europe every year?  Hope you have a great trip.

  • MarkKelling

    I stayed in the Belgravia area of London at a small family run hotel (more of a B&B than hotel) recommended by the tour operator and spent a total of 99 pounds a night in 2010.  Had lots of other choices in the area and could have spent a lot more, but why? I didn’t need the amenities of a chain hotel and was happy with my small but comfortable room. 

    It was only a couple blocks to Victoria station so had easy access to transportation, had a nice hot breakfast included daily, some of the friendliest staff I have every found at a hotel, and was on a quiet street.  It was also the same street but different hotel the tour operator had us stay for the tour.

  • TonyA_says

    Belgravia is an expensive area. I’m surprised there is something there below 100BP.

    I’m with you – all I want is a clean room, bed, bathroom and shower. Perhaps a small breakfast room. I don’t use gyms, spas, pools, etc. even when I am in [real] five star hotels unless they are on the beach and I have nothing else to do except sleep by the pool.

    For me the star ratings are pretty deceiving. A boutique hotel won’t have the extra amenities  to make it to the high ratings but they can be very comfortable and centrally located.

    I’m taking notes, what is that hotel you used (if you don’t mind telling us)? Was it the Lime Tree?

  • Sadie_Cee

    Thanks @Carver Clark Farrow II for the information.  With this in mind, why on earth do we continue doing business with these ‘opaque sites?’  Mainly rhetorical..,I believe i know the answer. 

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_OEPJGQPIEB75YYDE5CJY6R3VFE Carver Clark Farrow II

    As long as the opaque site delivers what was promised then we are in agreement.  However, that’s a red herring as that’s not at issue in this matter.  The opaque site didn’t deliver what was promised to the OP, and the OP was perfectly reasonable in believing the rate presented to the him was accurate as any amount of research would have shown.  In this matter we cannot blame the OP

  • bodega3

    I disagree that you should trust any rating without taking responsibility and researching on your own.  So if you use an opague site, then you are using that sites rating unless noted otherwise and as such you take your chances.  I diagree with movie critics who rate film and I have disagreed with food critics, too.  It is all subjective.  Lesson to be learned, if you use on opague site, don’t complain as most will not have pity on you.

  • bodega3

    Oh, oh, can I answer that?  Because stupidity over rules common sense in many people.

  • bodega3

    I all depends on the purpose of the stay.  For our driving trips, we just need a clean, safe place to stay.  For flying trips that we are visiting the area for sightseeing purposes, something clean and safe is also what we want.  A few extra amenties is considered for both of these like breakfast, shuttle, internet. However for a lenghly stay in Hawaii we want a nice pool, good beach, exercise room, access to other activites. We do not like B & B’s as we like to come and go at all hours and don’t wish to bother the host.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_OEPJGQPIEB75YYDE5CJY6R3VFE Carver Clark Farrow II

     Come on people, be charitable.  Some folks have gotten really good deals using opaque travel sites.  Like anything else different business models work for different people.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_OEPJGQPIEB75YYDE5CJY6R3VFE Carver Clark Farrow II


    I think I understand the disconnect based upon your last post.  This is not a situation of buyer’s remorse.  It’s not the the opaque site stated that the hotel was a 4 star hotel but another rating agency, say AAA, only give it three Diamonds.  In that case the OP would be SOL because Expedia is entitled to rate the hotel as it sees fit.

    The issue here is that prior to booking Expedia claimed that the hotel was rated as a 4 star hotel by Expedia , but after booking Expedia revealed that Expedia actually only rated it a 3 star hotel.

    So it’s the SAME travel site giving different information before and after the booking.  That can never be tolerated.

    There is no amount of research that the you, me, or the OP could have done to protect against such an occurrence.

    I appreciate that you do not approve of DIY and probably less so of opaque travel sites, but neither case is a justification to allow a website to commit fraud by lying to its customers.

  • MarkKelling

    Yes.  Good guess!  Stayed at the Lime Tree twice now and both times was exactly what I needed.  
    Also stayed at the Holiday Inn Express in the same neighborhood and liked it a lot as well.  No air conditioning at either property, but so far I was always there when the weather was cool.

  • Kunzang Tenzin

    Great information for a agent like me who is also a Tour Operator in Bhutan. http://www.mysteriousbhutan.com

  • http://twitter.com/BWAlbAirInn Albany Airport Inn

    They shouldn’t be able to post false information. Some customers might choose where they stay based on stars. However, it’s always best to look at the hotel website before you book it on Expedia. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/joan.ramstedt Joan Ramstedt

    I booked an unpublished hotel through Expedia this past weekend and discovered moments after I pushed the Purchase button that the hotel ratings described the property as horrendous, with broken tiles and no air conditioning that I immediately contacted Expedia to get a refund based upon the reviews which were consistently poor desribing the property as a 2 star at best. I was told to go to my credit card company and file a dispute with them. AE told me Expedia had the power to remedy the situation and to go to their management team who contacted the hotel to see if they would work with me to which the hotel responded NO. So I went up two levels in Expedia who told me “their hands were tied” and gave me a small credit but still no real remedy. I was told that a four star rating is very subjective and that the Expedia representative in Italy was responsible for reviewing customer complaints. It was suggested that I go to the hotel, take pictures and send them to their office for an investigation. If they determined the hotel misrepresented their own status as a 4 star they would take it under advisement. I suggested that description on their website for unpublished rates was very specific, indicating that their unpublished rate hotels were on par with an the Intercontinental, Hilton or Hyatt chain. This hotel is no where close to any of those brands. My issue is you can’t mislead people into purchasing a product that is “not as described” and sell a consumer a Intercontinental price tag and deliver a Holiday Inn experience. AE said they would do anything to help, but that my chances of succeeding the dispute with the information I have currently is very low. Please help me out this is my 15 year anniversary and first trip to Italy. It is important to me.