Car Dealer: This brand new Audi A3 is only $35,000 it has all the bells and whistles. Don’t bother going anywhere else. I guarantee you I will match the price if someone else offers you the same car for less in the next 24 hours.
Consumer: Ok I’ll buy it.
Fast forward to next day, consumer returns to the dealer
Consumer: I found the A3 from a car supermarket for $33,000.
Dealer: Yes, but that one he’s willing to sell you for $2000 less also has leather seats and satellite radio. The one you bought from me has cloth seats and FM radio. It’s a different car.
That would be a dodgy car dealer. The Hilton Best Rate Guarantee is a dodgy brand promise, and must be exposed.
On the surface it looks great: Hilton even has a little logo promoting it on the landing page of its website. The Best Rate Guarantee (BRG) promises that you need look no further than Hilton’s own website to ensure the best rates at any Hilton family hotel. If you find a better rate on an equivalent room through another site or travel agent within 24 hours of booking a Hilton room, Hilton will match the price AND give you a $50 American Express Gift Certificate.
I booked a hotel at the Toronto Airport Hilton (late arrival with kids); the non-refundable price was $152. Within a few minutes, I notified Hilton’s Guest Services team that I found exactly the same room at Expedia, but with breakfast included, for $127. I was very impressed with myself and my future gift certificate. I made a claim within minutes.
I was surprised by the response 24 hours later (verbatim):
Thank you for taking the time to submit a claim form regarding Our Best Rates. Guaranteed. We have reviewed your reservation.
The terms and conditions of our Best Rates Guaranteed policy state that we may offer a lower rate than that booked if the rate is found on another booking website. The reservation found on a 3rd party website must be an exact mirror or the reservation you have booked with Hilton. The reservation and rate you have found through expedia.com states a Summer Sale which includes breakfast which does not match the Advance Purchase rate that you have booked through Hilton. Therefore your claim is denied.
Yes, you read that correctly. Because Expedia’s sale rate includes breakfast (at the same Hilton, by the same Hilton), it’s not an exact mirror offer. My brain hurts. I actually emphasized this additional breakfast offer in my claim e-mail. “Expedia is offering the same room, with the same conditions (prepay), for the same dates, PLUS breakfast for a lower price than what Hilton charges for the same room WITHOUT breakfast.
My value equation is:
LOWER PRICE FOR SAME ROOM = VALUE
BREAKFAST AS WELL = MORE VALUE
Therefore, please price match the rate; BRING the BRG!
Meanwhile, Hilton’s value equation is:
DELUXE ROOM + BREAKFAST ≠ DELUXE ROOM ONLY
Therefore, BRG does not apply.
The terms and conditions are clear, once you read them. But I didn’t think I needed to as a long-time customer; the headline on the BRG web pages states
No asterisks, no small print, just a little link near the top to the T&C’s. Needless to say, as a guy who has stayed at the Hilton Hotels hundreds of times in the past 10 years (really! I counted), and as a Diamond-level HHonors member, I’m feeling jilted.
I’m hoping this brand I’ve stuck with for 12 years and given 80% of my hotel business to will redeem themselves when the Guest Services Supervisor calls back in 72 hours. I’ll report back to you.