Hilton Hotels Best Rates Guaranteed – Is it Legit?

I have been having some difficulty with the Hilton Hotels brand best rate guarantee.  So far the guarantee seems like a corporate scam.  I’ll let you read on and be the judge.

Hilton claims:

  • Consumers book confirmed reservations for a Hilton Family hotel stay within the U.S. through any of the Hilton Family booking channels — brand websites, Hilton Reservations Worldwide (toll-free reservations) or directly at a Hilton Family hotel.
  • If a consumer finds a lower publicly available rate on some other booking channel within 24 hours of making the reservation, the Hilton Family of Hotels will match it, plus give the guest a $50 American Express(R) Gift Cheque.(1)

Back on April 26, 2009, I made a hotel booking through www.hilton.com.  I booked a non-smoking, two double bed room, prepaid for $79 at the Hilton Garden Inn Denver South.  At the same time, Expedia.com had the hotel on sale for $40 per night.  I made the booking at Hilton to see if what they would do with the price guarantee.  Below you can see the Expedia price of $40 as they were having a 1/2 sale on this hotel.

Denver Hotel

Here are my results:

When I first tried to call and file a claim I was told that my claim was not valid because Expedia is an opaque travel website.  You can read this post to be introduced to an opaque travel website.  Expedia is not, not, not an opaque booking site.  The agent would not even process my claim over the phone because she was so sure it was going to be denied.  A great start to my Hilton experience.  So I filed a claim online.

The next day I received an email from a supervisor at the Memphis Guest Services office saying:

The reservation booked on the Hilton website was for 1 Non-smoking D2 – 2 double beds room type.  The reservation on the www.expedia.com was not available to book for the specified price listed on claim under the same booking conditions.  Therefore, as stated in our terms in conditions, your reservation is not eligible for the Our Best Rates Guaranteed.

On the same day as my hilton.com booking (April 26, 2009) I also booked three rooms via Expedia.  Those three rooms were each 1 non-smoking, two double beds, prepaid rooms.

Here is my invoice from Expedia:

Total room cost:  $118.50

Room 1Taxes & fees:$2.38/night

Room 2Taxes & fees:$2.38/night

Room 3Taxes & fees:$2.38/night

Lodging total:$125.64

Hotel: Hilton Garden Inn Denver South

Room  1 : Standard room
Nonsmoking/Smoking: Non-Smoking
Room type: 2 DOUBLE BEDS

Room  2 : Standard room
Nonsmoking/Smoking: Non-Smoking
Room type: 2 DOUBLE BEDS

Room  3 : Standard room
Nonsmoking/Smoking: Non-Smoking
Room type: 2 DOUBLE BEDS

The three rooms totaled 41.88 each.  My claim was that the Expedia rate was $40.  The rate without tax was $39.50

So I wonder why my claim was denied. Was it because I said the cost was $40 but really it was $39.50?  Was it because my room cost should have included tax so I should have written $41.88 as the price I found?  Or is it because Hilton never intended to honor their guarantee?  Regardless, it sounds like there is some loophole somewhere that leaves the customer feeling frustrated and betrayed.

The President of Hilton (Tom Keltner) at the time they implemented the Best Rates Guarantee said in a public press release:

Our pricing integrity strategy was created to build further trust with our guests, so they are assured they will receive the best rate at a U.S. Hilton Family hotel when they book on a Hilton Family booking channel.

Trust.  You think customers will trust Hilton when they undermine their own guarantee?  If you want to build an ongoing relationship with a customer you had better stand by your guarantees.  I can obsess about things.  I can be stubborn with the principle of any matter.  I plan to be stuck on this for some time – until Hilton decided to remedy a problem they should have resolved some time ago.

So what does Hilton have to say about all this?

I have attempted to follow up on this denial by phone.  I have called five times, left a voice mail twice and have never received a call back.  I have a log of all my calls but do not want to post those names all over the internet.  All the agents have said I must deal directly with the supervisor as they cannot do anything about it without his approval.  Guess who has never returned any of my phone calls?  Also, I have emailed seven times over the last three weeks and have never received a single email back.

I have contacted the hotel directly and talked with the assistant general manager who said her hands are tied – I must deal with the supervisor in Memphis.

I used to live a block from the Memphis office. I would love to be able to walk down there and talk directly with someone but …

I am getting absolutely no response from Hilton.  Is their price match guarantee a scam?  You decide.

Have you ever had a similar experience?  Have you ever successfully filed a claim and had that claimed honored?  Any suggestions as to my next step?

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  1. Jeff says

    I had a similar issue with a Quality Inn. I was visiting family and saw a lower rate on Expedia. I know Choice Hotels has a lowest rate guarantee so I went on booked at Choice hotels website (also wanted to get bonus frequent traveller points), filled out the paperwork online (mind you at 2:30 in the morning!) and received a confirmation within an hour that yes, Expedia had a lower rate and they would match that lower rate and give an additional 10% discount!

    I did have some difficulty at the hotel getting them to honor the rate (claimed computer problems which may well have been true) but with a follow up call to Choice the difference was refunded within a week.

  2. Former Hilton Loyal Patron says

    Similar story, guarantee is simply a phoney marketing ploy to make you book with them. I found a lower price on priceline’s non-opaque site, the one that anyone can book, and they still denied my claim, first stating that the room booked was not exactly as the competitor’s, which it was, 2 doubles. Then upon further questioning, the next reason for denial was that the reservation did not specify a non-smoking room yet the hotel is 100% smoke free. Ridiculous, I guess it is like dealing with insurance companies, if there is a possibility of denying a claim, that route will be taken. So the best rate guarantee is simply a smoke and mirror marketing ploy which isn’t helpful in obtaining a lower rate. Beware, I will book with other chains in the future.

  3. joe galea says

    The Hilron best rate guarantee is a scam. Do not waste your time with this best rate guarantee claim process. I have tried to process several claims only to be ignored and then ignored once more by the cistomer care resolution dep’t.

  4. Dan says

    Hilton’s communication is extremely misleading in this. I dealt with the same issue this week, where Expedia was 100 USD per night cheaper than any Hilton rate. I contacted Hilton on this and their response was only referring to Hilton Honor Points collectio at Hilton and not at Expedia. Also a very complicated explanation about “non-Hilton” and “third-party”, apparently not meaning the same thing.

    My conclusion is that Hilton’s guarantee actually means that you get the lowest price of all Hilton websites.

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