IHG ‘Best Price Guarantee’… is it a farce?Back to Forum
Yes it is a farce – it is a rip off marketing gimmick…..
I have already complained to the ASA about Hilton’s equally ineffective “Best Price Guarantee” and they have ruled that all their small print is perfectly legal, decent, honest and truthful. Go figure.
I travel a lot for business and I also organise conferences and even that made no impact to the people at IHG. The department that deals with the guarantee just tells you that is all they do. They don’t care about loyalty.
Hilton and IHG seem to want to have thier cake and eat it. You only get your “loyalty” points and benefits if you book with them direct yet many of their properties discount like made through other channels. The guarantees are so riddled with exclusions that they are worthless.
So, here’s my tip:
* Go to Trivago.co.uk or Trivago.com which searches numerous hotel booking sites to give you the best price
* Check the prices – they will often quote the website of Hilton/IHG and sometimes the prices are the same – so you can book direct and get a few points or you can take advantage of much lower prices offered by other suppliers for exactly the same hotel. I’ve been able to get flexible rates and upgraded rooms for less that quoted direct for a standard room
I feel a bit for the likes of IHG/Hilton as they operate a franchise model and the individual hotel owners are desperate to fill rooms so it is like herding cats to balance everything. However, personally, I’d rather they either gave loyalty benefits wherever you book (the airlines do that) or they get rid of pretending that they are always the cheapest on thier own site.19 Jul 2012
The OFT is now investigating …
Interesting comments from the boss of an online travel company who is quoted as saying, “Consumers are seeing best price guarantees on almost every travel website nowadays.”
“What they don’t realise is that these companies are only able to confidently guarantee the best rates because they’ve precluded the competition from discounting with legal threats.”31 Jul 2012
Based on my own experience and experiences of others in the main it is not actually a farce but False Advertising! If read the papers today IHG seems to be under the UK regulatory spotlight on another issue. It would be great if the BPG was reported to the ASA and the equivalent in the States. As a previous poster noted most of the time they hide behing the T&C’s(which I have gone over with a fine tune comb) and I honestly do not see how anyone would be successful in making and valid claim!!!!2 Aug 2012
Quite funny reading this now!
Expedia and IHG and others allegedly involved in price fixing.
I used to be a Platinum member but I almost avoid HI and CP as I find it difficult to get wothwhile discounts AND get my points – which have become devalued anyway.2 Aug 2012
IHG has significantly relaxed the terms of the best price guarantee. Firstly there is no longer a 30 day limit between claims, the only limitation is now that any one person can only have 1 claim for any one date.
Also a lot of anecdotal evidence on flyertalk points to them being much easier on the other criteria, with many people get claims that would have previously been denied.
Check out my travel blog11 Sep 2012
Know this is an old forum but IHG obviously learnt nothing as have just had same problem. Booked in January – was checking the hotel website (incidentally paying $1000 for two nights that does not include breakfast or wifi!) and found it $400 less on Trip Advisor link to bookings.com and IHG – tried to claim – but it’s more than 24 hours since booking made.
I have to wonder exactly how many people actually manage to claim their free night?
I like to think of myself as an experienced traveller but this caught me out and am furious with their curt, tough luck email reply.
There must be a whole department dedicated to finding the loopholes for the unsuspecting mugs like me to fall through.10 May 2014
PatJordan not sure if it is a farce but they certainly do NOT make it easy.
I’ve taken advantage of it three or four times and all but one was approved without having to push the issue higher.
The biggest ‘con’ I found is their verification process. As we all know hotel room prices, like airfares are volatile. They are there one hour, gone the next. What I found with IHG is that sometimes they were attempting to ‘verify’ the price many hours after I submitted the claim – then replying that they had not been able to verify the rate (as it had now gone).
They will use almost any excuse possible to avoid the ‘free night’ offer and one needs to know the rules to avoid falling foul of some technical opt out. The most common I encountered was the room description – for example if it is listed as a ‘grand double city view’ on ihg.com but a ‘double city view’ on, say expedia they will decline it. Same with conditions that the hotel room is offered. I had one BRG declned because ebookers rate included wifi and ihg’s did not! The other thing I found was currency. The only countries I really found where the Best Price Guarantee worked was where IHG and the competing website charge in USD, GBP or EUR. And even then it can be a minefield. For example I had booked the intercontinental Honk Kong via IHG in HKD. A few hours later I found a much cheaper rate on olotel.com, again quoting in HKD. I submitted a claim – it was rejected. When I queried it, I was emailed a copied/pasted paragraph buried deep in Olotels t&c’s regarding the pricing. Olotel actually quotes in EUR and shows the converted rate when performing a search. Makes absolutely no difference – olotel was still hundreds of dollars cheaper than ihg.com but they found their get out clause.
In the end though perserverence can pay off. I’ve enjoyed free nights at the Intercontinental in Miami, New York and Buenos Aires as well as the Crowne Plaza in Miami and London.
My top tips – take a screen shot of absolutely EVERY page of the transaction process on the competing website. And I mean EVERY page. Read the fine print of the competing websites billing methods and ensure they will QUOTE and BILL you in the same currency as IHG quotes.
If they declined it because they couldn’t verify it I found the screen shots I emailed worked pretty well. Even though the first time I tried this way it was still declined as some pedantic detail was not included in the screen shot.
I have always found though that if you kick up a big enough stink they will allow a cancellation of the original reservation via IHG – even if it was ‘non cancellable’ and within the BRG timeframe.10 May 2014
“My top tips – take a screen shot of absolutely EVERY page of the transaction process on the competing website. And I mean EVERY page. Read the fine print of the competing websites billing methods and ensure they will QUOTE and BILL you in the same currency as IHG quotes.
If they declined it because they couldn’t verify it I found the screen shots I emailed worked pretty well. Even though the first time I tried this way it was still declined as some pedantic detail was not included in the screen shot.”
If you have had luck with screenshots, it is just that, luck. The t&c of the best rate guarantee specifically exclude the use of screenshots as evidence, due to ease of faking them.
This stipulation as put in on the last t&c update, and thus perhaps your claims were prior to this update.10 May 2014
Tangey1 yes I did have luck with the screen shots – although reluctantly on IHG’s part. When they initially denied my claim due to being unable to verify it I asked them how long after I submitted my claim did they attempt to check. The reply was eight HOURS. So my argument with them was that if they are going to bother offering such a policy they need to have a robust process to verify the competing website prices. What’s the point of checking eight hours after a claim has been lodged? Actually, they give the impression that their staff work around the clock constantly verifying. As I discovered – not true. A customer service office in the Philippines is responsible for verifying the claims – and the office is only open 08:00-22:00 East coast US time. Each time I have made this point to them they have ‘made an exception’ and accepted the screen shots.10 May 2014
IHG have let me down too many times. I don’t even look at them now. I go straight to Accor. Their rewards are not great but their hotels are fine and consistent, you know what to expect and you get what you pay for and your money stays in Europe as opposed to crossing the pond to line the pockets of the Yanks.10 May 2014
Another wonderful story about clueless corporate management. Why are these people paid so well if they can’t even create a valid marketing plan; actually creating one that cheats their customers. Do they not understand the ever-increasing power of the internet and social media to shed light on stupid, arrogant and fraudulent? I am Platinum with IHG … had never looked at the guarantee or checked room prices elsewhere. As a result of this information, I will now be much more vigilent.10 May 2014
I spend around 200 nights per year in hotels.
I was an ICHG platinum member for more than 10 years. I ceased using them completely, 3 years ago over a similar, unresolved issue.
To this day, they still send me Priority club statements & they have never tried to contact me to see why, after 10 years of around 75 nights per year with them, I do not stay with them any more.
Surely part of the reason they want us to hold so called loyalty cards is to look at our spending habits (like the Tesco clubcard)?
I also dropped Accor like a stone late last year after spending around 50 nights with them from Jan to October because they refused to honour my Accor reward certificate – they too, send me blank statements on a regular basis showing number of stays, Zero…… I even filled out a detailed survey questionaire from Accor where I spelled out the fact that I wouldn’t stay with them again – Zero response from them!
My business is now with people who appear to actually desire my custom;
Marriott – who gave me an immediate status match with IHC / Accor – I will stay around 100 nights with them in 2014…
Hilton – Diamond for 15 years plus
Radisson – Concierge11 May 2014
I have just learnt form an ex staff who was part of the IHG team that manages the Best price guarantee that they are penalized with “demerit points” system for each guarantee they honor! No matter how obvious the price discrepancy is, the primary call attendants are not allowed to honor it and has to be referred to a manager/supervisor who would then try to find a way not to honor it. If he fails and the client continues to complaint it will then be honored and the manager would be awarded “demerit points” (based on the value of the guarantee!!) and bonuses would be heavily affected! Absolutely disgusting, but then, what else can you expect from IHG?
I was recently tempted to reactivate my once Platinum Priority Club membership with a “big Win” 99,000 points with a series of stays with conditions such as 2 stays at 2 different Crowne PLaza and a stay at fully flexible rate. Regretfully I took up the challenge and found (in very fine print) that the Crowne Plazas and the fully flexible rates has to “participating hotels”!
I cannot understand how IHG can survive in such a competitive market with such questionable practices.11 May 2014
I’m Platinum with IHG and have always found the best way is to check the price on the IHG we site then compare with other sites. If I find a cheaper alternative I call the Platinum hotline and let them know there and then, they always reduce my booking price and make the booking on the phone.12 May 2014