Expedia is so sure of its travel prices that it offers a best-price guarantee that matches any lower price found within 24 hours of booking. It refunds the difference and issues a $50 travel coupon.
But what happens when a traveler books a trip to a Caribbean resort through Expedia, then finds out, months later, that the resort is increasing the nightly rate by more than 500 percent?
What about the confirmation?
Michael Pelletier of Manchester knew he found a great deal, almost too good, when he booked a trip last Labor Day weekend at the soon-to-be-opened Breathless Punta Cana Resort & Spa in the Dominican Republic for $42.67 a night for a six-day stay in October 2014. Thank you, Expedia.
"I know this seems really low," says Pelletier, "but with the resort not being opened yet and these rooms having two double beds, we figured that they wanted to fill the rooms and this was great deal."
It was so great that Pelletier and his wife, Cathy, told family and friends about it. Soon, four more couples booked similar rooms at the same price.
"We purchased the rooms through Expedia for the six-night stay," says Pelletier, "and they emailed us three times with our confirmation that everything was all set."
Last December, before Pelletier purchased airline tickets for the trip, he called the resort directly to confirm. "They replied that we were all set," says Pelletier. So Pelletier ordered the nonrefundable tickets.
When Pelletier contacted The Bottom Line in late May, he says the resort was asking some members of his traveling group for more money because "through no fault of theirs or us the rates were wrong that they submitted to Expedia."
Pelletier says the resort offered a half-price nightly rate, $228.
"I have to say," says Pelletier, "that although they are trying to be fair . . . I like our $42.67-a-night-rooms better."
The Pelletiers sent TBL copies of confirmation notices sent, via Expedia, that listed the couple's total price for the six days, $330, taxes included. Michael Pelletier says Expedia promised to contact the resort. Pelletier never heard back from Expedia, but TBL did after requesting the travel site review the Breathless case.
Expedia says the resort agreed to honor the original rate and included an email dated June 9 it sent to Catherine Pelletier that also mentioned The Bottom Line's inquiry. Yet the Pelletiers say they did not receive the email and, worse, the resort continued to say it would charge the higher rate.
The hotel, through late June, sent them emails requesting a rebooking because of a technical issue with the resort's reservation system. "Unfortunately," it said in an email to Michael Pelletier, "this involve additional costs but please bear in mind that we are trying our best to offer you the best rate possible considering that the system occurrence is nobody's fault."
Expedia, meanwhile, assured The Bottom Line that the resort would honor the Pelletiers' original booking.
"These always vary on a case by case basis," says Expedia spokeswoman Dayna Sason, "but Expedia always works to advocate on behalf of the consumer.
Finally, on July 1, almost 10 months after he found the bargain rate, the Punta Cana resort confirmed it.
"I just wrote a thank-you letter to the resort," says Michael Pelletier, "and indicated the rest of the group would be in contact with them soon to confirm their reservations. I believe it should work out well."