Don’t Be Fooled by Travel Sites “Best Price Guarantee”

Have you seen the new “deal” that travel websites have been boasting about? If you book a flight, hotel, or package, but then see a better price on a different travel site, they will refund you the difference AND give you a $50 travel coupon! It seems too good to be true! Well, that’s because it is. It’s time to reveal the scam behind the “Best Price Guarantee” and bring to light all the terms and conditions hidden away that make it impossible.

So you booked your trip through one of these sites offering a price guarantee. Here’s the first hidden fact: You only have 24 hours to find a better deal . At first that doesn’t seem too bad, but here’s another hidden fact about making reservations online: The travel sites are working together. Although they are competitors, they all get their information from the same places. These websites share information, and keep track of the number of times a certain flight, hotel, or package is searched for or looked up. The more hits it has, the quicker the price will increase. This makes it essentially impossible for you to ever find the same flight for less within such a short period of time. The only time prices drop drastically are if a flight or hotel is trying to fill up spaces last minute, which happens within three days of your travel date. Chances are, you didn’t book your trip only a few days in advance.

But let’s say that by a stroke of luck, in your 24 hour time period, you do find a better deal on a different site. Great! Until you realize all the other terms and conditions about the best price guarantee that you didn’t bother reading at first, like this: The travel site must be able to search and locate the EXACT TRIP on their end. Good luck with this step, because the customer service representative you talk to will not be able to find the same flight you look up, even if you walk them though step by step as to how you found it. There will be complications along the way that will negate the validity of your better deal, because every travel site is set up a little different. It will be something little, like the flight number has an extra letter on their site which doesn’t change the flight but to them, it’s not EXACTLY THE SAME, and therefore disqualifies the better deal. Or let’s say the flight numbers, times, and dates match exactly, but the other site doesn’t list the airline on their booking page. Yep, that makes it totally different. The number of travelers? Well the competitor spells out the number “two” instead of using the number “2”, so that’s definitely not the same thing! You know why? Because: The customer service representatives will not give you the benefit of the doubt. They will not use logic and put two and two together. They are like lawyers, out to find that one shred of evidence, as miniscule as it may be, to use against you and win their case. What about sending in a screen shot or digital copy of the flight you found? Nope, they won’t accept that either. It doesn’t matter how obvious it seems to you that the two trips are the same, they will find something, anything to show that it’s not.

But let’s give them the benefit of the doubt, and say that on a rare chance, the customer service representative found a trip that is 100% exactly the same. There’s still the little disclaimer at the bottom of their terms and conditions that states: They reserve the right to restrict anyone for any reason from this guarantee. You’ve just spent at least 45 minutes on the phone trying to convince them that the two trips are the same, but in the end, if they don’t want to give it to you, this is their cop out. They have no obligation to make this guarantee available to everyone, and can choose to not give it to you for whatever reason they decide. One way or another the customer will always be wrong.

The whole “Best Price Guarantee” is simply a scam. It’s the classic bait and switch maneuver. They lure you in with an incentive, make you feel secure about finding the “Best Deal” through their site, but never following through with the “Guarantee”. You’ll simply waste time on the phone, arguing and sitting on hold. Don’t buy into the travel sites shady advertising and gimmicks, simply: Book your trip through whichever site has the best deal, and purchase as far in advance as possible.

So to sum up, best price guarantee is generally seen as nothing more than a sophisticated version of a ponzi scheme designed to loot you in the form of other expenses akin to a dubious contract signing where the clauses given are quite dubious in nature as has been proven time and again. Private jet services may be a better option but that too is liited only to the elite class.