A LoyaltyLobby reader sent me an email about issues surrounding Hilton’s Best Price Guarantee and “lost claim”.
You can access Hilton’s web page for Best Price Guarantee here.
Here’s the email from the reader:
I am writing to share with you my horrible Hilton Email support and BRG experience.
Long story short, I made a reservation through Hhonors App for Hilton Shenzhen Shekou Nanhai for 26 Nov 2016 – 27 Nov 2016. The rate was CNY1,030 plus tax.
About 5 hours later, I did a quick check over tripadvisor and numerous booking sites were offering the same room for same period of stay at same booking terms for a lower rate, CNY950 plus tax. I submit a BRG claim form properly at http://hiltonworldwide3.hilton.com/en/best-price-guarantee/claimForm.htm .
At the page after submitting your BRG claim form, it stats you should hear from Hilton within 24 hours by email or phone. So I wait. Over 24 hours passed and I contact Hilton online chats.
The staff who chatted with me told me no BRG file number received mean the BRG “did not get through”. She told me to submit a new one. I was of course fully aware that BRG must be made within 24 hours of reservation. I told her this and showed her the BRG terms, and all she did was to apologize. I asked for an email address to discuss the matter with and she gave me firstname.lastname@example.org. So I email (cc to email@example.com at the same time), heard nothing till now (over 36 hours passed).
I contacted Hilton on facebook and they were quick in reply (less than an hour), but were unable to assist me further except to ask me file another BRG claim. I expressed my concern again (claim filed after 24 hours will be outright rejected) and they told me they would copy our conversation to the BRG team.
So I submit another BRG claim, again no BRG file number reach me.
An hour later I submit a third one, this time the BRG file number reach my email within minutes.
About 12 hours after submitted my third BRG, the BRG team rejected my claim with the standard reason that your claim was submitted over 24 hours after reservation.
I have emailed firstname.lastname@example.org and CC to email@example.com again and heard nothing (and I expect this). So I am writing to let you know what happened.
It was very disappointing because I expected excellent service from the Hilton email support and BRG team (I have enjoyed most of my previous stays, and they were really quick in responding to stay feedback submitted via Hhonors App).
I am qualified to continue my Diamond status till March 2018, but would probably switch to another chain for my 2017 stays.
Below are copies of the 2 email that went unanswered. I use Gmail and I live in Hong Kong, so there shouldn’t be due to network or my email error.
Here’s what the reader had emailed Hilton HHonors:
This is a formal complaint against Hhonors email support and BRG system.
On the Email support part, I have emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org and cc the same email to email@example.com over 36 hours ago. Until now I have received no acknowledgement or reply at all.
A copy of my email is copy and paste at the end of this email.
On the BRG system part, it is self-explanatory from my email that went unanswered. The BRG team, as I expect, rejected my BRG claim (file number REMOVED) with the reason my claim was submitted over 24 hours after my reservation, without consider the facts that it was the Hilton BRG system that failed to issue any file number to me after my submission of the BRG claim form online. You may wish to note that after submitting the BRG claim form, the page told customers to expect a reply by email or phone in 24 hours. There was no warning that you should receive a BRG file number and if you don’t have that within 5 minutes you should resubmit your BRG. In fact, the BRG file number only arrived after I submitted my BRG for the third time.
It is very disappointing because all my previous stays at Hilton were great (which made me a return customer), yet my first experience with the BRG was extremely horrible and unfair. The lowered price is still here even now and it should be a very simple case.
PS. Should I still fail to hear from you, I have to resort to other means to try to get the message to Hilton. Thank you for your understanding.
And here’s the second one:
I refer to my room reservation REMOVED at Hilton Shenzhen Shekou Nanhai for 26 Nov 2016 – 27 Nov 2016; and my BRG claim submitted on 2016-11-14 at about 22:30 (GMT+8 Hong Kong time).
I understand I should hear from Hhonor within 24 hours. However over 37 hours had passed and I didn’t hear anything. So I contacted the online chat for assistance at about 12:20 on 2016-11-16 (GMT+8 Hong Kong time)
Jean was the one who answered my online chat.
Upon knowing that I have not received a file number for my BRG claim, Jean said my claim did not push through.
I explained to Jean that I have taken a picture of my computer screen after submitting my BRG claim. It stated on the screen that “We have received your claim form and you will hear from Guest Assistance by email or telephone call within 24 hours of submitting your claim”. There was no way of me knowing my claim “did not push through”.
So I asked Jean who should I talk to or email to on this matter. Jean suggested that I have to submit again for a BRG claim. I had to copy and paste the Hhonor BRG terms to Jean and suggested to her that since over 24 hours had passed after my reservation, her colleague at BRG will simply reject my claim.
Jean was unable to offer any other solutions except to apolygize. This is why I am writing to you now.
A bit more information on my BRG claim:
The booking was made at around 19:00 on 2016-11-14 (GMT+8 Hong Kong time) via Hhonor mobile App. Price was CNY 1,030 before tax and fee, which was the lowest rate available for King Guest Room at my time of booking. (20 PCT OFF SALE)
A simple check on tripadvisor at around 22:15 on 2016-11-14 (GMT+8 Hong Kong time) showed that many other booking sites (including Agoda, Expedia, Wing On Travel, Ctrip and Hotels.com) were offering the King Guest Room at CNY950 before tax and fee.
At around 22:30 on 2016-11-14 (GMT+8 Hong Kong time) I submitted my BRG claim.
At around 12:20 on 2016-11-16 (GMT+8 Hong Kong time), I haven’t heard anything (email or phone) from Hilton, so I contacted online chat for help and the above happened.
If you go check the price now. (over 42 hours after my reservation as of now), the lower price of 950 is still there at various sites. In fact, even the hotel itself has dropped its price from 1,030 to 950 CNY now, probably after knowing its price at official Hilton booking channel was not competitive.
Here go examples of some of the booking sites:
Given the above circumstances and the clear case of mine, I would be grateful if I may hear from you at your earliest convenience. Much time has lapsed from my time of reservation which makes verifying booking price increasingly difficult, and is no longer in line with the “We will try to independently validate your claim within 24 hours after you submit a claim with all required details” and “It’s simple, right? Booking directly with Hilton is quick, easy and guarantees best value” promises.
This is my first BRG experience with Hilton and I regret to say it’s less than satisfactory.
It is unfortunate that Hilton hasn’t adequate staffed their Best Price Guarantee department and continues to have “technical” issues when it comes to lost claims.
1. Claims Get Lost
Hilton has had issues losing submitted claims or not even acknowledging that a customer would have filed it as is the case here.
2. Promised To Get Back Within 24 Hours
Hilton promises to get back within 24 hours of filing the claim that has never been the case when I have filed one.
3. Hotel Won’t Honor The Price
Even when Hilton processes a claim it doesn’t guarantee that a property would honor it (happened with Hilton Venice). They just tell that Hilton has no power over their pricing.
I have many times written here on LoyaltyLobby about these Best Price or Best Rate Guarantees that all the hotel chains now have.
Many are purely there for marketing purposes only to mislead consumers that the lowest prices always are on their direct websites that is often not the case.
If you have Best Price or Best Rate Guarantee, why don’t stand behind it? The chain won’t take the hit but rather the properties that get lower rate for the night and are required to pay a fee (some could call it a fine) for having lower prices on third party channels.
I wish that all the hotel chains (except Starwood) would revisit their Best Price or Best Rate Guarantee programs (IHG calls theirs Promise in some markets) and have the real process match the “Guarantee” that is often not the case today.
Why infuriate elite members that have found lower price on third party site and then try to wiggle out not honoring it by losing the claim, not processing it timely or any other non-material reason?
Non-elite members are likely to nook on third party site anyway. Why would they book direct, pay higher price and not receive any benefits?