Compensation Clinic: InterContinental Hong Kong

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Compensation Clinic pays a visit this week to InterContinental Hong Kong, where I also stayed at in November (read more about their up-sell tactics here).

compensation-clinic-intercontinental-hong-kong

A LoyaltyLobby reader forwarded me emails about the Best Price Guarantee program problems that he had with the property that didn’t want to play by the rules set by InterContinental Hotels Group.

You can access InterContinental Hong Kong’s website here.

Here’s the copy of the reader email to IHG and InterContinental Hong Kong:

Intercontinental Hotel Group (IHG) promises to offer a Best Rate Guarantee with the voiding of the first night charge should such guarantee be invoked as it happened in this case of Reference XYZ.

As it can be seen from the course of the file and this email IHG confirmed the Best Rate Guarantee together with the notice they would adjust the night to a free stay since the rate requirements were met. It is also noteworthy that this took place 2.5 weeks prior to the arrival at said hotel Intercontinental Hong Kong.

Few days before my arrival IHG contacted me again and informed me they would reimburse me via personal check after which I replied the time frame is unacceptable and I would only accept an immediate process of express mailing a check. Then I was informed in the meanwhile (1 day) the process has changed and wire transfer is now the only option, the process still taking 6 weeks for reimbursement.

Arriving at the Hotel is was demanded that despite the commercial advertisement and confirmation in IHG’s Best Rate Guarantee Description I had to pay in full for that stay despite being told well in advance this was not the case. I refused to do so and noted such on the Registration Form. At the day of arrival it is not possible anymore for the consumer to make a competitive, alternate booking at a different hotel due to price natural increases. I talked to the Asst Manager Mr R. about the matter. The property as the local franchise holder of Intercontinental Hotels and direct supplier to the customer violates Hong Kong Consumer Protection Legislation: Supply of Services Ordinance (Cap 457), Trade Descriptions Ordinance (Cap. 362), specified Trade Descriptions (Unfair Trade Practices) Ordinance (Cap. 362) 2012.

The timeline and manner in which Intercontinental Hotel Group (IHG) is handling their Best Rate Guarantee Program is unacceptable. IHG as well as the property act against valid laws in their individual sphere of jurisdiction. It is nowhere mentioned that the customer has to act as a de facto credit institution, laying out amount x to IHG for a time frame of almost two months for a reimbursement to be processed, in fact a reimbursement aside from an immediate voiding of the charges is nowhere mentioned at all or even remotely brought to the attention of the consumer.

I am urging IHG a last time to handle this matter directly with their property Intercontinental Hong Kong. It is unacceptable that I as the customer are put in the middle of an internal dispute between contractual differences of IHG and their franchisees.

Here’s the reply from the property:

Greetings from InterContinental Hong Kong and it is a pleasure to make your acquaintance.

I am responding to your email of 21 Dec 2013 which has been forwarded for my reference and review.

First of all, I would like to apologise for the miscommunication and misunderstanding that has occurred to date. We acknowledge the fact that you found a ‘best daily price’ of HK$2753 as opposed to our quoted best daily price of HK$3729. In view of this, then of course, your accommodation for the night of 19 Dec 2013 would be on a complimentary basis and no room charge would be incurred.

During your stay, our staff ‘ran a copy’ of your credit card. However, I would like to stress that this was for reference and record purposes. At no time did we actually obtain payment from the credit card and I apologise deeply for the fact that this was not clarified sufficiently and you were of the impression otherwise.

Please rest assured that I have spoken to the team members concerned and we will implement remedial measures to prevent incidents of a similar nature from occurring again.

In the meanwhile, as a gesture of our sincerity, I would like to credit 40,000 IHG Rewards Club points to your account which I hope will be reflected in your forthcoming ‘points summary statement’.

I would also like to take this opportunity to wish you a festive season and a very happy and prosperous 2014.

IHG should better manager their franchisees to ensure that they better abide by the terms. If the Best Price Guarantee program confirms that the property has not played by the rules and offers lower prices on 3rd party sites (most do), why they cannot just adjust the price of the stay to zero themselves rather than having to contact someone at the property to do the adjustment?

There is nothing on the terms and conditions of the Best Price Guarantee program that would indicate that the reimbursement would take place by either a check or wire transfer weeks/months after the stay.

Best Price Guarantee: We guarantee that every hotel reservation booked through an IHG web site will have the lowest room price (room rate) or total room cost (including all taxes and fees) publicly available on the Internet. If you find a lower room price (room rate) and total room cost (including all taxes and fees) publicly available on the Internet on a non-IHG Website within 24 hours of booking, IHG will provide your first night’s room price free and match the lower average nightly room price found for that stay for the rest of the nights of that stay, subject to the following terms and conditions.

You can access the full program terms and conditions here.

The Best Price Guarantee has been written ambiguously. As you can see from the text above, IHG merely promises “first night’s room price free”, but doesn’t state how.

Conclusion

There is really something wrong with the InterContinental Hong Kong that should be one of the flagship properties for the chain, but fails in so many ways. I had unpleasant stay at the property in November.

The manager that spoke with the reader at the time of checking in had claimed that the Best Price Guarantee only applies IF the price is lower on other IHG managed website and not on third party ones. This truly illustrates how little the personnel at the property knows about their pricing agreements with the IHG that they have agreed to by their franchise agreement.

On a side note, I need to do a follow up of the Best Price Guarantee program soon that has taken turn to the worse. It seems that IHG is now sitting on the claims for couple of days hoping the price on other sites to go higher or inadequately staffing the department handling the claims expediently that leads to higher claim rejection rate too.

If you have had negative experiences with IHG’s Best Price Guarantee program, you can always drop me an email.

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