Is Orbitz Best Price Guarantee Just A Big Scam?

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Last year, Orbitz launched its own rewards program called Orbitz Rewards (read more here) and part of it was a new best price guarantee program that promises to refund the difference + give you $50 to $200 in Orbucks.

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Orbitz used to have something called “Price Assurance”. They probably spent 100 times more running the never ending ads on TV compared to actual “assurance” payments.

Orbitz promised to refund you the price difference if the price of your hotel reservation or airline ticket went down AND some other Orbitz customer purchased the exact same itinerary.

How likely was this is to happen? Someone booking exactly the same flights or the same hotel rooms type and dates? This was all done purely for marketing purposes.

Orbitz Best Price Guarantee

The new guarantee is full of pitfalls and it is extremely likely that you are not able to collect under it when some other sites such as Expedia or Booking.com has a significantly lower price.

I put the Orbitz Best Price Guarantee to test in the past week and made two claims.

Case 1: Expedia total price lower by $1.67

Expedia has Accor’s All Seasons hotel lower by total of $1.67. I thought that this would be a clear case and filed for the BRG.

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Expedia’s base price is $53.47 and Orbitz’ $54.38. Expedia’s taxes/fees are $11.23 and Orbitz’ $11.99. The total Expedia price is $64.70 and Orbitz $66.37. The total Expedia price is $1.67 lower.

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The claim was denied based on the Terms and conditions part:

Price difference cannot be due to taxes, fees, or a change in or use of a different foreign exchange rate.

Seems that Orbitz has a strategy of having a bit lower headline price (usually), but higher taxes/fees (where they bake in their margin).

Case 2: Agoda lower by $39.45, Expedia by $36.29 and Booking.com by $39.57

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I thought that this certainly was going to be a slam dunk. Agoda’s price before taxes/fees was lower by $45.10 and Expedia by $29.75.

Agoda denial:

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Expedia denial:

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Orbitz claims that they won’t match because of the 15% sale that both of these sites have. Agoda’s price even without the 15% discount would be lower than Orbitz’.

See how they have left something out from their reply:

However, we are unable to approve it because the Orbitz Hotel Best Price Guarantee applies only to on-line rates available without any promotional or special discounted rates Limited Time Offer. Rate includes 15% discount.

But on the terms and conditions:

The Best Price Guarantee applies only to online rates available to the general public. It does not apply to membership or corporate rates or special discounted rates including, but not limited to, AARP, AAA, military, government, or convention rates.

They clearly left the “including, but not limited to, AARP, AAA, military, government, or convention rates” out on purpose. This part should mean that the BRG is not available for rates that require membership of some sort, but they try to have it to include all discount rates as well.

Booking.com lower price

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After I received these two emails, I decided to dig bit deeper. Booking.com had all inclusive rate of $151.

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This match was denied because Booking.com rate is not prepaid.

The only part of the Orbitz Best Rate Guarantee that could apply for this case is:

For Hotel, only pre-paid rates for hotel rooms exceeding $50.00 per night before taxes and fees will qualify.

It does not specify whether that would be the Orbitz or the matched website.

Here are the major pitfalls of the Orbitz guarantee:

1. Only applies to prepaid hotels on Orbitz that are refundable. It is not unusual for half or more hotels that are bookable using Orbitz to be disqualified just under this requirement.

2. The price must be more than $50. In most markets the prices are higher than this.

3. The price on a competing site cannot show any kind of discount or it will be deemed a “special” rate by Orbitz. This is huge and will disqualify most.

4. The price on the competing site must be prepaid. You cannot compare flexible price on other OTA to a prepaid one on Orbitz. Makes no sense.

5. The cancellation terms must be identical.

Conclusion

Do I believe that the Orbitz Best Price Guarantee is basically a scam? You decide. I can say, however, that the terms have been written the most deceitful way I have seen and there is no interest for Orbitz to stand behind the guarantee that is, again, just another marketing gimmick for them.

Why even offer any kind of “Best Price Guarantee” if their intention is to make the terms so ridiculously restrictive that they can basically deny all the claims for technicalities that makes no sense at all?

Have you had tried to take up Orbitz on their Best Price Guarantee and have you been successful receiving anything else than declines from the BRG team?

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