A LoyaltyLobby reader sent me an email about the current state of InterContinental Hotels Group’s (better known just as IHG) Best Price Guarantee-program that promises a free night if you can find a lower price on third party site (and can satisfy all the requirements).
You can access IHG’s web page for Best Price Guarantee here.
Here’s the email from the reader:
I made a booking to Holiday Inn Express Dubai-Jumairah and was able to find a good price of 242.25 AED per night for late December on Holiday Inn website. Final price with taxes was after IHG Rewards Club discount 601.42 AED (about 150 euros) for two persons and two nights stay.
Great! However minutes after this nonrefundable booking was finalized I realized that much-much-much lower rate 196.22 AED per night is available on kaligo.com. Two nights in exactly same type of room would have costed me only 469.36 AED (this is about 118 EUR) including taxes thru Kaligo. I admit that it´s a bit of a mystery to me how was Kaligo rate so low, as a Kaligo is a website that generously rewards bookers with frequent flyer miles as well — my cheap and quick stay would have earned me 500 British Airways Avios).
As you surely know IHG is also generous, at least superficially – their Best Rate Guarantee promises if lower competing rate is found for same dates/hotel/room type, IHG will give out first night free as a compensation for the fact that cheapest price possible was not offered on their website.
Friend in the know warned me that I am wasting my time — “IHG wont approve any more claims,” he told — but I was enthusiastic enough to still fill that IHG BRG form in. And voila — I received answer
minutes later. BRG desk denied my request for price adjustment promptly: “We have verified the competing site – www.kaligo.com – and we were unable to see the rate you are claiming listed and available. Please be advised that the rate on the competing site is higher than your reservation.”
I went immediately back to Kaligo and found that 469.36 AED including taxes rate was still available. So I emailed screen prints and some photos back to BRG as a proofs. And, with minutes, they sent same canned response back: “Please be advised that verification is real time and is done immediately after the online claim form is received by BPG. At the time of verification, the rate available on kaligo.com is higher as the best available rate on IHG website, thus claim won’t qualify for the Guarantee.”
I must say that about 20 minutes later this particular room type indeed disappeared from Kaligo — is it possible that IHG was able to remove particular room from independent OTA website? I do not know how they work and how long hands they have. However I decided to go on and was soon able to find lower rate for same hotel and room type also on amoma.com – website I normally avoid. So I e-mailed back to BRG and let them know “that lower rate for Jumeirah Holiday Inn Express is right now ALSO available on amoma.com — 572 AED for two nights in twin room with breakfast “tax and fees included”.”
Reply came again within minutes and again my claim was denied. This time it felt almost surreal, because their response consisted so much lies and contradicting information: “We have attempted to verify the lower rate you found on www.amoma.com in connection to Reference No.
109663XXX. Please be advised that the lower rate you have provided is no longer available at the time of claim verification. Further verification also show that a comparable room type can be found but the rate is higher than the reservation made on the IHG website. It also shows that rates in www.amoma.com does not include the 10% Municipality fee (City tax), 10.00 AED Dubai tourism Dirham fee and Service charge per night 10% which when added will be even higher than the rates found on the IHG website.”
I must add that of course lower rate was still available on Amoma.com – it still is, hours later. And, as far as I can tell, Amoma rates include all taxes. I am unable to see any disclaimer that municipality, dirham and service fees are excluded.
This exchange of e-mails has taken quite a few hours and I admit that I am bit frustrated. It seems to be IHG BRG modus operandi is to deny claims no matter what it takes and I think that considering all pros and cons it would be better for you and customers if they would not advertise this confusing, muddy and scammy BRG at all. They should get rid of it. I understand that to give away nights for free is financially insane — so just stop the program. Do not advertise something you can´t afford and do not want to provide.
John, has anyone you know been able to use IHG BRG in the way it is still advertised?
It is unfortunate that IHG’s Best Price Guarantee program has turned out to be at least a borderline scam. I do agree with the reader.
The replies that you get from the Best Price Guarantee department in the Philippines often make very little sense. They reply to denials very promptly but “lose” or delay processing claims that are valid.
IHG doesn’t take a hit when Best Price Guarantee claims is approved. They charge a processing fee to the property and the property must adjust the first night free.
Considering all the changes done to the Terms & Conditions of this program over the years by watering down the “promise” to merely shadow of its past, IHG should not call it a guarantee at all. It is merely a marketing promise that is rarely kept probably intentionally.