• Report: #60617

Complaint Review: Hotels.com Hoteldiscount.com Expedia.com

  • Submitted: Fri, June 13, 2003
  • Updated: Sat, June 28, 2003

  • Reported By:Gladstone Missouri
Hotels.com Hoteldiscount.com Expedia.com
www.hotels.com www.expedia.com Internet U.S.A.
  • Phone:
  • Web:
  • Category: Hotel

Hotels.com Hoteldiscount.com Expedia.com ripoff. The truth about online reservations and how to get a better deal Internet

*Consumer Suggestion: GREAT POST ..KEEP UP THE INFORMATION MAYBE THE WORD WILL GET OUT!

*Consumer Comment: Sure its a gamble, but the odds are pretty good!

*Consumer Comment: Airline Policies

*Consumer Suggestion: Tim, You are almost right

*Consumer Suggestion: Best of Both Worlds

*Consumer Comment: Here's my tried and true industry-outsider's method

*Consumer Suggestion: Your 100% right - almost

*Consumer Suggestion: Your 100% right - almost

*Consumer Suggestion: Your 100% right - almost

*Consumer Suggestion: Your 100% right - almost

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After reading the numbers of complaints regarding hotels and internet reservations on this site, I though it might be helpful to get an insiders view.

I have been in the hotel industry for several years and have worked directly with these websites for the past few. They are not bad businesses and offer the individual traveler the opportunity to book reservations at discounts often reserved for large corporations. The problems with these sites are that they are often deceptive, inflexible, and unresponsive. If you know what you are getting, you can make a more informed decision. At the end I will even teach you my insiders trick to getting a better deal than through these websites.

These sites are based upon the idea that they will move 1000s of rooms of excess inventory during my slow periods. In turn they receive an incredibly low rate and are able to tack on a mark up for their services. The mark up tend to run 15% to 40% but I have seen it as high as 50%-75%. When you consider that the hotel still pays the housekeeper, replaces the shampoo (why does everyone steal the shampoo? Do you not have shampoo at home? Yeah, you know you do it too. Just a little hotel humor) washes the sheets, etc. We often time will see the website clear several times as much money as we do, but an empty room makes us no money, something is better than nothing.

What these sites do not tell you is that we offer them whatever rooms are left. That is the agreement. If you plan on putting 4 people in a room, you are not guaranteed to get a room with 2 beds. If you ask for non smoking, you may not get it. We try to accomodate these guest requests as best we can, but if it comes down to a guest who chose our hotel specifically and is paying a higher rate or someone who booked a generic cheap room online the person who booked it through us will get their choice. When you book it directly through a reputable hotel, they will guarantee you room type.

The second problem is that you pay them for the room and not us. If you have a complaint about your room, and I am sure that no one who reads this site would ever complain :-), we can do nothing to adjust your rate. You paid them for the room. We never ran your card and we don't have your card number. In order to receive any sort of refund, you need to work through them. I wish you the best of luck in getting something done about it from them.

If you need to cancel the reservation, you will pay a cancellation charge. This is because you pay for the room at the time at which you make the reservation. Most larger hotel chains will not do this. Most chains will also offer you a cancellation policy that allows you to cancel up to 24 hours before arrival time at no charge. If you need to check out early for some reason, most chains will charge a small early departure fee. If you made an online reservation, you will be paying full price for all of the remaining days.

What happens when you show up and the hotel is hosting a australian yoddling conference or an all night praise a thon in the room next door? You are still paying for the room if you booked it online. You walk in to find a large cockroach dead on your bed? Still paying. You can contest the charges or argue with the site for a refund, but this is time consuming and often futile.

Looking for a better way to make your reservation?
Step 1) Look online and find the best rate you can.
Step 2) Document where you found it.
Step 3) Call the reservations number for that hotel directly and ask them to match the rate.

This method allows you to avoid all of the problems listed above with these sites, plus it makes the hotel happy. You receive all of the service benefits and flexibility. The hotel doesn't have to pay the huge mark up to the internet company. The only person who loses? The website. If you feel bad for them, read some of the rip off reports about them.

Hope this helps. I check this site frequently to find out what other hotels are doing wrong so we can avoid the mistakes. Most importantly, keep traveling! We need to keep this country moving. Great deals abound out there and a great number of hotels are looking to win clients for life.

Thank you for your patient in reading this. I hope it helps someone.

Hotel Guy
Kansas City, Missouri
U.S.A.

This report was posted on Ripoff Report on 06/13/2003 02:33 PM and is a permanent record located here: http://www.ripoffreport.com/r/Hotelscom-Hoteldiscountcom-Expediacom/internet/Hotelscom-Hoteldiscountcom-Expediacom-ripoff-The-truth-about-online-reservations-and-h-60617. The posting time indicated is Arizona local time. Arizona does not observe daylight savings so the post time may be Mountain or Pacific depending on the time of year.

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#1 Consumer Suggestion

GREAT POST ..KEEP UP THE INFORMATION MAYBE THE WORD WILL GET OUT!

AUTHOR: Lynn - (U.S.A.)

I also work in the hotel industry and this statment couldn't be closer to the truth. The best part is the hotel usualy the all the complaints due to cancelations and such........ Most of these web sites don't offer receipts either and guest expect one when they check out of a hotel. But we are not allowed to disclose the rate for any reason because just like you said the mark up these rooms by 50% in some cases.....KEEP UP THE INFORMATION MAYBE THE WORD WILL GET OUT!
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#2 Consumer Comment

Sure its a gamble, but the odds are pretty good!

AUTHOR: Tim - (U.S.A.)

Tom... maybe it's the particular airline you worked for, but my experience with Hotwire (I have never used Priceline, it's too much work for the same result) has been the opposite of what you describe.

I have used Hotwire seven times for flights, and have 1) never been dissatisfied with my flight times (six of the times, they were the times I would have picked if booking direct); and 2) never been bumped, even though people were bumped from three of these flights. One time I volunteered for a bump because they were offering a tasty voucher for doing so, and was told that I could not be bumped because I had booked through Hotwire. In regards to that particular itinerary, I paid $153 for a flight from Grand Rapids to Las Vegas, on the first Saturday of spring break. Had I booked through the airline, that ticket would have cost $435. Even if I had been involuntarily byumped, I still saved almost $300 per ticket ($600 total), and that definitely would have eased my pain.

You're right though, Hotwire is somewhat of a gamble. However, I've had much better luck with flights on Hotwire than the casinos they take me too.
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#3 Consumer Comment

Airline Policies

AUTHOR: Tom - (U.S.A.)

Well let me tell you about using HOTWIRE, PRICELINE or any other consolidator service like them. When you book a AIRLINE TICKET thru them and you show up at the airport and your flight is overbooked for whatever reason, you will be one of the FIRST LUCKY ones that will be INVOLUNTARILY DENIED BOARDING. I worked for a MAJOR AIRLINE for over a year handiling oversold & problem flights, both before and after 9-11 and that was the first thing we looked for was people who booked thru these services. Because as has been stated previously, you bought your ticket from PRICELINE or HOTWIRE or whomever. Your contract is with them and not the airline. The airline sold them a HIGHLY RESTRICTED Ticket that allows us to BUMP YOU FIRST and also offer you no compensation. Dont like it, TOUGH take it up with HOTWIRE or PRICELINE. We didnt sell you the ticket with the restrictions, they did. It is their responsibility to inform you of these things.

PRICELINE & HOTWIRE are for the GAMBLERS. You may get lucky and get a SUPER CHEAP fare with good connections & everything else or you may get really shitty flight times, and possibly bumped for whatever reason. BOOK DIRECT & KNOW WHAT YOU ARE BUYING BEFORE GIVING THEM YOUR PAYMENT INFO.
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#4 Consumer Suggestion

Tim, You are almost right

AUTHOR: Bob - (U.S.A.)

Hi Tim, I appreciate your response and you are almost correct. The reason why I suggest you book with a hotel direct (either through their website or call them) is not so the guest will pay more. Most national chains now have a best rate guarantee. This simply means that they guarantee that you will find the lowest rate on the hotels website not through the 3rd party providers. It is very possible that you look on Expedia, Hotels.com or any other site (I am extremely familiar with travelaxe.) and find that they offer the same rate that the hotel does.

Lets say for example, you go on Expedia and find a room at Tim's Hotel for $50. You then call Tims hotel and they also offer you a $50 rate. Tim's hotel has a web site and you can get a $50 rate there as well. The 3rd party operators like Expedia know that you want to sell rooms (and they have far more resources and marketing $$ than you will ever have) so YOU have given Expedia a rate of $40 because of the volume or potential volume. The bottom line is that the guest books the room and pays $50 no matter what because thats the best rate. The kicker is this. When a guest books directly with you by calling or on YOUR website, they will pay you $50. If they book through Expedia, they pay Expedia $50 because thats the rate Expedia was selling. Your rate with Expedia (You gave it to them becasue they have volume) is $40. The guest paid Expedia $50 and you only get $40 of it. Expedia keeps the rest. You just lost $10 becasue the guest booked through Expedia. How about Expedia booked 20 rooms at your place tonight. You just lost $200.

If only you could get the guest to book direct with you, you would make more money and the guest would have the exact same rate. Guest wins - you win. If the book with Expedia, you get the room sold BUT guest wins, Expedia wins, and you lose $10. Suppose the guest did get the wake up call and they want $10 taken off for the problem. If they book with Expedia, there is a problem. You get your $40 from Expedia. You bill Expedia and they pay you. Remember, the guest paid Expedia and not you and now they want $10 that you dont have yet. Are you going to give it to them ? Are you going to tell them they paid Expedia and they should contact Expedia ?

If they booked direct with you, you would already have your payment established and correct the problem on the spot. If they booked through Expedia and they have to call Expedia for a refund guess who they are pissed off at. YOU !. Is this guest likely to come back to your hotel. NO WAY. I agree with the hotel guy that the best scenario is to book direct. By all means,(You are 100% correct) do your homework on the internet. If you find a better rate on-line, call the hotel and ask them to match or beat it. You are sure to win. Thanks Tim, I enjoy your comments.
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#5 Consumer Suggestion

Best of Both Worlds

AUTHOR: Hotel Guy - (U.S.A.)

Good Day Tim

I think you have overestimated my vested interest in the situation. I assume that if the multinational hotel chain that I work for made more money, eventually more might trickle down to me. I am not holding my breath for this to happen.

My vested interest is solely in making sure that my staff does not get read the riot act by people who a)requested a room with two beds, but only got one. b)had a complaint with their room and want their rate adjusted. c)want to cancel a reservation, but can't because of online restrictions. These people tend to complain until they get to a manager (me) and even I can do little or nothing for them. I don't like to see my staff get yelled at because of issues that are completely out of their control.

My suggestion provides the best of both worlds. Use the program you have to find the best rates, BUT instead of booking it through the search engine call the hotel's (800) number. Most larger chains will now match that rate and give you guaranteed room type, liberal cancelation policies, and not charge your card until you arrive. This gives you the very best rate and flexibility.
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#6 Consumer Comment

Here's my tried and true industry-outsider's method

AUTHOR: Tim - (U.S.A.)

Bob... let me qualify my first statements by stating that I respect your knowledge of this industry, an industry that I only know from the consumer end. And I'm not trying to say that you are wrong, I just want to make a quick point about your statements.

As a hotel insider, you have adopted a vested interest in consumers reserving rooms directly through the hotel. You justify, reasonably, this interest by explaining that hotels are suffering because of the proliferation of discount sites. I'll trust that you are correct in this regard, however...

The conclusion that I draw from your statements is that the consumer should reserve rooms directly because this way they will not only pay more, but the hotel can make all of the money from the sale.

While the proliferation of travel websites may be bad for the hotel industry, it's great for the consumer... as long as everything goes right. Perhaps indirectly, in the long run, it would be better for consumers to pay full price for hotel rooms, but do you honestly expect clever travellers to rely on this prediction? I'm certainly not going to. I will continue to use my tried and true method of finding great hotel rates:

1) Use the "Travelaxe" program. It is a free download that searches several different websites for rates for several different hotels in a given city (for Las Vegas, it searches about a dozen websites, and about a hundred hotels). Included in this search will be the hotel's own website.

You can then jump to the website with the deal you wanted. I prefer to take the best rate I find among the different sites and call the hotel to see if they can match or beat it. You are, generally, better off going directly through the hotel if possible. If I don't find the deal I want from a reputable company this way, I then...

2) Check Hotwire.com. Here you'll see reliable star ratings for unspecified hotels, the amenities avaliable, and the price. You won't know exactly which hotel you've reserved until you make the purchase, which scares some people, but I've had way more luck with hotwire than with any other travel site. I actually prefer to pay for the reservation up front rather than simply reserving the room, there have been a couple of times where the only reason I didn't lose my room after a late arrival was because I had used Hotwire, and as such had already paid.
Of course, if there are no good deals on Hotwire, I'll go back to whatever the best deal was on Travelaxe.

Also, for plane tickets I generally stick with Hotwire. The only problem is you don't know your flight times until you purchase, but I have yet to be disappointed, and you can specify no red-eyes. If you need certain times, I've found Orbitz to be the best bet. And don't be afraid to drive a little to a more distant airport, you can save lots of money that way (sometimes).

For rental cars, I've found that they are usually not discounted that much to begin with, and I'd rather deal with the company directly to make sure that my credit card insures me.

Overall, I'll admit that resercing directly is the most secure, predictable and reliable method. I've had great luck with the above approach, and often times the money I save is the only way I can afford the trip.

Have a good day everyone!
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#7 Consumer Suggestion

Your 100% right - almost

AUTHOR: Bob - (U.S.A.)

To hotel Guy:

I too have been working with the third party internet operators for years. With 110,000 hotel rooms in Orlando, these companies thrive on cities like Orlando. While I agree with the majority of what you said, there is one issue where I would disagree.

1: The guest does not get the last room. Most of these companies have contracts for a specific number of rooms. While there is no guarantee that they will get smoking or non, king or double/double, they do have a reservation at your hotel. You accepted the terms of working with Expedia, Hotels.com etc so you are creating a problem if you are giving these guests inferior rooms. I cant tell you how many times I have heard the comment "are these internet rooms" If people that go to these 3rd party websites believe that they are going to get an inferior room then most certainly they will complain.

You are totally correct in suggesting guests contact a hotel either directly or through their website. Several hotel companies have joined forces to establish their own HOTEL DRIVEN website called Travelweb. I would much rather have a potential guest book directly with me.

There is good news. These 3rd party operators will eventually go away. As the economy improves and hotels finally realize that discounting rates so drastically will not allow them to survive, they will stop doing business with these operators. We either dictate the rates and diminish their mark ups or we don't do business with them. Driving guests to our own websites and call centers is just one of the steps to success. As profit margins shrink, these operators will slowly go away or have to change the way they do business to survive. Major players like Hotels.com, Expedia, and Travelocity will stick around due to their ability to adapt and create change. They have one major thing that a great deal of hotels dont - HUGE marketing $$$. They also enjoy a tremendous customer base which is why the owners of Expedia are buying or have bought Hotels.com. The hotels do need these operators at times and we are in the middle of one of those times. They know it and are taking full advantage. What we should keep in mind is that if hotels eliminate 3rd party operators and take back control of the rate management opportunities, we are able to reinvest in our hotels. People, Product and service. With erroding profit margins for hotels, service and product are going to suffer and we cant afford the people. It only takes a few hotels to bottom out the rate and then the avalanche is on. The right answer for everyone is to BOOK DIRECT WITH THE HOTEL. Most of us have 800 #'s so the call is free. Most have websites so that's free too. No penalties for cxl's, no RED TAPE. Thanks !
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#8 Consumer Suggestion

Your 100% right - almost

AUTHOR: Bob - (U.S.A.)

To hotel Guy:

I too have been working with the third party internet operators for years. With 110,000 hotel rooms in Orlando, these companies thrive on cities like Orlando. While I agree with the majority of what you said, there is one issue where I would disagree.

1: The guest does not get the last room. Most of these companies have contracts for a specific number of rooms. While there is no guarantee that they will get smoking or non, king or double/double, they do have a reservation at your hotel. You accepted the terms of working with Expedia, Hotels.com etc so you are creating a problem if you are giving these guests inferior rooms. I cant tell you how many times I have heard the comment "are these internet rooms" If people that go to these 3rd party websites believe that they are going to get an inferior room then most certainly they will complain.

You are totally correct in suggesting guests contact a hotel either directly or through their website. Several hotel companies have joined forces to establish their own HOTEL DRIVEN website called Travelweb. I would much rather have a potential guest book directly with me.

There is good news. These 3rd party operators will eventually go away. As the economy improves and hotels finally realize that discounting rates so drastically will not allow them to survive, they will stop doing business with these operators. We either dictate the rates and diminish their mark ups or we don't do business with them. Driving guests to our own websites and call centers is just one of the steps to success. As profit margins shrink, these operators will slowly go away or have to change the way they do business to survive. Major players like Hotels.com, Expedia, and Travelocity will stick around due to their ability to adapt and create change. They have one major thing that a great deal of hotels dont - HUGE marketing $$$. They also enjoy a tremendous customer base which is why the owners of Expedia are buying or have bought Hotels.com. The hotels do need these operators at times and we are in the middle of one of those times. They know it and are taking full advantage. What we should keep in mind is that if hotels eliminate 3rd party operators and take back control of the rate management opportunities, we are able to reinvest in our hotels. People, Product and service. With erroding profit margins for hotels, service and product are going to suffer and we cant afford the people. It only takes a few hotels to bottom out the rate and then the avalanche is on. The right answer for everyone is to BOOK DIRECT WITH THE HOTEL. Most of us have 800 #'s so the call is free. Most have websites so that's free too. No penalties for cxl's, no RED TAPE. Thanks !
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#9 Consumer Suggestion

Your 100% right - almost

AUTHOR: Bob - (U.S.A.)

To hotel Guy:

I too have been working with the third party internet operators for years. With 110,000 hotel rooms in Orlando, these companies thrive on cities like Orlando. While I agree with the majority of what you said, there is one issue where I would disagree.

1: The guest does not get the last room. Most of these companies have contracts for a specific number of rooms. While there is no guarantee that they will get smoking or non, king or double/double, they do have a reservation at your hotel. You accepted the terms of working with Expedia, Hotels.com etc so you are creating a problem if you are giving these guests inferior rooms. I cant tell you how many times I have heard the comment "are these internet rooms" If people that go to these 3rd party websites believe that they are going to get an inferior room then most certainly they will complain.

You are totally correct in suggesting guests contact a hotel either directly or through their website. Several hotel companies have joined forces to establish their own HOTEL DRIVEN website called Travelweb. I would much rather have a potential guest book directly with me.

There is good news. These 3rd party operators will eventually go away. As the economy improves and hotels finally realize that discounting rates so drastically will not allow them to survive, they will stop doing business with these operators. We either dictate the rates and diminish their mark ups or we don't do business with them. Driving guests to our own websites and call centers is just one of the steps to success. As profit margins shrink, these operators will slowly go away or have to change the way they do business to survive. Major players like Hotels.com, Expedia, and Travelocity will stick around due to their ability to adapt and create change. They have one major thing that a great deal of hotels dont - HUGE marketing $$$. They also enjoy a tremendous customer base which is why the owners of Expedia are buying or have bought Hotels.com. The hotels do need these operators at times and we are in the middle of one of those times. They know it and are taking full advantage. What we should keep in mind is that if hotels eliminate 3rd party operators and take back control of the rate management opportunities, we are able to reinvest in our hotels. People, Product and service. With erroding profit margins for hotels, service and product are going to suffer and we cant afford the people. It only takes a few hotels to bottom out the rate and then the avalanche is on. The right answer for everyone is to BOOK DIRECT WITH THE HOTEL. Most of us have 800 #'s so the call is free. Most have websites so that's free too. No penalties for cxl's, no RED TAPE. Thanks !
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#10 Consumer Suggestion

Your 100% right - almost

AUTHOR: Bob - (U.S.A.)

To hotel Guy:

I too have been working with the third party internet operators for years. With 110,000 hotel rooms in Orlando, these companies thrive on cities like Orlando. While I agree with the majority of what you said, there is one issue where I would disagree.

1: The guest does not get the last room. Most of these companies have contracts for a specific number of rooms. While there is no guarantee that they will get smoking or non, king or double/double, they do have a reservation at your hotel. You accepted the terms of working with Expedia, Hotels.com etc so you are creating a problem if you are giving these guests inferior rooms. I cant tell you how many times I have heard the comment "are these internet rooms" If people that go to these 3rd party websites believe that they are going to get an inferior room then most certainly they will complain.

You are totally correct in suggesting guests contact a hotel either directly or through their website. Several hotel companies have joined forces to establish their own HOTEL DRIVEN website called Travelweb. I would much rather have a potential guest book directly with me.

There is good news. These 3rd party operators will eventually go away. As the economy improves and hotels finally realize that discounting rates so drastically will not allow them to survive, they will stop doing business with these operators. We either dictate the rates and diminish their mark ups or we don't do business with them. Driving guests to our own websites and call centers is just one of the steps to success. As profit margins shrink, these operators will slowly go away or have to change the way they do business to survive. Major players like Hotels.com, Expedia, and Travelocity will stick around due to their ability to adapt and create change. They have one major thing that a great deal of hotels dont - HUGE marketing $$$. They also enjoy a tremendous customer base which is why the owners of Expedia are buying or have bought Hotels.com. The hotels do need these operators at times and we are in the middle of one of those times. They know it and are taking full advantage. What we should keep in mind is that if hotels eliminate 3rd party operators and take back control of the rate management opportunities, we are able to reinvest in our hotels. People, Product and service. With erroding profit margins for hotels, service and product are going to suffer and we cant afford the people. It only takes a few hotels to bottom out the rate and then the avalanche is on. The right answer for everyone is to BOOK DIRECT WITH THE HOTEL. Most of us have 800 #'s so the call is free. Most have websites so that's free too. No penalties for cxl's, no RED TAPE. Thanks !
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