Hyatt Best Price Guarantee Debacle
I swear by best price guarantees, especially those offered by the major hotel chains. They're a great way of getting a cheaper rate, and the benefits that come from booking direct.
Hyatt offers its Best Rate Guarantee when you book on Hyatt.com. If you find a lower, qualifying rate published on another site, they'll not only match it, but discount it by 20% for your entire stay. That's a great opportunity to get a cheap stay, and still earn points and qualifying nights towards status.
Sandy and I are visiting Chicago in May. I had been shopping around for hotels, until I came across a great offer for Hyatt Centric The Loop. The rate was refundable, and was considerably cheaper on Expedia-skinned sites, such as Wotif, CheapTickets, Last Minute and Orbitz, and Hotels.com, as opposed to booking through Hyatt themselves - $560.85 USD vs $887.57 USD.
Considering they would need to beat the rate by $336.72 USD AND by a further 20%, I already anticipated getting some push back.
Just in case TLDR - $448.59 USD (tax inclusive) is the final rate I was offered, for a three night stay. That's almost 50% cheaper than their 'Best Available Rate' for World of Hyatt members, and not bad for Downtown Chicago. However this was after hours of form submission and arguing with customer reps who don't know how their own guarantee works.
And so began my long journey of trying to get Hyatt to match and beat the lower rate. I lost count of the number of times I needed to fill out their claim form.
I submitted screenshot after screenshot, I received every excuse in the book.
1. We do not match promotional rates offered by 3rd party sites.
This was the first whopper I received.
Um. Isn't this the same as saying, 'oh, that website has a cheaper rate? And it's not a Hyatt website? Sorry, can't beat it.'
There is nothing in their Best Price Guarantee Terms & Conditions that prohbits price matching with a promotional rate on a 3rd party site. In fact, the very nature of the guarantee is that they will beat rates ON THIRD PARTY SITES!
The 3rd party sites had the rate available to all, and did not require you to be logged in as a member, or even a subscriber to their newsletter.
Alas, when I enquired where it said in the T&Cs that they won't match special rates on 3rd party sites, they replied, only to alledge that the rate was on offer with a coupon or discount code.
Only one problem. It wasn't!
2. When you fill out our claim form with the name and URL of one website, we'll ignore that and search for another.
Next, they got to my claim form submission for www.lastminute.com.au - an Australian website owned by Expedia.
However, instead of performing a search at that website, they visited www.lastminutetravel.com instead.
3. Even though our T&Cs say that we'll look at rates in a different currency, we will tell you that we're not allowed to.
The Best Price Guarantee T&Cs state:
In the event that the Competing Rate is in a different currency than the Hyatt.com rate, Hyatt shall convert the Competing Rate and the Hyatt.com rate into a common currency chosen by Hyatt in Hyatt’s sole discretion. If, after conversion to the same currency, a Competing Rate is less than one percent (1%) lower than the Hyatt.com rate, then such Competing Rate shall not qualify for the Best Rate Guarantee. Such deviations are often the result of fluctuations in currency exchange rates and other factors beyond Hyatt’s control.
Now if you ask me, that's pretty black and white. If you book a rate through Hyatt in one currency, and the Competing Rate on another website is in another currency, they'll covert.
According to Ms. Robinson, 'the rates have to be in the same currency as the hotel which is US dollars.'
Is she trolling?
4. You know that website you told us to search earlier, and we searched a different website? Alright, now we'll search another one (but still not the one you've asked us to search).
I resubmitted www.lastminute.com.au through their claim form, because according to Ms. Robinson's boss, they can't check another site without it going back through the claim form (even if they got the site wrong).
So I did this.
And then they decided to do a search at www.lastminute.com - a UK travel booking site.
By this time, I had simply had enough of Ms. Robinson, and decided to approach their Twitter team instead. They were wonderful, and sympathetic to my struggles with the Guest Services team over the past hour.
Lo and behold, I shortly received an updated booking confirmation, confirming that Hyatt had matched and beaten the lower rate through Wotif.co.nz
Ironically, that site is owned by the same company as the others (apart from Hotels.com), and has their rates in NZD (a different currency than the rate through Hyatt, and according to Ms Robinson, they can't beat those).
Ah well, an afternoon of effort to get that rate still makes me pretty happy.
Maybe they just wanted me to work for it?