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Are Expedia Deals Always a Great Deal?

By  +Follow September 17, 2013 12:34PM
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Editor's note: The following is a firsthand account of a recent experience with Expedia.com's booking system from writer Andrew Klips.

As any good marketer would do, Expedia.com (EXPE) bombards visitors with a bevy of links on its home page that can be a bit dizzying, unless you want to just click on the prominent “Plan Your Trip on Expedia” interface at the top, which is likely what most people do.  An Expedia user myself, a recent experience harkened the question, “Is this really a deal?” and compelled me to share and let dealseekers know that they should take a closer look and perform their due diligence before they hit the “buy” button.

Let me explain with a couple images.  This is an actual confirmation of a reservation for three nights at the Waldorf Astoria in New York City. The room is called a “Queen Superior” and the cost was $379 per night. Seems like a fair deal and certainly comparable in cost to other hotels in the area. Way to go Expedia, you got me a great deal. Or did they?

 

Needing to add another day to the trip led to a call to Expedia only to be informed that they didn’t have the same room available. Understand that Expedia purchases blocks of rooms from hotels at a discounted rate and then sells them to consumers, so I understand that they could be out of that particular room for that day. But for me, it meant that I would have to get a different room for one night and then check out/check back in the next day into a different room. Not exactly what I wanted to do, and the cost for a different room was $499 for that extra night. I wasn’t actually told what type of room it was, but after a call to the Waldorf, we surmised that it was a “King Deluxe” and it was at the same price that the Waldorf charges guests. I also learned that the cost of the “deal” for the “Queen Superior” of $379 per night was the same price that the Waldorf charges.

A call to Expedia again – which connected me with a call center (in the Philippines, I was told) – started putting the pieces of the puzzle together. Speaking to a supervisor, I of course questioned the pricing model and requested a better deal that was beneath the cost that the Waldorf was charging. That was a moot request because I was informed that was not happening. Upset, I cancelled the Expedia reservations and made them directly through the Waldorf, getting four days in the same room at the same price as going through Expedia. There were no cancellation fees involved.

So, now I decided to investigate the matter a bit more by picking a random future date and checking prices on Expedia and double-checking with the Waldorf. Here’s an image of the Expedia search:


Sure looks like a great deal, right? In fact, getting a 4-1/2 star hotel (nonetheless the Waldorf in Midtown NYC) at a 48-percent discount? That sounds incredible.

 

Let’s move on by calling Expedia, which again connects me with the reservation service in the Philippines. The intention was to have a representative do the same search that I did (the image above) so that we were on the same page and could discuss what type of room was available for $429 that the Waldorf would typically charge $829.

After a few moments of the rep trying to find the same price quote that I was looking at, I was informed that was a basic room with a king bed, was hearing accessible and could have either a bathtub or a walk-in tub. When asked what “hearing accessible” means, I was put back on hold and never could get a good explanation. A quick call to the Waldorf provided the answer, which was that there are several features, such as flashing lights, TTY for telephone calls, etc. to provide accommodative services for guest that are hearing impaired.

Apropos, the reality is that pursuant to Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act, it’s mandatory that hotels offer rooms that meet specific needs for people with disabilities.  I’m not sure it should be offered-up like it’s an amenity.

Back to the Expedia rep. When inquiring about upgrading to a “King Luxury” room, the rep couldn’t even tell me what the difference was other than “it’s fancier” or “sometimes the room is a little bit bigger and more expensive, of course.” After looking for a more descriptive response, I learned that it is $499 per night and, yes, some of the rooms are larger on a square footage basis. It apparently also confirmed the extra night that was originally offered was indeed a King Luxury room.

A check with the Waldorf informed me that they don’t charge $829 per night for the basic king room. My cost would be…you guessed it…$429. Now, in fairness, rates get shifted around all the time based upon day, season, holidays, etc., so perhaps there are times when it is $829.

Now, the point here is not to degrade the representative. I’m sure it can be a tough job for minimal pay that puts workers in a position to deal with people like me sometimes.  It’s also not to say that there is something out of the ordinary about using a call center outside of the United States. That goes on every day as well (although it can be a hassle to deal with). Nor is this an exercise in bashing Expedia, although in this case, I certainly felt a bit duped with the “deal” being at the exact same price as the Waldorf charges.

Incidentally, checking reservations at The Palms Hotel & Spa in Miami Beach (using the same dates as above) at Expedia and then with the hotel itself again shows that the same price can be paid going directly to through the hotel.

Contacting Expedia for a comment resulted in the following email response from the HL Group (the company that apparently handles PR for Expedia):

“Expedia’s goal is to provide the best prices and availability possible to their consumers. The company does provide the Best Price Guarantee to travelers that applies to hotels, flights, vacation packages, car rentals and activities.”

Fair enough and pretty much what I expected in a response.

The bottom line is that, like me, most people are happy when they feel like they got a good deal. But sometimes that glee can be replaced by a salty taste in your mouth by doing a bit of due diligence. The truth is that it is all a matter of perception. Expedia held up their end by offering the lowest price; there’s no denying that, but the “crossed out” price next to the “deal” price that they are providing is misleading at best and alters perception. In the cases above, it wouldn’t have cost me any more or any less to use Expedia, so I actually shouldn’t get upset about it other than believing in my head that I was getting a discount.  

There are also travel rewards points and convenience of bundled deals at Expedia if that’s a requirement. Of course the question is: Are there times when I could actually pay less by going directly to the source? That requires further examination. None of this means that I won’t ever look at Expedia again or that they don’t provide a good service, but when I do, it will certainly be followed-up with additional research to make sure I’m getting the most bang for my buck.

 

DISCLOSURE: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors, and do not represent the views of equities.com. Readers should not consider statements made by the author as formal recommendations and should consult their financial advisor before making any investment decisions.


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Results for EXPE
Jim Nash
27 Feb 15 14:36:45
Tricky times for Airbnb: Challenges Keep Growing http://t.co/KKYo9jVIiZ #IBDNews via @IBDinvestors $PCLN $EXPE $AMZN $AWAY $BRKB $AXP
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27 Feb 15 13:56:03
$PCLN $EXPE: Airbnb Business, Challenges Keep Growing: http://t.co/TN0pb3eF67
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27 Feb 15 13:56:03
$EXPE $PCLN $OWW: Top Cheap Travel Websites: http://t.co/tCXXhLVNhT
tim andreacci
27 Feb 15 13:08:47
Setting Sail with Expedia Cruiseshipcenters http://t.co/58e7rNTa0K @business @Expedia $EXPE
Breaking News
27 Feb 15 12:56:03
$EXPE: Expedia may move to Amgen's former Seattle campus: http://t.co/ObBE8jx32T
Market Int Center
27 Feb 15 12:35:05
Potential Expedia $EXPE Trade Targets 7.12% Return ( http://t.co/BaITsuz8Ae )
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27 Feb 15 12:06:59
$EXPE and $PCLN are still great winners. Find the next tech ideas at http://t.co/huaLsH8iDZ
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27 Feb 15 12:05:49
Our Penny Stock Picks Gained Over 342% In 2 weeks! Get Our Next Alerts Early: http://t.co/iPnInrsUzz $KLAC $EXPE $HSIC
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After large gain on $EYES, $KBIO is next with $1 in net cash $VZ $CVS $WFM $X $EXPE $PX investors read http://t.co/t2YAvyw70P
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27 Feb 15 11:09:40
Priceline Group Inc: The Vacation Continues - (NASDAQ:$PCLN) | Seeking Alpha http://t.co/tc9nqgF0g9 via $EXPE $OWW $PCLN $TRIP $AWAY
Trending Articles SA
27 Feb 15 11:00:05
Priceline: The Vacation Continues http://t.co/lGnFVNk0sT $EXPE $TRIP $PCLN
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27 Feb 15 10:39:46
$EXPE $PCLN News: "Priceline: The Vacation Continues $EXPE $TRIP $PCLN …" http://t.co/FzM9Ryqrb9 Board view: https://t.co/m6YV2hXmVN
Long & Short Ideas
27 Feb 15 10:39:44
Priceline: The Vacation Continues http://t.co/vJ5xtGd7h3 $EXPE $TRIP $PCLN
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27 Feb 15 10:39:43
Priceline: The Vacation Continues http://t.co/HJrIrmBmgE $EXPE $TRIP $PCLN
WKRB News
27 Feb 15 09:52:00
Morgan Stanley Begins Coverage on Expedia $EXPE http://t.co/cJNnBPqKz3
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27 Feb 15 09:51:03
$EXPE: Morgan Stanley Begins Coverage on Expedia (EXPE): http://t.co/j0mBy0hr2l
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27 Feb 15 08:23:28
$PCLN wants green. Strong afternoon bodes well for next week. Just need $EXPE to stabilze then up up and away.
Derald Muniz
27 Feb 15 08:14:28
Commented on StockTwits: RRCS in $EXPE = L Mar 06w 77.5 Calls, S Mar 06w 76.5 Puts, S July 87.5 Calls http://t.co/ed4ejoq4Hb
Derald Muniz
27 Feb 15 07:15:24
Submarine Basket update http://t.co/nzrjInDkbM $AXP $BWA $BBBY $BIDU $EXPE $FOSL $PNRA $RENT $DNKN $WDAY
WarnerPB
27 Feb 15 06:30:48
.@Expedia considering new HQ outside of Bellevue http://t.co/QbwwD0dZzb via @PSBJ $EXPE
desu
27 Feb 15 06:19:32
RT @InvestWall: Top Analyst Upgrades and Downgrades http://t.co/lgqbi1mx6N $AB $AXP $CVC $CHK $DIN $EXPE $GRPN #InvestWall
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27 Feb 15 05:19:12
How to trade $EXPE http://t.co/8k63kePXOz #stocks #market #equity
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27 Feb 15 00:08:01
EXPE Year to date has changed +9.24% percent. +6.83% in the last 30 days. $EXPE Expedia Inc Full breakdown Las http://t.co/bp4QmxNxO6
Jake13
27 Feb 15 00:07:39
$EXPE EXPE Stock year to date has changed +9.24% percent. +6.83% in the last 30 days. $EXPE Expedia Inc Full breakdo http://t.co/oHGK9lhv0b
chartguy89
26 Feb 15 23:42:39
EXPE 93.25 Expedia Inc Stock Charts $EXPE Last Updated: 02/26/15 Last price: 93.25 Total volume: 2,113,756 EXP http://t.co/hNUdY4WeOo
chartguy89
26 Feb 15 23:42:24
$EXPE EXPE 93.25 Expedia Inc Stock Charts $EXPE Last Updated: 02/26/15 Last price: 93.25 Total volume: 2,113,756 EXP http://t.co/IFg2NPKnK4
InvestWall
26 Feb 15 23:15:17
Top Analyst Upgrades and Downgrades http://t.co/lgqbi1mx6N $AB $AXP $CVC $CHK $DIN $EXPE $GRPN #InvestWall
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26 Feb 15 21:00:05
Annual Highs: $CSII $MTSN $ISIL $RHP $IPGP $GIII $AMZN $EXPE $MHK $CTSH $MMM $ICE $UIL $TXN $TNAV http://t.co/kl3VGOukhn #wallstreet #dow
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26 Feb 15 19:07:55
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Stockaholics
26 Feb 15 16:11:43
$HIPPQ Closed up 275% Yesterday, As One Of The Best Penny Stocks of the Day! Big Update: http://t.co/KKZkbfPf1Q $KLAC $EXPE $HSIC
FinSentS NASDAQ
26 Feb 15 15:58:00
$EXPE:US EXPE: Expedia Stock Will Soar to New Heights #EXPEDIA INC http://t.co/gQkzCwewbY #NASDAQ
Sunny Boy Music
26 Feb 15 15:40:51
Am I diversified @jimcramer $rad $fcau $brk.b $expe $yum #madmoney #llamas
FinSentS SP500
26 Feb 15 15:40:42
$EXPE:US EXPE: Expedia Stock Will Soar to New Heights #EXPEDIA INC http://t.co/DgrPQVWpgJ #SP500
Market Int Center
26 Feb 15 12:35:12
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26 Feb 15 11:38:56
#Stocks to watch from The Value Line Investment Survey: $LNKD $TWTR $EXPE $YELP $P $FWM $GPRO $XLS $HRS $ATVI $DV http://t.co/TWfFhiYDCI
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26 Feb 15 11:37:19
#Stocks to watch from The Value Line Investment Survey: $OWW $EXPE $TRIP $CSCO $WFM $TSLA $RIO $K $NVDA $SKX $CAKE http://t.co/HendtnJRF8
danrocks
26 Feb 15 11:29:36
Right now EXPE is number 208 for the largest percentage gain out of 250 stocks. $EXPE EXPE is up +2.81% in the http://t.co/loF7Btk34h
danrocks
26 Feb 15 11:29:14
$EXPE EXPE Stock is number 208 for the largest percentage gain out of 250 stocks. $EXPE EXPE is up +2.81% in the las http://t.co/rp0eIut6ik
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26 Feb 15 11:28:13
$HIPPQ Closed up 275% Yesterday, As One Of The Best Penny Stocks of the Day! Big Update: http://t.co/KKZkbfPf1Q $KLAC $EXPE $HSIC
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26 Feb 15 10:51:41
RT @MicroFundy: If had to chose a side, I'd probably take the other side of all four of the MS initiations. $YELP $GRUB $EXPE $IACI
Lauren Holmes
26 Feb 15 10:32:22
$EXPE and $PCLN are still great winners. Find the next tech ideas at http://t.co/huaLsH8iDZ
Zig
26 Feb 15 09:16:40
@BlueFielder $PCLN what do you think about a bounce here. $EXPE seems to have bottomed. Call reload?
Zig
26 Feb 15 09:01:02
$EXPE to top of GAP. thinking a swing long here using calls. $94 strike.
Renesource Capital
26 Feb 15 08:18:31
#Google ( $GOOGL ) launched it's #googleflights, poor travel sites like #Expedia ( $EXPE )!
#HelpYouGetGAINS
26 Feb 15 07:46:08
#Stocks to watch from The Value Line Investment Survey: $LNKD $TWTR $EXPE $YELP $P $FWM $GPRO $XLS $HRS $ATVI $DV http://t.co/TWfFhiYDCI
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26 Feb 15 07:43:59
#Stocks to watch from The Value Line Investment Survey: $OWW $EXPE $TRIP $CSCO $WFM $TSLA $RIO $K $NVDA $SKX $CAKE http://t.co/HendtnJRF8
Sleek Money
26 Feb 15 07:34:25
Expedia Coverage Initiated at Morgan Stanley $EXPE http://t.co/MVVwfzHUPX
FinSentS NASDAQ
26 Feb 15 07:32:43
$EXPE:US EXPE: Expedia Stock Will Soar to New Heights #EXPEDIA INC http://t.co/K6gx3sKnMy #NASDAQ
Stock Rocket
26 Feb 15 07:31:35
$HIPPQ Closed up 275% Yesterday, As One Of The Best Penny Stocks of the Day! Big Update: http://t.co/pAeZe2hOS3 $KLAC $EXPE $HSIC
Breaking News
26 Feb 15 07:31:03
$EXPE: Expedia Coverage Initiated at Morgan Stanley (EXPE): http://t.co/UX66GHdG7d
				
				
By  +Follow September 17, 2013 12:34PM
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