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Hotel has changed price after booking and refuses to honour original price

(19 Posts)
ManagersDilemma Fri 09-Sep-16 19:43:11

I have booked a hotel using an offer given on its own website. I asked them if the special offer was available on a particular date, they confirmed that it was and I went ahead and confirmed the reservation.

When the confirmation came through, it was about 5% more expensive than what was stated on the website. I questioned it and they said that the price had gone up 'last week' and that the new rate was now X. This was the first I had heard of the price changing. I replied saying that the special offer was still showing on the website; I also took a screenshot showing today's date and time, though unfortunately it hasn't saved in very high resolution.

I asked the hotel if they would please honour the price that was displayed on the website when I booked and was still displaying this morning (they changed it at lunchtime today!). Despite this, the hotel is still refusing to honour the lower price and I have had an aggressive voicemail from the owner today stating that basically I can either pay the 'new' price or cancel my booking.

I believe this is wrong according to English contract law as we have already entered into a contract by confirming the booking, but I don't know what (if any) statutory laws they are breaking here. Can anyone enlighten me? I don't really want to cancel as it is a special occasion and this place is (or at least, used to be!) my favourite hotel. Needless to say, I am absolutely furious.

Collaborate Sat 10-Sep-16 08:16:22

Contact trading standards. Looks like misleading advertising to me.

MuttsNutts Sat 10-Sep-16 08:25:37

I would cancel and find a new 'favourite hotel'. If you do get them to honour the offer now I would assume they'll allocate you the worst room or the one by the lift or something.

By refusing to honour the offer and quibbling about it with you rather than just apologising and amending the booking, it demonstrates that they don't value your custom and don't deserve your money.

karalime Sat 10-Sep-16 08:39:00

They don't have to honour it. Pricing mistakes happen and the seller has a right to cancel, as do you since the price displayed was wrong.

They could have said 'sorry, thank you for noticing and contacting us. Unfortunately we cannot honour that price but we can do x y z, or you can get a full refund'

CatLover69 Sat 10-Sep-16 08:42:12

If they've gone ahead and actually charged you more already without your consent - then they're in the wrong.

If the confirmation that came through is simply an "agreement" - for example with a view to you paying on arrival then (whilst unethical maybe) they haven't done anything wrong legally. In that scenario no contract has been entered into.

Incidentally, you don't enter into a contract by making the booking, their proposed price is an 'invitation to treat' your booking is the offer, and it's their acceptance that forms the contract.

An analogy is if you go into a shop and see an item worth £100 priced at £10 - contrary to popular belief - the shop is not under any obligation to sell it at the incorrect price - their price sticker forming the invitation and your taking it to the till an offer rather than an acceptance.

Trading standard would not be remotely interested unless they've charged you for one thing and delivered something of inferior quality - or charged you extra without your consent (consent being the option to change your mind)

With all that said and done you'd think the hotel would show some common sense for a loyal customer. It's crazy in this world of hot competition and tripadvisor reviews etc that they'd lose business over 5%!

FeelingSmurfy Sat 10-Sep-16 08:49:22

I would probably just cancel, even if you manage to get the reduced rate it will have taken the shine out of it and you will be wound up (because of the way you were treated) when you should be relaxed

I would cancel and tell them why, if you have used it a few times in the past I would also mention that you were a repeat customer but you will now be taking your business elsewhere. Not to get anything from them (I would decline anything they offered) just to make them realise that they need to treat customers better if they want repeat business

AnchorDownDeepBreath Sat 10-Sep-16 08:55:27

This is going to hinge on whether you've already paid or if you were planning to pay on arrival.

Also, is your screenshot so poor quality that you can't clearly see all to details of the offer/pricing?

prh47bridge Sat 10-Sep-16 10:03:19

I believe this is wrong according to English contract law

No it isn't. There is no legally binding contract until the seller accepts your order, i.e. the hotel accepts your booking at the rate you want to pay. Since their confirmation quoted the higher price it sounds like they have not done so. So there is no contract for you to enforce. As long as they refund any money you have paid they are in the clear. There is nothing you can do to force them to honour the price on their website.

They would potentially be in trouble with trading standards if they are deliberately misleading people, e.g. putting offers on their website that they have no intention of honouring. But it is unlikely trading standards would be interested if they have simply left a special offer on their website for a few days after it expired.

This is going to hinge on whether you've already paid or if you were planning to pay on arrival

No it is not. It depends on whether or not there is a contract. Some websites terms and conditions state that processing payment does not constitute a legally binding contract. Screwfix, for example, say that there is no contract until they have actually delivered the goods.

In this case it appears that the hotel has not accepted the OP's offer to book a room at the rate that was shown on their website. There is, therefore, no contract for the OP to enforce.

eyebrowsonfleek Sat 10-Sep-16 10:10:23

Internet mispricing happens quite regularly.

I believe that you only have a case if they accepted your money at the lower rate and sent a confirmation with the lower rate.

eyebrowsonfleek Sat 10-Sep-16 10:10:24

Internet mispricing happens quite regularly.

I believe that you only have a case if they accepted your money at the lower rate and sent a confirmation with the lower rate.

wowfudge Sat 10-Sep-16 12:32:58

I'd be inclined to cancel and go elsewhere. Voting with your feet is the only thing done people pay attention to.

ManagersDilemma Sat 10-Sep-16 17:28:04

They took my credit card details and told me their cancellation policy. If I don't cancel before a certain date and time, I will be charged: surely this means that we have entered into a contract? There has been an intent to create legal relations and it was only the booking confirmation that raised the issue around the price.

prh47bridge Sun 11-Sep-16 00:23:24

Have they at any point agreed that you could book the room at the price you wanted? If they have then there may be a contract. If they have not there is no contract. If, having been informed of the higher price, you do not cancel by the date they have specified in their cancellation policy they can reasonably assume you have accepted the higher price and created a contract. But until you and the hotel have agreed the price there can be no contract.

DianaMitford Sun 11-Sep-16 10:52:39

Cat - you are wrong. If something is advertised at a price then the seller is bound into selling it at that price.

Op - I too would be furious! It's completely unfair and unethical. This hotel isn't in Devon is it?!?

prh47bridge Sun 11-Sep-16 12:41:04

If something is advertised at a price then the seller is bound into selling it at that price

Cat is right and you are wrong. The seller is not bound to sell at the advertised price.

Advertising a product at a price is an invitation to treat. There is no commitment to sell at that price. If a retailer puts the wrong price ticket on an item and you take it to the checkout they are entitled to refuse to sell it at the price on the ticket.

As an example, in 2014 Screwfix accidentally showed a price of £34.99 for all items on their website, including items that should have cost over £1,000. As the news spread many people ordered items from Screwfix. Those who chose to collect goods from their local store and managed to collect early made substantial savings. However, once Screwfix became aware of the problem anyone turning up at their stores to collect goods ordered online was sent away empty handed and had their money refunded. Similarly any who had ordered for home delivery had their orders cancelled and money returned. No-one managed to sue Screwfix successfully for this as they had not done anything wrong. Their terms and conditions were clear that there was no contract until the purchaser was in possession of the goods.

The only issue with advertising is if the seller deliberately advertises at a price they have no intention of honouring. That still would not allow individual consumers to take advantage of the advertised price but it does allow Trading Standards to step in. However, I would be very surprised if Trading Standards took any action over a hotel accidentally leaving a special offer on its website for a few days after it had expired, which appears to be what has happened here.

prh47bridge Sun 11-Sep-16 13:05:56

DianaMitford - Just in case you are in any doubt this page from Citizens' Advice sets out the law correctly - www.citizensadvice.org.uk/consumer/somethings-gone-wrong-with-a-purchase/if-something-is-advertised-at-the-wrong-price/.

ManagersDilemma Mon 12-Sep-16 01:05:40

It wasn't a mistake though, was it? I.e. it wasn't a typo, or something that clearly couldn't have been correct (as in the Screwfix example). It was a 'former' price (supposedly), which the hotel admitted.

I have now sorted it out amicably because I really do want to stay at the hotel. Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to reply here.

fastdaytears Mon 12-Sep-16 01:10:25

Cat - you are wrong. If something is advertised at a price then the seller is bound into selling it at that price

Err no Cat is fine. This is the first lecture you sit through in contract law. Fisher v Bell anyone?

If they've left the old price up you could get them in trouble with trading standards potentially but it's a long shot and it won't get you your booking.

I'd go somewhere else. They sound a bit hopeless.

prh47bridge Mon 12-Sep-16 09:35:20

It wasn't a mistake though, was it? I.e. it wasn't a typo, or something that clearly couldn't have been correct (as in the Screwfix example). It was a 'former' price (supposedly), which the hotel admitted.

I think trading standards would take the view that leaving a special offer on their website for a few days after it ended was a mistake. If they were doing it repeatedly it might be different.

Some of the orders that Screwfix rejected were not obviously incorrect. In some cases it was perfectly credible that Screwfix might be offering the item for £34.99. They were, nonetheless, legally able to cancel all orders. For items where the price is obviously incorrect the seller may be able to cancel even after a contract has been formed.

I'm glad you've been able to sort it out amicably. I hope they are better at running a hotel than they are at maintaining their website!

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