“Free” is rarely free.
Class-action lawsuit alleges booking site is engaging in a "classic bait and switch."
Expedia is running ads in search engine results and on social media for bargains on non-member hotels that are not actually bookable on the travel site, a class-action lawsuit alleges. When consumers click through to Expedia or one of its other booking sites, such as Hotels.com or Orbitz, they are told that the hotel has no vacancy — even though there may actually be rooms available — and referred to one of the site’s paying member hotels, the lawsuit states.
The complaint was brought by the operator of two non-member hotels in Three Rivers, California and was later joined by the owner of a third non-member hotel in Washington, D.C. It calls the ads a “classic bait and switch.”
The hoteliers say they do not accept reservations through Expedia despite representations to the contrary in ads on Facebook and Twitter and in Google search results for the names of their properties. For example, the complaint cites a Hotels.com ad on Facebook for one of the two California hotels, the Buckeye Tree Lodge, that stated, “You’ve found the hotel, now booking it at a great price is only a few clicks away.” The other California joint is the Sequoia Village Inn. The Washington, D.C. establishment is The Mansion on O Street.
TINA.org reached out to Expedia for comment. A spokeswoman said the company does not comment on pending litigation.
This is the third time TINA.org has alerted readers to a potential issue regarding the marketing of Expedia’s hotels. We’ve also covered the catch in the site’s “free cancellation” policy and how it could do a better job at disclosing renovations at its hotels.