How Logging Into A Website Can Make Your Booking More Expensive

I’ve read plenty of online articles about how websites give different pricing to people based on which web browser you are using. Originally I saw posts that if you were using Apple’s Safari browser, you’d be shown a higher price because Apple customers tend to have a higher income and wouldn’t notice a few more dollars.

I’ve never noticed this myself so I figured that websites learned that people were smarter than that and would just use a different browser.

Flash forward to the present and when I tried to make booking thru Expedia.

The last time I used Expedia was to book airfare for our trip to Austria last year. When I booked the flight, I had to update my Expedia account, which I hadn’t used for about five years. I guess that’s when my web browser saved my login info.

So I was now looking to book a hotel in Pigeon Forge, TN. Sharon and I are going to a Jeep-boree (I don’t know if it has an official name; that’s what I’m calling it). You see, Sharon loves her new Xtreme Purple Jeep (named Jeep Jeep) and so she can meet her Jeep friend, Trysh, who also has an Xtreme Purple Jeep (named Jeepsy) we’re going to a gathering of Jeep people and flea market of Jeep stuff. Yes, these things exist and we are going to one. Don’t judge.

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Sharon and Jeep Jeep

Sharon’s Jeep friend suggested we stay at an independent hotel in Pigeon Forge. I looked the place up and it has pretty good ratings on TripAdvisor, plus it sounded more interesting than the other chain hotels in the area so I decided to book a room.

Here was some of the options I had to book the room, all showing a rate of $83 a night:

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Since I had an account with Expedia, I decided to use them for the booking. I clicked on the link to Expedia and here’s what price showed up:

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My room just went up $10 a night!?!?

That was interesting so I closed out of the page and opened up a Private Browsing window. Without logging into Expedia, I searched for the hotel and selected my dates. Here’s the pricing I got that time:

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Here’s the lower price when Expedia does not know it is me.

I was able to replicate this experiment several times. If I clicked to Expedia thru any shopping portal, like Ebates or a credit card link from Discover or Chase, the higher price showed up. The only way to get the lower price was to use a private window or to clear my cookies and go directly to the hotel page.

Now, you can log into your account to book the room and still get the lower rate. You just have to wait until the last minute to log in. Once you’ve picked out the hotel and the room type and go to book, you’ll be at the information page. You’ll already have the price of the room quoted on the right of the screen. Only now can you hit the sign in button on the top right of the page and still keep the lower price.

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By doing all of this, I was able to sign in to Expedia and get the lower price. I haven’t been able to reproduce this with any other hotel so I’m not sure how prevalent this issue is. Just to be sure, I’d suggest searching for hotels using a private browsing window just to make sure you’re getting the lowest price.

Has anyone else ever had this happen to them? Let me know in the comments.

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