I wanted to make a booking with the Premier Inn at Llanelli Central West for two nights in April. The Saver price offered was £76.50 (£31.50 for Friday night and £45 for Saturday). I pressed “book now”.
I had almost completed the booking form and was about to press “confirm” when I noticed that the price had changed to £38 for Friday and £98 for Saturday. I stopped the booking, but my friends, with whom we were going to Llanelli, informed me that they had booked, so I was left with little choice but to pay the increased charges.
I wrote to Premier Inn a few days later and asked for an explanation. I was asked if I had a screenshot of the lower prices – I did, and it clearly showed the lower prices and date. But they replied telling me that the lower price had been available only earlier in the month and that they were unable to accept a screenshot, saying: “Device screenshots can be edited or sent from other devices that could have been taken beforehand.”
Why ask for a screenshot then refuse to accept the evidence? This is now not really a matter of money but of principle.
Digital pricing algorithms – the way in which websites calculate charges for goods and services (including hotel rooms) – are increasingly being called into question.
However, Premier Inn maintains that the higher price shown was the correct price in that it was live at the point of booking, claiming that best-value rates are subject to fluctuation. It suggested to me that it may have been that prices rose during the booking process.