Hotel Deals to Avoid
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T-Mobile HotelStorm: Save $40 a Night
EHD Verdict: Avoid! Misleading Savings & Shady Marketing
T-Mobile Tuesday offers special weekly deals such as small gift cards, credits, and physical items. It’s a smart strategy that rewards customer loyalty while garnering T-Mobile recurrent free publicity. Travel blogs, deal sites, and message boards religiously post each new series of offers. This week’s promotion included $40 off 1-night hotel booking at HotelStorm. This booking site has been promoted in recent years by more mainstream sites such as thepointsguy. Since the dollar amount is high, we decided to take a look.
Numerous red-flags are immediately apparent: the T-Mobile offer link is available to the general public, there is no unique redemption or sign-in required, the online reviews of HotelStorm are terrible, and the all-in price is not listed until the final booking page.
If you hover on the info under “taxes and fees” on the final payment screen you will see that while these are initially described as mandatory taxes and government service fees, they further include credit card fees and reveal “any balance is a fee we retain to cover the costs of handling your reservation and reward, as well as our overall service and may include profit.”
This looks like a classic case of “savings” the company recoups through mark-ups elsewhere. Our suspicions were heightened by price checking a few locations at random. The first few $40 off “deals” we investigated had all-in pricing matching rates publicly available at booking.com. Worse, HotelStorm’s discounted rates were easily beaten by membership sites, discount codes, booking sites you sign into, and sites that give you cash back. In every case we examined you would pay extra money to take advantage of your special T-Mobile offer…
This deal should be a hard pass for consumers. Further, bloggers and travel sites should take more care in the future. If T-Mobile is making a habit of mixing in bad deals it is bad practice to simply present these to your readers as “prizes for T-Mobile customers” and claim customers being sold to booking sites are receiving “free items or discounts.”