Search Moon Water Lodge online and up pops Expedia.ca as one of the top results, offering “prices and deals.”
But then just try booking a room at the Vancouver Island hotel that boasts “one of the best views in Canada”.
For the past two years, owners Lori and Randy Strandlund say potential customers clicking on that link were told “rooms are unavailable for your trip dates on Expedia,” no matter what date was entered.
In fact, they say, their 13-room lodge 18 kilometres northwest of Victoria is usually half empty — and they worry Expedia has been sending business to rival hotels that pay booking fees to the online giant.
The Strandlunds aren’t Expedia clients.
Despite their complaints, Expedia didn’t take down the dead-end listing — until the CBC contacted the travel booking site.
But the Strandlunds say the damage has been done
“I find this a shocking and disgusting practice,” says co-owner Lori Strandlund. “I feel like I’ve been robbed of thousands of dollars of business.”
Her husband, Randy, is even more blunt in his criticism of Expedia.
“It’s not about being competitive. It seems it’s about cut-throat business practice.”
The Strandlunds believe they’re the latest victims of an online issue that landed Expedia in trouble in France and is the subject of a potential class action lawsuit in the U.S. — the travel site allegedly posting hotels that aren’t its clients, listing them as “unavailable,” then re-directing customers to member properties that pay Expedia a booking fee.