I would like to share a disappointment I recently had with Priceline.com that will hopefully serve as a warning to other travelers.
As a retiree my wife and I have enjoyed traveling across the United States, internationally, and sometimes even close to home. For many years I have found utilizing Priceline.com’s “name your own price” a great way to find quality hotel rooms at a discounted price, however, recently I had a very startling, and expensive, experience utilizing Priceline. Because of this experience and my exasperation with Priceline’s customer service function about the issue I will no longer use them under any circumstances.
Recently my wife and I, and another couple, decided to go to Palm Springs. Rather than it being just a day trip we all decided to plan on spending the night there. With those plans in mind I volunteered to make the hotel arrangements for two rooms stating that I “always had a good experience using Priceline.com’s ‘name your own price.’” I went to their website and sorted through the selection options choosing a four star hotel with a “bid price” of $65.00 (plus tax) per room for two rooms, one night. I deliberately and intentionally did not select the “Resort” category because time would not permit us to utilize any of the resort facilities and we preferred a standard hotel for our stay. My bid price of $65.00 (plus tax) was accepted, however, they had “upgraded” my selection to a resort (Hyatt Grand Champion’s Resort). When utilizing the “name you own price” feature you are committed to purchasing the room if your bid price is accepted and your credit card is immediately charged the accepted price plus tax, so one is “committed” to the hotel selection that accepted your bid price.
Upon checkout at the Hyatt Grand Champion’s Resort we were accessed an additional $25.13 per room as a “per day, per room resort fee” which is a standard billing practice of the resort (which is one reason I deliberately avoided selecting a resort as an option when I made my original on-line selections at Priceline.com). The addition of this “resort fee” significantly changed the per night cost of each room, an increase of 38.7% over the accepted bid price. Not only was I disappointed and upset about this additional charge I was also embarrasssed in front of the other couple as I had proudly boasted of getting a “great price” via Priceline.com.
My calls and written communications to Priceline have obviously fallen on deaf ears….all their customer service function seems to be able to do is to read prepared text responses to customer issues and concerns. I feel the issue resides with Priceline and not the resort as Priceline guaranteed me the room(s) at the accepted bid price plus tax. Priceline claims they reserve the right to “upgrade” whenever they so desire. This “reserved right” gives Priceline the opportunity to “bait and switch” whenever they so desire --- which is nothing more than a corrupt business practice on their part. If they allow their participating hotels to add on additional fees, etc. that are not know at the time of “bidding” you never know what price you will ultimately be paying for the room. What prevents a participating hotel from adding fees of $50.00, or even $100.00?
Having failed to be able to resolve the issue of the additional “resort fee” charge with Priceline when a resort option was not selected, nor desired I find myself in the position of consumer choice. That choice being to never use Priceline again….but also to warn other travelers about the hidden “bait and switch” that Priceline pulls under the guise of an “upgrade” that can significantly increase the room price in a hidden manner. I have always defined a travel “upgrade” as being a nice plus without a price increase, evidently at Priceline it means “let’s get more money than we originally agreed to.” With Priceline.com’s “name your own price” you are not naming your price, you are agreeing to letting them “upgrade” you into a room that is far, far more expensive than you thought you had an agreed price for.