Priceline: A Shoddy Operation
Oy. After trying to book a trip for my upcoming fiftieth birthday with Priceline, I wound up with no vacation, an overdrawn bank account, and the desire to celebrate my milestone buried in a vat of Chunky Monkey and my own tears.
My dear husband suggested Anguilla, a place to which neither of us has been and which boasts one of the best beaches if not the best beach in the world. Great! After checking several travel sites, Priceline offered the lowest price for a combined flight and hotel package at a resort that sounded great.
Excited, we transferred money into our debit account, and pushed the "Book Now" button. The little dots swirled 'round and 'round for a while, until we were informed that our request could not immediately be processed and that we would have to wait, press the "check status" button after several minutes, and then perhaps place a call.
Well, the "status" turned out to be "No dice, losers" because the hotel we had chosen from the list of those advertised as available, did not in fact have the room category we selected. This was told to us by a perfectly polite and responsive representative. She then informed us that we could try to upgrade to a better room. My husband, being the dear he is, readily agreed so that we could get the party started.
Unfortunately, after several more minutes of being on hold, we were informed that the upgraded rooms were unavailable as well and that basically it was too bad, so sad for us -- which was made badder and sadder by the fact that Priceline had no problem authorizing our poor little debit card for pretty much double the amount that we'd earmarked for our trip -- which resulted in additional pending overdraft fees.
Dumb-dumb us decided to do all this on a Friday afternoon, meaning that all those holds won't drop off until Monday at the earliest. It's going to be a peanut butter 'n' jelly kind of weekend, I guess....
No one was rude to us -- in fact they were very polite, the way robots are when they keep repeating the same responses no matter how you try to phrase or re-phrase your grievances.
The upshot: They don't bother confirming the availability of the packages that they advertise as available until after they charge your card. And then they have the gall to "upgrade" you and then charge you a second time for yet another unavailable deal.
Their pitchman, William Shatner, "died" in a bus crash in one of their ads. Which is entirely appropriate; if you want to get thrown under the bus in the name of false advertising, Priceline will happily do it for you.