I purchased a vacation for my wife and I almost one year in advance on Priceline. It was a good deal for the airfare and hotel to London. With how expensive the UK is, there is no arguing it's a good deal. I did purchase travel insurance just in case... Fast forward about 7 months. I am moving due to military obligation and my wife has moved out of the house, so needless to say we are not taking the trip. I contacted customer service and was told to call the insurance company.
I called them and obviously they are not an American company. I was basically told (in poor and broken English) that "Too bad so sad, your reasons are not good enough for us to give you money back." I contact Priceline again and complain. I will not be taking the trip, period. I want my money back and here is why. They tell me they can refund the hotel but not the plane tickets, for that they have to contact the airline. I give them all the information they ask for. (Still in broken English) And they tell me they will refund it all as soon as they can. No refund comes.
2 Months later I call again. Talk to another representative who I can't understand who tells me to contact their refund department directly. I finally do and actually get an American woman. Jennifer (**) is awesome. She refunds me the hotel and I actually get an email confirming this. AND she called the airline on my behalf and was told to fax them a copy of my orders and they would refund immediately. Why can't Priceline hire Americans directly? Why do the customer service reps act so rude when you say you can't understand them? Why do they get even ruder when you ask to speak to an American?
PENNSYLVANIA -- On Sept. 17 I placed a bid on a hotel, via Priceline, that was supposed to be in the San Fernando Valley. The trip is not for pleasure; it is for cancer surgery for my husband... So it is very important that the hotel be very near the hospital, in Sherman Oaks. I was not allowed to bid on just one area (Studio city) - I had to bid two areas, so I also entered Warner Center. Well, I ended up with a hotel that is not even in the S.F. Valley!!! It's in Eagle Rock!!! This is ludicrous and entirely unacceptable. I have called and written Priceline about a dozen times to explain the problem, and they have turned a deaf ear, saying no refund will be given. I am dumbstruck.
What's worse, I checked the box for "insurance" in case I couldn't make the trip, for an extra ten dollars. I told them they can keep the ten dollars, but I must be given a refund for the balance. They said they have to have a "doctor's note" within three days of the trip!!! This is absolutely wacky. I am so mad. And when you call Priceline, you're speaking to people in the Philippines, who have no idea of the topography of the San Fernando Valley and the situation they have forced me into.
They say their map indicated my possible hotel area before I bid. But their map has no "Eagle Rock" on it, and on double checking, I found no "shaded area" they said covers the areas that were supposedly acceptable to me. This is a very serious matter. My husband is in very poor health, he needs a hotel close to the hospital, he could die in the course of a long drive to Eagle Rock after his surgery, and I am worried sick, not to mention him. I am crying out for help to anyone out there who can help us.
What has happened to ethics and a fair market in this country? I am ready and eager to pursue legal action against this unscrupulous heartless and greedy company to the fullest extent allowed by law. My Big Question: Why won't they just refund my money, minus the ten dollar cancellation insurance??? Please, can anyone help me on this???
Here is your guide to getting out of the reservations, so long as the date of the reservation hasn't passed: Name Your Own Price Reservations (where PCLN chooses your itinerary):
* Airline: If you don't like your flight times, and just booked the flight, just claim you entered in the wrong name, and you'll only be charged $7.45/ticket, and they'll cancel it (so long as the airline is NOT Jet Blue, Spirit, ExpressJet, or Air Tran). If it's been more than a day after you booked the reservation, you can claim miscarriage, or missing child. No documentation is required, and they'll cancel it for you!
* Hotel: If you call and say someone died, just say a family member died, and find a funeral home in the phone book and give the name and phone # of the funeral home. They'll claim “upon verification, your reservation will be cancelled”, but they don't verify any information, you'll get a full refund.
* Rental Car: Claim that you meant to book a one-way reservation (picking up and dropping off in different locations) and they'll issue full refund
Retail Reservations (where you choose your itinerary):
* Airline: Unfortunately, if it's been more than a day since you booked the reservation, your best bet is to call the airline (go by the first 3 numbers of your ticket # to determine which to call should you have an itinerary with multiple airlines), because they are most likely the merchant, and PCLN will charge a service fee/ticket.
* Hotel: If the reservation is prepaid, claim you entered the wrong date. You'll only be charged $25/room to cancel. (With these reservations where you choose your hotel, you'll always have a fee of at least $25 to cancel, no matter how far away your reservation is, but some cancellation policies aren't cancellable at all.)
* Rental Car: These reservations are not prepaid, you should be able to cancel, no problem.
Well, my complaint is much like everyone else's, so I'll spare the details. I called customer service, and was given the "You should have done your research before booking" pat answer. I asked to speak with somebody else, and was put on the phone with a woman who said there was nothing anybody at Priceline could do to help me. So, I asked for a supervisor. I was told they were there strictly for Administrative purposes and that if I wanted to speak with somebody else, I could email their "executive offices".
They were so rude to me on the phone, when I email the executive offices, I let them know the situation that I had been calling about and I informed them of the terrible service I received. I got an apology letter back telling me they were sorry I was dissatisfied, but their "policy" is to not allow refunds or discounts for unhappy customers. I wrote back saying I know there IS something they could do, they just aren't doing it, and that's wrong.
Being of the technological generation, I decided to do a quick MySpace search for the "executive" that had "helped" me. This is a 20 year old kid who just needed a job while going to college. After 3 back and forth emails with nothing more than "that's policy" and "I'm sorry", here was my last email from him:
"Dear xxx, Our records indicate that we have previously advised you of our policies regarding your reservation. We wish we could provide the answers you are looking for; however, these policies are directly tied to contractual agreements with our travel partners. This in turn allows us to continue to offer competitive pricing and subsequent savings to our customers. We are truly unable to assist you further in this matter. Please do not expect a response to further correspondence on this issue." Thanks, Priceline!
Before you get excited, I did not get my money back from Priceline directly. But read on and maybe you can use some of what I learned online and from lawyers. I had used Priceline 4 times before to purchase airfare to Brazil without any problems. This last time I went through the usual process of entering my travel options and submitting my bid. I did this several times and never "won a bid" or found a suitable counter-offer.
By the way, this "counter-offer" system was more insistent and obscure than what my previous experiences had been, but I reasoned it was because that I was searching for a very specific price and Priceline was trying to "help" me find a ticket. I found it profoundly irritating that their "counter-offers" were mixed in with the "bidding" process and did not know if it was poor design or an underhanded ploy to push people into accepting their "counter-offers". In any case, I gave up trying to find my ticket through them but found out, a day later, that they had charged me for one of the so called "counter-offers"!
The automated messages said I had accepted their counter-offer (even though it was double the amount of any of my bid attempts) and my credit card had been successfully charged. A call to their number reached only a recorded message that stated I had to wait (one or two days- I don't remember) before being able to speak to someone directly (even though my credit card had been charged immediately). When I finally managed to reach someone, the conversation was a script that I heard from every single employee/spokesperson I eventually contacted at Priceline. It all boiled down to "Priceline does not offer refunds for any reason whatsoever.
The policy is clearly explained. The system makes no errors. You included your signature (S.I.C. my initials)". They ignored any reasoning and read (almost verbatim) from some manual. I found on the web a listing of names, numbers and addresses for officials at the company and called and sent certified mail with arguments. I never received any response from the letters and the "VPs" I spoke to read from the same script. I started a Better Business Bureau case against them (they had been kicked out of the Better Business Bureau at the time).
To support my case, I only had evidence on my side, such as screen prints of many of my bids (gleaned from the browser history - this was all done in the 2 days following the beginning of this mess-) showing the amount of my bids and the discrepancy between what I was willing to pay and what they charged me, as well as the dates that eventually were sold. Priceline answered the Better Business Bureau inquiry with the same (!) words that had been read to me so many times in my conversations, regarding policy, acceptance and my initials. I sent them certified mail requests for their file logs of all transactions in my account so I could study in support of my case (I am a computer engineer), but never got any response.
At the same time I placed a dispute with my credit card company and spoke to practicing lawyers friends of mine. The path was: File a complaint with the Better Business Bureau (done), file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (done), file a charge dispute with the credit card company (done) and, eventually, file small claims suit against Priceline. I eventually got refunded by my credit card company, let the BBB complaint lapse and never heard from the FTC.
To this day, I do not know if they simply paid Priceline and took the hit, or going against the bank's lawyers would have been counterproductive to Priceline. But these are the main concepts I learned and which you should take into consideration: DO NOT USE PRICELINE. This is my personal advice, based on my personal experience with them. Do not even think about seeing what kind of offers they might have as you have to register your credit card information and you have little control of when you might be charged. Priceline is NOT in partnership with airlines.
Your "bid" (now you will understand why I placed so many quotes in my report) is not a "bid". Priceline is a broker who purchases tickets in bulk, at a discount, from the airlines. They know exactly how much it cost them and how much they want. They overbook flights, so they can refuse a refund and there is someone else with the same ticket as you. All this information was obtained by speaking to airline officials, something I did not tell you I tried to do as well. Apparently, at least the people I spoke to at American Airlines tell me they get many calls with similar stories as mine, but since they did not sell the ticket, there is nothing they can do.
Their "we found a partner willing to sell you a ticket for $$$ counter-offer" is a blatant LIE. It is their ticket. There are no "partners". That is the amount they want. NEVER, EVER admit to the possibility that you clicked on any accept button or agreed to anything in any way. I am sure I never did that, but every person I related this information to suggested that I probably hit the "accept" button by mistake, which, it's important to note, does not matter to Priceline. I learned this from other reports in the internet.
This was, perhaps, the most irritating part of the story. This attitude that people have that corporations are highly moral and wouldn't try to cheat me out of my money or that their system malfunctioned. The only bad people are not shady characters lurking in the fringes of society!! My lawyer friends told me that I was to never even remotely consider the possibility of having made a mistake, even in friendly conversations with Priceline (when I was trying to convince them to do the right thing). They most certainly claim to have no glitches in their system (I even joked that their IT staff should work for the NSA, they were so perfect) and tried their damnest hardest to get me to admit to the possibility that I might have clicked on the "accept" button.
If the case goes to court, they would have to provide me tons of technical reports regarding the stability and operability problems they might have had in the past, but if I ever said: "Maybe I clicked on it. Your page is so confusing.." would be the same as having a smoking gun and blood all over me at the scene of a murder. Record your conversations. In my state, you are allowed to record conversations as long as one of the parties (yourself) is aware of it.
Don't tell them you are recording the conversation because that will be entered in their database and you will not be able to get any incriminatory or contradicting statements in conversations after that (if you even manage to speak to another human being at all). A suction cup microphone from Radio Shack costs $14.99 and you only bring out the recordings if things have to go to legal court. Keep a paper trail. I treat every financial transaction as if it is going to go bad.
I know I have missed many good opportunities (things that were really good deals and I wanted them) because I could not find a way to satisfactory prove the agreement -should it not work out. But since I cannot remember what these good deals are and the Priceline experience seems to be burned in my brain, I rather miss out on some immediate satisfaction over going through a mess like that (It's all about risk hedging. I just bought Digital Camera that might not have a warranty - it was a display model- but I am willing to lose the purchase money if the camera fails, the company does not honor the warranty, and I cannot easily argue my money back. It was purchased on the manager's word that I would not have problems, should the camera malfunction<<).
Start a timeline. As soon as problems arise, fire up your word processing app and put in dates, names, supporting evidence (voice recordings, copies of letters, web page screen captures), and summaries. Things are imprinted on your brain when it happens, but after a week, it can get hard or impossible to organize what happen with whom and when. This way you have a much clearer picture and are able to articulate yourself better (another reason why I think the Priceline ** kept reading from the script. I am serious! They sounded like bad actors).
So I am sorry that you got to this page because you got screwed by Priceline. I hope this information helps you. Please also publish your unpleasant experience with them and forward my case to anyone you think might end up hurt by this company's practices. Best of Luck! P.S. - In case you wondered, the bids I was offering were between U$700 and U$1200 for a trip starting in November or Mid-December, lasting into February or March. The ticket "I bought" was U$3150.00, leaving December 26 and returning January 12.
I was sent a schedule change so I decided to cancel my reservation. I was first of all transferred from department to department and on hold for 10 to 15 minutes which ended up to totaling 58 minutes (then only because my battery died). I then asked for a supervisor and was told that there was no supervisor I could speak with, that I could write to an office to complain. This service was horrible, priceline run people in circles then to be told there is nothing that can done. Priceline is a horrible online company. I will never, never ever do business with them again.
Booked a trip with company. After they took my $2800.00 I was told the hotel was unavailable and the trip was cancelled by Priceline. I asked for the $2800.00 be reimbursed back to my credit card. This request started a two day odyssey I will never forget. I was stonewalled, lied too and insulted by every person I spoke to on the phone. They were NOT going to give me a reimbursement. My Credit Card company had to threaten Priceline with a fraud investigation to get any action from them. I will never do business with Priceline or any of their sister companies again. And I urge anyone who reads this steer clear of Priceline.
Do not buy liability/damage car rental insurance through Priceline.com. You must pre-pay for this insurance but it is not the same as the insurance provided at the rental car desk. I found this out once I was picking up the car but since I already purchased it I wasn't going to buy it again through Enterprise. I thought I would be fully covered but I wasn't. One of the minivans I rented was scratched (I'm assuming by another car in a parking lot) and I was liable for the damages even though I had the insurance.
It was a hassle with all the back and forth paperwork and in the end I ended up having to pay $50 for administrative fees (I negotiated it down from $100) slapped on by the damage recovery unit which the insurance company refused to pay. If I had not been tricked by Priceline I would have bought the Enterprise insurance and walked away with no hassles or bills.
Priceline sucks!!! On the day that I was to leave Lincoln, Nebraska and return home to New Jersey I became ill. I had to go to a doctor in Nebraska and had to cancel my flight out of Lincoln on March 22nd. I rebooked the flight for the next day March 23rd. Now here is the catch with Priceline. I paid them the $150 to fly out of Nebraska on the 23rd. They took my money from the credit card right away. I get home and look at my checking account (and lo and behold) Priceline has charged me another $150 and an additional charge of $228.30. This is all for the one ticket that I had exchanged and that ticket was paid for.
Well, because the clowns at Priceline did this it overdrafted my checking account. The overdraft fees are $36 per day if the money is not place back in your account before 4pm. Now I have four days of overdraft fees totaling $144.Priceline and I got on the phone with my bank and the bank told them that the overdraft fees were caused by Priceline double billing me.
Even though the representative from Priceline heard the bank say it's their fault they still want me to fax them proof that they were the ones that caused this mess. I will fax Priceline what they need and I will come back here to let you all know if I got my money back from them. Beware of Priceline!!! They suck big time!!!
I purchased tickets from Priceline.com for a flight three months in advance, but when I checked in I was surprised to find myself on standby waiting at the gate. I spoke to the attendant who said the airlines oversell and that I should have requested a seat assignment when I made my reservation. Ridiculous, obviously I want a seat when I spend $300 on a flight. I know some claim this is the airline's fault... But check this out!
Today, I was JUST about to purchase another set of tickets from Priceline when I realized that they had listed their seat assignment map as "unavailable" for all FOUR of my flights. Intrigued, I visited Orbitz (a similar travel website) and searched for the same exact flights, went through all of the preliminary booking questions, and AHA... Was able to reserve a seat on all four of my flights!
The ticket was $7 more, but for the peace of mind and ease of travel it provides, I went for it. I assume Priceline penny pinches and is lowest on the airlines' radar for customer service... But when I spend hundreds of dollars, I expect a place to sit on my flight. After all, isn't that precisely what we're paying for?