Priceline - Bait and Switch, Misrepresentation and padded tax rate
Name your own price Hotel - Complaint
OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA -- I used Priceline "name your own Price" for a hotel reservation.
This is what I learned: Priceline will place you in a room in a distant location which they have purchased in bulk rates from hotels - when they claim they're "negotiating" with the hotel, in some instances they are (they'll try to sell those rooms at higher rates than the Hotel is offering). The rooms they've purchased from hotel chains are out of the way, sometimes terrible rooms in terrible hotels. Beware.
I bid $85 for 3 nights in Fort Lauderdale. The map identified the area I would be located in as "Oakland Park" near US1. It is a minimized map that appears to be in a favborable location. (When you expand the map it is a completely different map, Bait and Switch) I was placed at a hote, described on La Quinta website as "conveniently located 15 miles from Fort Lauderdale) Convenient? Hardly.
I objected to the location and realized I'd been scammed. I contacted Priceline twice through their "Help" on their website. I got scripted responses all saying "No refunds or cancellations", a link to the contract I initialed and a refusal of any consideration AT ALL>
I spoke toi customer service - waste of time.
I'll break down what Priceline charged, how they presented the "discount" (34%!!) No, it wasn't 34% at all. Priceline listed the hotel I was assigned at $94, I bid $85. (10.4%) However, hidden in the tax charges (11% for Borward county) was an additional 4.75%, (unexplained, not itemized and not listed as either a fee, tax or other charge) When I sent my third email to the "Help" contact on Priceline website and referenced this padding of the tax rate - They didn't respond at all. (They didn't want to document this practice). It appears to be a common practice to increase their profit also referenced in a complaint posted on Ripoffreport.com. You have to look closely and search online for the hotel tax charged in the county of the hotel booking.
Are these practices legal? According to their contract, the bait and switch, the no refunds or cancellations are legal. The tax padding IS NOT.
Reagrdless of what their cintract states - state law where ypou live applies. In CA - where I reside, you have the right of recission. I exercised that right and notified Priceline of the cancellation.
I then disputed the charge with my credit card company and stated in no uncertain terms this company was engaging in questionable business practices, Bait and switch and possibly fraud.
I hate Priceline, I used this company for 12 years. NEVER AGAIN. Stay away from Priceline "Name your own Price" feature They will cheat you if they can make more money.
As a closing note, in many instances the hotel rooms they sell have been bought in bulk from Hotel chains - they then present themselves as acting as your agent to "Get you a great discount" Not true. They are acting to increase their profit margins and you are at their mercy once you give them your credit card number.