Priceline.com Complaint - Priceline Forced Counteroffer "acceptance" and No refund policy
Beware of bidding on Priceline. I would avoid them entirely, but if you use them: Take each step slowly and take screenshots, or better yet a video camera of you operating the computer.
Earlier this year, I bid on an expensive last-minute air-ticket on Priceline. The first time, my bid was not accepted. They suggested I allow additional stops and/or raise my price. I did this and after a long wait was taken to the "congratulations" confirmation of purchase page. However, it was for a higher amount than I had bid. (Moreover, I had quotes from Expedia and Delta for less than this amount). Within the minute, I called their toll free number to cancel. The representative said she could not do anything. Subsequent automated emails revealed that they had made a counter-offer which supposedly I had accepted. Their customer service even sent a copy of a web-page which I had supposedly initialed and submitted. Except I never did this. To this day, I don't know if it was fraud on their part or a freakish browser error.
Over the next day, I contacted Priceline by email and phone, only to be told they would not do anything, even if I supplied browser records and proof of my already better offers. They were extremely firm, unsympathetic, and unwilling to even investigate the possibility of an error. This latter fact and the fact that no information and typing other than initials are required for the counter-offer is what makes me suspect fraud. Browser errors can also happen, but their refusal to even look into it is revealing about their agenda. Hint: Integrity and customer service is not a part of it.
I do wonder if they prey upon last minute travelers especially with this forced acceptance of the counteroffer. With just days to departure I had to decide to keep their over-priced ticket (the itinerary was actually perfect, just not the price) or to risk purchasing a second ticket (for about $950 in addition to the $1200 they had forced on me).
In the end, I decided to stick to my guns, and buy the second ticket. I did this shortly after getting off the phone with Priceline and my credit card company the first time. I paid with the same credit card, in order to help prove that I already had a better offer available to me at that same time and that I had been serious about buying a ticket at that price.
So, my final recourse was to file a dispute with my credit card company. I had called them immediately after my first call to Priceline, but they couldn't do anything to prevent the charge. They also couldn't start the dispute process until the charge posted.
Several days later, with the trip already underway, the charge from Priceline posted officially. I then started the dispute process.
My credit card company took explanations and sent paper work for more. In the meantime, I had done my best to document the other offers I already had in my browser, and to preserve as much of that as possible. I sent them copies of what I had. They put a hold on the charge for the duration of the investigation. A couple months later, I had to fill out more paperwork, and wait again for Priceline to respond. About three months later I had the charge refunded. I don't know what response they received from Priceline. It may be that the credit card company just absorbed the charge.
The double booking was also a problem when traveling since there were two reservations under the same name on the flights. Since Priceline wouldn't cancel the ticket, it was necessary to discuss with the airline in advance. The airline couldn't cancel it, but it at least gave them the opportunity to overbook the flight if desired. It was also prudent to arrive extra early to allow time for this again at departures.
My strongest recommendation would be to not to use Priceline, and especially not without a video camera capturing your actions and the screen.
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