Priceline.com Complaint - Unethical Business Practices
SYRACUSE, NEW YORK -- DOES NOT DISCLOSE HOTEL IS UNDER CONSTRUCTION / RENOVATION. I bid on a three star hotel on Priceline.com, which was accepted for a Holiday Inn in Syracuse (Liverpool), NY. When I arrived I thought I was at the wrong place. The parking lot was empty. It turns out the hotel was under construction to renovate the lobby, restaurant and lounge. I drove around to the side were there were several large containers of construction debris and a temporary entrance. They set up some tables in a ballroom that was supposed to be a restaurant/lounge. Walls throughout the facility were plywood. I told the person at the desk that I booked the room through Priceline, but was not told about the construction. She said I should have been told in advance. I told her not to check me in, because I wanted priceline to move to to another hotel.
I called Priceline and told them I wanted to be moved to another hotel because of the construction and condition of the hotel, which was not disclosed to me. Priceline put me on hold to call the hotel. They came back on the line and said that Holiday Inn told them that the construction should not affect my stay. I told him that is unacceptable as the condition of the hotel and amenities does effect my stay and that PRICELINE has the obligation to disclose this information. He refused to transfer me to a manager. he said I could only email management. Then I called American Express and explained the situation to them. Amex told me that if I dispute the charge, they will likely reverse the charge. since this was part of a vacation, I had my camera with me so there is evidence of the construction. Then I called Priceline back and told them what Amex said and would give then one more chance to remove the charge or get me a different hotel. The representative said he would have to call the hotel to get then to agree. I told that I refuse to stay at this hotel and that he should make sure he speaks with a manager at the Holiday Inn. You must have guessed it by now. When he came back on the line he said there were no managers on duty at the Holiday Inn, only the clerk the previous representative spoke to. He said he would call back and speak with a manager the next morning and call me. Of coarse I never received a call.
So now I send the email to "management" at Priceline. In the email, I told them that Priceline keeps putting the responsibility on Holiday Inn, but it was Priceline that took my money and did not disclose that the hotel was being renovated. Of coarse the reply I received stated they spoke to "someone in reservations" at the Holiday Inn and that the hotel did not feel the renovations were enough to make a refund, but Priceline could send me a link that would add $10 to an offer price for up to 5 nights on a future Name Your Own Price hotel. What an insult. At least there was a number to contact this person. I called and asked who she spoke to at the hotel, a desk clerk. I asked for her title, Assistant to the Executive Office. I asked for a manager and was told she is the highest level I can speak to and got the same pitch as the other rep.
Quite frankly, I have used Priceline on a number of other occasions with no problems. I had even booked 4 nights at a hotel in another city through Priceline on this same vacation. They don't care if they lose a customer or not. They just want my $98.
At this point I wrote a letter to the CEO of Priceline and sent him the pictures I took. I filed a dispute with AMEX.
THIS WAS MY LAST RESERVATION WITH PRICELINE.
UPDATE: on 5/5/2009 I received a call from the representative I spoke to at the Executive Offices and she told me that the VP of Customer Service received my letter and pictures of the hotel and they would be issuing a refund to my credit card. She went on to explain that this is not normal, but the situation was unusual. I replied that I with it didn't take four phone calls, one email and a letter with pictures. I also received a call from America Express the same day advising me the will honor my dispute. I told them about the call from priceline.com. She said if the credit wasn't issued within a week she would reverse the
charge. The credit posted a few days later.