Credit Card Dispute Against Priceline

This is an update to my credit card dispute against Priceline. When I went on vacation a few months ago, Priceline gave me a bad hotel. I’m usually not very picky. But this time it was bad enough for me to file a dispute with my credit card company against Priceline. It was the only dispute I ever filed against anybody. Just as I predicted, my dispute was denied. I received a form letter from my credit card company, which said:

“We have thoroughly reviewed the details of your dispute, and based on the information we have received, we are unable to issue a credit for the disputed amount(s). We understand that you were not satisfied with the outcome of the service provided by the merchant. Unfortunately, the merchant has the right to receive payment for services that were rendered. At this time we consider this dispute closed and the full amount now due.”

So basically as long as *some* service was provided, no matter how crappy it was, no matter whether it was misrepresented or not, there is NO protection from the credit card company.

I was not alone in complaining about Priceline’s misrepresentation. Many other travelers left negative comments about the same hotel right on Priceline’s website. Here are few of them:

“You can tell just from looking at the outside of the [...] Hotel that the building is old, and the rooms are just as shabby with old or cheap furnishings, a tiny television, and ceilings that are in ill repair. It really seemed more like an old Holiday Inn or similar budget hotel, and not a three star establishment.”

“I was very disappointed even with the reduced price. The A/C was on its last legs.”

“Very poor! Not a 3 star hotel–dirty chairs with large stains. Dirty curtains. Slow room service. A clock radio that was broken. And a very noisy room–both from road noise and hallway noise. I’ve traveled for years for work–and this was not a 3 star hotel!”

Yet Priceline continues passing off that hotel as a quality hotel.

I didn’t have high hopes for the credit card company. I always thought the credit card protection is a myth. Now it has become very clear to me. Choosing a reputable company for your business is the best defense against unsatisfactory experience. I learned my lesson.

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Comments

  1. Anonymous says

    I’ve never heard of credit cards refunding money for poor service. That’s expecting a lot of a credit card company.

    Not happy with the food at a restaurant? Contest the charge! Not happy with your hotel room? Contest the charge!

    No, a better solution is to simply not use priceline in the future. You want a cheap hotel? Guess what? You got a cheap hotel.

  2. TFB says

    If you buy a laptop online and they ship you a radio clock instead, would you not contest the charge? How is service any different? I bought a 3-star hotel, and they gave me one worse than Motel 6. I don’t think I was unreasonable.

  3. Ted Valentine says

    tfb – I could not find a guarantee about hotel quality on Priceline. Do you have a link or something? I seem to recall that there used to be a guarantee, but I can’t say for sure. Perhaps they’ve done away with that and use people’s memories as capital.

    I did find this on their website:

    Hotel Star Ratings: Priceline.com’s star rating system is provided for your reference. Like other well-known hotel rating systems, priceline uses a number of factors in evaluating the quality of participating hotels such as: size of rooms, decor/furnishings, amenities, public areas, hospitality services, maintenance/housekeeping, reputation, etc. Priceline.com screens participating hotels carefully and updates our information periodically to ensure the validity of our ratings. Our ratings systems may sometimes differ from those of other rating systems that you may be familiar with. We do not warrant or guarantee that our star rating system is equal to or consistent with any other star rating system.”

  4. M says

    I disputed with Bank of America in regards to a failed mold remediation done on my home. I sent them 30+ pages of documentation to support my side of the case. For over two months they told me it was enough for them to proceed on my behalf. I called frequently and sent letters to follow up, asking did they need anything else. They continually said no. Meanwhile, they KNEW based on the fact that I’d disputed (on their recommendation, mind you) they under the header of quality of service that they actually needed something in very specific words in a very specific format that I hadn’t supplied them. Did they tell me while there was time for me to get that? No. They instead waited till the last minute and sent me a letter stating that what I’d sent wasn’t sufficient and they were going to close out the dispute in favor of the merchant. Which they did. I’ve been fighting this for a year. It is now in the hands of the OCC. I am in collections, and they are trying to serve me with some sort of papers. I am researching Regulation Z under the Truth In Lending act to see if it will help me. You might want to do the same. if you’re interested in a class action lawsuit you can count me in!

  5. TFB says

    M, I applaud your fight for your rights all the way to the OCC. I wish you’d win. Can you share with us what “very specific words in a very specific format” they were looking for? It will help others who face similar issues with quality of service. Thank you.

  6. says

    I know I am reviving an old post here but I just wanted to comment with my own frustrations in a similar situation. If you want to read all about it you can go here:

    http://thebaldmonkey.wordpress.com/2008/08/04/why-i-will-never-stay-at-holiday-inn-again/

    The long and short of it was that I was quoted one price and charged another. The hotel denies the quote and I have been fighting them for 2 months now. BBB has gotten me nowhere and I am sure the credit card dispute won’t either as the hotel says they have signed receipts for the charges. But I can hope that someone with some authority will see my side and agree with me at some point.

    I still have the Chamber of Commerce up there and the Attorney Generals office to complain to.

  7. Soren says

    I won a disputed AMEX charge recently against a Hotel that was impossible to stay in due to outrageous and continued noise. The property told me to suck it up and no refund. I warned them I would publicize the case all over the internet. They laughed and told me to do my worst. I managed amongst other things, to get them pulled off the State’s tourist board list of recommended Hotels, a rebuke from their franchise owner, and many many travelers alerted to the type of treatment they may also receive.

    This was not a Priceline stay, but I use Priceline frequently. I am currently in communication with a particular property I may end up winning in a PL bid. This Hotel assigns it’s PL customers with its oldest and dirtiest rooms, then tries to sell you an upgrade to a room approaching the quality level you thought you were bidding on in the first place. This has been bought to PL’s attention to no avail. There are PL user forums that document such behavior.

    When you purchase a Hotel room at a particular star level, you have an expectation of merchantable quality commensurate with the generally accepted standard of that particular quality level.

    Priceline generally will ignore all complaints about quality levels.
    So, if you use PL you have to understand and accept its business model and shortcomings going forward.

    Always, always, complain about bait and switch, and poor quality. It raises standards and improves chances for all of us. Ignore the amateur travelers that accuse us of whining. They generally need to stay out of airplanes and hotels, and off the roads.
    YMMV

  8. Will Pierce says

    I ordered 2 nights through priceline at a “three star motel” and upon arrival asked to look at the room before accepting the room. The room was a flea bag hotel and I refused the room and went elsewhere. My credit card company “wachovia” has done nothing to resolve the issue and priceline after many conversations refuses to talk to me anymore. Priceline indicates that the services were rendered to me and without written proof of the conversation with the clerk they will not correct the problem. I guess I will need to carry a tape recorder and make people sign affadavits. William Shatner and his people can kiss my ass.

  9. A Angel says

    Yep…I echo everything that has been said—the old bait-n-swith. Hooters hotel and casino in Las Vegas was rated a 5 star and it IS NOT. you are in the DESERT for freak’s sake and one day there was no A/C, the next day the was NO WATER. Priceline is MUM, acts like I’m invisible (so does the CC company) and Hooter’s by the way)…I’m filing with BBB and the Rip Off Report.

  10. Brad says

    Just happened to me. I have used priceline many times in the past and while it is not always a “wonderful” experience, I realize you get what you pay for. Last night was a nightmare priceline experience. Booked two rooms in a 2.5 star hotel in pittsburgh. Got here and were told all they had were smoking rooms. We walked in and my daugher threw up from the smoke smell. I have been a smoker before and must say even for me it was BAD! I went back to the front desk a couple of hours later (different clerk) and pretended i was a new customer and was given a non-smoking room!!!. That sux. I Let my wife and daugher stay in the non-smoking room and my son and i toughed it out in the smoking room with broken windows, loud AC, 19″ crappy TV.

    Not sure how to fix this while still using PL. I plan on talking to my CC company and seeing what they think. Like i said i have always been satisfied with PL and in this case i dont think it is there fault but they were the ones to charge my CC.

    How hard would it be for them to pay for the room without letting the hotel clerks know how it was paid for or how much was paid.

  11. says

    Brad – Sorry to hear about your bad experience. From another article I read about Priceline, I think I’m going to go with 4-stars and up in the future. A bad 4-star wouldn’t be that bad. Although this also means I’ll probably pay the equivalent of the full price for a 2.5-star.

  12. yinan says

    Priceline is really a very irresponsible company
    I booked 2 rooms rated as 3.5 star through PL, but was told there is only one full size bed in each room, if you requires 2 double beds which i think is the standard configuration for 3.5 star hotel, you have to pay 40 dollars more.
    I called PL, and was told they cannot do nothing about it because i agreed on the contract and i couldn’t cancel it. I warned to dispute the charge through AMEX, and was laughed.
    I am gonna do this.
    PL is really a very notorious company i will do any business with!

  13. James Garcia says

    Priceline is due for a serious class-action law suit. I was a victim of the “bait and switch” when naming my own price for a 5 star hotel on the Las Vegas Strip. My bid was accepted only to find out by the hotel (Trump Hotel) that I would be charged an additonal $20.00/nt in resort fees on top of what I had already paid Priceline. I was told by Trump Hotels that the fee was mandatory, and that I would have to pay it regardless if I used the services it covered, i.e pool, newspaper, fitness center, parking. I complained to Priceline and asked for a refund with no luck. I was told by Priceline that their policy clearly states that hotels may charge a “resort fee”. They would not budge. I even told them I would pay a cancellation fee just so that I could get some of my money back as I will not be staying at the Trump Hotel. They refused this offer as well. I even offered to pay them the profit that they would have made on the transaction and just be refunded the hotels portion since they were willing to cancel the reservation, but claimed that Priceline would have to initiate the process. Still no luck. These exta fee’s added on are very deceiving and totally uneccessary. Why not just include them in the price of the hotel? Greed that is why. You would think it would be in Priceline’s best interest to settle these matters, and just charge a fee for the service. They need to learn a thing about customer service. Oh, well lesson well learned even if it did cost me $300.00.

  14. TZO says

    Did a O/W rental car via PL. Somehow in “submit bid” it got changed so I had to return car to pickup location. I only found out when I arrived at 01:00 at DTW. I got taken! But I had already paid!!!!
    PL website did that little favor for me. (To make it better, lady at Hertz counter could have cared less too.)
    Had to contact another rental company for the O/W rental.
    Buyer beware. Joke was on me b/c I had already paid when submitting bid.

    Lesson: GO WITH A REPUTABLE COMPANY AND BOOK THRU THEIR WEBSITE. STAY AWAY FROM PL.
    If you haven’t been taken yet, your turn is coming.

  15. Lisa says

    I have to agree with what has been said here about PL. I just used their “service” to book a 3 star (the highest rating in the town I was to visit), and the reviews (64%) suggest that the place is horrible — these ratings have been consistently below 3 points on a 5 point scale for over a year!–So much for PL evaluating these hotels. I’m not talking about old decorations, I’m talking about broken doors, doors with no working locks, panhandlers in the hallways and parking lots. I did not expect a resort but did expect a basic room that was not a flea bag. I will never use PL again!

  16. Joe says

    I just purchased a car rental from Priceline and was at first satisfied with the price as they claimed I received over 40% discount from the posted rates. That is until I looked uo the rental company and found the same rental for $47.00 less and it had more time allowed before return ( 7 days instead of 6).

    Trying to get through to a live customer service rep is impossible. When you try you get bumped off if you do not have an answer to their very limited questionaire.
    I e mailed my request to simply move the pick up day and drop off day one day forward and have yet to receive a reply. I am not asking for a refund or shortening the time of rental I am asking just to alter the pick up and drop off. So far I am dissapointed with Priceline and with William Shatner. I will not use them again not will I give them any good press.

  17. Aliza says

    I recently won a dispute with PL using AE card. Case was resolved w/n 1 month. I booked a hotel stay with PL using Entertainment discount offer providing $20 off next booking. Hotel was advertised by PL also stated that it included free breakfast. Upon completion of booking, I never got my $20 credit and hotel denied of free breakfast offer. Sent AE all documents of PL’s own ads and also other customers complainting of the same issues. AE ruled favoring my side. I am greatful that I used AE to book the reservation. There is hope!

  18. Brad says

    I think one of the root causes of these issues is that the hotel is provided the information regarding how you booked and what price you paid. So you end up getting treated differently just because you were trying to be thrifty.

    In addition to my above mentioned experience, there have been other times where i booked with a web service like Hotwire or Expedia and got an outstanding rate only to be told upon arrival that what i booked and what i was going to be provided were different.

    If they were not provided the detailed information, then all customers would be treated the same.

    I will not use PL again for sure and have learned to:

    1 Use only sites where you are told the hotel you are getting before paying
    2 Call the hotel immediately after booking to verify what i will be getting and document the conversaion
    3 Call again a day before arriving and verify same
    4 Use a credit card (not debit) where you have the ability to dispute

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