Disputed Credit Card Charge Against Priceline

When I go on vacation, I usually use Priceline’s Name Your Price™ service for a hotel room. You specify an area in the city, a quality level (3-star, 4-star, etc.), the dates, and the price you want to pay. Priceline tries to find a hotel for you at that price. If it accepts your bid, your reservation becomes final and non-refundable. You have to use the hotel Priceline picks for you. I usually bid for 3-star hotels and I get good deals at Marriott or Hilton. I don’t necessarily save absolute dollars because I otherwise would stay at a Comfort Inn or Best Western for the same amount of money. For the same price, I stay at a better quality hotel through Priceline. I just have to wait until the last minute making sure that my plans won’t change, and then enter my bid.

It has worked well, except this last trip. I bid for a 3-star hotel and paid more than what I usually pay. When I got to the hotel, the quality was not as I expected at all. Everything was at least 30 years old, from desk lamps to bathroom sink, from furniture to air conditioner, you name it. For a 3-star hotel, I got a 13-inch TV. The hallway smelled worse than a cheap motel. Because I already paid and it was not refundable (sunk cost), I had to stay there. Fortunately it was just one night.

Priceline let me down. It didn’t honor its end of the bargain. I bid for a 3-star but the hotel it gave me was clearly not a 3-star. I called them and asked for a refund but they didn’t listen. Now I will have to see if my credit card really protects me against a bad transaction. I filed a dispute with my credit card. Too bad I didn’t use an American Express card for my charge. I heard American Express is more friendly to their cardholders (not sure if it’s true). I will have to see how Visa and MBNA, now Bank of America, work for me. Maybe the so called consumer protection is just perception, something the credit card companies advertise but don’t really stand behind. I will see if it’s real. If I have to venture a guess now, I’d say I probably won’t win.

Have you ever filed a dispute with your credit card company for product quality issues? Did you win?

[Update on August 10, 2007]: My dispute was denied. See Credit Card Dispute Against Priceline.

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  1. Anonymous says

    The timing of your post is coincident with a quasi-related experience I’m having.

    I booked a room at a (known) hotel via Hotels.com. though I never received a confirmation e-mail.

    When I called the hotel, itself, I learned that they had no reservation on file.

    Calling Hotels.com’s customer service line was quite frustrating. I experienced about 6 disconnects (after being on hold about 5 minutes each time), and ultimately was told that they didn’t have the ‘booking number’ on file – even though I had printed it and was reading from that print out.

    2+ hours later, they ‘believe’ the reservation has now been made. I’ll find out tomorrow night.

    There is something to be said for saving money using aggregation booking services, but, if it’s important, it might be worthwhile to pay more (to be assured that you’re getting what you expect).

  2. Ted Valentine says

    Too bad. Hope you get your money back. I’ve always had a good experience with Priceline for hotels.

  3. Slim999 says

    You won’t get your money back, because Priceline doesn’t actually guarantee anything about the quality of the hotel they are going to put you in.

    “3-star” is a subjective assessment. Your idea of 3-star and my idea of 3-star can be totally different while at the same time both of us are being genuine.

    Priceline knows this. It makes its profit on the hotel rooms where it can get away with promising you a 3-star hotel, but actually delivering a 1-star for the price of a 3-star.

    Many won’t complain, or don’t know how. Some will, but won’t get anywhere with Priceline. Even fewer will dispute the charge. And Visa could care less whether the hallways smelled like pee. Visa has its fee already, paid to them by Priceline.

    Who is a better Visa customer (as measured in total annual revenue): you, or Priceline?

    VISA also measures for “bad customers.” If you request too many refunds, they’ll just cancel your card by claiming they just “can’t meet your needs.”

    That’s my prediction.

    Something similar happened to me at a Red Sox game. I was invited to the 407 club, where they tacked on a 19% gratuity to my check. When I complained to the management that I wasn’t happy with the service, and would they please remove the “tip” they refused.

    VISA also refused to remove it from my charge.

  4. Min says

    I recently had bad experience with Priceline too. After I bid for a hotel reservation and received the reservation at Ramada in Maggie Valley ,NC, I called the hotel to request a room with double bed for 4 people. They said the Priceline reservation was only for 2 adults, and asked extra $10 for each person , each night. I then called Priceline to request changing my reservation . They refused. I then called my credit card company to request stopping payment. They refused too.
    Bottom line, all these companies: Priceline, Ramada Hotel, Master card are interested in your money not serving you. I ended up paying $53 extra for two more people for three days stay.

  5. Stacy says

    Have used priceline in the past with good results. I reasearch the heck out of the area (and on their website) to see what hotels are in the area and then make sure I select the area with the highest number of “acceptable” hotels.

    I just placed a reservation through the bid now and selected an area for the hotel (near a major highway). When the reservation page came up it was for a hotel that was 15+ miles away from the highway and nowhere near the highlighted area I selected.

    I’ve only called once so far (it was before 9 a.m. so I think I was at the Philipines call center, very hard to understand the CS rep and when I asked to talk with a manager or supervisor he said there weren’t any . . . ). I told him I was looking at the priceline map and that the hotel was clearly outside of the area selected and he kept telling me that according to his system it wasn’t. I’m waiting until 9 a.m. to call back and am hoping to get a manager. Then I guess it’s off to VISA to protest. I’ve taken screen shots of all the maps (Priceline target area and the actual address of the hotel).

  6. Jeanette says

    Stacey, how did your dispute with Visa go? I had a similar situation happen to me last night. I selected an area that was labeled with my city only to receive a hotel in a neighboring one. I too researched the area quite thoroughly and was certain that I would get one of two hotels. This was clearly misleading especially since the hotel that I won did not appear on the list of my city’s hotels due to the fact that it is not in my city!!! They wouldn’t budge on this claiming that the hotel was in fact in the shaded area. They gave me a link for 10.00 off my next hotel. I am putting this in dispute as soon as it shows up on my statement.

  7. Shannon says

    Same thing just happened to me…on their map it was clearly no where near the “zone” I had chosen – blocks away – a big deal a city when you don’t want a car. And would have to walk through a really bad area to get where I need to be. Has anyone ever gotten their money back from Priceline!
    Never again. It was a $100 mistake I won’t make again.

  8. Jeanette says

    No, didn’t get money back. I even filed with the BBB. What a joke that was. Unbelievable that with all the complaints Priceline still has an A rating! Reason is because they do respond to all their complaints. I did stay in the hotel anyway. It turned out ok. A little further away than I needed to be but I saved some money. Hubby was pissed though because our request for a nonsmoking room was not honored. They de-odorized, the room but it was at the end of the smoking hallway and the smell was awful.

  9. Mindy says

    OMG that is happening to me too! I actually didnt hit submit i almost did and closed the internet browser but then the company still processed it. I got email for hotel reservation when i had thought i didnt even try. And the hotel is super far from where we are vacationing. Priceline CS sucks and wont help all they said i can do it write a letter to corporate off i couldnt even get a email or # to call!!! So now gotta wait for call back. I called my bank and they said they cant reverse my visa purchase either without them calling to cancel… so much for credit card protection and now I am $300 bucks out!

  10. Meggan says

    I am having a similar problem with Priceline. I went through Name Your Own Price that advertises “up to 60% off” and ended up pay OVER 100% of the hotel’s advertised price. I didn’t even realize I had made it to the point-of-no-return page, before it was too late and then paid more than full price for the hotel. Priceline was not interested in working with me. Visa says I can dispute but we will see how that goes.

  11. Jeff says

    PRICE LINE OFFICIALLY SUCKS!!! I named a price for a round trip flight to another state. I live 10 minutes from Raleigh (RDU) a large airport. Priceline accepted my bid and put me on a departure flight in another city that was an hour away! Then to get it changed, the fees they forced me to pay to correct it cost the same price as the ticket that I was trying to avoid.

  12. TMAC says

    I GOT MY MONEY BACK!!! Used Priceline Name Your Own Price for a stay in Vegas- I have done this same thing many times before and had no problems. However, this time I got a hotel outside of the areas I selected. (Trump International- which is off strip) – I go to vegas at least 4 times per year so I know what areas I am comfortable with and something off strip would not have been an area i selected. Anyway- when I got the confirmation and realized the mistake I immedately contacted priceline via the online chat option. Of course i was told there were no refunds or cancellations. Well. i am going to try my best NOT to pay $700 for a 3 night stay in TRUMP…
    I immediately called my bank (bank of america) and asked them to cancel the pending authorization. After a lot of hold time and the nice customer service agent trying everything he could I was told the authorization had to process and my only option was to file a dispute. I know from my research online that you do NOT win disputes with priceline.

    I am beside myself angry by now! I call the bank again and say “close my account” — this is the only thing I can think of to stop the transaction. The representative informs me of other pending transactions that will also be denied and I realize closing the account is not an option. Rep does however mention that the it is just an authorization and the funds are not on hold and do no affect my available balance…..=) BINGO— I got in my car immediately, drove down to the bank, and withdrew everything!!! When Priceline drafts for the funds I will get a NSF fee- $37.00 at my bank- a small price to pay for a valuable lesson learned!!!
    * Hope this helps someone else at some time*
    *** Stay AWAY from Priceline***

  13. ashley says

    I booked my honeymoon package through priceline for flight and hotel and paid over 2500 bucks. I got super sick the very first day there and had to take an emergency flight home that of course I paid for out of pocket. After getting out of the hospital I called priceline to get a refund for the part of my trip that we weren’t able to use and after 4 days of hassle they finally gave us one… 1 month later they took out a huge chunk of what they gave back and overdrafted my account.. I disputed the charge so now they are taking back the entire refund… wtf priceline… I’ll never book through them again

  14. Joan Yee says

    Ridiculous service. I called customer service to ask for a change to a flight and couldn’t get the right schedule so they offered a refund for that leg of the trip and told me to book my return flight again. A few months later, no refund was issued on my credit card, so I called to follow up. There’s countless excuses as to why there will not be a refund – the airline declined it (when I paid priceline), Oh.. your flight is non-refundable (yes it is, because the customer service guy even told me how much would be refunded after deducting their ‘fees’), etc. etc. Now, I’ve been on the phone with them for over 5 hours on multiple occasions to ‘figure it out’.. always postpone answer, or blame on the airline. PRICELINE.. I paid YOU.. YOU said you were going to get the refund for me.. YOU are responsible!

  15. Bavard says

    Stay away from priceline at all costs!!!! I booked a hotel. Not even using the name your own price feature just a last minute sale. I ended up staying at “The Iron Horse Hotel in Amsterdam”
    When we checked into the hotel which was supposedly a 3-star hotel there was missing panels from the ceiling and melted light fixtures. One of the two tiny tiny beds was dirty. The sheets were stained and the bed had sand in it. We called the front desk who brought us new sheets but upon removing the sheets we discovered urine stains and garbage in/on and around the mattress. When we requested a new room the hotel front desk refused to accommodate us saying they were full up for the night. We booked a new hotel and called Priceline to resolve the issue and receive a refund since we did not stay at the hotel either of the two nights we booked. Priceline and the hotel both refused to refund us after many long headache inducing phone calls. I opened a dispute with AMEX and I am awaiting a resolution. I hope AMEX sides with me. I spend quite a bit of money on that card as I use it for all of my corporate travel as well. I will post a follow-up here and let you guys know how it turns out.

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