Why won’t Priceline honor its own price guarantee?

When Beverly Hoff spots a lower price for her hotel, she asks Priceline to honor its “Best Price Guarantee.” But Priceline unexpectedly reverses its credit to Hoff’s account and wins a chargeback months later. Can our advocates persuade Priceline to return the credit to Hoff?

Question: I made a reservation for the Hotel Garbí Millenni in Barcelona, Spain, on Priceline. But I immediately found another site selling the hotel at a lower price, so I called Priceline to ask for it via Priceline’s Best Price Guarantee. When Priceline refused to honor it, I initiated a chargeback with my bank.

I saw that Priceline had issued me a credit for the hotel charge on my next credit card statement, and thinking the matter was settled, I destroyed the documents I sent to my bank in support of my chargeback request. But I received a letter from my bank notifying me that the chargeback was resolved in Priceline’s favor and restoring the charge to my account.

I appealed the chargeback dispute and tried to resurrect my reservation on Priceline’s website, but I found that it was canceled. I took a screenshot of the cancellation and called my bank and Priceline. Priceline’s representative told me that that although Priceline canceled the reservation in March when I disputed the charge, I must still pay for the room even though it’s not available to stay in.

I went back to Priceline’s site. There is nothing in the rebuttal information that Priceline sent to my bank that indicates that it will cancel any disputed matter and hold the purchaser responsible. How does a company expect someone to pay for services not provided?

Related story:   Is this enough compensation? Priceline refunds me $1 for overpriced hotel

Can you help me get Priceline to reverse its decision and restore the credit to me? — Beverly Hoff, Lake Worth, Fla.

Answer: It’s understandable that you’re upset that Priceline refused to honor its “Best Price Guarantee,” then successfully contested your chargeback and now insists that you pay for a hotel room that you’re not actually able to stay in.

And the language on Priceline’s website certainly doesn’t contain any wording suggesting that you were not entitled to the lower price once you brought it to Priceline’s attention.

Unfortunately, by not keeping your documentation, you made it harder to advocate your case, which stands as a warning that chargebacks are not always “settled” when a credit for a previous charge appears on your statement.

Documentation for a chargeback should not be discarded until your bank deems your case “closed” – which may not happen for weeks or even months.

As you discovered the hard way, chargebacks can be challenged and won by the company months later. Without that documentation, it’s much harder to prove that you were entitled to the chargeback. It didn’t help that you accused Priceline of “fraud” in your correspondence with the company.

You might have used the contact information for Priceline on our website to appeal your case to higher-ranking executives.

Instead, you appealed the chargeback ruling, posted about your case in our forum, contacted our advocates and filed a complaint against Priceline with the Better Business Bureau (BBB).

We reached out to Priceline on your behalf. Priceline has responded to your BBB complaint, indicating that it will refund your hotel fee when your bank closes your chargeback dispute.

Related story:   If I'm too contagious to fly can I get a refund for my flight?

Jennifer Finger

Jennifer is the founder of KeenReader, an Internet-based freelance editing operation, as well as a certified public accountant. She is a senior writer for Elliott.org.

  • SirWIred

    Has anybody ever actually successfully filed a Best Price Guarantee with any website?

  • Dutchess

    I have on Alaska Airlines. It was pretty easy actually, and it was all done online without talking to someone. it wasn’t very much, like $25 a ticket but I got the credit.

  • Chris_In_NC

    I’m curious as to the difference in the price. Was it $1, $10 or $100? I understand that some people will do it for the principle of the matter, but if the amount as trivial, price match guarantees are not worth my time or effort.
    For the record, I find that booking direct with the hotel often yields the lowest price.
    In this situation, the chargeback was inappropriate. The OP voluntarily booked the hotel at the price agreed. Therefore, there is no “fraud” in this instance and the OP will always lose the chargeback. The issue is whether she is entitled to either 100% or 200% of the rate difference because she found a lower “rate.” There is simply not enough information provided to know if she was entitled to the rate guarantee. Often it has to be the EXACT room type (ie 2 double/2 queen/king) or a specific room category. Some hotels have over 20 room types and categories, so it may be impossible to determine from a consumer standpoint whether a price match is warranted.

  • RichardII

    Yes. With booking.com.

  • Skeptic

    Me too! Booked a trip to Hawaii well in advance (as is necessary for those of us who live in the state the airline is named for, due to limited capacity), and got a refund the same day I asked for it when I saw the price on our itineraries went down by $70 each. But Alaska Airlines is a holdout in a world of travel providers intent on winning the race to the bottom.

  • Annie M

    “We reached out to Priceline on your behalf. Priceline has responded to
    your BBB complaint, indicating that it will refund your hotel fee when
    your bank closes your chargeback dispute.”

    I thought that the dispute was already settled – in Pricelines favor?

  • Mark

    These guarantees always contain so many “gotchas” that they are rarely worth the paper they’re printed on.

    IHG is one of my pet-peeves. They will only run the comparison on the cheapest available (non-flexible) rate. Any price-match based on a specific room category or flexible rate is not honored.

Get smart. Sign up for the newsletter.