Kimberly Ball recently found a great Priceline rate for two rooms at an Extended Stay America. But when she arrived at the hotel, she found that the hotel had assigned her the wrong room type. The bedding in those rooms could not accommodate her group of friends and now she wants a refund.
Ball’s story underscores the risks of booking through “opaque” travel websites. You get what you pay for — literally — when you use these sites. It’s important to pay careful attention to the terms of your great Priceline rate. If you don’t read all the fine print, you might be in for a surprise at check-in — the wrong type of room that can’t accommodate your group.
The wrong room type — just one queen bed
Ball reserved two hotel rooms for a group of adults at the Extended Stay America in Kenner, La., through Priceline. According to Ball, Priceline’s website did not provide her with a choice of room types during the booking process. She was under the impression that she could select her rooms at check-in.
But when Ball and her group arrived at the hotel, they discovered that the hotel had preassigned their rooms. Each room contained one queen bed. Ball requested a rollaway bed to accommodate one of her traveling companions. The hotel refused, explaining that this would be a fire code violation. Ball and her companions decided to stay elsewhere.
Ball then contacted the Elliott Advocacy team to ask for help.
“I’m seeking reimbursement for the room cost of $864,” Ball explained. “I also want professional customer service training for the staff and supervisor at this location.” (Executive contact information for Priceline and Extended Stay America are available on our website.)
Double occupancy at the Extended Stay America
When the Elliott Advocacy team took a look at Ball’s case, the news wasn’t good. Advocate Dwayne Coward explained to Ball why he could not successfully mediate her case.
“While websites like Priceline can sell these rooms at a discounted price, those with the higher discounts normally will have stricter conditions and limited choices,” Dwayne explained.
Priceline’s terms and conditions indicate that with regard to hotel rooms sold on its website:
All hotel reservations are guaranteed for double occupancy (i.e., 2 adults). Unless specifically noted, accommodations for more than two adults are not guaranteed. … If your hotel does allow extra guests, there may be additional charges. These charges vary and will be payable directly to the hotel.
Dwayne also noted that Ball’s confirmation indicated that the rooms she reserved were for two persons only. It also contained the following Extended Stay America policy:
Bedding policy. All rooms will accommodate two people. Bed type requests (King, Queen, 2 Doubles, etc.) or other special requests such as a non-smoking or smoking room should be requested through your confirmed hotel, cannot be guaranteed and are based on availability.
The Extended Stay America’s website contains the following frequently asked questions:
How many people can a room accommodate?
Our special suites can accommodate a maximum of two or four people per room, depending on the room type. When you select the number of people in your party when you book your room, we display only those rooms that can accommodate you.
How to avoid ending up with the wrong room type
“In the future, if you have specific needs, it is best to ensure they are met before confirming your booking,” Dwayne explained. “If you don’t you might end up with the wrong room type.”
Priceline does have options to select rooms with a specific number of beds. But it’s important to note that those are not offered at the lowest possible Priceline rate. Alternatively, Elliott Advocacy recommends booking directly with a travel provider. Higher rates may be worth paying to guarantee that you don’t confirm the wrong room type.
Consumers should always attempt to resolve their cases before coming to the Elliott Advocacy for assistance. Observe the three P’s of consumer advocacy — patience, politeness and persistence — when filing a customer service complaint.
Otherwise, like Ball, you may find yourself stuck with a nonrefundable hotel rate for the wrong room type that you can’t use.