Vickie Collett thought she was getting a quote for a hotel stay from Priceline, but instead books a room. A non-refundable room. Now she’s being charged. Is there a way out?
Question: My husband and I were recently enroute to Galveston, Texas, and I was looking for accommodations. I had used Priceline a few times in the past.
I was using my iPhone and got on their website to check rates of hotels. I thought I was going to “Name Your Own Price” and enter an amount for a four-star hotel. The page came up to enter my contact and credit card information, which I did. Then I initialed the disclosure page and clicked the Go button. Instantly I received confirmation that my trip was booked for three nights at The Tremont House in Galveston, for a charge of $887 to my American Express card.
I realized that instead of “Naming Your Price” that the reservation was made. We didn’t intend to book the room for the rate and days. I immediately contacted Priceline.com and told them that I had made a mistake and wanted to cancel. I was told that there was no way it could be canceled or changed.
Then I contacted American Express to explain and was told that I would have to wait for the charge to go on my account and then I could contest it. Finally I contacted the hotel directly and spoke to Christian and explained that I had just made the mistake and to cancel the reservations, which he agreed to do.
Priceline.com charged my American Express for the total amount. I have disputed the charge with American Express, but it sided with Priceline. The reason that American Express will not give me the credit is that they say Priceline and I had a contract and that I initialed the disclosure page and they could not do anything.
I have contacted Priceline as well and had the dispute reopened. I have told them that I had contacted The Tremont House and spoken with a hotel executive who informed me that she never charged Priceline for my reservation since it was canceled immediately.
I have spent many hours contacting Priceline and American Express explaining that Priceline was never charged and have given multiple people the Tremont House executive’s name and phone number, so they can call her directly to verify.
I would appreciate it if you can help me in any way with this matter or advise of any other options.–Vickie Collett, Dallas
Answer: When you book or research travel online, you are acting as your own travel agent. You need to double- and triple-check the fine print before you click the GO button. Otherwise, you may find yourself with a reservation you did not intend to make.
I know. I’ve done it too. I made a reservation for a flight at 7 p.m. thinking I made it for 7 am.
This can be a costly mistake — especially because with Priceline’s opaque system, its reservations are nonrefundable. Our website even states, “Most Priceline complaints involve its restrictive “Name Your Own Price” bookings.”
You called Priceline right away, but they told you that the reservation was nonrefundable. You were very lucky that the hotel agreed to cancel the reservation.
You appealed your case to Priceline’s executive contacts, but were unable to persuade them to refund your money.
American Express sided with Priceline as well and you turned to our advocates.
Little known fact: If you make an honest mistake on Priceline and call the company right away, it will usually issue a full refund. But you have to act quickly, and there’s no guarantee, of course.
We contacted Priceline and they investigated your case. Priceline confirmed it was never charged by the hotel for the reservation. You received a full refund.