When Eric Childs books the wrong dates for a trip through Priceline, he thinks his entire vacation is lost. But maybe it isn’t.
Question: I’m reaching out to you as a last resort. I’m a former wrestler and had the opportunity to be part of the coaching staff at Penn State for ten years. After losing that position six years ago, I have made it a priority to attend the college wrestling nationals every year.
Money is always a challenge, so I try to be a good consumer and really shop around for deals. This year was no different. After looking for a number of days I thought I had found a nice deal with Priceline.
I booked a package leaving on what I thought was March 17 from Philadelphia to St. Louis and returning March 22nd.
The cost of the trip, which included a flight and five nights in a hotel, was $862.
On Feb. 18, I received an email from Priceline informing me my trip was canceled. I realized then that I had mistakenly booked my trip from Feb. 17th to 22nd — a month early.
I called Priceline a number of times trying to get in contact with someone able to help but was told there was nothing they could do about it. I called the Hyatt Regency St. Louis At The Arch and they said I had only been charged for the one night but, without receiving anything from Priceline directly, there was nothing they could do to refund my money. I realize it was my mistake and they tell you upfront: no changes or cancellations.
Could you help me get my four remaining room nights back? — Eric Childs, State College, Pa.
Answer: You’re right. Priceline’s terms are clear — no changes and no refunds. But everyone makes mistakes. If your hotel is willing to refund part of your stay, shouldn’t Priceline consider it?
Before I get to the answer, let’s go over a few important facts. You have to pay close attention when you’re making a reservation. Priceline displays your dates twice before it even asks for your name and credit card information. To miss that, you would have to be in a pretty big hurry. Slow down. You have plenty of time.
The reason Priceline’s rates are so low is that it imposes significant restrictions on its products. Often, hotels and airlines are willing to lower their rates because they know no one will be able to ask for a refund or a credit. But if a hotel is willing to refund Priceline, then I think it’s reasonable for Priceline to at least consider refunding the rest of your hotel payment. It’s under no obligation to so, but it can’t hurt to ask.
I list the names, numbers and emails of Priceline’s customer service managers on my site. It looked as if you’d been back and forth with Priceline a few times, so I thought I’d try to help.
At the risk of repeating myself, Priceline didn’t have to do anything for you. You made a mistake and it could have pocketed every penny of your $862. I asked it to take another look at your case. Priceline contacted the Hyatt and confirmed that the hotel would refund all except the first night of your stay.
“Nothing we could do about the airfare, unfortunately,” a Priceline representative told me. Fair enough. You should be getting a refund for your hotel. And next time you book online, please pay attention to your dates and review your confirmation.
This article originally published on April 6, 2015.