In April, 2011, I went on Priceline to find a hotel for the Florida July Bar Exam in Tampa, FL. I looked at 3 possible hotels, starting with the date of July 25 as my arrival and leaving July 27. I then checked those hotels for July 25 through July 28 (to give myself an extra day after the exam). Then I checked the rates for all 3 hotels for July 24 through July 28, but decided that was too much money.
So, I went back to the dates of July 25 through July 28 & once again checked the 3 hotels to get the one with the best rate, which happened to be Embassy Suites Downtown Tampa. As I was finalizing my reservation, I checked the dates once again, saw the numbers 25th-28th and went ahead & paid for the reservation with my debit card. I saw that it said no cancellation & no refund but wasn't planning to NOT go take Bar Exam. I am, of course, a recent law school graduate, so I am not working right now, but instead studying for the Bar Exam. It cost me around $573 for the hotel so I could be right next to where the Exam is.
First part of May, I receive an email from Priceline asking how my hotel stay WAS. This seemed odd, so I looked at my reservation (that I had put in a safe place until July) and was horrified at what I discovered. My reservation was for the 25th-28th all right, but for APRIL 25th-28th, NOT July 25th-28th. As much as I was checking different dates, hotels, etc., that I was comparing different hotels for those July dates, I KNOW I had put in July 25th-28th. The website had kept my DAYS right but evidently had defaulted back to the current month (which was April when I made the reservation), when I went from one hotel to another. So the first hotel I looked at had the right month and days, then I looked at a second hotel, then decided the first one was better so I went back to it. At that point, the website had kept the days but the month had defaulted back to April, so it wasn't keeping the MONTH I entered, only the DAYS.
I called customer service and was told that because I didn't show up or call, it was treated as a no show by the hotel, and I guess that makes it even harder to get a refund or change your reservation. They offered me $10 off a night on a future hotel reservation, but as a student who spent all of their money on a $573 hotel reservation that I can't use, $10 a night isn't going to help me unless there's a hotel near the Bar Exam that only charges $20 a night.
I wrote and faxed a letter to the CEO of Priceline, Jeffery Boyd. After a couple of weeks, I finally received a response by email and voicemail. They said they cannot change my reservation nor offer a refund and to 'have a nice day'. I also faxed a letter to Embassy Suites about what happened and they never responded, probably because they figured it was a glitch with Priceline's website and I had gone through Priceline to get the reservation. I still do not have money to get a hotel reservation in Tampa because I'm out $573 now. I have had to apply for a Bar Loan which I don't know if I will get. If I don't get the loan, I don't know what I'm going to do.
I have a letter and complaint going out to the Connecticut Attorney General and am going to also contact their Better Business Bureau. I wish I could get on Clark Howard or some other consumer advocate show, or put this out in the media. If there is a glitch in their website, ultimately the consumer is having to pay and they may not be getting what they thought; and Priceline seems to have a zero tolerance policy on issuing refunds, even when it isn't the customer's fault. I have since read about other glitches in their website that have ultimately cost consumers hard-earned money and Priceline won't budge on their no refund, no cancellation policy.
If none of this works, then my next step may be to file a complaint in small claims court. I'm sorry, but $573 may not be a lot of money to a big corporation like Priceline, but to me it's a LOT of money right now as we are living on only my husband's income of about $2000/monthly right now. If Priceline had at least worked with me and changed my reservation dates, I would have paid a fee or the difference to change my reservation and would still use them to book future reservations. If you're considering using Priceline, I would strongly advise against it. Their commercial may say they are The Negotiator, but when it comes to their CUSTOMERS, their policy of no refunds, no cancellation is NON-NEGOTIABLE!