Interesting Consumer Article About a PL Bid Gone Bad

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Interesting Consumer Article About a PL Bid Gone Bad

Glencie
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Glencie
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Joined: August 1st, 2000, 4:11 am

January 6th, 2006, 3:09 am #1

Christopher Elliot is an excellent travel consumer writer at Tripso.com. In this article, someone writes to him about winning a hotel stay with Priceline in the zone he didn't want. Almost immediately into the article, I'm sure most regulars on this board will know something was fishy with the way the bidder described the process (i.e. not changing any parameters except price for a re-bid).

Since I'm not sure about the web copyright rules, I won't put the whole article here and just leave the link to it...

www.tripso.com/archives/2...acola.html
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Sheryl
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Sheryl
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Joined: January 16th, 2000, 4:19 pm

January 6th, 2006, 8:43 am #2

As soon as I began reading that article, it sounded awfully familiar. Looks like Chris Elliott recycles his articles...

elliott.org/ask/2003/priceline.htm
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Glencie
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Glencie
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Joined: August 1st, 2000, 4:11 am

January 6th, 2006, 6:19 pm #3

Ha! He was caught red handed. Way to go Detective Sheryl!

Don't mind older articles (even writers go on vacation), but dating them as new is deceiving.
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Sheryl
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Sheryl
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Joined: January 16th, 2000, 4:19 pm

January 29th, 2006, 7:15 pm #4

Posted by Romelle and moved here for continuity:

I thought this article in the Minneapolis Star Tribune interesting:

January 28, 2006
Travel Troubleshooter: "After details are uncovered, grievance with Priceline is debatable"

Christopher Elliott (column author and "Travel Troubleshooter")

Q I recently tried Priceline for the first time to make a hotel reservation in Pensacola Beach, Fla.

Its website provided a very good map of Pensacola that was easy to read. I have been visiting Pensacola for the past 19 years, and I am very familiar with the city. I knew exactly the area where I wanted to stay and had no reservations about choosing the Pensacola Beach zone that was one of Priceline's choices.

I specifically selected Pensacola Beach and made a bid for a room. The first bid was rejected, so I increased the bid by $10, initialed the little box again and hit "Enter."

My second offer was accepted. But to my surprise, Priceline had added a second city zone to my search list: Pensacola North, which is the least desirable part of town and has the worst selection of hotels. I immediately called its customer service number and presented my situation.

I was informed that I had entered into a contract by initialing the little box and that the reservation absolutely could not be refunded, canceled or changed. After at least a dozen phone conversations and e-mails over the last few days, I am still stuck with a motel room with a resort price tag in an awful part of town.

I have done lots of research since then and have read countless dozens of similar complaints posted to various consumer-oriented websites. After pleading my case all the way to the executive-office level with no success, I now fully believe that Priceline deliberately added this zone without my consent in order to book a room at an enormously inflated rate for a one- or two-star hotel, and that there are probably hundreds of other consumers that get ripped off the same way.

Basically, what they have done is lost a potential repeat customer for the sake of a one-time transaction. I am in sales for a company that sells forklifts and construction equipment. I cannot imagine treating our customer base with such a lack of respect.


GEORGE INDERBITZEN Cordova, Tenn.

A Bait-and-switch tactics are all too common in the travel industry, and if Priceline is using them, I would certainly be the first to condemn it. But I'm not sure that the dot-com is guilty as charged.

I asked Priceline to review your file, and its records reflect a somewhat different version of events than yours. According to the website, this isn't the first time you've used it. In fact, Priceline's information suggests that you're a savvy bidder who has made several bookings or attempted bookings in the past.

Priceline's file also contradicts your claim that it treated you with a lack of respect. Before you booked the Pensacola hotel, the company had already bent one of its rules when you booked a hotel room in another city. Priceline didn't have to do that.

Did you get ripped off? That's also subject to debate. Your first bid for a hotel in Pensacola for $49 a night was rejected. The second, for $59 a night, was accepted and booked at the Holiday Inn Pensacola. Room rates for the nights you requested were running between $49 and $79 a night on the hotel's own website.

"Priceline delivered exactly what Mr. Inderbitzen requested," said spokesman Brian Ek. "His initial offer was not successful. In order to submit another offer immediately, a customer must change something other than the price, such as adding a zone or changing the star rating. We do not make such changes automatically. The customer must do it himself."

Ek says his records show that you expanded your search by adding a zone, which gave you the reservation you now have in Pensacola. He offered to show me a screen shot -- the proverbial smoking gun.

I know you must be disappointed, but I'm having a difficult time taking your side. You left out important details about your Priceline grievance when you contacted me, including the fact that the company had already waived some of its rules for you.

Next time you make a booking online, pay attention to the forms that you're filling in. It may help to de-select the option on your browser that fills in text fields automatically. That precaution might prevent you from inadvertently filling in information you have not adequately reviewed.


Christopher Elliott is ombudsman at National Geographic Traveler magazine. Send your queries to celliott@ngs.org or to Christopher Elliott, National Geographic Traveler, 1145 17th St. NW., Washington, DC 20036.
©2006 Star Tribune. All rights reserved.
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Sheryl
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Sheryl
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Joined: January 16th, 2000, 4:19 pm

January 29th, 2006, 7:20 pm #5

Mr. Inderbitzen is certainly getting a lot of miles out of his three year old grievance.

After Glencie posted this story earlier this month, I wrote to Chris Elliott about it. Didn't receive the courtesy of a response. One certainly must question the motives of a journalist who engages in this behavior.
Please place all of your Priceline bids through our Priceline link.
Please check rates at Hotwire and make your bookings through our Hotwire link.
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