PriceLine Hotel Refund Dispute

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#1
My first time here was yesterday and I posted to conversations. I now realize this was incorrect so I am taking the liberty of posting here. If I have again done something wrong I apologize in advance. What follows is verbatim from yesterday's conversation post.

Through my bank, in March 2017 I disputed a Price Line Hotel charge for Spain in Nov 2017 because they did not honor their own price guarantee. The charge amount was reversed on my April credit card statement and I thought the matter was laid to rest. I even went so far as to destroy all the documents I sent to my bank in support of my dispute.

Today (July 10) I got a letter from my bank dated June 27, 2017, that the dispute has been resolved-in Price Line's favor and the charge will be put back on my ledger. Since I now had to pay for the hotel I decided I needed to stay there and get the reservation information from the PL website. What I found today was that the reservation was cancelled (by PriceLine). I took a screen shot of the website showing the reservation was cancelled.

I called both my bank and PriceLine. The final discussion with PriceLine (with the Bank rep also on the phone) was recorded by me after I announced that to all concerned and obtained consent

I was told by "Ace" of the PL refund dept that even tho PL cancelled the reservation at the time of my dispute and BEFORE the matter was resolved, the hotel room is not available and I was still obligated to pay for it.

There is nothing in the rebuttal information sent by their advocate to my bank that indicates they will cancel any disputed matter and hold the purchaser responsible.

Later today I returned t the website as I needed a piece of information about my reservation. The website was 'scrubbed" as no where could I find the existence of either the reservation OR the cancellation

How does a company expect someone to pay for services not provided? I have a right to dispute a charge. My airplane tickets have been bought and paid for

I seek the following: a reversal of the charges OR a comparable 4 star hotel in Barcelona at the same price I was billed in Mar for the same # of days and the same dates with my right to decline if I deem the hotel is not comparable.

Thanks for reading and I have to say that Chris' reply to my initial email was the most friendly, polite, courteous communication I have had today :)


Early this AM I found an email from an advocate so it appears as tho my conversation was seen :)


 

jsn55

Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
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#2
Oh, what a mess. Dealing with online travel bookers is fraught with danger, especially this kind of rock-bottom booking, but I don't think I could even imagine this scenario. It looks like you did not deal with PL when you didn't like the hotel/price but went directly to your credit card? A credit card dispute is for charges that have been argued over and not settled amicably. It is not the first step you take, it is the last one.

What do PL's terms and conditions say about your type of situation? It's my understanding that you book blindly and don't know which property you're booking until after you pay, and that payment is final. You do not have the "right to decline", you accept what you've paid for. There are no refunds.

You'll need to do some research to find out how PL handles these kinds of situations. Then, use our Company Contacts to write a concise, polite letter outlining the situation and asking for the compensation you desire. If the error is yours, freely admit it and ask them for some consideration. And in the future, book directly with the hotel or airline. Good luck.
 
Likes: Patina
#3
Oh, what a mess. Dealing with online travel bookers is fraught with danger, especially this kind of rock-bottom booking, but I don't think I could even imagine this scenario. It looks like you did not deal with PL when you didn't like the hotel/price but went directly to your credit card? A credit card dispute is for charges that have been argued over and not settled amicably. It is not the first step you take, it is the last one.

What do PL's terms and conditions say about your type of situation? It's my understanding that you book blindly and don't know which property you're booking until after you pay, and that payment is final. You do not have the "right to decline", you accept what you've paid for. There are no refunds.

You'll need to do some research to find out how PL handles these kinds of situations. Then, use our Company Contacts to write a concise, polite letter outlining the situation and asking for the compensation you desire. If the error is yours, freely admit it and ask them for some consideration. And in the future, book directly with the hotel or airline. Good luck.
I did deal with PL initially, almost immediately after I booked the hotel. What happened was I got a POP-UP on my computer screen offering the same hotel for the same dates at a lower price.That's when I immediately called PL and tried to invoke their PRICE GUARANTEE to no avail.

Now depending on which STORY is true (both coming from the 7/10 rep in one phone call) I was 1) either not supposed to have seen that (computer glitch? their problem not mine) or 2) it was a price quickly grabbed by another customer and no longer available to me.

So yes, I did TRY to solve the problem first with PL (called the very same day, moments after the reservation was booked and paid for). No where in their rebuttal papers sent to my bank does it say
that a customer's reservation will be cancelled even before the dispute (via the credit card company) is resolved. I am not asking for a refund at this juncture since my bank ruled in PL's favor (incorrectly in my belief), I am willing to stay at the hotel at the original price I paid. But since there is no longer a reservation, I cant do that; YET I am still obligated to pay????????

Since when does a dispute before being resolved get a cancellation and since when does a customer pay for services not provided?

Thank you for taking the time to write.
 
Jul 27, 2016
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#4
I can understand how PL could have won the credit card dispute, and gotten the chargeback reversed. It makes absolutely ZERO sense that they would then be able to cancel the reservation. PL can't have it both ways - they can't both keep the money AND not provide the hotel room.
 
#5
I can understand how PL could have won the credit card dispute, and gotten the chargeback reversed. It makes absolutely ZERO sense that they would then be able to cancel the reservation. PL can't have it both ways - they can't both keep the money AND not provide the hotel room.
TY for sharing my perspective and taking the time to write :)
 
Likes: Nancy

mmb

Verified Member
Jan 20, 2015
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#6
I did deal with PL initially, almost immediately after I booked the hotel. What happened was I got a POP-UP on my computer screen offering the same hotel for the same dates at a lower price.That's when I immediately called PL and tried to invoke their PRICE GUARANTEE to no avail.

Now depending on which STORY is true (both coming from the 7/10 rep in one phone call) I was 1) either not supposed to have seen that (computer glitch? their problem not mine) or 2) it was a price quickly grabbed by another customer and no longer available to me.

So yes, I did TRY to solve the problem first with PL (called the very same day, moments after the reservation was booked and paid for). No where in their rebuttal papers sent to my bank does it say
that a customer's reservation will be cancelled even before the dispute (via the credit card company) is resolved. I am not asking for a refund at this juncture since my bank ruled in PL's favor (incorrectly in my belief), I am willing to stay at the hotel at the original price I paid. But since there is no longer a reservation, I cant do that; YET I am still obligated to pay????????

Since when does a dispute before being resolved get a cancellation and since when does a customer pay for services not provided?

Thank you for taking the time to write.
Just WOW.
Just how far can these online agencies go to steal money from it's Clients?
For every person we hear from regarding these types of issues there are probably hundreds more who just don't have the time/energy/know-how to try to fight them.
So sad.
 
Likes: jsn55
#7
Just WOW.
Just how far can these online agencies go to steal money from it's Clients?
For every person we hear from regarding these types of issues there are probably hundreds more who just don't have the time/energy/know-how to try to fight them.
So sad.
I wonder if there is any merit to attempting a class action suit over this practice. I have said over and over that I didnt agree with my bank's reversal but would bite the bullet and use the reservation. Cant do that when the reservation was cancelled before a resolution of the dispute even happened. Thanks for understanding how frustrated I am
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
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www.promalvacations.com
#8
I wonder if there is any merit to attempting a class action suit over this practice. I have said over and over that I didnt agree with my bank's reversal but would bite the bullet and use the reservation. Cant do that when the reservation was cancelled before a resolution of the dispute even happened. Thanks for understanding how frustrated I am
A class action suit is expensive but what I think you should do is file a complaint with your State Attorney General.
They can't keep the money and cancel your reservation.

Use our Priceline customer contacts and start writing to the Executives at Price Line. Write once a week moving up the Chain. If you don't get your money back doing that this is one our writers might look into.
 
Nov 14, 2016
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#9
I wonder if there is any merit to attempting a class action suit over this practice. I have said over and over that I didnt agree with my bank's reversal but would bite the bullet and use the reservation. Cant do that when the reservation was cancelled before a resolution of the dispute even happened. Thanks for understanding how frustrated I am
First of all, forget the "class action" business. It's exceptionally expensive, probably difficult via their terms and you'd have to find similarly impacted participants. Recent court decisions over the years have severely limited the possibility of class action suits.

This is a good example of why not to use a cc dispute in some cases. In this particular one, the OP tried to enforce a "Priceline guarantee" that he/she believed was legitimate. We know from experience that these guarantees aren't worth the paper they're written on. So they disputed, the bank found in the merchant's favor and now we're in between a rock and a hard place.

Here's where it gets ugly. A merchant can stop providing services during the dispute process which means they can cancel the room. Now once they have won, things get worse. The merchant can pass on the chargeback fee and costs back to the customer. In fact, that is specifically spelled out in the Priceline ToS - "Priceline deems the following chargeback scenarios as improper and retains the right to investigate and rebut any such chargeback claims and to recover costs of such chargeback claims from You, the User" (and then goes on to list the reasons, including the one that would apply to the OP). This recouping of costs is not forbidden by Visa/MC.

Given that they can recover costs, it's quite likely that they would state that keeping the fee is the recovery of the costs and that there is no remaining balance to apply to the room. Even if there were a remaining balance, it would be less and they would probably have to rebook it at a higher (recent) rate or just offer you a credit to be used in the future.

In short, I am sad to say they probably can do what they're doing. It is legal because the efforts to fight the dispute are extra recoverable costs that the OP caused Priceline to incur. However, that doesn't mean you have to take it sitting down. You have two options:

(1) Contact Priceline via email, explain the situation politely, provide backup on your original reservation and ask for a credit to apply to a room that you can then proceed to book.
(2) Sue in small claims court.

I'd strongly suggest the first option. If you sue, you're going to have to properly service Priceline and reveal to the Judge that the chargeback was reversed. At that point your case becomes severely weakened. Really, your best hope is that they don't show up but then if you try to collect things could escalate. Priceline could countersue for any remaining costs related to this chargeback including the cost of defending themselves in court. In short, by pursuing this legally you may be digging a deeper hole and it's probably not worth it.
 
#10
A class action suit is expensive but what I think you should do is file a complaint with your State Attorney General.
They can't keep the money and cancel your reservation.

Use our Priceline customer contacts and start writing to the Executives at Price Line. Write once a week moving up the Chain. If you don't get your money back doing that this is one our writers might look into.

Filing with the attorney general as well as Seniors Against Crime are 2 other options I am considering. I initially thought it was wiser to have FEWER irons in the fire so I contacted Chris Elliot and the forum as well as the BBB in CT where PL's corp office is. I am very fortunate to have one of Chris' advocates helping me and I will check with him to make sure I should start pulling out ALL the stops. TY for taking the time to write and suggest
 
#11
First of all, forget the "class action" business. It's exceptionally expensive, probably difficult via their terms and you'd have to find similarly impacted participants. Recent court decisions over the years have severely limited the possibility of class action suits.

This is a good example of why not to use a cc dispute in some cases. In this particular one, the OP tried to enforce a "Priceline guarantee" that he/she believed was legitimate. We know from experience that these guarantees aren't worth the paper they're written on. So they disputed, the bank found in the merchant's favor and now we're in between a rock and a hard place.

Here's where it gets ugly. A merchant can stop providing services during the dispute process which means they can cancel the room. Now once they have won, things get worse. The merchant can pass on the chargeback fee and costs back to the customer. In fact, that is specifically spelled out in the Priceline ToS - "Priceline deems the following chargeback scenarios as improper and retains the right to investigate and rebut any such chargeback claims and to recover costs of such chargeback claims from You, the User" (and then goes on to list the reasons, including the one that would apply to the OP). This recouping of costs is not forbidden by Visa/MC.

Given that they can recover costs, it's quite likely that they would state that keeping the fee is the recovery of the costs and that there is no remaining balance to apply to the room. Even if there were a remaining balance, it would be less and they would probably have to rebook it at a higher (recent) rate or just offer you a credit to be used in the future.

In short, I am sad to say they probably can do what they're doing. It is legal because the efforts to fight the dispute are extra recoverable costs that the OP caused Priceline to incur. However, that doesn't mean you have to take it sitting down. You have two options:

(1) Contact Priceline via email, explain the situation politely, provide backup on your original reservation and ask for a credit to apply to a room that you can then proceed to book.
(2) Sue in small claims court.

I'd strongly suggest the first option. If you sue, you're going to have to properly service Priceline and reveal to the Judge that the chargeback was reversed. At that point your case becomes severely weakened. Really, your best hope is that they don't show up but then if you try to collect things could escalate. Priceline could countersue for any remaining costs related to this chargeback including the cost of defending themselves in court. In short, by pursuing this legally you may be digging a deeper hole and it's probably not worth it.
Being the FRUSTRATED lawyer that I am I might argue DOUBLE DIPPING by either PL or the Hotel. The reservation was made in Mar for Nov. That room has already been re-booked so exactly who is out what and by just how much? A phone call by PL to Spain--OK I'll give them $10; some paperwork ok I'll give them $5.

There price guarantee is worthless HMMMMMMMM thats interesting that no one has won on that argument. Sounds like false advertising at minimum to me.

PL won their argument with my bank by submitting the standard non cancellation, non refundable BLAH BLAH language and NO where did the TOS you refer to show up in the documents sent by PL to the bank who in turn forwarded same to me

I have an advocate from the forum helping me at this time. I am going to ask him about preceding with other measures all you good folks have suggested. If he says yes, I will certainly start lighting all the other fires.

Thanks for the information you provided. I may not like what you wrote but I did find it informative AND interesting
 

jsn55

Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
6,408
6,465
113
San Francisco
#13
Very glad that someone has taken on your cause. I think that extra Elliott "muscle" is the only way to get this awful mess resolved. Just because their T&Cs say they can behave this way, doesn't make it the RIGHT way to behave.

Several years ago I got into it with Expedia for charging me $700+ for a hotel reservation seven months away. Who in their right mind would book a non-ref res that far out? I went back in two or three times and there was not the slightest indication that the rate I booked was non-ref. Expedia insisted that I argue within their rules, I refused to call them, they're an online booker and I only dealt with them online. Eventually, a credit appeared on my AmEx; Expedia had cancelled the res and did not bother to notify me. When I checked that hotel over the next few months, the rates had been clarified. Expedia proved to me in spades that my business was of no importance to them.

There's little chance that these online booking agents will go away, they spend millions on advertising and the public just laps it up. All we can do is let people know that it's a bad idea to jeopardize a trip over $20 difference in cost.
 
Likes: Patina
#14
I agree that it false advertising, which is why I suggest the AG. But if one of the advocates is working on this already, I'd hold back unless they tell you they can't do anything.

Let us know the update on this one. And stop using third party booking sites. You are better off booking directly
Trust me -I have learned a very hard/expensive lesson. I have also learned about unethical behavior from a company I have done business with for years. As a recent cancer survivor I plan on fullfiliing as much of my travel bucket list NOW since I realize life can be short. PL missed out on future opportunities to continue to have my business. Thank you so much for your reply and suggestions. I WILL post the outcome of this "saga"
 
Likes: jsn55
#15
I agree that it false advertising, which is why I suggest the AG. But if one of the advocates is working on this already, I'd hold back unless they tell you they can't do anything.

Let us know the update on this one. And stop using third party booking sites. You are better off booking directly
I too am happy I have an advocate by my side. The stress of this has not been healthy. To know I have someone standing beside me and working in my behalf does make a huge difference. Your suggestion to stop using 3rd party sites has NOT fallen on deaf ears. LESSON LEARNED and at a price I should NOT have had to pay. I am senior citizen who has not led a sheltered life. But this experience taught me I still have ALOT to learn especially about UNETHICAL business practices.
 
Likes: jsn55
#16
Very glad that someone has taken on your cause. I think that extra Elliott "muscle" is the only way to get this awful mess resolved. Just because their T&Cs say they can behave this way, doesn't make it the RIGHT way to behave.

Several years ago I got into it with Expedia for charging me $700+ for a hotel reservation seven months away. Who in their right mind would book a non-ref res that far out? I went back in two or three times and there was not the slightest indication that the rate I booked was non-ref. Expedia insisted that I argue within their rules, I refused to call them, they're an online booker and I only dealt with them online. Eventually, a credit appeared on my AmEx; Expedia had cancelled the res and did not bother to notify me. When I checked that hotel over the next few months, the rates had been clarified. Expedia proved to me in spades that my business was of no importance to them.

There's little chance that these online booking agents will go away, they spend millions on advertising and the public just laps it up. All we can do is let people know that it's a bad idea to jeopardize a trip over $20 difference in cost.
Well looks like we are two who learned difficult lessons. There are probably many more out there who's voices have not been raised. Apparently ethics is an unknown principle? commodity? in PriceLine's company culture. I will be very vocal about this within the many groups I belong to because NO ONE should be treated in this manner. Thanks for reminding me NOT to be penny wise and pound foolish.
 
Likes: mmb and jsn55
#18
UPDATE on PL Hotel Refund Dispute-In addition to contacting Elliot's forum and working with an advocate, I filed a complaint with the BBB of CT (location of PL's corporate HQ's). On or about 7/17 I received an email from PL's Exe. offices. In part that email stated:..."once your dispute is closed we will further research your issue to see is (sic) a resolution is possible"

Earlier this week I received an email from the BBB of CT. Contained within that email was a message from PL's executive office which read as follows:We have reached out directly to the customer regarding this case. We will provide a refund once the dispute is closed by the bank".

BB of CT asks that a complainant either agree to or decline the settlement offered by the merchant. Today I provided BBB/CT this reply: I have reviewed the response made by the business in reference to complaint ID XXX, and find that this resolution is satisfactory to me as long as PL is offering a FULL refund to be issued in a timely manner.

Stay tuned and I will post the final outcome in this matter which I hope wont be long and protracted. While I do EXPECT PL to honor their reply to the BBB/CT I won't consider the matter closed until I am made whole again.

A big thank you to Elliot and his advocate Dwayne without whose help I might not have gotten this far.
 
#19
In Aug, I reluctantly paid the amount (PL's chargeback) due to my credit card company on the basis that PL told the BBB of CT...>"once your dispute is closed we will further research your issue to see is (sic) a resolution is possible"<

I have written a followup email to the person from PL corporate who contacted me to find out what their plan for reimbursement is. That email has been ignored.

I heard from my county's consumer affairs department and asked them to keep the matter open ONE month at which time I expect PL to satisfy my claim. Should that not happen, I will proceed with CT's BBB, my county's consumer affair's dept and other entities that deal with consumer complaints.

PL has further damaged their credibility by ignoring my request for the status of their resolution of my claim. Stay tuned folks I will report back.
 
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#20
Something isn't clear here. According to your post on July 28 PL said via email to the BBB, "We have reached out directly to the customer regarding this case. We will provide a refund once the dispute is closed by the bank". I'm assuming you have a copy of this response since you directly quoted it.

In your most current post you say something entirely different about their email to the BBB. "Once your dispute is closed we will further research your issue to see if a resolution is possible" is a far cry from "we will provide a refund". So which is it? Did they say they would provide a refund? Or did they say they would research it after the dispute was closed?

It's very difficult to provide advice when these are two very different statements. If the former is the case, I'd send them the copy of their email and ask the status of the refund? If I didn't get a response I'd file in small claims court because that's an open-and-shut case. If the latter is the real response my approach would be much different. So can you help us better understand which response is the real one so we can provide more accurate advice?