If you want a refundable hotel reservation, be sure to book one

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Malka Mandel cancels what she believes is a refundable hotel reservation on Priceline. Then she tries to cancel it after finding out that it is non-refundable and has lost a credit card dispute. Is there a way to reinstate my hotel reservation?

Question

I recently visited Priceline.com to book a hotel. I checked a few websites and researched the prices to see if I could find a good deal.

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I entered my dates and location and found a hotel that interested me, the Waldorf Astoria in Jerusalem. It said in big bold letters: “Reasons to book now.” Buy now and cancel anytime. I took a look at it and it seemed like a great idea. I could make a reservation now and if I didn’t want it or found a cheaper one, I could cancel. It appeared to be a refundable hotel reservation.

Right before I clicked on the last screen to book the reservation, I was afraid they would later deny me the cancellation, so I took a screenshot. About two minutes after I booked the hotel, I realized that the hotel’s website was offering rooms for much less than Priceline. I called to cancel the reservation. A rep told me she was sorry, but they would not refund my reservation as it was not refundable. I told him I had a screenshot showing that free cancellation was available. Priceline refused to help.

Can you help me get my reimbursement from Priceline? – Malka Mandel, Lakewood, New Jersey

Reply

If you have booked a refundable hotel reservation, Priceline should refund it. But was it refundable? No, it wasn’t.

But first, you absolutely did the right thing when you took a screenshot. I always say, “If in doubt, take a screenshot. You were in doubt. You should have been. As it turned out, Priceline had several room choices, some allowing refunds, some not. Priceline should have said it at the top of the screen.

You have not made a refundable hotel reservation

When you received the confirmation, you immediately noticed that the actual conditions were much more restrictive. As in, your room was not refundable. Worse, the Waldorf Astoria had a better rate on their website, so Priceline was overcharging you for a non-refundable room. It doesn’t seem like such a big deal. Where is the Priceline negotiator when you need him?

Instead of accepting Priceline’s response, you canceled your reservation and disputed your credit card charges. This is the nuclear option because it forces an “all or nothing” decision from your credit card company. And, unfortunately, your credit card company has sided with Priceline.

End of the story? Not enough.

You have skipped a step. A brief and polite email to one of the Priceline executive contacts I list on my nonprofit consumer advocacy site that may have pushed the company to help. This can sometimes help, although it is not a guarantee.

After losing your dispute, you have decided to keep your reservation at the Waldorf. But then Priceline informed you that your reservation is not only non-refundable, but also non-refundable. And that’s when I got involved.

While I agree that Priceline can keep your money, despite the poorly disclosed terms and conditions of your booking, it cannot just pocket your money. If you want to keep your room, you should be able to.

I contacted Priceline on your behalf. Priceline has reinstated your reservation and offered a goodwill refund of $ 100.

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