Travel Convenience Store | Priceline announced ‘cancel at any time’ but then said her hotel reservation was non-refundable


Malka Mandel cancels her Priceline hotel reservation, then tries to cancel it after losing her credit card dispute. Is there a way to restore his hotel reservation?

Q: I recently visited to book a hotel. I was looking at a few websites and researching prices to see if I could find a good deal.

I put in my dates and location and found a hotel I was interested in, the Waldorf Astoria in Jerusalem. It said in big bold print “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 one or found a cheaper one, I could cancel.

Just before clicking on the last screen to book the reservation, I was afraid that they would later refuse me the cancellation, so I took a screenshot. About two minutes after booking the hotel, I realized that the hotel’s website had the 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 non-refundable. I told her I had a screenshot showing her showing free cancellation available. Priceline refused to help.

Can you help me get a refund from Priceline? Malka Mandel, Lakewood, New Jersey

A: If your booking was refundable, 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, “When in doubt, take a screenshot”. You were in doubt. You should have been. It turned out that Priceline had several choices of rooms, some allowing refunds, some not. Priceline should have said that at the top of the screen.

When you received the confirmation, you immediately noticed that the actual conditions were much more restrictive. As in, your room was non-refundable. Worse still, the Waldorf Astoria had a better rate on their website, so Priceline was charging you a non-refundable room. It doesn’t seem like such a 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. It’s the nuclear option because it forces an “all or nothing” decision from your credit card company. And, unfortunately, your credit card company sided with Priceline.

End of the story? Not enough.

You skipped a step. A short, courteous e-mail to one of the Priceline Executive Contacts I list on my nonprofit consumer advocacy site, I may have pushed the company to help you. It can sometimes help, although it is not a guarantee.

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

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

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

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