Thursday, March 11, 2010

Priceline is not my Negotiator

So, here is the long awaited Priceline blog that has taken me a week to get to. I always think about a hundred different things to blog about and about 1% of it actually makes it to this page due to lack of time.

Anyway, let me start by saying I will never again use Priceline for anything after this last experience. It has been a week and just writing about it still makes my blood boil. First things first, I was playing faculty secretary for Todd. He had a student coming in to check out IU and SPEA's PhD program. He is really hoping this person will come and work in his lab. That said, we needed to find a great hotel for the student and her dad who was coming along. Of course, I got two days notice - called on Wednesday for a Friday time frame. To top it off, it was white coat weekend for the School of Optometry (whatever that is) and it was the School of Music's audition weekend for freshman hopefuls (think American Idol). So, there was not a hotel room to be had in town.

Todd wanted to use Priceline but didn't know how (I'll refrain from any comments about this), so I went in and reserved a room at one of the nicer hotels in Bloomington. I wanted to make sure I could get a non-smoking room with two beds since the dad was coming along. I called the hotel and they had no reservation even though I read off every possible confirmation, tracking, and ID number from the two emails Priceline sent to confirm my reservation. He also said the hotel was sold out, so I was pretty much out of luck. Panic set in so I called Priceline. After getting bumped up a level of customer service, I got to some guy who could speak English. First he told me that he had my reservation to which I relayed my story of the hotel not having my reservation and being sold out!! He then proceeded to tell me that their contract was that if the hotel is sold out they are required to find me a room at a comparable hotel within a certain distance. I question what he meant by a certain distance and he said that meant within a certain number of miles. Really? I think I could figure that out. How many miles?? By this point I was so mad I started to yell and told him that I was not going to stay 50 miles away and that they may have this contract but nowhere on my reservations is this listed. It is only listed that I have a reservation at the hotel I booked. He proceeded put me on hold, called the hotel, and came back on the line to report my reservation was there and that they must have typed in the name wrong. Then I felt bad and apologized for being rude. Although, I am not sure why he didn't make the call in the first place. I chalked it up to a lazy kid working the hotel desk and decided to call back in the morning to put in my room request.

I called the next day and got a super nice guy that appeared to be totally with it. I talked to him and he still had no reservation for me from Priceline and informed me the hotel was booked. He checked the system, the paper arrival list for Friday, and tried every spelling of my name possible. Nothing. Panic again. I got off the phone and went to the hotel's website. Just for kicks, I clicked in the reservation area only to find they did have rooms available and due to aforementioned panic, went ahead and reserved a room. However, I started to panic more thinking I now had two rooms, both past the time to cancel, that I would have to pay for. So, I called the hotel again. No Priceline reservation, just the one I had made online. [I won't go into this and it could be a whole other post, but how can I reserve a room at your hotel after twice being told it is sold out. I don't get it. Maybe the workers can only see so much information?] At this point, I was beyond pissed at Priceline. I had wasted a lot of time on the phone with them the previous night. I called in and didn't even talk to the first level of customer support, but asked for a supervisor right away. I told her the situation and that I wanted the Priceline reservation canceled with no charges. The hotel made it clear they did not have my reservation even though Priceline did. The customer service person said it was probably a hotel error. At this point, I didn't care who was a fault, I just didn't want to have to pay for two rooms or get any cancellation fees for either room. I let her know the name of the competent guy at the front desk of the hotel and asked her to call him. She came back on the line a few minutes later with no real answer for the situation. The hotel only had one reservation - the one I made directly through their website. She promised no cancellation fees and followed up with an email chain stating this (always good to get things in writing).

I wasted several hours of my life dealing with this whole situation and the fact that Priceline kept saying everything was fine when it really wasn't just makes me mad. I got some follow-up survey for my stay, so clearly their system didn't get the note that my Priceline reservation was canceled. Obviously a disconnect somewhere! I hit delete right away. Their customer service people were no help and never able to really confirm anything. I have used them in the past with no problems, but never again!

Once we got everything confirmed with out reservation directly with the hotel, we had to call back and change the name the reservation was under and the billing method. They were super nice even though I think it was about the sixth call to them about our room. At one point, Todd called and I gave him the name of the guy to talk to. He got some girl, but she already knew our situation. Not sure if that is good or bad. Oh well, the student had a place to stay and it was a nice weekend in Bloomington. After all that, I hope she comes here!


Anonymous said...

Wow. That's ridiculous. I really am speechless. Which is why I'm writing.

illinigirl said...

That's terrible!!! I can't even imagine how mad I would be. I don't plan on ever using them. . . what's the point if the hotel is sold out and your reservation becomes worthless?

That's for sharing. . . even though it was painful!