I am writing this post in the hopes that it helps people avoid getting ripped off by Priceline the way I just did when booking a hotel.
I have used Priceline before, for hotels and rental cars, and I am an experienced traveller. Point is....I know the risks of using a blind purchase service so this is not sour grapes from someone that didn’t know what they were getting into. You may think that, if I’ve used them multiple times, this must have just been an isolated incident. Not true. I have always questioned their rankings of hotels, but never had a bad enough experience to write something.
I booked a hotel near the airport (city and hotel are irrelevant….it’s not the hotel’s fault they are not ranked correctly….or is it?). The category I chose was 3 star AFTER I clicked on the link that shows you examples of what a 3 star hotel is (Holiday Inn, Doubletree, etc).
What I got was a hotel that is a 1 star at BEST. I know because I have stayed there twice….once when it was a Sheraton Four Points, and again after it had been sold off to a lesser quality chain. Needless to say, it’s obvious why Sheraton sold the property…..it needs a lot of renovation and they clearly didn’t think it was worth the money to do it. Apparently neither does the new owner, but I digress…
The point is, Priceline can put any hotel they want into any category they want, ESPECIALLY if it’s not a national brand. After talking to three different people who are trained in the art of saying “I’m sorry for the inconvenience” and “I understand your frustration”, they wouldn’t even entertain the idea of giving me a partial credit to offset the huge discrepancy between the rating they gave and the rating the rest of the internet gives the hotel. I couldn’t even get any assurances that they would revisit the rating for that particular hotel!!!! It became very clear that Priceline has absolutely no desire to keep their customers happy because if they lose you, there will be another sap along at any moment.
MAKE SURE THAT SAP ISN’T YOU.
Rental cars are one thing….they can’t lie too much about the category of car because it’s pretty much a common standard. Compact is compact. Midsize is midsize. Even airfares, aside from connections and times, still accomplish the same thing at the end of the day (although I’ve heard horror stories about airfares and I wouldn’t personally EVER consider giving Priceline that kind of money). Hotels on the other hand….there are just too many variables.
Bottom line, Priceline is quick to remind you what the terms and conditions are when you use their "Name Your Price" service, but they won’t honor their own commitments in the form of the examples they give of each star class.
DO NOT TRUST PRICELINE WITH YOUR HOTEL RESERVATIONS. EVER.
They WILL rip you off, or at the very least you WILL be disappointed. I guarantee it.Edited: 10 January 2014, 00:29