If Priceline's site doesn't work, shouldn't it apologize and refund the purchase? Instead, a Priceline representative told me there was no one else I could talk to. I was wondering if there is anything that you can do.
- Jaime Deane, Toronto
Answer: If this is a system glitch, then Priceline should offer you a full refund.
By way of explanation, when you book a hotel through Priceline's "Name Your Own Price" section, you're bidding on a nonrefundable, nonchangeable hotel room. You don't find out the name of the hotel until after you've made a successful bid.
As you can imagine, some customers aren't happy with the hotel they get, so Priceline's customer service agents are used to reminding them of the rules. But this was different: Your hotel was in the wrong country.
I'm not sure if calling Priceline was the best course of action. An e-mail explaining your problem would have probably worked better. It turns out you did your homework, and saved some screenshots of the erroneous tabs. Sending those to Priceline might have done the trick. They could have seen the problem, as opposed to just hearing about it.
Of course, Priceline should have taken your complaint by phone more seriously. Had an agent simply tried to re-create your booking, the glitch would have been apparent. No one did that.
I contacted Priceline on your behalf and shared your screenshots. Priceline agreed that its system failed to draw a distinction between the London in England and in Canada. It promised to fix errant tabs. It apologized to you, issued a full refund, and sent you a $25 coupon for the trouble.
Christopher Elliott is the author of "Scammed: How to Save Your Money and Find Better Service in a World of Schemes, Swindles, and Shady Deals" (Wiley). He's also the ombudsman for National Geographic Traveler magazine and the cofounder of the Consumer Travel Alliance. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.