Additional Thoughts On Priceline

So I wanted to take a minute and address a couple of comments that have come up on my Priceline posts and use them as learning opportunities.  The first comment is from Holly.

“I would NEVER use Priceline for a car. We did and when we got to Orlando airport the Hertz counter had a line two blocks long to pick up cars. We waited for 30 minutes and realized it would take longer to pick up the car than it did to fly to Orlando. We went to a neighboring car rental desk, rented a car (for more) and were on our way in a matter of minutes. Priceline “customer service” reads from a script and refuses to refund our money. I understand the no cancellation/refund policy but effectively Hertz could not provide us with a car. Hertz says they do not get paid unless we pick up the car so Priceline pockets the money and we pay twice. I have disputed the charge but will NEVER use Priceline again. Too many things can happen and their offshore customer service reps are like robots who have absolutely no authority to listen and respond (even the manager)… CRAZY…”   

First, let me say, I can understand Holly’s frustration.  After spending a few hours on a plane, going through security, all the other airport hassles, and then getting stuck in a long line at the rental car counter, it can create a lot of frustration.  I have been there and done that.  I hate waiting in line at rental car counters after a long flight, it sucks.

However,  an accepted Priceline bid is non-refundable.  If your bid is accepted you are stuck with it, whether you pick up the car or not.  It is precisely because it is non-refundable you are able to get a low ball price.  If it were refundable it would defeat the purpose.  I can think of very few circumstances where one should be entitled to a refund on a bid.  Not wanting to wait in line will not get you a refund, nor should it.  Non-refundable reservations are becoming more and more common these days. Many hotels offer decent discounts on rooms if you agree to purchase a non-refundable reservation. There is always risk inherent in a non-refundable reservation, be it a Priceline bid or a rate with a hotel.  Your flight might get canceled, life may throw you a curve ball, etc..  That is the risk you take to get the lower price.  Bottom line, if you are not comfortable with the risk that comes along with a non-refundable reservation, do not bid with Priceline.

Second comment comes from Nancy.

“Holly, I hear you…I won’t use Priceline anymore either. When I booked a hotel room, the Holiday Inn treated me horribly, and told me,”don’t book with Priceline.” I was treated like a second class citizen. No more…. I have found Costco to be a good source for rental cars now btw! :)

This brings a couple of points to mind that I think are worth mentioning when bidding on Priceline for hotels.  When a hotel accepts your Priceline bid, expect the room to be their base room.  The room is going to have a view of the parking lot, it may be in an area with more foot traffic, etc…  That’s because these are the rooms people don’t want so they are empty.  This will be a downside to getting a hotel room through bidding on Priceline. However, it is because no one wants them that you can get them for dirt cheap on Priceline.

Second point that comes to mind, is it sounds like Nancy had a bad customer service experience.  That is not on Priceline, that is on the Holiday Inn and completely unacceptable.  But this leads me to my second point, which is that I almost exclusively bid on 4 star hotels. There are many reasons why, but one of them is customer service. Generally, my personal experience is that staff are better trained and provide a better customer service experience at higher end properties.   I never bid lower than a 3 star and the only time I will go that low is when all I care about is getting a clean bed to lay my head on and nothing else.

Finally, Nancy is right.  Costco is a great place for rental cars and is my go to back up reservation before making my bid on Priceline.

While saving money when traveling is great, it is more important that you stay within your comfort zone.  Saving money is not worth ruining a vacation if you are outside your comfort zone and then things go astray.   I think bidding on Priceline is a phenomenal way to save money especially when leveraging bids to their max potential.  But do what you are comfortable with.  Happy travels.

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