Date: 22-Sep-2005 14:54
Author: Jake Parrott Email
Subject: NWR: Caveat (apparently non-) emptor
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I have had my Priceline reservation for 9/23 (which I made Monday) canceled "because of Hurricane Rita," according to an e-mail I received only last night from Priceline. Below is the e-mail I have sent to Priceline and Radisson (Carlson) customer service and management, and the Texas Attorney General's office. It gives plenty more detail.
I made a reservation at the Radisson Hotel Dallas Love Field on Monday via Priceline Request number 27171276168. This evening, I was informed via e-mail from Priceline that, "they will be unable to accommodate your reservation due to Hurricane Rita" and was presented with a $10 Priceline coupon as compensation.
I contacted Priceline customer service, who informed me that there was nothing that the call center or "travel services" could do, in spite of Priceline's reneging on this reservation. In addition, I was told that no further compensation could be offered (including a "get out of jail free" cancellation), despite the fact that Priceline had just played a "get out of jail free" card on this reservation. The agent further informed me that he could not take a message for a senior manager for a call back, which I find patently absurd (although I'm certain that this decision was not his alone; I am withholding his agent number for his protection).
I then contacted the hotel (Radisson Hotel Dallas Love Field). The front desk worker claimed that a system change on Monday had led to an information disconnect. He claimed that the hotel was completely booked at the time that the Priceline reservation was faxed to the hotel on Monday. I have no way of verifying this information. He also informed me that my reservation had not been deleted from the hotel's system, and that, if I agreed to pay the hotel's regular rate for that evening, he could continue to hold the reservation in the system. To me, this offer belies the previous claim-if the hotel had made representation to Priceline that a reservation was available at the wholesale rate (which Priceline uses to adjudicate "name your own price" requests), and the hotel was claiming that the reservation was still available (whether or not there was a room behind it), the amount charged against that reservation is irrelevant to the fulfillment of the contract. Thus, this offer (made in apparent good faith by the hotel desk agent) constitutes a "bait and switch."
This sequence of events reflects very poorly on both Priceline and Radisson. The over-48-hour delay between the (claimed) system conflict and my being informed (via what appeared to be a computer-generated e-mail) caused me to be unable to find accomodations in the Dallas area for Friday evening (hotels are understandably booked, due to evacuations from the Texas gulf coast). It appears to me (and I am not a lawyer) that Priceline has breached a contract (consisting of an offer-the Priceline request, a response-the booking, and consideration-the charging of my credit card) with me and that Radisson has breached a contract (consisting of an offer-the Radisson wholesale pricing to Priceline, a response-a booked reservation against the offer, and consideration-de facto, as the hotel did not give notice of rejecting reservations during any system changeover, as reflected by the hotel's website on Monday).
In addition, I feel aggrieved as a customer from the appearance that the hotel wanted only to garner additional revenue because of artificially increased demand (that only began to be generated some time on Tuesday), and that Priceline finds it appropriate during a high-stress travel time to delay informing me of this issue for over 48 hours. While I understand that there may have been interstitial information-passing delays, the end result is wholely unacceptable (and more than a little inconvenient) to me and should be both unacceptable to both Priceline and Radisson.
I look forward to your ready response. I can be reached via cell phone at XXXXXXXXXX.
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