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Old Dec 22, 09, 7:45 am   #1
 
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Beware of Priceline

It seems like the days of Priceline being a good deal and reliable have come and gone.

The last time I used them I found out most people at the hotel had paid less, this time they put me 30 minutes from the location I requested in a (three star) dump!

As for the location, I called immediately when it came through that it was not where I requested and they refused to refund it without a $25 charge. I'm done with Priceline and I urge everyone to be really careful. (And don't go for the straight pay -- the prices are always HIGHER than you can get on the hotel website.)

Marcia
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Old Dec 22, 09, 8:00 am   #2
 
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Yup - Priceline is usually higher for straight pay. I always check Kayak before I book if the hotel is not hidden, plus I like points or miles and other than a few 10.00 off codes for bidding (usually 2 night min) PL doesn't give many coupons or other incentives.

I only use PL bidding if I'm (quickly) passing through and don't care too much about the location or quality, just the price. I wish they were more competitive - I like Shatner
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Old Dec 22, 09, 8:11 am   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MarciaLF View Post
It seems like the days of Priceline being a good deal and reliable have come and gone.

The last time I used them I found out most people at the hotel had paid less, this time they put me 30 minutes from the location I requested in a (three star) dump!

As for the location, I called immediately when it came through that it was not where I requested and they refused to refund it without a $25 charge. I'm done with Priceline and I urge everyone to be really careful. (And don't go for the straight pay -- the prices are always HIGHER than you can get on the hotel website.)

Marcia
This thread will get moved to the appropriate travel bidding forum, but I must say it sounds like your complaint is mostly the result of ill-informed bidding. You will NEVER get a hotel out of the designated zone, which is easily viewable on the website. If you do, I am CERTAIN they will refund your money.

There is an occasional problem of getting a lesser quality hotel than what you think you'll get. What's a "4 star" is, obviously, subjective. I have a severe problem with this about once in every 25 or 30 accepted bids. I have a "questionable" rating about 10 to 15% of the time. You ALWAYS want to bid on the assumption that you'll get "not really a 4 star" and bid below what a 3 star hotel would cost. After all, the only reason to use priceline is to save A LOT of money over what booking direct would cost. If other people were paying less than you for the hotel, you were bidding too much.

Sorry for the pointed reply, but this is how priceline makes their money. Over-bidding. If you ever want to use the service again (which seems doubtful), you want to do some research before naming your price. Betterbidding and biddingfortravel would be two places to start.

BTW, if you ever really screw up a bid and pay more than a published rate, call priceline and they will refund the difference.
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Old Dec 22, 09, 8:13 am   #4
 
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With Priceline bidding, take time first to check the rates via something like Kayak, Expedia, Travelocity, etc.. Hotwire rates also serve as a pretty good bidding cap.

Regarding location, that map of the area is also important. You have to be prepared to accept anything within it. If you can prove the hotel you got is outside the map, refunds can be obtained. You can zoom in on the map and actually get street names.

Checking on www.betterbidding.com before bidding sometimes can yield additional information. If something you found on Hotwire looked interesting, often betterbidding can smoke out just which hotel it is.

Romelle
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Old Dec 22, 09, 8:18 am   #5
 
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I've always found Priceline to be an excellent way to get cheap rates. Not once has Priceline let me down thanks in part to websites like biddingfortravel.com and betterbidding.com. By looking at those two websites, I get a good idea of what hotel I'll get.
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Old Dec 22, 09, 8:41 am   #6
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Concur with all of the above... PL bidding is not for the faint of heart or the uninitiated, and luckily there are two websites that can help you. I prefer betterbidding because of their friendlier tone to newbies, but you may find information of value at either site.

As Romelle pointed out, the map of the zone is the deciding factor. Sometimes the zones are given ambiguous or downright deceptive names, but if the hotel is in the shaded area they showed you, you got what you paid for.

When it comes to bidding on PL, flexibility is key.
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Old Dec 22, 09, 8:46 am   #7
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What city and zone were you bidding on and what hotel did you receive?

Your post isn't even clear if you were using Name Your Own Price or the traditional hotel reservation service.

Without further details I would attribute this to an error on your part and not to Priceline, which has worked as I expected the 100+ times I've used it to buy hotel rooms (not to say I've never made a mistake bidding though, a couple times putting in the wrong dates and once putting in the wrong name, it happens).
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Old Dec 22, 09, 8:49 am   #8
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As mentioned above, the star rating is not really a quality rating so much as it is a facilities rating - does the hotel have a pool, on-premises restaurant, business center, etc. If the hotel has a lot of these things, but is somewhat in need of refurbishment, it can still have a high star rating.

OP's remarks about being 30 minutes from her desired location and most people paying less than she did do not reflect my experience. I do my homework, allow about a week to bid, start low and step my way up, using free rebids if possible. OP - if you can tell us the city and country, the hotel, and where you wanted to be, we can comment more intelligently about whether your complaints are justified or if you can use Priceline differently to better suit your needs.
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Old Dec 22, 09, 9:14 am   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by iahphx View Post
This thread will get moved to the appropriate travel bidding forum, but I must say it sounds like your complaint is mostly the result of ill-informed bidding. You will NEVER get a hotel out of the designated zone, which is easily viewable on the website. If you do, I am CERTAIN they will refund your money.

There is an occasional problem of getting a lesser quality hotel than what you think you'll get. What's a "4 star" is, obviously, subjective. I have a severe problem with this about once in every 25 or 30 accepted bids. I have a "questionable" rating about 10 to 15% of the time. You ALWAYS want to bid on the assumption that you'll get "not really a 4 star" and bid below what a 3 star hotel would cost. After all, the only reason to use priceline is to save A LOT of money over what booking direct would cost. If other people were paying less than you for the hotel, you were bidding too much.

Sorry for the pointed reply, but this is how priceline makes their money. Over-bidding. If you ever want to use the service again (which seems doubtful), you want to do some research before naming your price. Betterbidding and biddingfortravel would be two places to start.

BTW, if you ever really screw up a bid and pay more than a published rate, call priceline and they will refund the difference.
+1 on all accounts. Ill-informed bidders are usually disgruntled bidders (if she in fact used the NYOP part of PL).
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Old Dec 22, 09, 9:46 am   #10
 
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never had an issue with location or a big gripe with quality. the only issue i have with it is not being able to get points if i'm a member of that group! the benefits of paying practically 50% less most of the time on a room outweighs any credits i would receive via SPG or any other program. just booked downtown seattle in mid-jan and it was far and away the BEST deal for the location.
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Old Dec 22, 09, 10:35 am   #11
 
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Priceline Observations

I've booked about 50 nights with Priceline, and generally have had good luck -- great values and good hotels. But here are two things to watch out for:

Distance from Airport. Both at FFL and LGW, priceline includes in the airport zone hotels that are a $25 - $30 cab ride away. To me, that does not qualify as being in the Airport zone..

Also, the maps are deceptive. If you zoom in or out, the distance bar remains the same, so you may think that something is closer to the airport than it actually is.

If you arrive during the day, there is typically low-cost transportation to even the out-of-the way hotels, but arriving late at night is a big problem, because your only option is a taxi, which in the UK can be very, very expensive.

2. Holiday Inns. God help you if you happen to get a Holiday Inn. This is the most inconsistent chain around. Some properties are just fine, but others are absolute dumps. I bid for a three star property in North Miami Beach and ended up in a Holiday Inn that was a dive -- bad neighborhood. moldy carpet, broken windows . . . Something I would rate as a 1 star hotel, at best. Also, the 3 star Holiday Inn in Coral Gables, leaves a lot to be desired.

But, with those two exceptions, Priceline has been a good resource. On my most recent trip, here was my Priceline experience:

PDX - $40, Holiday Inn, a great value, with 24-hour shuttle.
ATL - $55, Airport Marriott, wonderful staff, perfectly fine hotel.
SEA - $50, Red Lion, Not bad.
SEA - $45 Hilton, Great room, albeit expensive parking at $20 Night
PDX - $35 Hyatt Place. A brand new hotel. Incredible experience.

Taken as a whole, Priceline can be a good value. Just follow the common-sense steps of checking things out first on betterbidding.com or biddingfortravel.com; don't make any errors when entering information -- dates, rooms, bid amounts -- and be somewhat flexible.
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Old Dec 22, 09, 10:43 am   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tarmac View Post
Distance from Airport. Both at FFL and LGW, priceline includes in the airport zone hotels that are a $25 - $30 cab ride away. To me, that does not qualify as being in the Airport zone..
Excellent point, and it proves how valuable the two forums that track Priceline bids can be. I remember looking at the airport zone in Paris a few years ago and reading about someone's $30 cab ride to a property that did not have a shuttle or access to transit.

As to LGW, I've done a number of stays at the Travelodge there, on the Hotel Hoppa line, with winter rates and have been happy there. I wasn't even aware there were Priceline properties in that zone that you would need to access by cab, so thanks for pointing that out.
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Old Dec 22, 09, 9:59 pm   #13
 
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I've used Priceline for years, and I'm very happy with it. BFT and BB have hotel reviews where you can see which areas have problem hotels (e.g. don't bid X* in certain areas). For example, in some areas you might bid 4* (but not 3*) and others 3* (but not 4*, and you might get the problem 4* hotel). Parking costs are sometimes the reason to bid lower star-ratings (and there are some BFT/BB stories from people upset that they got upgraded to 4* or Resort because of their higher fees). Some places like Hampton Inn often have free breakfast, free internet, and free parking (unlike the better 4* places).

Rarely, I get a new hotel not on BFT or BB.

Due to the nastiness of BFT's owner, I no longer post my finds on BFT.

Four tips:
(1) <edited>

(2) You might have lots of rebids; e.g. if zones X, Y, and Z are available for rebid and you want zone A - you can bid 8 times - A, AX, AY, AZ, AXY, AXZ, AYZ, AXYZ.

(3) <edited>

(4) EvReward will show the best rebate sites. http://evreward.com/store/go/1778 Currrently, FatWallet offers 3%, but I usually use eBates. Rebate sites have rebate-bonus offers all the time, so you can Google (or just visit all the major rebate sites).

Last edited by mitchell; Dec 22, 09 at 10:51 pm.
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Old Dec 22, 09, 10:37 pm   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mitchell View Post

Four tips:
(1) Get a prepaid debit card, and run it down below $10. If you win with this card, Priceline will ask you for another card number, so you can rebid high & low.).
This and (3) are a clear violation of Priceline's terms of service that you have agreed to when you signed on. Sharing this tactic in a public forum puts the forum in potential legal difficulty. The other tactics are just as effective and don't create any potential problems.

OP: if the others paid less, then you bid too high. Try using Hotwire so you don't need to make this error. Then when you arrive at the hotel, the only people who will be paying less are those who bid on Priceline who used the Hotwire price as an upper limit for their bid.
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Old Dec 23, 09, 10:20 am   #15
 
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my biggest problem with priceline is that they do not reveal what hotels charge "resort" (aka: let's gouge because we can and need the extra money) fees until you've booked. That can effectively erase any price benefits you may have gotten by bidding.
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