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Old Sep 18, 05, 10:15 pm   #1
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Arrow What $$ fee EXACTLY does Priceline charge on each hotel booking these days?

Seems like they mask the actual fee these days? And unlike the old $5.95 per BOOKING no matter what the hotel price you bid was for, it is now claimed they charge a far higher $$$ fee for a $150 room than a $50 room for instance. That was news to me.

Discussion on this tangent started here, when the thread was locked as it was certainly wandering off the original topic.

It may be useful for us all if we establish the exact fee charged these days. I know folks are bidding $US138 for SYD in order to get a top end room via PL, and on that rate the fee clearly is getting quite hefty - $US12.76 it looked like to me.

http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/online-travel-booking-bidding-agencies/315832-my-post-bft-about-someone-commercializing-bft-information-ebay-removed-sheryl-7.html#post4610435

====================

Originally Posted by ozstamps

And whilst I am typing, I did ask on BFT this week whether PL now charges $US12.76 per booking, but did not get a reply as to whether that was correct.

http://p070.ezboard.com/fpricelinea... cID=525.topic

Can anyone HERE please shed some light on it. Post was:

"At the rate of $138 a night for two nights, the room charges were $276.00. Priceline added $40.36 in taxes and fees so the grand total was $316.36 for two nights."

And GST tax is a flat 10% AFAIK, so it seemed to me that PL took $12.76. But math was never my strong point.


=========================

Originally Posted by sy7

Priceline seems to charge a sliding fee based on the total cost of the hotel nights you are bidding for. The minimum fee (eg for a 1* $20 bid) tends to be $6-7. However, if you are bidding for 1 night at $200/night, the fee increases to >$10. I guess priceline figures that you can afford a higher fee if you are willing to bid at high prices!

Also, if you are bidding for 2 cheap rooms together at $50 each, the fee will probably be less than if you are bidding for one $200 room.

The fee you quoted seems high, so maybe priceline has recently increased the fee algorithm.


==========================

Originally Posted by chobby100

Used to be $5.95 per booking, but that changed to combine taxes and fees together. By doing this you can now never find out exactly what priceline paid for the room and in essence how much you "overpaid". Under the old system you could reverse engineer your taxes to find the exact amount PL paid for the room.

===========================

Originally Posted by ozstamps

Yes, that's right, $5.95 was a nice flat rate.

This I got for Seattle Doubletree and clearly the base fee itself must be a lot more than $5.95 now:

Your Offer Price: $36.00
Number of Rooms: 1
Number of Nights: 1
Subtotal: $36.00
Taxes & Service Fees:
$12.44

Total Charges: $48.44

Does their fee really increase in $$$ on the higher priced rooms?

========================

Originally Posted by rove312

when taxes and fees were first bundled in 2003, people figured it was something like the local tax rate + 2.25% + $4.50. For low one-night bids, it could have been a reduction from the previous $5.95. They've raised the fees since this, but they probably still mix a percentage and a flat amount. PL also pockets what would have been the tax on the amount of an overbid over their price. Some bids can cover several jurisdictions with different tax rates; presumably PL posts taxes and fees based on the highest tax rate possible in the zones and pockets the difference if you get in the place with the lower rate. PL may dip into their fee for some bids lower than their wholesale price.

===========================
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Old Sep 18, 05, 10:38 pm   #2
 
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I'm not sure I follow... How are we supposed to establish an exact fee that Priceline charges per booking when there is no longer such a thing? Wasn't that the point of all your quoted posts, that Priceline no longer charges a flat fee?
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Old Sep 18, 05, 10:41 pm   #3
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Personally I think bidding $US150 (=$A200) plus tax (=$A220) on PL for SYD is insane when you have no idea which hotel you will get. No room stay credit most times, and no bennies. And NO changes or cancellations!

These rates below INCLUDE all taxes (and often breakfasts or parking or free drinks etc) and are in weak $A! And generally quality for a legal stay. Cancel penalty is only $US15.

http://www.wotif.com.au/Search.jsp?r...=1&region=2414
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Old Sep 18, 05, 10:48 pm   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by senoreit

I'm not sure I follow... How are we supposed to establish an exact fee that Priceline charges per booking when there is no longer such a thing? Wasn't that the point of all your quoted posts, that Priceline no longer charges a flat fee?
There is such a thing as an exact fee.

However it is no longer a flat $5.95 is the point if you follow the posts above.

Once SYD at $138 cost $5.95 plus tax and SFO at $35 cost $5.95 plus tax.

PL seem to now have a sliding fee scale.

I am curious if others know what it is, so I can allow for that when bidding.

If it is $12.44 on $138 as it seems, one of course needs to know fee that BEFORE placing the bid. As I have shown, booking on a transparent Hotel booking site is often smarter if their fees are at that level.

Even the BASE fee as shown on my SEATAC bid above is clearly a lot higher than $5.95 these days.
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Old Sep 18, 05, 11:02 pm   #5
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ozstamps
These rates below INCLUDE all taxes (and often breakfasts or parking or free drinks etc) and are in weak $A! And generally quality for a legal stay. Cancel penalty is only $US15.

http://www.wotif.com.au/Search.jsp?r...=1&region=2414

I agree with your take on PL and appreciate that you included that link. I have passed it on to my brother who is hoping to head to Australia early next year.

On a related note to the thread topic ...
I recently read how it used to be possible to determine the actual rate that PL was paying the hotel for the room based on the taxes quoted. Apparently they copped on to that and are now including the taxes with the admin fee so it is now impossible to determine how much of the 'admin fee' is tax related and how much is actual admin fee.
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Old Sep 19, 05, 4:12 am   #6
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ozstamps
There is such a thing as an exact fee.....PL seem to now have a sliding fee scale. I am curious if others know what it is, so I can allow for that when bidding.
I'm not sure what you are trying to prove here. Yes, each individual bid has an "exact" fee that applies to it. All bids are no longer treated equal. This change happened well over a year ago, maybe two. Way back in 2000-2001, I think your winning result actually even broke it down for you with separate line items. The line items were combined a long time ago and the fee seemed to jump to a flat 6.95. Over the past couple years, its pretty obvious that the "exact" fee on each individually accepted bid amount has fluctuated upward.

I have never used PL for International Travel, but it wouldn't surprise me if the "exact" fee for a winning PL bid is substantially higher than domestic US. I seem to recall that PL got into some "trouble" with a few states' attorneys general back when PL was new and folks were complaining about overcharging taxes.

To solve that problem, PL converted to the hotwire style of lumping everything together in a catch-all category. By shielding the consumer from the specific tax amount and specific fee, there cannot be any angry complaints to any US public entity (city/state).

Obsessing over tax levels will get you only frustration. If they seem out of line I suppose you can email them. Good luck on that. There are two valuable bulletin boards that post winning bids. I haven't ever seen a winning bid of the same bid amount and same hotel come up with a "variable" tax. Of course, hotels have multiple PL rates, so its possible that Person A bids $50, wins a $48 room, and pays $10 in taxes+fees. Person B gets the same hotel with a winning bid of $60, but wins a $58 room (the hotel has two PL rates: 48 and 58), and pays $11 in taxes+fees.

Do you think that the Sydney City Tax Manager is going to make an inquiry on the lump-sum that a USA customer is charged on a prepay hotel? All he/she is going to do is confirm that their X% tax has been paid.

Since there is no "watchdog" for international bookings, seems like its bidder beware -- which is why BFT and BB are so helpful. It is annoying though when folks just post their winning bids and not the entire bid price with taxes and fees.
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Old Sep 19, 05, 3:30 pm   #7
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A few reasons why PL & Hotwire want to lump them together.

Some of what I'll say may have been mentioned in the above threads. Some reasons on why PL & Hotwire lump together the taxes/fees are below:

1. They don't want the end user (the bidder) to find out what PL paid for the room. They do that by bundling the taxes & fees together.

2. They pay the hotel taxes to the taxing authority on what PL paid to the hotel, not the higher amount the bidder paid. PL charges the bidder the probable higher amount and pockets the difference. There was an article in the Los Angeles Times some months ago about the LA City Attorney suing PL, Expedia, Travelocity, etc. (I am not exactly sure if I have the exact parties the LA City Attorney is suing).

I recently bid on some rooms in Europe using Hotwire.com. They have "double the difference" guarantee. I found out that the hotel site had lower rates. I submitted the claim & there are enough loopholes to drive a "truck" through! I'll get some money not maybe not as much as my claim. (they are claiming that a certain rate is ineligible). The only reason I did OK was there is a $30 rebate for any boking over $95 using the entertainment book. (they said one per book, not the usual one per person! )

On my particular hotwire bid, the bid included taxes/service. I played around with the bids and the taxes/fees remained the same at $7.15. Since the taxes are included in the bid, the $7.15 has to be the hotwire fee.
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Old Sep 19, 05, 8:12 pm   #8
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Every now and then you can figure out the exact amount the hotel got paid from the stay based on the invoices that mistakenly get slipped under your door or through the hotel's TV checkout system.
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Old Sep 20, 05, 7:27 am   #9
 
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As I said in the message quoted in #1, it appears that they charge a mix of a percentage and flat amount. If you look at enough bids for a place where you know the tax rate, you may be able to figure it out. Also, they tell you what the total taxes and fees are before you commit to the bid, so you can back out if you don't like it.
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Old Sep 20, 05, 9:39 am   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chemist661
There was an article in the Los Angeles Times some months ago about the LA City Attorney suing PL, Expedia, Travelocity, etc. (I am not exactly sure if I have the exact parties the LA City Attorney is suing).
Let's not confuse this issue. I think this issue was regarding things like "Expedia Special Rates" where the hotel has a deal with Expedia for a volume purchase of rooms.

So, if Expedia rate is $150, including a 35% markup, the hotel gets only $111. The hotel was remitting tax on the $111, as that was what they were paid. The claim by the cities was that the rate presented was $150, so tax should have been on $150, not $111.

While an interesting discussion, it's not relevant to how to figure out the priceline rate paid.
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Old Sep 20, 05, 5:48 pm   #11
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Ozstamps,

Funny you should mention it.

I was checking my United Airlines account and saw that Marriott posted 42 miles to my account. I recently stayed at the ALB marriott on a P/L bid. I bid $48 USD.

Can we all assume that P/L paid Marriott $42? That's my guess.
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Old Sep 20, 05, 8:02 pm   #12
 
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That would be my guess too. There was one case, in a stay in Canada, where a program that gave one mile per U.S. $ gave me a few more miles than I paid in USD. I suppose this was due to different exchange rates being used in different parts of the transaction, but it's interesting that it worked in my favor for once.
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Old Sep 21, 05, 2:22 pm   #13
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by channa
Let's not confuse this issue. I think this issue was regarding things like "Expedia Special Rates" where the hotel has a deal with Expedia for a volume purchase of rooms.

So, if Expedia rate is $150, including a 35% markup, the hotel gets only $111. The hotel was remitting tax on the $111, as that was what they were paid. The claim by the cities was that the rate presented was $150, so tax should have been on $150, not $111.

While an interesting discussion, it's not relevant to how to figure out the priceline rate paid.
Priceline and Hotwire are each being sued by the city of Los Angeles for the same reason Expedia and Travelocity are being sued.

To start, in the case of Priceline, they DO NOT pre-pay for a block of discounted rooms.

What the lawsuit says is that Los Angeles is being cheated since the price of your accepted bid determines the amount of tax Los Angeles needs to be paid. But Priceline is only paying the city the tax on the amount that the hotel has set as their rate. So Priceline is pocketing the overbid and most likely an added tax amount based on that possible overbid which we can't see since they've budled the taxes and fees together.

Priceline nor any of the other 3rd party providers will prevail in a California court and will have to disclose the ACTUAL room tax paid by the consumer once again.

The Los Angeles Lawsuit Against Priceline:
http://www.consumeraffairs.com/news0...vel_sites.html

Last edited by CalItalian; Sep 21, 05 at 2:39 pm.
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Old Sep 21, 05, 3:04 pm   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CalItalian
Priceline nor any of the other 3rd party providers will prevail in a California court and will have to disclose the ACTUAL room tax paid by the consumer once again.
Actually if PL does not prevail in court, they will have to pay tax on the bid amount, but any lawsuit settlement might not require PL to separate taxes and their fee on bidders' confirmation pages. That seems to be a totally separate issue.

IMHO, the main reason PL bunded taxes and fees was not so much to mask what PL paid to the hotels (what small percentage of PL users really figured this out? - only those reading FT, BFT and BB), but to give PL some leverage in what they knew was coming - lawsuits from state and local governments regarding the tax issue. By not explicitly showing the tax amount publicly, it could theoretically strengthen their case.
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Old Sep 21, 05, 10:01 pm   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by channa
Let's not confuse this issue. I think this issue was regarding things like "Expedia Special Rates" where the hotel has a deal with Expedia for a volume purchase of rooms.
Just an FYI, that's not how Expedia special rates work. All Expedia Special rates are is a higher commission percentage for Expedia (higher than the standard TA's 10%) in exchange for a priority listing on Expedia.com. I could go into a lot more detail, but I'll wait til you're in DC again & we're having a beer.
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