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Priceline guests get a bad rap? How to fix?

Priceline guests get a bad rap? How to fix?

Old Mar 1, 10, 3:19 pm
  #31  
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Originally Posted by mbstone View Post
It's not because the $200 traveler is more understanding. It's that the $75 or $45 traveler is spending his or her own money.
That's true as well - but that's also part of the reason why the $200 traveler is more understanding.
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Old Mar 1, 10, 3:24 pm
  #32  
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Originally Posted by mbstone View Post
Usually the hotel just charges the amount of the incidental deposit to the debit card and refunds it later.
A common misconception...hotels rarely, if ever, charge an incidental deposit to a debit card. They only authorize the card to that amount. That authorization, because it's a debit card, removes the amount from someone's available balance, but the hotel never took possession of the money. They release the authorization at checkout and the bank usually takes a few days to process it - hence the reason you never use a debit card to book a hotel room & most rental car companies don't even take debit cards.

With a credit card, the authorization is still requested, but it doesn't remove available funds from your credit line because it's a credit line & the merchant has an agreement with the issuing card provider. Debit cards are issued by individual banks (regardless of the fact that they are Visa check-cards or the like).
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Old Mar 1, 10, 4:56 pm
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Originally Posted by bhatnasx View Post
That's true as well - but that's also part of the reason why the $200 traveler is more understanding.

I still do not see this at all. Going back to my example of PL and Amsterdam bidding. There is one 4 star that shows up fairly often. The NH Amsterdam Centre (not the NH Amsterdam City Centre).

The reviews on TA are pretty much like night and day.

The fights with front desk people over whatever, the complaints about the small rooms, complaints about this and that and this and that. Its virtually 100% from full paying ($200+ a night) guests.

And more often than not the statement-----I paid to much for this room. (it is in fact a very nice hotel---I will attest to that having just spent two weeks there)

The PL guests and there are many are almost without exception happy campers. Delighted to have such a nice hotel. And if they do point out short comings its almost always followed with-----"but at the price I paid I cannot complain"

In this instance, and you can check the reviews for yourself, there is a relationship between being more understanding and price paid. But opposite of what you allege.

Doc
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Old Mar 1, 10, 7:41 pm
  #34  
 
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Originally Posted by ReconDoc View Post
mbstone, you are correct you can extend through PL before you get to the hotel. But you cannot extend at the hotel once you are staying there. And some people do try and then get upset the hotel offers them the hotel rate and not the PL rate.

But for the hotel this just looks like any two prepaid reservations. No additional money at all due the hotel for this.
Respectfully Disagree. If discounted rooms are available, you will be allowed to extend on the PL website until 11:30 AM the day of check-out. I've done this lots and lots of times. The hotel might not offer extensions except at a higher rate, and whether you get upset or not is nobody's problem but your own. If PL does let you extend, you will have to visit the front desk, re-check-in, run your CC again, and get a new key.

If you are unsuccessful in extending your stay at the same property via PL, and you are feeling lucky, you can always re-bid the zone and maybe you will win your own hotel again, in which case call the front desk....
.

Last edited by mbstone; Mar 1, 10 at 7:46 pm
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Old Mar 2, 10, 12:59 am
  #35  
 
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Originally Posted by mbstone View Post
Respectfully Disagree. If discounted rooms are available, you will be allowed to extend on the PL website until 11:30 AM the day of check-out. I've done this lots and lots of times.

If you are unsuccessful in extending your stay at the same property via PL, and you are feeling lucky, you can always re-bid the zone and maybe you will win your own hotel again, in which case call the front desk....
.
I have extended my stay on Priceline on the day of checkout on a couple of occasions.

I will also say that we have had success extending a stay through "direct negotiations" with the front desk. After all, if they sold the room through Priceline, they generally have rooms to sell. An offer that is $10 more than what you originally bid is usually enough to get it done.
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Old Mar 2, 10, 2:08 am
  #36  
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Originally Posted by bhatnasx View Post
A common misconception...hotels rarely, if ever, charge an incidental deposit to a debit card. They only authorize the card to that amount. That authorization, because it's a debit card, removes the amount from someone's available balance, but the hotel never took possession of the money. They release the authorization at checkout and the bank usually takes a few days to process it - hence the reason you never use a debit card to book a hotel room & most rental car companies don't even take debit cards.

With a credit card, the authorization is still requested, but it doesn't remove available funds from your credit line because it's a credit line & the merchant has an agreement with the issuing card provider. Debit cards are issued by individual banks (regardless of the fact that they are Visa check-cards or the like).
Actually, an authorization does remove available funds from a credit card's available credit line. That's the whole point of an authorization: it "reserves" that amount of money for the merchant's use (whether the merchant posts the charge at the close of that business day when processing the batch or whether it is processed a week later when the customer checks out or returns their car).

When doing training with new employees, I often use my card for test authorizations so they can see how the process works. After four or five test rentals, I have gone into my card to see my available credit is now $1,000 lower. (My BofA AS Signature card takes it one step further and actually shows the pending charges itemized separately.)]

Also, there is little to no way for a merchant to "release the authorization" at check-out. An authorization is valid for a time period specified by the card-issuing bank. For my BofA Visa, unclaimed authorizations tend to fall off in about a week. It varies by card-issuing bank--some release it in just a couple of days, whereas others hold onto it for up to 30 days.

Regardless of the card-issuing bank's policy, a merchant generally has (by right of the merchant agreement they have signed with their acquiring bank--merchants only have agreements with their merchant banks, not with any cardholder banks) up to 30 days to claim funds from an unused authorization. (This can cause issues for cardholders: if an authorization "expires" and the funds are released back into the cardholder's available credit, and the cardholder subsequently maxes out his card, the rental agency/hotel can still submit a charge against that authorization after the cardholder has maxed out the card, which would then cause the cardholder to go over his/her limit [and incur associated overlimit fees/penalties]).

In any case, most car/hotel authorizations are, in effect, released--because the merchant submits a charge against the authorization at the close of the transaction. A few days later, when that charge makes it through all of the interchange networks and back to the card-issuing bank, the card-issuing bank sees that a $125 charge was posted against the $325 authorization #03225C. At that time, most banks will reconcile those two things together and convert the authorization into the charge, releasing the extra $200. I have seen a few banks continue to hold the $200 difference out of the customer's available credit until the authorization expires, however.

But--in the case of a prepaid transaction, where the merchant places an authorization on the customer's card that may never be used (assuming no incidental charges come up), that authorization just floats out there in cyberspace until the card-issuing bank decides to expire it. The merchant has very little control over that authorization once it has been made. If this causes an issue for a cardholder, the merchant has a couple of options:
  • Process a $1 charge against the authorization and subsequent $1 refund to cause the bank to release the authorization, but this will take several business days to work through the system
  • Contact the cardholder's bank directly and attempt to have them void the authorization (some banks make this difficult, and there is no standard procedure--some will accept the merchant's request over the phone, some will require a fax on company letterhead, and others simply won't do it at all)
  • Some Point-Of-Sale systems--but not all--allow the merchant to manually release an authorization through the Visa network only, but only Visa--MasterCard, American Express, and Discover do not have this functionality [actually, rather than delete the authorization, the POS software requests that Visa change the authorization amount to $1]

Because of the difficulty, most RACs (and, I would assume, hotels) just leave the authorization out to expire. Given that it's a relatively small number of people who walk out with an unclaimed authorization and only a fraction of those people are affected by the loss of access to credit, it's not worth the hassle. If someone has need for the authorization to be released, they can contact the merchant and have the merchant try the above methods to void the authorization--but that is a relatively rare occurrence (I would estimate it's less than 1% of total transactions).

Regarding debit cards: from a purely technical standpoint, they function pretty much like credit cards, with one exception: banks usually only retain unclaimed authorizations for a couple of business days. While the merchant can still claim funds against an authorization up to 30 days later, people who have only debit (and no credit) cards also tend to be living paycheck to paycheck and have a small buffer in their accounts--meaning overdrafts due to expired authorizations are a definite possibility.

Add in most peoples' unfamiliarity with the concept of an "authorization" (they think that money is pulled out of a credit card or debit card instantaneously) and lack of attention to the difference between the "balance" and "available" columns on their online banking page, and now all of a sudden, the merchant is the recipient of angry phone calls claiming that the merchant caused the customer to overdraft or that the merchant held onto funds too long or whatever and that the merchant should pay the customer's NSF fees. (Believe me--I've been on the receiving end of those calls.)

So, many merchants in this sector (who even accept debit cards at all) have developed a policy with debit cards: CHARGE the deposit (don't just authorize it) and refund the money when the transaction is done. While refunds can take awhile to post, at least this way, the customer knows up front just exactly how much is being held and cannot complain about confusion over nebulous authorizations that may or may not even be visible.

Both because debit cards cause customer service issues ("What?! You're going to hold $500 of my hard-earned money?!) and because they are an indicator of risky customers (i.e. people with bad credit), many agencies simply don't accept them as collateral for a $30,000 vehicle--a wise, IMHO, course of action.

As for PL's vendor agreements regarding credit/debit card acceptance and deposit amounts, I can't speak to that because we don't do business with the opaque side of PL/HW. Were I to guess, though, I would guess that PL opaque customers are at least slightly more risky than full retail customers, simply because being someone looking to save money tends to also be someone who has less money (not always, but usually). Someone on an expense account or with a Centurion card and whose time is more valuable than money likely has the resources to pay for incidentals, whereas someone who is looking to spend $35 on a motel room probably has fewer liquid assets floating around.

While it may be against PL's vendor agreement and may not even be supported by factual data, I can definitely see the OP's hotel owner's line of thought.

A related question: if a hotel's standard policy is to authorize $200 on every guest's card (regardless of booking method), is that hotel still held to Priceline's requirement to only authorize $100? That would be one thing that would potentially turn me off from accepting PL bookings.
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Old Mar 2, 10, 7:30 am
  #37  
 
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Direct negotiations with the hotel for an extension at the PL rate?

Yes I have heard of this happening. But it is a direct violation of the agreement the hotel has with PL. In fact if I knew a hotel doing this I would report them. And I am far from a reporting kind of guy.

Under the agreement the hotel has with PL they are in any way forbidden to have your PL bid made public even to the paying PL guest. In short they cannot even tell you what you paid PL.

This is the sort of slight of hand that honest hotels should not engage in IMO. PL is already a great system that saves many lots of money. And fills many hotel rooms that would otherwise be empty. Why try to gin the program?

Interesting on how long you can extend that PL win with an additional nights stay. I always thought it was until your trip started. Now I have learned something new.

It is in fact though not really an extension. It is a new win, at the old bid price, without having to bid, with a new PL fee added in.

It does save you from the worry of re-bidding and maybe ending up somewhere else.

EDITED: IMO its a short step from this direct negotiations to what happened to my brother when he checked in a hotel on a PL rate. Without asking the hotel said that they would give the PL rate he got plus the PL fee for any further booking he may want do do with that hotel if in the future he would book direct with them.

Borderline crooked and dishonest?

I would take out the word----borderline.

Last edited by ReconDoc; Mar 2, 10 at 8:40 am
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Old Mar 3, 10, 3:33 am
  #38  
 
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Originally Posted by ReconDoc View Post
Under the agreement the hotel has with PL they are in any way forbidden to have your PL bid made public even to the paying PL guest. In short they cannot even tell you what you paid PL.
Yes, but the guest knows what he/she paid for the bid. So if the hotel says, you can book directly with us for $6 more (or whatever) per night than the amount you bid, why shouldn't the hotel be able to do that?
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Old Mar 3, 10, 4:24 am
  #39  
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Originally Posted by WillTravel View Post
Yes, but the guest knows what he/she paid for the bid. So if the hotel says, you can book directly with us for $6 more (or whatever) per night than the amount you bid, why shouldn't the hotel be able to do that?
A hotel (or RAC) can set any rate it wants. Granted, I haven't seen the terms a hotel or RAC vendor signs when accepting PL bids, but in many places, a hotel clerk or rental car salesperson have full authority to decide what rate to extend to a walkup customer or someone booking a reservation--how possibly can PL prevent a vendor from doing that (short of forbidding the vendor from accepting a customer for a consecutive period of time without going through PL)?
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Old Mar 3, 10, 7:49 am
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I certainly agree its tough for PL to police hotels that are skirting the rules. And using your PL rate to get a direct rate is IMO a skirting of the agreed to rules between the hotel and PL. Not really between the customer and PL since we sign no agreement.

And that example my brother ran into is not a skirting. That is just flat out wrong.

Kind of tough to argue that the hotel is doing right or gets a pass by doing this on a thread that was started about guests not doing right by the hotel.

If that hotel is offering the same PL rate plus $10 to everyone that walks in off the street then fine. If they are just doing it to PL customers in an attempt to cut PL out of the loop then not fine.

Follow the agreed to rules and be honest. Seems like such a simple thing.
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Old Mar 3, 10, 5:34 pm
  #41  
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Originally Posted by jackal View Post
Actually, an authorization does remove available funds from a credit card's available credit line...
I'm not gonna quote your whole post, but I've got to say that this is probably one of the most intelligent posts I've seen on FlyerTalk in a long time & I wish more people read this forum & saw your post.
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Old Mar 3, 10, 9:37 pm
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Originally Posted by WillTravel View Post
Yes, but the guest knows what he/she paid for the bid. So if the hotel says, you can book directly with us for $6 more (or whatever) per night than the amount you bid, why shouldn't the hotel be able to do that?
I was perfectly prepared to fire up my computer and book again through Hotwire/Priceline for the Sunday night stay. The property decided to take $6 more than the Priceline rather than the $20 they originally offered.

Few hotels will reject a decent rate on an extented stay on a Sunday night when the choice is between that and a no-revenue room.
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Old Mar 3, 10, 11:41 pm
  #43  
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Many thanks to all for the perspectives, including the confirmation from bhatnasx that this hotel manager's theory may not be entirely unreasonable. And I appreciated Colfax's theory about little requests from priceline guests happening more often than average.

I decided that reporting this property to priceline probably wouldn't accomplish much (other, perhaps, than annoying the manager and potentially losing this hotel as a priceline option).

I went ahead and encouraged the manager to look into getting his priceline star rating changed. And maybe, by engaging, he'll get a slightly warmer picture of his priceline guests.

Last edited by rmbl; Mar 4, 10 at 12:20 am
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Old Mar 4, 10, 7:10 am
  #44  
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Originally Posted by bhatnasx View Post
I'm not gonna quote your whole post, but I've got to say that this is probably one of the most intelligent posts I've seen on FlyerTalk in a long time & I wish more people read this forum & saw your post.
LOL, thanks!

Happy to help. I've actually posted a similar post a couple other times (I think in one or two of the car rental fora), but I think this one was the most intricate of them.

Credit card processing is confusing for the modern layperson. You have to remember that the way credit cards are processed now is still very much like what they were processed 30 years ago--except that electronic steps have replaced some of the manual steps. Things are still handled in batches (that in some cases take a few days to process), NOT real-time like many believe. Take a look at the following comparison:

Step 1: Authorization
OLD: Merchant calls authorization center [if transaction above floor amount] to obtain an authorization code
NEW: Merchant's POS terminal obtains an authorization code electronically

Step 2: End-of-day batch
OLD: Merchant submits credit card draft receipts (yes, the ones the merchant would use a roller to imprint the card onto) to his ["acquiring"] bank, either in person or by mail
NEW: Merchant submits credit card draft data to his ["acquiring"] bank electronically

Step 3: Fund transfer
OLD: Acquring bank requests and transfers funds from card-issuing banks via physical courier, mail, or telex
NEW: Acquiring bank requests and transfers funds from card-issuing banks via ACH (takes 2-3 days for net settlement to occur)

While in the old days, it could take a week or two for a merchant to receive payment, the new system is really not that much faster: it's still 3-5 business days for a merchant to see a deposit in his/her account. It is NOT instantaneous as many would believe. It's also why refunds tend to take awhile to post: the merchant uploads the refund transactions as part of the end-of-day batch, and it takes the banks at least 2-3 days to process the ACH transfer, plus some time on the book-ends for processing from the acquiring bank and card-issuing bank.

I don't pretend to be an absolute expert on this material--this is just what I've gleaned from watching how our systems work, doing some experimentation, and doing a TON of Google searching (these kinds of processes interest me greatly). But it's my nature to share information I've learned, so I hope I can be helpful to some people interested in such things. Of course, sometimes I get a bit carried away and long-winded, and I've put a lot of work into some threads that get buried under the archives of time. I wish I could search for all posts by me with more than, say, 500 words. Maybe I need to start maintaining a "Consolidated List of jackal's Informative Posts"!
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Old Mar 4, 10, 1:47 pm
  #45  
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Originally Posted by jackal View Post
Maybe I need to start maintaining a "Consolidated List of jackal's Informative Posts"!
An excellent idea!
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