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Priceline stiffs you with hotel fees not disclosed at payment

Priceline stiffs you with hotel fees not disclosed at payment

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Old Nov 30, 18, 1:38 am
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Priceline stiffs you with hotel fees not disclosed at payment

I've been a huge fan of Priceline feature "name your price" and have saved on my numerous hotel stays quite a bit, however my two last bookings went bananas when they sneak in the hotel fee, that is not disclosed at the time you make the bid.

Case 1, a hotel in Miami Beach, $57 + taxes, no fees, suddenly there's a $25.00 fee after the confirmation - to be paid at the hotel.
Case 2 a hotel in New York, Hells Kitchen, low season in January $51 + taxes, no fees disclosed. After you commit and pay - they disclose the hotel - Watson, and along with that comes a $20 hotel fee that has not been previously disclosed.

In both cases priceline rejects to cancel the booking, its agents deny that they are in the wrong - and there is a small print that the price may not include mandatory fees.
According to their agents, the fee can be whatever the hotel pleases, so theoretically you may be agreeing to a $27/night rate with a $500 fee that is not disclosed.

Is this legal in the US? Any ideas what should I do? I filed a dispute with my credit card company, but I don't think they understand what I am talking about.

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Last edited by iggyray; Dec 1, 18 at 10:48 am Reason: privacy concerns over the visuals
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Old Nov 30, 18, 2:41 am
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iggyray, I'm going to alert a mod to move your post to the "Online Travel Booking and Bidding" forum here on FT (which is where discussion about Priceline typically appears), but a few things about your post:

Priceline does disclose that there might be extra fees, even if they don't state it on that "Review Your Request" page. If you click on Taxes and Service Fees a little box will pop up that includes the following:
Depending on the property you stay at you may also be charged (i) certain mandatory hotel specific service fees, for example, resort fees (which typically apply to resort type destinations and, if applicable, may range from $10 to $40 per day), energy surcharges, newspaper delivery fees, in-room safe fees, tourism fees, or housekeeping fees and/or (ii) certain optional incidental fees, for example, parking charges, minibar charges, phone calls, room service and movie rentals, etc. These charges, if applicable, will be payable by you to the hotel directly at checkout.
That said, we are definitely not fans of resort fees here and while it has been challenged before, the hotels are still allowed to do it (for whatever stupid reason). Your best bet might be to challenge the resort fee when you get to your hotel, possibly by stating that you have no intention to use any of the amenities that the resort fee is meant to pay for. This has worked at some properties, not sure if it will work for either of the ones you've booked.

I hope that's helpful, somewhat.

On a semi-unrelated note, the images contain your real name, just so you're aware. If you're okay with that then feel free to leave it, but if not, you might want to try to hide your name on the images or remove the images from your post.
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Old Nov 30, 18, 6:10 am
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Originally Posted by iggyray View Post
Is this legal in the US?
IANAL. But IMHO, while my response is it depends, it is completely legitimate in your case.

First - the Watson Hotel does charge $20 each day per room. So the fee is assessed not because you use Priceline, but to every guest.

Second - Priceline has an affirmative defense that excuses Priceline for liability. Specifically, Priceline does not know which hotel will be booked in advance. Also, it has disclosed the potential fee. So Priceline has exercised reasonable procedures to warn consumers regarding the uncertainty.

(FWIW - this won't work with Express Deal because Priceline is aware in advance that which hotel will be booked.)
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Old Nov 30, 18, 8:07 am
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Originally Posted by garykung View Post
IANAL. But IMHO, while my response is it depends, it is completely legitimate in your case.

First - the Watson Hotel does charge $20 each day per room. So the fee is assessed not because you use Priceline, but to every guest.

Second - Priceline has an affirmative defense that excuses Priceline for liability. Specifically, Priceline does not know which hotel will be booked in advance. Also, it has disclosed the potential fee. So Priceline has exercised reasonable procedures to warn consumers regarding the uncertainty.

(FWIW - this won't work with Express Deal because Priceline is aware in advance that which hotel will be booked.)
Fees with no amount disclosed prior to entering into a contract of adhesion isn't universally enforceable. And in some jurisdictions, this kind of business practice may constitute fraud of one or more sort.

Priceline -- and the hotel with which it is in cahoots -- didn't disclose the potential fee at the time of booking; they only mentioned the potential for a fee. But even that doesn't provide a guaranteed out from being found liable for such practice since they didn't disclose the fee until after baiting in the customer.
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Last edited by GUWonder; Nov 30, 18 at 8:12 am
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Old Nov 30, 18, 5:19 pm
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Originally Posted by GUWonder View Post
Priceline -- and the hotel with which it is in cahoots -- didn't disclose the potential fee at the time of booking; they only mentioned the potential for a fee. But even that doesn't provide a guaranteed out from being found liable for such practice since they didn't disclose the fee until after baiting in the customer.
Of course. As I pointed out - the real question is how much does Priceline really know?

If Priceline is well-aware of the choice of hotel, as well as the fees, then Priceline can be in trouble for failure to disclose. If Priceline indeed does not know in advance and has provided proper warnings, then Priceline may not be on the hook.
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Old Dec 1, 18, 10:47 am
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Originally Posted by lo2e View Post
iggyray, I'm going to alert a mod to move your post to the "Online Travel Booking and Bidding" forum here on FT (which is where discussion about Priceline typically appears), but a few things about your post:

Priceline does disclose that there might be extra fees, even if they don't state it on that "Review Your Request" page. If you click on Taxes and Service Fees a little box will pop up that includes the following:


That said, we are definitely not fans of resort fees here and while it has been challenged before, the hotels are still allowed to do it (for whatever stupid reason). Your best bet might be to challenge the resort fee when you get to your hotel, possibly by stating that you have no intention to use any of the amenities that the resort fee is meant to pay for. This has worked at some properties, not sure if it will work for either of the ones you've booked.

I hope that's helpful, somewhat.

On a semi-unrelated note, the images contain your real name, just so you're aware. If you're okay with that then feel free to leave it, but if not, you might want to try to hide your name on the images or remove the images from your post.

Thank you for stating this out. However when a customer commits to the non-cancelable reservation, the final total must be presented, and not a vague "the hotel at their discretion may add a mandatory fee of some indefinite amount". Funny thing is that sometimes priceline shows the fees with clear amounts even on a "name your price" which makes things even more confusing. I still do not understand how this can be legal.
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Old Dec 1, 18, 10:55 am
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See below the dummy reservation for a hotel in New York. This is also a "Name your price" so, "supposedly" priceline does not know which hotel will be picked (which I find hard to belive).
So here they DO state the hotel fee.

How does that sit with your explanation? So, in some cases they state the fees, and in some it is vague "possible amount". The customer is entering the contract when the full and exact details are not disclosed.
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Old Dec 1, 18, 12:45 pm
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This has been happening for a long long time.

Here's a NY Times article from 2011:
https://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/11/y...nes-price.html

... which references a FT thread from 2009:
Priceline Pet Peeve (and FTC Complaint)

... and a lawsuit from 2006, which, sadly, Priceline won.
Mr. Ek also noted that Priceline alerts travelers to the possibility of fees — resort and otherwise — during the “name your own price” buying process. Which is true. In a heads-up that appears before you type in your credit card data, customers are alerted about “additional hotel specific service fees or incidental charges or fees that may be charged by the hotel to the customer at checkout.”

Clearly, Mr. Youngerman and many others don’t notice this warning. But it’s there, and in that previously mentioned class-action case, a judge determined that the alert was prominent enough to pass legal muster. Dismissing the lawsuit in 2010, Judge Carolyn B. Kuhl of the Superior Court of California, Los Angeles. described Priceline’s fee disclosure as “appropriately clear and conspicuous.”.
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Old Dec 1, 18, 12:53 pm
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While there are those who argue that the PL contract is one of "adhesion" and is therefore unenforceable, they can't point to any US jurisdiction where such contracts are unenforceable unless also "unconscionable". It is a pretty tough argument to suggest that a resort fee is "unconscionable" so long as the possibility of such a fee is disclosed, it is a fee common to the property, and is within the local norm.

I could see a reasonable challenge if one were assigned to a property which normally charges a $50 resort fee, but imposes a $250 fee for PL reservations.

Unless someone can come up with some good precedential authority under NY contract law, the better advice to OP is to forget it, enjoy his stay and move on beyond making a one time customer service ask at check in or check out.
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Old Dec 1, 18, 2:26 pm
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Originally Posted by iggyray View Post
How does that sit with your explanation? So, in some cases they state the fees, and in some it is vague "possible amount". The customer is entering the contract when the full and exact details are not disclosed.
Then you might have a potential class action for deceptive practice.

But again - when Priceline's disclosure mentioned the potential fee without the amount certain, it is pretty much a get-out-of-jail-free card.
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Old Dec 2, 18, 3:13 pm
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My only disagreement with this statement is the use of the term "pretty much". It is a get out of jail free card.
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Old Dec 5, 18, 9:35 pm
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$50 rate with a $70 fee?

So, basically they can accept your bid for a hotel in NYC with the rate of $50, and then stiff you with some property that charges an undisclosed fee, like here of $70? How about a $500 fee on a $27/night hotel?
Here's the example of a hotel in their inventory.



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Old Dec 7, 18, 7:56 am
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Originally Posted by Often1 View Post
My only disagreement with this statement is the use of the term "pretty much". It is a get out of jail free card.
No, it isn't a proverbial get out of jail free card -- as Priceline's hotel bookings are subject to more than just a cherry-picked jurisdiction of Priceline's choosing, of the hotel's own choosing, or even the choosing of some lawyers looking for a class action lawsuit out of their own greed.

Last edited by GUWonder; Dec 7, 18 at 8:02 am
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Old Yesterday, 6:44 pm
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Bottom line - case or no case, it really depends on how much Priceline knows in advance and how you can prove it.
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