There goes $469 down the drain (thanks a lot, Priceline)

By | December 1st, 2011

Alexa Buffini admits she made an “honest mistake” when she booked her rooms through Priceline and bid for the wrong date. She hoped the company would help her fix it.

But it didn’t, and now she has to kiss $469 goodbye.

Today’s “case dismissed” file is a heartbreaker, because Buffini apparently made several mistakes that would be easy to repeat.

In October, she says she clicked on Priceline to book two hotel rooms from Nov. 11 to 13.

“I put in all of my information, submitted my bid and it was accepted,” she recalls. “Priceline sent me a confirmation, I forwarded it to my girlfriend and we were delighted with the Renaissance Esmeralda we were booked into.”

I’ve attached one of emails she received afterwards, which she read quickly and took to mean that she had been booked on her correct dates. (It wasn’t.)

When we arrived at the hotel on November 11th to check in, we were told they had no reservations for us.

We looked at our email confirmation to show the front desk and the dates were not what I thought I bid on…the reservation confirmation showed the dates we were booked in were for October 14th-16th.

The hotel said they could sell us rooms but could do nothing about refunding our reservation that we unknowingly no-showed for.

I called Priceline customer service and they said that they understood and were very sorry, but there was absolutely nothing they could do because we did not show up at the hotel on our reserved dates (which I never knew until we showed up).

Oh, boy.

“Is there anything I can do to receive a refund for the 469.88 I paid mistakenly?” she asks.

I looked at the confirmation and thought, I could have easily made the same mistake. Neither Pricline nor the hotel are under any obligation to refund for a no-show, but I believed Priceline might be concerned that a customer was confused about a booking.

So I asked. Priceline investigated and sent me its response:

The reservation shows October because that’s what was requested and the bid was accepted: check-in October 14, check-out October 16.

Ms. Buffini returned a day later to attempt another booking, this time for a November 11 check-in, but the bid was too low and it was rejected.

Aha, so two reservations. I looped back with Buffini to see if that made sense. Did she indeed make two separate reservations?

Actually, she made three, she says.

We used the Priceline name your own price and booked – 1 room at the Hyatt on 11/12 because my aunt decided to join us for a night and 1 room at La Quinta for 11/10 because we added a Thursday night to our trip. The third booking was the one at Renaissance for the wrong dates for 2 room for 11/11-11/13.

A careful review of the email she received will show that it was, in fact, not a confirmation. Instead, it was offering her to book another name-your-own-price hotel room. You have to read the actual confirmation either at Priceline or via email.

When you’re acting as your own travel agent, you can’t leave anything to chance. Double-check your dates, and if you have a question, call the hotel or the online travel agency.

Although I find it difficult to reconcile Buffini’s story with Priceline’s, one thing is clear: This is Priceline’s final answer. It is keeping her $469.

“How disappointing,” she says.

I agree.

  • y_p_w

    I don’t think you’re going to find many people who are going to say Priceline should issue a refund.  You take certain risks when dealing with Priceline, and they have very few circumstances where they’ll back off.  It’s got to be something that’s clearly Priceline’s error.

    I’ve had phone reservation clerks reserve a month early, but that was easily corrected once I got a confirmation of the wrong date.I’ve actually eaten a Priceline reservation when my boss wanted to me in for an emergency even though he’d already approved my vacation weeks earlier.  It wasn’t a mistake per se, but I realize that hotels accepts low payments due to Priceline’s terms that the sales are final.  That’s their business model and without it hotels won’t play ball.

    I do have an issue with some aspects of their reservation system.  I once tried low-balling on a bid for two rooms and was rejected.  The system offered me a chance to bid again without changing any details as long as the price was upped $12.  I did just that and got the rooms.  However – I wanted each room reserved in a separate name (one myself and one for a friend on the trip) just in case an emergency key was needed and I wasn’t there.  When it prompted me to make another bid, it didn’t give me any options to re-enter the reservation names, and in the final confirmation both rooms were reserved in my name.  Actually this may have been a case where I might have been able to contact Priceline customer service and had it corrected.  I think they may be willing to do all sorts of things as long as it doesn’t involve full or partial refunds.

  • Marco Martinez

    This sounds like someone was really trying to game the system after she made a mistake. She admitted the multiple bookings and conveniently left out the actual dates of booking (not the reservation dates themselves) so while Priceline did give Elliot the whole story on her repeated attempts to “get a better deal” She “forgot” that name your own price bookings are final; frankly I am a little surprise at trying to help her… it was an obvious end run to the finality of her situation. 

  • y_p_w

    If you want to game the system, do research.  There are plenty of resources for finding out what others have bid for and what locations they got.  After finding out what the most common hotel for a certain area and star rating has been, I frankly avoid those combinations.  I can get a pretty good idea about which one or two hotels are likely to come up based on the upfront price for those nights.  There are some areas where you can figure that no matter what, you’ll end up in some old hotel in a bad part of town, just because one of the cheapest options is a “3 star” that most people would avoid and stay in a “2 star” in a safer part of town.

    I will say that sometimes the system is a little bit harder to game.  I remember doing some research on one area.  I was trying to avoid a certain hotel because of the location (way off the freeway unlike all other hotels in the area), the age of the building, the reviews of the place, and the reported size of the rooms.  It was a “3 star property” that was cheaper than all the “2-1/2 star properties” in the area and considerably cheaper than all the other “3 star properties” in the area for the night I was going to stay.  A location near the freeway would have been ideal, so I figured I’d set up for a 2-1/2 star at a certain price.  I got a room, but it said “Congratulations, we’ve moved you up to a 3 star property” – which was the hotel I was trying to avoid.  The price wasn’t bad, but I was well off the freeway, and when I got there the room just felt really outdated and a little bit cramped.  The place had a full-service restaurant, which I guess is why it was considered 3 star.  However, I would have much preferred any of the 2-1/2 star hotels in the area that were newer with larger rooms that were deliberately built close to freeway onramps/offramps.  This place wasn’t in a bad neighborhood per se, but it was hard to find because of the interesting layout of the local roads.

    My wife actually called up Priceline and tried to argue that it wasn’t acceptable because of the location.  I knew they wouldn’t budge, but it was still rather entertaining.

  • ChrisY

    This one goes in the 100%, no way, no how, never category.  I’d be embarrassed to approach a travel ombudsman with this issue.  

  • $16635417

    This is why I love Priceline…seriously. While it is not for everyone, I have saved thousands over the years and their strict business model helps keep costs down. Knowing their strict polcies, I am extra cautious about entering dates, reviewing input etc.

    There are great sites online that help you figure out how much to bid and explains the ins and outs of bidding. Of course the biggest rule is knowing that once you bid it is non-refundable and reviewing your input is not just a screen to skip over.

    I would be surprised if they had refunded. Expensive lesson learned, time to move on.

  • Raven_Altosk

    I voted no. When you use an opaque site, you have to make sure you’re putting in the correct dates. If not, well, maybe you shouldn’t be booking things by yourself.

  • Arizona Road Warrior

    I agree. 

  • Brooklyn

    Eh, women.

  • Chris in NC

    I agree that Buffini made an “honest mistake.” Her “honest mistake” is that she failed to read Priceline’s confirmation e-mail. Had she done so, she would have noticed the incorrect dates at the time of booking, not weeks or month later at a failed check-in.

    Despite a plethora of articles about hotels and other travel suppliers taking “no favors, no waivers” stance of rules, personally, I haven’t found most managers to be heartless souls. Rather, most are quite reasonable. But being reasonable is a two-way street.

    Buffini’s explanation makes no sense whatsoever. Why do you book a room extension or a room for a guest BEFORE you book your primary reservation? In a case of he-said, she-said, it comes down to what makes the most sense. In this case, what Priceline says makes sense.

  • Chris in NC

    Even Priceline isn’t that heartless about mistakes. If you catch a mistake within a few hours, call CSR, they will void the transaction.

    However, you can’t wait weeks or months to claim “mistake” I would have been upset had Priceline refunded.

  • Tony A.

    You said it all – “I’d be embarrassed to approach a travel ombudsman”. There is nothing to dispute at all. Maybe she just needed Elliott’s sympathy.

  • This one was pretty much a slam dunk – maybe Chris likes to lob them to us occasionally.

    Acting as your own travel agent means making sure all the information is correct BEFORE hitting send.

    As often as I make my own reservations, I’m surprised I don’t make more mistakes than I do.  However, each time I’m doing it (realizing mistakes can happen and the eye doesn’t always see what’s really there) I have my husband or son come and double check what I’ve entered to make sure it’s right.  I can’t afford to lose that kind of money because of my own boneheadness.

  • Whenever you book something that is non-refundable you have to be extra careful to check your information – dates, name, etc. 
    then when you get your confirmation you need to check it again and make sure that everything got processed correctly.  Companies are much better at helping you with a mistake if you notice it right away.

  • S363

    I have to agree that she made a mistake and is out of luck.  But why is it that when a hotel or airline makes a mistake in posting a wrong price (like the Korean Airlines episode Chris recently wrote about) they feel entitled to correct it, at the customer’s expense, and the law seems to back them up?

  • IGoEverywhere

    Poor little psuedo travel agent!

  • Grey83

    It is her mistake, she has to learn to be more careful

  • The implication in the article title that Priceline is at fault for something is unwarranted.  It’s clear that the traveler blew it (this is even pointed out in the article content).

    This is a good teaching lesson (check your work and read your emails), but not a case for intervention of any kind.

  • Karen C.

    I think your headline is misleading, Chris — I think it should be:
    There goes $469 down the drain — duh!

  • Bill

    I voted no because it is my understanding that Priceline’s business model is that they don’t tell you where you are staying until after you pay. 

    It is perplexing what to do in this situation.  Maybe they should have different levels of users:

    – I am an expert.  Please leave all the settings so that I can reserve in the most efficient way.
    – I am intermediate.  Please double confirm the dates and city before making the booking.
    – I am an id__t.  Please don’t tell me which hotel it is until 48 hours after I’ve made the request to book.  In this way, you can give me a refund if I’ve made a mistake and I won’t know the hotel name.  When you do tell me, I still won’t check the dates until I show up so this won’t help anyway.

  • kanehi

    Read the rules before you click.  Double check all the numbers and dates! 

  • Willkoeppel

    I use Priceline all the time… And I have had no issues. I see that people have responded about sites that will give you an idea of what to bid based on certain cities. Does anybody know the name or address of the sites?

  • Andrew, NYC


    This may be one case where the travel agency is not at fault AT ALL.  However, the headline suggests otherwise.  I think it is not fair to Priceline.

    P.S. Don’t forget you are uninsured against lawsuits… :-)

  • BeenThere and BetterBidding are the ones I use.

  • Turtletrot1

    I am sure that Priceline and the hotel would have rented the rooms to others and collected double if they could.  Accomodating customers for honest mistakes is good business.

  • Michael K

    I don’t disagree with Priceline here but it’s outrageous that fat-finger errors don’t cut both ways.

  • larry

    The hotel apparently received their contracted share of the money from Priceline, so I would be upset that they got the money, but did not take care of her when she showed up. This is nothing more than good customer relations. I do not think Priceline owed her anything.

  • Desertstarone

    Way back when Priceline was really a new site I made a booking that was in error by one day.  I called them and told them I’d made a mistake and was aware of their policy.  The CSR  was very nice and said that just this “one time Mr. M” they would they would cancel the reservation and enter a new one with the correct dates.  I was happy and have used Priceline for years now and like others, have saved thousands.  But, I’m very careful about the information I enter on a bid. 

    PS, a few months after my positive experience with Priceline, a friend bid airline tix for a trip where she too made a mistake by a day.  She called CS but was unsuccessful and wound up paying the price for her mistake.  Apparently Priceline had a very short window of time where they would give you a “one time” pass.

  • Lindabator

    She showed up a MONTH later!  How ludicrous to assume the responsibility to re-accommodate her lies with the hotel!  For all you know, there could have been a reason she never WAS confirmed for that rate – they could have been sold out, had a large group that took up most of their space, etc.  the fault is no one but her onw’s here.

  • Londoner1936

    How can you plan to reserve for 11-13 November, and send of a request for 14-16 October.   Do not use these sites if you are not prepared to check everything before hitting the buy button.   I though at first it might be a 10/11 or 11/10 problem (confusing the 11 November with the 10 October, or v.v., but it clearly is not that.  One feature that the web sites might use is a pull down menu for dates with the months in 3 letter format, i.e. Jan, Feb. etc), but the   alternative of a clickable calendar is fine too … as long as you click on the correct month.   Sorry, I do not feel sorry for this person;  someone who clearly was not paying attention.

  • Jeff W.

    Looking at the calendar, I can see where the mistake came from.  Oct 14 and Nov 11 are each the second Fridays of their respective months.  She didn’t look at the month when booking and just clicked in the dates that visually represented that second weekend.

  • Wprdiver

    PRICELINE is getting too BIG for it’s own britches; it tells you that your bid was rejected, but IF you bif “x” price (a specific AMOUNT), they can guarantee you a car/ hotel/ etc.  This is NOT free bidding.  Also, their ’24 hour’ prior attempt rule often leaves a client without a reservation, especially when booking at last minute.  I now use Priceline’s major competitor.

  • jennj99738

    Exactly.  To me, this story shows someone who should never be allowed near a computer. 

  • jennj99738

    I like because the mods are friendlier and always respond to questions. 

  • Grey83

    Except she showed up a month late, so they could not rebook. If it had been the other way many people here would have wanted compensation from the hotel for their error, no honest mistake for the business

  • BeenThere

    When Priceline tells me that my bid was rejected and then says if I add $10 or some similar amount to my bid that they will guarantee me a hotel, I consider that a victory, because I now know that I’m only a couple a dollars a way from the minimum acceptable bid. Assuming I’ve made an informed bid and have one or more free rebids remaining, I always get my hotel on the next bid a few minutes later — and always for much less than that $10 offer.  (By the way, this isn’t something new that Priceline is doing.  They’ve done it for years.) 

    Certainly many would agree that Priceline isn’t always ideal for last minute bookings, but if you are waiting 24 hours between bids, you probably don’t understand the concept of free rebids — one of the key tools in getting the best price possible and getting your booking done quickly. 

    I certainly understand why some people prefer Hotwire.  In my experience, however, Priceline is usually more reliable than Hotwire in terms of accurate hotel ratings, and I can usually beat Hotwire’s price if I bid smart.  But I know that not everyone’s experience is the same. 

  • BeenThere

    +1 for much nicer moderators on BetterBidding

  • y_p_w

    Nah.  When a room is booked, it typically stays empty if there’s a no-show.  There’s almost no way to cancel, so it’s not as if Priceline contacts the hotel to give them the OK to keep the money but release the inventory.

    A hotel willing to take a lowball rate from Priceline is one that is worried that it might have unoccupied rooms for the nights requested.

  • y_p_w

    The service provider gets to make the terms under which they provide the service.  If you don’t like those terms, you are free to choose another service.

    If I want to book a hotel room, I’ve got many options, which include hotel reservations that can be changed or cancelled  with no penalty.  Part of the deal with Priceline’s “Name Your Own Price” is that in return for some killer deals, you can’t select a particular hotel and you can’t change or cancel the reservation.  With some of the deals I’ve gotten from Priceline, I could actually eat one error in ten and not worry too much about it.

  • y_p_w

    I find it mildly ironic that has Priceline as one of its ad sponsors.

  • y_p_w

    Yeah – before they didn’t even give a hint on how close you might be to securing a room.

    However – when it says that you can increase your bid X amount of dollars from you initial bid, what that probably means is that you could have gotten a winning bid had you had a slightly higher initial bid.

    Suppose you bid $50 on a 3-star in a particular area, and it tells you that you can reenter it without changing any details for $15 more. What that could mean is that you might have gotten it on the first try had you initially bid at $55 or $60. Priceline is definitely making money with this new feature, but it’s up to the consumer to determine if that’s worth it. One could easily see how much the going rate is and say to heck with it – I’m booking a hotel where there’s no mystery as to where I’m going to stay. It doesn’t bother me that they’ve implemented this system, as long as I feel I’m getting a better rate than I could have gotten elsewhere.

  • y_p_w

    I like Priceline, but the service isn’t for everybody.  It’s got certain limitations, but ones that can be lived with given the savings.

    Sometimes you might not get options that you wish you had, like free breakfast at some hotels in the same area with the same rating.  Still – if the hotel has free breakfast, I typically find that it doesn’t change even if booked with Priceline  The exception was  one hotel booked on Priceline where we didn’t receive the free breakfast coupons that other guests were getting who didn’t book through opaque websites.  I remember getting a great rate at a resort hotel in Maui.  The kicker was that they would either charge $20 for parking or $25 for a “resort fee” that included parking, a couple of drinks, pool towel coupons, free local calls, etc.  There was no resort fee if booked directly with the hotel chain.  It didn’t bother me so much since I did get a couple of Mai Tais as well as saved over $150 compared to what they were asking directly for the room.

  • BeenThere

    There is a simpler solution to the latter problem.  Call the hotel directly and ask to add the name of the additional party to the reservation.  I do this all the time and have never had a problem yet.

  • Stef

    years ago, the price differential between the opaque sites and transparent was huge.  now, much less so.  i rarely find anything on priceline worth the risk of booking.  Also, european hotels used to think that this was regular online travel agency and treat you well whereas the north american ones knew that you had gone bottom dollar and didnt care that you had stayed at their hotel vs any other in the same class/area.  However, even the european and asian ones are onto this now and all treat you poorly. 
    When arguing for something at a hotel, your best argument is to say that you will not stay there…but with priceline, they know that you didn’t choose to stay there to begin with which puts you at significant disadvantage. 
    Just use orbitz…don’t mean to drop a brand name, but have found them to be very good and very cancellable when plans change.  I am done with priceline–and most of you should be too.

  • Stef

    also, always check if you are going to use opaque site so that you know where you are going to stay.

  • BeenThere

    Well, this isn’t really the place to discuss bidding strategy, but as a general rule I don’t want to win a hotel on the initial bid.  I start (reasonably) low, then use whatever free rebids that are available to incrementally increase my bid.  In some areas, I can make as many as five or six incremental bids within the course a few minutes and thereby be assured of getting the lowest price available for my desired combination of zone and star rating.  An “increase your bid by x” notice simply tells me I’m getting close.

  • Brooklyn

     Part of it is timing – generally companies will be lenient if you notice the mistake soon (within a day), and most people wouldn’t be so upset if an airline posted a mistake fare and notified customers within a day or so (unlike the 2 months with Korean). If you try weeks later, or especially after the fact, you won’t get far.

  • Kevkev

    This kind of customer that screws up business, do you understand why there will be no refund? Read one more time before commenting and open your mouth.

  • Brooklyn

    It’s all about timing – if either party makes a mistake but notices and tries to correct it soon (within 24 hours is typical), then the other party tends to be lenient. If you wait 2 months, you’re pretty much ou tof luck.

  • larry


     I  agree you about the hotel being sold out etc, but that’s not the point. IF and it is a big IF, but IF I got the money from a customer for one of 3 businesses I own, I would try like hell to take care of that customer if I could.  I guess that’s the reason that 6 comparable businesses in my area have gone bankrupt, but I’m still successful after 30 years. Priceline owes her nothing IMO. 

  • larry

    I just clear cookies or change browsers and log in under a different account ( I have 4), and continue with the bidding process.

  • Michael K

    Except (possibly-TBD) if you are Korean Airlines :)

  • Bodega

    “How dissppointing”?  How disappointing that she wasted your time in writing to you and yet you went with it.  The only good it did was show that OP’s are not always upfront with all the details.

  • y_p_w

    I’ve gotten some substantial discounts – up to 50% or more off what I could have gotten via any upfront booking.

    I also can’t say that I’ve been treated that badly just because I booked through Priceline as an opaque customer. Occasionally I could tell that perhaps I didn’t get the best room location, but often I could still have the pick of any room as if I were any other hotel guest. The places I’ve stayed have been very accomodating of room requests. The staff never treats me like a pariah. If there’s a free breakfast, the staff doesn’t know anything about how the customer booked. I also typically tip the cleaning staff, and I hope they remember that if I manage to make a return visit.

  • BeenThere

    Well, they generate a lot of business for Priceline and also take a commission on sales when people click through using their A-B link.

    Me, I click thru FW Cash Back instead and put at least some of that back in my pocket.

  • Charles B

    I have no idea how priceline’s website is laid out because I don’t use it. That said, I’ve been a frequent victim of poor interface design for years at work. Our calendaring system lets me navigate to look up a date on my calendar. Once I see it is free, I select create appointment. I put in the times, and create that appoint – for today’s date and not for the date I just selected. The interface always defaults to today and never to a selected date. Is that what happened in this case? Don’t know, but I can tell you it sure is an easy mistake to keep making with bad software.

  • Ann Lamoy

    People need to start taking personal responsibility for their mistakes. I get that mistakes happen-we are all human beings. But she should have checked her email confirmation and looked at the dates as a quick double check. At that point, she would have realized she mistakenly booked the wrong dates. Had she then contacted Priceline and admitted her error and they refused to cancel her booking and allowed her to rebid, I would have voted yes. But because she couldn’t be bothered to take a minute to double check her own booking, I don’t think that Priceline should suck it up and pay for her mistake.

    I do sympathize because $469 is a lot of money. But it is a valuable lesson for her-and everyone. When you book on-line, CAREFULLY read all the details of your booking before you hit the submit button. And then check your confirmation email to make sure the trip details match what you really want. Dates, price, location, etc. If it doesn’t, then that is the time to take care of it-not weeks or even a month later.

  • Asiansm Dan

    One more reason I appreciate my TA work who haven’t made any error yet (I surely would made several myself). I double check because it take less time to double check than trying to resolve the problem when you are oversea. Imagine my several traveling in South Pacific with twisted Date Line passing back and forth.

  • sdir

    Why are you upset the hotel received payment for rooms they reserved in good faith and couldn’t sell to anyone else?  Why should they lose hundreds of dollars when the LW couldn’t be bothered to spend two minutes and double-check a date?  She learned a hard lesson.

    I’m perplexed you don’t think Priceline owes compensation but that the hotel does.  Good customer service is given to reasonable customers, not every entitled idiot who thinks the world owes them something. 

  • Dip

    I believe, just like with airlines, opaque sites must have some policy if you accidentally entered the wrong date. I once had a bid with hotwire on a hotel I did not want. Prior to booking I looked on the map and knew the hotel was not in the region. When I got that hotel I challenged it and won.

  • Joe Farrell

    I voted no because of Forrest Gump.

    Stupid is a stupid does.   Everyone makes mistakes.  Yep,  sure as we are human we make mistakes.   Which is why you are doing something online involving your own money or the money of others you had better really be correct about what you are doing – because – the contract controls and it is not written to benefit people who make ‘mistakes’ and want special treatment . . . .

    I’m wondering here lately what Chris is looking for?  This one is pretty simple – I made a mistake, the consequences of that mistake is losing my money.  Yep – too bad so sad – I feel for the woman losing money.   But she did it to herself – why should the rest of us subsidize her.

    Subsidize her?  Yep.  Priceline cuts a deal – its usually not a very good deal – but they cut a deal. They make the reservation they take your money and give it to the hotel.  If they give Alexa back her $469 then they need to make up the $469 someplace else- and that someplace else is from the rest of us – overcharging all of us $1 until they make it up . . .

  • Joe Farrell

    And how do you tell that someone made an honest mistake or simply needs to change the date for their own convenience?   Believe what you want but the rest of us live in reality. 

    The story you tell about the hotel not being in the same location means the company have violated its agreement – you should get your money back – that story has nothing to do with the one involving the dates. 

  • y_p_w

    If it’s clearly a property that isn’t in the region, then they’re not selling you something that you didn’t agree to.

    If however you’re trying to game the system for the lowest price, throw in a bid that you attempt to cancel, then try again, then that’s clearly not something that should be addressed by Priceline.

    I tried a sample booking for this Friday night.  I didn’t enter my credit card number or sign in.  I clearly see it says (and not in some calendar form):

    Please Review Your Request

    3 Star Upscale Hotel, XX XX XX Area  

    Check-In Date: Friday, December 2, 2011
    Check-Out Date: Saturday, December 3, 2011
    Region XYZ, CA
    City Area: City X
    Check-In Time: Guaranteed late night arrival
    Check-Out Time: Check-out times vary by hotel
    Room 1: y_p_w
    Number of Rooms: 1
    Guaranteed Amenities: Indoor or Outdoor Pool, Guest Score 8/10 or Higher
    Number of Nights: 1

    A simple review of the dates will tell me the day of the week, the month, the calendar day, and the year.  I usually throw in a sanity check of looking at my computer’s calendar before proceeding.  I understand that it can be easy to go over it way too quickly and move on to the next page, but it only takes a few seconds.

    No matter where I stay, I always print out the confirmation and double check it for the dates and hotel name.  Sometimes the hotel name can be tricky when there are similar sounding hotels in the same area.

  • Allen

    Alexa Buffin makes a mistake and has to live with the cost, losing $469… BUT Korean Air makes a mistake and it is o.k. for them to get out of it by unilaterally cancelling tickets?!

  • y_p_w

    Theoretically Korean Air didn’t make the mistake.  Supposedly it was the online travel agencies that listed what should have been identified as a travel-agent only discount fare.

    In addition to that, they didn’t simply unilaterally cancel tickets.  They offered all sorts of compensation such as offering to cover cancellation fees for transportation and lodging surrounding the planned trip along with a voucher.  Some reports are that they offered to honor the tickets for a nominal fee of around $200.  That seems pretty good given that they were supposed to be priced around $2200.  If anyone really wanted to go and booked lodging, ground transportation, etc, shelling out another $200 (which would make it a still great $800 round trip price) seemed to me to be a reasonable compromise given that they had legal grounds to simply cancel the whole thing and offer refunds without compensation.  Or even allow it to happen as is, with ticketed passengers arriving at the counter and denied boarding because they can’t produce a valid IATAN card to qualify for the fare class. 

  • andrelot

    It immediately crossed my mind. I think both Alexa and Korean should be left on the hook for their mistakes.

  • Bill Gates

    “Today’s “case dismissed” file is a heartbreaker, because Buffini apparently made several mistakes that would be easy to repeat.”

    Idiot of the week.

  • Tony A.

    Can you please do me a favor and run a historical fare in Sabre. I think you use Sabre (or maybe someone else here does). I don’t have access to Sabre.


    This is in relation to the KE Palau fiasco.
    My GDS Worldspan does not have the offending S**EE/AD75 fare base (plural due to different seasons and weeday / weekend departure) that Expedia sold. So there was no way I could have committed the same error by selling that travel agent only discounted fare.

    Kindly display mini rules of the S class fare bases and see if Sabre created */AD75 fares. Worldspan didn’t. I am trying to track down which GDSes were faulty because only Expedia and Travelocity seems to have sold the mistaken fares. Kayak also displayed it and we know Kayak depends on ITAsoftware for it’s fare displays.


  • Tony A.

    Glad you pointed out that Korean  Air gave them a generous offer. I want to add that they were offered to fly to Palau at KE’s lowest publish (correct) fare to Palau or a similar market. And the $200 voucher could also be applied to that. Since the lowest KE fare did not have the usual $360 fuel surcharge added to it, then those who took the offer would have saved at least $560 over the current fares. In fact today’s fare has even increased compared to September’s by at least $100. These folks are getting a bargain but they still don’t like it.

    You can compare China Air’s, United’s and Delta’s fares to Palau. None of them come close to what KE is offering these folks. What a gentlemanly offer from KE for a mistake done by the OTAs.

  • Joe Farrell

    Which is why KAL needs to honor the fare it sold and posted . . . .

  • Lindabator

    Priceline doesn’t owe her – but neither does the hotel!  The dates she was booked for was for October, she went to the hotel in November.  Show up for the airline a month later, or try to pick up your rental car the next month.  You cost the company money, because they couldn’t resell the property, and you want them to give you a free room (Probably not at the same rate) because you can’t read.  NOT THE HOTEL’s responsibility.  You might want to freely hand out your money, but most companies are in business to make money, and this is one reason they are so strict.  Otherwise folks like her would take no responsibility, show up whenever they want, and just EXPECT the big bad company to take a hit because of their stupidity.

  • Lindabator

    Great – then all those folks show their IATA card to board the plane or NO REFUND.  That’s the terms and conditions of the fare.  The OTAs screwed up, not Korean.

  • Tony A.

    Hi Linda, do you use Sabre GDS. If so could you  kindly run the historical fares I asked from Bodega (see above post). Not sure if Bodega uses Sabre.


    I’ trying to figure out how the mistake happened since I don’t see the wrong fare in Worldspan GDS. Thanks.

  • Alexabuffini

    Hi Marco – It’s Alexa. I’ve been a loyal and repeat raving fan customer of Priceline for years. I tell everyone about how great I thought it was. I’m not trying to work the system, I just like to get great deals when we travel. I know the story is confusing, please read below and let me know if it makes more sense when you read it this way…
    In October when we planned this weekend away to Palm Desert with another family, I booked our 2 rooms for 2 nights on “Priceline’s Name your own price”. After a few attempts, I finally got the 2 rooms at my bid price (I just didn’t realize I had input the wrong dates) Then, after I booked our Fri and Sat night away in Palm Desert, my husband and I decided to add a Thurs night to our trip, so on name your own price, I bid and got 1 more room at my bid price for Thurs the 10th. I also later found out my aunt was joining us for Saturday night the 12th to help us couples with our little ones, give us a date night out, and so I then bid and got her 1 extra room for Sat the 12th. So all said and done that would have meant, 1 room for Thurs the 10th, 2 rooms for Fri the 11th, and 3 rooms for Sat the 12th, all in Palm Desert for our fun weekend away. My hope was just that Priceline would see my mistake and my past purchases and have some speck of mercy in the form of a credit or refund. I truly was not trying to work the system – I know their policy is no refunds and I do respect that. Knowing my own humanity and that there is a small possibility ;-) for me to make another mistake in the future, I will reconsider whether it is worth it to use Priceline as a third party to book travel. 

  • Lindabator

    Sorry, hon, no Sabre. 

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