Rants on business, science, technology, society, politics, police, and justice, plus life hacks and tricks, since 2003. header image 2 Sucks, National Car Rental Swallows

January 24th, 2007 · 40 Comments

I recently returned from a vacation to Florida. Being the bargain hunter I am, I shopped around for cheap airline tickets using a couple of tricks. First, I was willing to fly out of whatever airport was cheapest, at whatever time was cheapest. My dates were also somewhat flexible. Flying in the middle of the week, as opposed to a weekend, is generally cheapest, so I preferred two Wednesday flights. Next, I checked prices about a week or two prior to my expected travel date, although savings are usually best given one to three weeks notice.

So considering those basic points, I started seeking price quotes from the well-known bargain travel sites:,,, and I entered my information identically across all four sites, and compared their prices. Continental Airlines and American Airlines were consistently less expensive than other airlines across those four sites. All four sites gave approximately equal quotes for the same route, which was cheapest when flying from LaGuardia airport in New York to Palm Beach International airport in West Palm Beach, Florida. The total cost, as advertised by all four sites, was approximately $134 to $165 before taxes and fees for the roundtrip, non-stop airfare – not bad in the first place.

On another note, I was to receive an additional 6% rebate on the entire transaction. First, Discover Card‘s “Get More” cash-back promotion was advertising 5% cash-back on travel charges such as airfare, train tickets, hotel stays, and rental cars. The other 1% was through my Upromise account. Upromise is a brand loyalty program that gives you a miniscule rebate, typically 2% or less, when you buy certain things. Upromise makes money because retailers pay to be Upromise branded, and those vendors make up the miniscule amount paid to you since you are more likely to buy more of their typically over-priced merchandise. I essentially abuse Upromise by not using it myself – for example, while I have my own grocery card and credit card registered with Upromise, my family shares my grocery card account and thereby generates rebates unknowingly as they buy things the way they normally would. In any event, is a Upromise vendor and so I logged into my Upromise account, which then led me to

And such was the next trick up my sleeve:’s “Name your own price” system. advertises that you can save between 20 and 40% off regular price airfare if you name your own price. So I took the $134 quote, the lowest advertised elsewhere, subtracted an additional 20%, and entered in a price of $108. Note that I could have possibly saved more, but considering that other “bargain” sites were making the offers they were, I considered it fair to pay $54 per direction without trying to save more (although I don’t know if I could have saved more).

Within two minutes, accepted my offer and emailed me a confirmation. I would be flying on American Airlines, and after taxes and fees I paid approximately $135. My flights in both direction were on-time, relaxing, and comfortable. A rather good looking flight attendant at least ten years my senior gave me her phone number in New York, free drinks and M&Ms – so no complaints on that flight. Interestingly, she began conversing with me because she said it was “strange” that I would be seated where I was – at the tail of the plane, next to the engine, in a row by myself, in an otherwise fully packed aircraft, next to her flight attendant’s seat. Anyway, the return flight was less eventful but also comfortable. All-in-all, the flight portion of my experience with was positive. My flight attendant friend was shocked about the price I paid commenting, “We [American Airlines] are probably losing money on that.”

But in this joke, the positive airfare experience is only the setting of the stage for the punch line. After I received my email confirmation from that my offer was accepted, I was directed to return to to complete my transaction. After completing the steps, I was presented with other related offers: discount hotel reservations and car rentals. I didn’t need either since I was visiting friends, who had ample space to put me up for the week. However, since I had a separate experience renting a car only two weeks earlier, I decided to see how much would rent me a car for.

I was shocked when I was offered a price of $19 per day for a Premium vehicle – a “Crown Victoria or similar” according to The terms clearly stated that an under 25 fee would apply. I decided that for the $19 a day, a rental car would be fun to tool around in, and considering the cheap airfare, it was within my budget for the trip. I decided to accept their offer, and I was given a receipt on which $65 in “fees” were added, however, there was no itemization of fees. The car rental agency was National Car Rental, and the total was $204. So given that the fee amounted to almost 50% of the cost of the vehicle, I figured the under 25 fee was assessed here. Without an itemized receipt, however, it was impossible for me to ascertain that there was yet another fee waiting for me. But this is also not the only surprise that was waiting.

After booking my “Premium” vehicle with National Car Rental, knowing that different companies use different fleets of vehicles, I called National Car Rental to determine if they indeed had Ford Crown Victorias in their fleet. As an aside, if you’ve never driven a “police car”, consider trying it sometime. I guarantee you’ll notice a significant increase in the patience and prudence of other drivers – a sad testimonial to the effect that the thought of surveillance has on human behavior. Anyway, the National Car Rental agent said that they used GM vehicles typically, but that a “Premium” vehicle meant either a Buick LeSabre, Buick Lucerne, Dodge Magnum, or Dodge Charger. Obviously, I wanted the Dodge Charger, even if it only had a 6-cylinder engine.

Upon arrival in West Palm Beach, I marched excitedly to the National Car Rental counter. The agent behind the counter was friendly, and as much as I would have loved to spew obscenities at him for the chaos that was about to ensue, he was only doing his job and was trying earnestly to keep me satisfied. So what happened, exactly?

First, the Dodge Magnum and Dodge Charger were not available at all. Not just at that location, they were virtually not available at all. The agent said they come in “sometimes” which, based on his squinting and perseverate deep breath, I took to mean “almost never”. I asked what was available in the Premium class, and he advised me that only the Buick LeSabre and Buick Lucerne were available. Granted, they’re “full size” cars but calling either a premium vehicle in the first place is a bit of a stretch, in my opinion. I asked what other vehicles were available in other classes, and let him know I’d be willing to pay extra for the next class up. With a great sense of futility, he tapped the keys on his computer terminal to check, finding a Cadillac CTS and Hummer H3, both for an additional $20 or so per day, which would have doubled the price I was paying. In response, imagine me making a puckered face of dissatisfaction. I agreed to take the Buick Lucerne.

“Alright,” he said, “now if you can just sign here.” Drawing my eyes to the signature box, I then looked around, grabbed a pen nearby on the counter, and prepared to put my mark on the page. My eyes grew wide with shock as I noticed the paper was not the rental agreement – it was an invoice. “This says I owe you almost $300,” I pointed out. “Oh yes, that’s what it says you owe in the computer.” I returned, “What for? I pre-paid through” The agent then explained, “Yes, but you’re under 25, and there is a $39 per day fee, plus tax, for underage renters.” He advised me to call with questions, citing that the reservation was made through them.’s customer service was completely useless in resolving this issue. Not only did they insist that I had not paid an under 25 fee, they admitted that, “[I] did pay taxes and fees, but those fees couldn’t be broken down individually.”’s customer service agents repeatedly insisted that there was nothing they could do – no full refund, no prorated refund, no credit for another time. I asked if they were ever able to help people, and they said yes. I asked, for future reference, what situation would warrant a refund or credit – and the agent refused to give a square answer! Seems like it’s not much of a service to customers to have customer service agents that are only there to tell you, “Sorry, there’s nothing we can do!”

I might be crazy, but when a fee is literally twice the advertised price, it’s not much of a fee anymore – it’s a big freaking difference. It’s false advertising, it’s deceptive, it’s price gouging, and it’s probably very profitable.

After all, if I really needed a rental car, there’s a good chance I’d accept the gouged price upon arrival. How would you leave the airport without your ground transportation? Fortunately I had my friends to call and ask for a ride. They were working at the time, but were willing to pick me up after their shift. So after waiting at the airport like Tom Hanks in a short version of “The Terminal“, I was out of the airport and started a fun week of relaxing and taking in the weirdness that is the state of Florida.

There was yet another surprise waiting for me, though. I attempted to use my Discover Card in a liquor store in Port Saint Lucie, and was declined on a $9 transaction! When I called Discover, their automated system advised me that my available credit was $0, thanks to guess who – National Car Rental who put the $295 charge to my credit card, maxing it out completely, despite that I refused to sign the invoice or take receipt of the car. This charge was reversed by National Car Rental when I advised them that I hadn’t signed the invoice and had declined the rental as a result of the fee in the first place. When National Car Rental was issuing this refund, they said they couldn’t refund the original $204 charge because I booked it through, and so I’d have to deal with them. “Well, isn’t going to pay you that $204,” I asked. “Only if you actually take the car,” the National agent said. He did say, however, that if I had booked the rental directly that they would have refunded me fully – a claim I can’t disprove but that my gut says is probably untrue based on the whole experience.

But since also refused to issue me a refund for the rental car service which was never rendered to me, so I’ve had no choice but to dispute the charge through Discover Card. I may get my money back, I may not., and National Car Rental: if you decide you want to give me a refund after all, I’ll gladly take it, and update this story accordingly to let readers know that you may not be as bad as you’ve been to me. But based on your inability to do anything for me, and your lack of willingness to show that you could do anything for me in the first place, especially when I was in a jam, I really doubt that will happen. One of the agents even went so far as to say it was “my fault” and that he’d bet that I’d “read the terms more carefully next time” – despite that I had read the terms and believed to be complying with them in good faith.

You can be sure I’ll never use your car rental services again. And if at least one reader here decides not to use your services, I’ll be satisfied. The $204 you defrauded from me may ultimately be yours to keep, but the sales you may lose are hopefully worth far more.

In summary:’s cheap airfare is enticing, but decline their tie-in offers unless you like being royally screwed and stuck at an airport for hours with $500 charged to your credit card for services never received. As for National Car Rental, I hope that if you use them that you like Buicks, but don’t believe the hype about getting something actually desirable like a Dodge Charger.

UPDATE – 04/03/2007: Discover Card finally resolved their investigation into this charge.  They ruled in my favor, and issued me a refund for the full $206.30 in dispute!  The text of my dispute letter surrounded the use of “taxes and fees” in the agreement, which implied that the total I was charged originally should have included “all taxes and fees”.  Since they tried to slap a $400 fee on top of the price they quoted me, Discover agreed that the total did not include all taxes and fees, and subsequently, that I was not liable for that charge!  Eat that, Priceline.  It pays to Discover! (R) (Note I am not affiliated with Discover).

Tags: Business · Complaint Department

40 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Keizo // Jan 24, 2007 at 9:11 pm

    Renting cars sucks. Maybe try a ZipCar? 😉 I haven’t used it yet, but I keep hearing about for flights.

  • 2 Zach M. // Jan 25, 2007 at 7:28 am

    Just contest the charges with your cc, you’ll get your money back.

  • 3 RudyD // Mar 4, 2007 at 2:01 pm

    Zach, have you had something similar happen to you? Are you saying you got your money back, and if so, from who—the cc co. or Priceline? I’m trying to get a dispute filed with my cc co. right now over a Priceline car rental. They gave me the wrong car type! I was surprised that my offer had been accepted until I read on down in the email that, instead of the SUV I had requested, I was given/won a mid-size. I immediately, within minutes, called Priceline and complained, told them I did not want and could not use the mid-size, needed the SUV I requested. They told me that Alamo, the rental car co., had their SUVs under mid-size type. I knew that was wrong, wrong, wrong. Priceline gave me Alamo’s 800# to call & verify this. I immediately called them and was told NO, that was not true and they’d had this problem with Priceline before. But they wouldn’t do anything about it either. Had to be Priceline to initiate any changes. I then called my cc co. (all this within about 30 minutes of receiving Priceline’s email) and they said since the transaction was showing as “pending” they couldn’t do anything, but as soon as it showed as a transaction I could dispute it. I’ve called 3 different numbers today (Sunday, 3-4-07) before finally being told the disputes area is not open on Sunday. So now I have to try again tomorrow to file a dispute with my credit card company. I did send a complaint email to Priceline and they emailed back that they could no do anything for me. Surprise, surprise! I don’t need a vehicle for another 2 months; it’s not like they are going to lose money by cancelling this transaction and refunding my money; or Alamo could work something out with getting the vehicle I had asked for.
    This whole thing just has me sick at my stomach. Never thought something like this would happen. I’ve used Priceline in the past for airline tickets, a hotel once, and rental vehicles. Never had a problem before. But once burned, I doubt I’ll even look at Priceline’s site ever again.

  • 4 » Creative Consumer Credit Card Charging Can Create Cool Cash // May 12, 2007 at 9:01 am

    […] for 6 months, completely negated the 6% APY spread over 6 months (or, 3% return) that I floated. Discover refunded a transaction to me – which apparently is a miracle – but made sure to stick to their guns on the balance transfer […]

  • 5 Nikol // Jan 31, 2008 at 1:27 am

    Priceline sold me a hotel room that was outside of the city I requested.

    I’ve been to Palm Springs and know it is a small city, so it didn’t matter what part of town my hotel was in. When I arrived to Palm Springs I was told by an Embassy Suites Rep that I was nowhere near the address I had on my reservation email. The town they booked my room in was “down the highway 20 miles. ”

    I was certain I’d asked for a 3 star room in Palm Springs. When I got back home I revisited the website. Their site said/says “Choose more than one area in Palm Springs, CA to improve your chances.” I know Palm Springs is a small city and I couldn’t be far from dowtown if I chose any of the national chain hotels. So, of course, I chose the one that said “best deal” after it.

    It was a $70 cab ride to Palm Springs from this hotel (plus tip, and wasted time, of course). We had dinner reservations at one of Palm Springs finest restaurants. but the late arrival and holdups made us very late for dinner. Instead of the romantic dinner I had planned for my girlfriend’s Birthday, we ended up at the only place that was still serving food near our hotel. Just to give you an idea of how that went over, I’ll tell you the name of the joint- “The Beer Hunter.”

    Happy Birthday, Honey.

  • 6 Matthew // Feb 16, 2008 at 12:42 am

    You are all stupid. I work for priceline and no, we do not screw you over. The last comment is really funny becasue we booked you in the Palm Springs area. When you do name your own price reservations on priceline you cannot pick a city. You pick an area. This area is a red shadded region on a paper. I am sorry your stupid ass cannot read maps. Your hotels are always within this shadded region. Please read more and stop calling so much. You are always wrong and you only waste my time and yours. Your reservations are non changeable, non cancelable, and non-refundable. That is stated to you in the contract which you all refuse to read. Also stop calling and saying you are never going to use priceline again because no one cares. And remember…the more you make us angry by bitching at is…the more damage we can do. Remember…we have your credit card numbers, expiration dates, adress, phone numbers, names, and a lot of other information about you. Don’t be suprised if we do not end up at your doorstep.

    [Editor’s note: It’s very unlikely that this toolbag actually works for Priceline. And even if he did, that just goes to show you what deceiving pricks they are — they think you’re an idiot and deserve to be subject to credit card fraud.]

  • 7 Matthew // Feb 17, 2008 at 11:24 pm

    I actually do work for And we do think you are idiots. Because you really are.

  • 8 David // Feb 24, 2008 at 9:24 am

    I just booked a hotel that priceline claimed is a 4-star hotel. The hotel they picked is literally not even a 2 star hotel. I truly believe they are not a good choice for any traveller. I also believe that the guy claiming to work for priceline is for real! Pretty frightening that a Priceline employee threatens to come after a disgruntled client by saying “We have your address from your credit card info” That info needs to be forwarded to the police.

    [Editor’s reply: But come on, their commercials are so catchy, surely their customer service is as good as their marketing, right? Not.]

  • 9 Lindsay // Mar 18, 2008 at 11:10 am

    Matthew seriously, if you do work for Priceline you are putting your job at risk. If I found out one of my employees did what you just did on here, I’d fire you on the spot. You are an embarassment to your employer.

  • 10 julie // Mar 20, 2008 at 11:25 am

    I used to be a fan of priceline. But lately they have disappointed me terribly to the point of anguish

    F**K priceline. They made me pay the full amount of $400 for the hotel stay that I didn’t even bid for because of a f**King system glitch. I hate them and won’t ever use them again.

  • 11 Another Priceline Victim // May 15, 2008 at 4:28 pm

    I used to be a fan of Priceline as well. They have become more predatory and deceptive in their bidding process.

    Beware of their “Name Your Own Price” feature. It’s rigged to fool and defraud you. So read the finest of fine prints.

    If anyone at Priceline does read this, shame on you for trying to justify predatory and deceptive sales tactics. It will never help you survive as a company and it will always lose you customers. I will never use the site again. I’ll tell my employer, my husband’s employer and everyone we’re associated with about their pernicious practices and once my situation is resolved with the help of my credit card company, I’ll contact every media outlet I know as well as William Shattner to let them know what Priceline is doing. I’m sure Mr. Shattner would not want his name to continue to be associated with this type of organization, despite the obvious revenue.

  • 12 Link // Jun 11, 2008 at 6:40 am

    Once upon a time Priceline truly had good deals for hotel, flight, etc. Nowadays other sites offer better flight deals, the hotel price isn’t that competitive most of the time, and the car rental is probably going to follow that trend.

    This is why I only rented a car once when I was under 25 – the exorbitant fee.

  • 13 Stephen // Jul 7, 2008 at 11:13 am

    I feel bad for you guys. However, most of the complaints are due to lack of knowledge of Priceline and not knowing how to get the best deal. Priceline IS a risk. That is clear by their terms and conditions … however it is a risk I am willing to take to save nearly 70% off hotel prices nearly every time I use it.

    Get informed:

    If Priceline truly quotes you a price that turned out to be different in the end … then that sucks for them. However, what part of “no refunds” don’t you understand. Your bid is FINAL. Unless they don’t deliver exactly what they promised you (and they don’t promise much), then you really are at fault. In my experience all fees are stated BEFORE you bid … so you know exactly how much the final price will be. In the case of the over age fee, I would probably have been upset as well … but that’s almost like expecting parking to be included when you rent a hotel through priceline. It’s just not the way it is.

    While you guys are swearing off Priceline for life, I’ll be thanking them as I stay in my downtown Toronto hotel for $54 a night vs. the going rate of nearly $250. Even if I did make a mistake (which I most likely won’t because I’m informed) … saving that kind of money on my stays make the odd mistake (on my part) quite acceptable.

  • 14 Dave // Jul 29, 2008 at 8:52 pm

    Priceline has really gone downhill. Whereas I used to use them frequently lately I’ve found them to br non-competitive. Most recently it was for a car rental. They rejected 4 bids of mine that were “reasonable”. After my frustration I went elsewhere and got a car for less than I had bid (and been rejected for on Priceline).

  • 15 mike // Aug 5, 2008 at 8:43 am

    Ditto on bad experiences with Priceline. I’m stuck with a rental I cannot pickup. I’m eating a flight but need the car due to a change in my work location. They will not let me change the car rental agreement to simply allow my wife to pick up the car as requested. So she has to take a taxi while the car sits there unused yet I’m paying for it? Please. All the investors and employees of Priceline can drop dead for all I care. The good thing is that I make a bunch more money than the majority of their poor employees and this is just a lesson learned. You can’t even change the name of the person picking up the reserved car? Give me a break. Even Avis will not make the change since they are kissing Priceline’s arse. To bad since I’m about to do a work assignment that will require a rental car for 5 months. Bye bye Avis – hello Hertz. You are judge guilty by association. Oh, and my former Wizard number – just toss that … I’ll not be needing it anymore.

    Hey Shattner, hope you are enjoying your association with what is a company that is going to find itself in a downward spiral. Buyer beware indeed. I’ll let American Express deal with the fraud of the car rental since I will not be using it due to the impossible inability of being in two places at the same time. For goodness sake, you cannot change one name on a contract? Give me a break.

    Sad but true. They make their money by being so inflexible that customer service is a non issue. Good luck and I hope you go the way of all those other flighty companies.


  • 16 B Hattey // Aug 15, 2008 at 11:04 am

    I have read some of the testimonials about and couldnt agree more. Their structure is ludicrous (cant increase your price for 24hrs unless you completely revamp your trip…..oh yeah like your gonna do that> and stand by for heavy rolls when you show up and try to figure out how you got that “ tatoo on your forehead”

  • 17 Peter // Sep 24, 2008 at 11:40 pm

    when you use Priceline, you will need to double comfirm with whichever company you are making reservation with. I had an experience once when I booked an hotel with Priceline only to find out that my reservation did not go through when i arrived at that hotel. As a result I had to paid a full price for my stay.

    Also, Priceline will never refund your money unless you go through your credit card company.

    However, Priceline can still save you alot of money if you use it carefully and properly.


  • 18 welch // Nov 5, 2008 at 12:40 pm

    I am so glad I read the blogs, I was about to book a car with Priceline and now I do not want anything to do with them now that I’m INFORMED by people who used them. You did save one person. Thank you all for your comments.

  • 19 John // Dec 2, 2008 at 8:49 am

    Priceline has its pros and cons, for sure. I use it for about 90% of my hotel rooms, 50% of my rental cars, and 5% of my flights. I feel there is good reason for doing so.

    In general, do not use Priceline to buy anything, until you are fully experienced with buying the same thing directly. Don’t use them for airline tickets until you’ve flown a lot without them. Don’t use them for hotels until you’ve bought a lot of hotel rooms directly. Don’t rent a car through them until you have rented a lot of cars, preferably from all 5 of the car rental companies they use.

    Sometimes being in a frequent-traveler program of the company will save you from trouble if you got to them via Priceline. If you had already rented from National, you would have known if/what National charges you for underage. If you had National Emerald Aisle status or a valid corporate-travel code, they might waive fees even on a Priceline rental (the key is to ask before bidding!) or you might have found an advocate to take your side if something odd happened. Being charged an underage fee at the counter is not odd.

    As far as rental cars go, if you’re under 25, or have only a debit card, or are worried about how much they put a hold on your credit card for, or anything like that, here is my advice. They only use 5 rental car companies (and that is if you consider National/Alamo to be 2) so I would have called each and every one of them to ask about the <25 fees, and 10 other questions, before bidding.

    The major rental companies DO NOT generally charge you ANYTHING if you show up on a conventional reservation (not prepaid, just a reservation) made directly with them.

    Considering that the price differential between a company’s own site with known terms/conditions, isn’t usually big enough to justify dealing with a random selection from 5 companies, unless you know all 5 have good terms for you.

    I’d even call each company 3 or 4 times, to make sure that who I talked to, had the right answers, or find a direct contact who would help if you ran into trouble.

    For hotels, the key is to know what star levels they have in each check-boxable area (associated with a destination city), carefully look at the map of each area, and preferably have some idea of which hotels they use in that area. You can get good clues by looking at what hotels they offered before you went to name your price. Then strategize on how to get the most bids in without ending up in an area/star combo you don’t want. If you frequently visit the same city, you’ll learn what area/star combos get you what hotels for what minimum bids if enough space is available for them to be taking their minimum that night.

    Priceline is also great for cars if you stick to the 5 basic car categories (economy through full) and are age 25+. It is a bit iffier for a category like SUV, where the rental companies have several categories of SUV but Priceline doesn’t differentiate between them. My only SUV rental from them ended up with a nice Highlander from Hertz, albeit 2WD, when I’d been hoping for a Blazer/Explorer/Cherokee 4WD. I’m crossing my fingers on another SUV rental I have upcoming from them, with National.

    For flights, Priceline is a huge risk, which I rarely take. Not knowing what time of day either leg will be, is a huge drawback. The one time I did it, I got good flights but slept through my return-flight time. I just kept calling Delta until I got a sympathetic agent willing to do a $25-fee change to let me get home, rather than just saying too bad.

  • 20 Fran // Dec 22, 2008 at 10:24 pm

    Priceline is a joke, they are dishonest and fall back on their contract that most people fail to read. My family and I went through a horrible experience with a hotel they rated as a two star hotel. The hotel was like a bad movie. The tub had hair in it, the coffee cups and coffee maker were in a layer of dust. The heating and a/c unit was unusable, because we were afraid of the dust and dirt that would come out of it if we turned it on since it was obvious that no one had change the filter or cleaned the thing in months. The elevator at this hotel had some type of body fluids smeared on the walls and control and really the hotel clerk and owner did not show any type of surprise when we were describing the condition of the room…Everyone needs to call the health department when you are exposed to conditions like this. Priceline would not refund our money and the owner of the hotel said he was never going to refund the money since we did call the health department. Your issue has happened several times and in different ways before. There are stories of flights being canceled because of weather, and Priceline will not back the consumer up. Funerals and deaths in the family, and they still don’t give a hoot.
    I also went to the Better Business Bureau and Consumer Affairs, to complain, and leave a record of their dishonest practices, In addition I went to the Travel advisor web-site and told the story again. …Any where I can go to save consumers from this ridiculous company…I have spent well over 50 hours investing this company, so way over the $119.00 price of this ghetto room they were charging us for. I don’t see how Priceline stays in business.

  • 21 ann // Feb 6, 2009 at 5:47 pm

    Thank you for all this info. I was looking into using priceline but no thanks sounds to complicated

  • 22 Downey // Feb 17, 2009 at 3:05 pm

    I have so far had fair experiences with Priceline, on hotel rooms and car rentals. I think you can get a good deal not a great deal, as the 4 star hotels I bid on don’t have the highest customer satisfaction that others in the area have. That is why there taking my $65 bid on a $220 room.
    As for the car rental Priceline’s price is way too high, so when they tell you to bid 30% less they are still higher than you can find elsewhere.
    I still use Priceline but I do a lot of preparing before I bid, using Trip Advisor and betterbidding and don’t expect to really get a $220 room for $65. I feel I’m getting a very good 3 star room valued at about twice what I bid.
    I have had occasion to call them to try to change a pickup time on my car, not a chance they told me to call National which I did and again not a chance “you have to call Priceline”. Just be well advised and you will do alright.

  • 23 Karen // Feb 19, 2009 at 9:50 pm

    I am glad Iread these blogs, I just had a similar situation with Hotwire, still a little irritated with the whole thing. I’ve been pricing airfare for April for a month waiting for my employer to approve a family vacation. I was getting prices of $208.00 for a direct flight round trip. Last week I noticed the prices going up so I panicked because I have this problem with listening to everyone else. (Prices are going to start going up due to vacations) Well I stayed up past midnight searching every airline, website ect hoping to find a better deal, Hotwire was the cheapest by a few bucks. So I booked airfare for my family for $326.00 each. I am now looking for a rental car and for the heck of it I checked what the airfare was going for which is a week later to find it went back down to $208. ea round trip. Needless to say I was screwed $320. which could gone towards my rental car. I immediately called Hotwire to see if I could absorb some of the cost I had incurred but they said no because they are out to save you (the consumer) money, Not sure where I saved but I am not impressed. If I could have cancelled my airfare and rebooked it I would have but with Hotwire once you book your stuck! Lesson learned (read the fine print and the complete contract)

  • 24 Gig // Feb 23, 2009 at 1:48 pm

    I just purchased airline tickets via so I will remain vigilant during my business relationship with them and will NOT rent any vehicles through them.

    Author – Kudos and thanks for the warning. I can assure you that your efforts have cost them at least the profits of one customer. 🙂

    Matt (from – you’re an ass-clown.

  • 25 Tess // Mar 8, 2009 at 12:51 pm

    Renting through Priceline is like playing Russian roulette. We prepaid a car when we flew to Maui and got an Alamo rental to accept our bid. We came in late at night tired and foggy headed. Apparently, our contract could not be brought up with Alamo’s computer even by the night manager. We were the only ones left in the whole reception area. The manager, a fraudster called Mr. Allen, said he needed to create another contract for a dollar and wanted another credit card so he can release the vehicle. Mark, he said he needed to charge us a dollar. Trusting tourists that we are we agreed just to get to our hotel. He even offered us an upgrade which we were pleased about since we waited for a long time to resolve this problem. He said not to worry he will fix everythig. And he did! He charged us with a NEW contract for the upgraded vehicle for the full amount without even deducting the previous prepaid contract. We got stuck with two paid contracts for the same dates and this we only realized when we arrived home. My husband did sign the second document as it was flipped to the last page since the manager said this was only for a dollar. After a lot of anxiety, phone calls, frustrations and time, the President’s Choice Mastercard credit company refused to refund the second charge after talking and forwarding documentations to them for a period of four months. We wrote a registered letter to the manager of Alamo Maui and got no response. I went to the website and clicked on their customer service icon and wrote my plight providing the receipt numbers for both transactions and also telling them we wrote the manager. We finally got a positive reply and they did refund us the full amount of the second contract written up by the manager.

    Who the heck can you trust anymore! But the lady who responded to our customer service complaint apologized and acted within 48 yours of our initial complaint.

    But with all the aggravation, I don’t think you want to shoot yourself in the head ala Russian roulette!

    Priceline and Alamo and National need to clean up their act. Blaming the customer aint the solution because we are the customers and everything must be transparent to us because we keep them in business!

    Having gone through this aggravation, I can understand why some people here say “They can all go to hell!” Someday they will.

  • 26 Kent B Leave // Mar 12, 2009 at 7:38 pm

    Made reservations through PL. Unfortunately things changed. My mother -in-law needs constant attention and the people we had set up to watch her backed out for those dates. They will be here the following week. I call PL to see about moving my reservation. Same number of days and accommodations just different dates. Nope, can’t do it. Cancellation? Sure go ahead but we keep all your money. They were told our predicament but made no attempt to work with us. Never again.

  • 27 Aaron // May 14, 2009 at 9:35 am

    Since I always book flights on priceline, I thought I’d try the rental car too, but since i’m 23 its would not let me book my rental car along with my flight, PRICELINE said i had to “bid” on a rental car, So I did that, and PRICELINE made a counter offer which I accepted. Please note** PRICELINE said there will be extra fees if you are under 25, THEN had me put in my age…THEN i received my estimate. One would assume since i put my age in PRICELINE would add those extra fees…. I received my itinerary, and thought everything was good… upon arriving at the omaha airport (at 12:30 AM) I find out my Estimate was $200 dollars off, what kind of estimate is over 300% off?!?!? I paid close to $286 rather than PRICELINE estimated fee of $86!

    I am Disgusted with you service, I CANNOT afford to pay an Extra $200,

    Thanks PRICELINE (the thanks is sarcastic)

  • 28 Bob // May 16, 2009 at 8:25 pm

    There is NO benifit to dealing with the priceline crooks, they will get you any way they can…
    i had to cancel a motel stay and they still dinged me. They are crooked and i will never go near anything they are near again… and be sure all i talk to knows……

  • 29 Alice // Jun 22, 2009 at 1:37 pm

    I too had a bad experience with PL. I filled the bid out to pay $20.00 for a compact car.
    Then it was accepted , when I click to the final contract it stated I had bid 25.oo a day. May seem like small potatoesto some ,so I contacted them (PL) and the same treatment “to bad.”
    How can you submit the bid for one price and they charge you another ? Shame on them! Their customer service reps are rude and
    brass a..holes. I’ll certaninly tell everyone I come in contact what happened and to stay away from PL…………

  • 30 Anna // Jul 29, 2009 at 4:29 am

    PRICELINE.COM is a scam! Do not even think about booking with them. If you do, your vacation will be ruined! They are nothing but a bunch of thieves! I am about to have my credit card company dispute a car rental that is the only way you can get your money back. SO BEWARE!!!

  • 31 sandrar // Sep 10, 2009 at 12:53 pm

    Hi! I was surfing and found your blog post… nice! I love your blog. 🙂 Cheers! Sandra. R.

  • 32 Traveler35 // Sep 21, 2009 at 9:47 pm

    I agree about Priceline’s deceptive business practices. I booked a 3.5 star “Name your own price” hotel deal on Priceline. I got Embassy Suites at a decent price and thought I had gotten a pretty good deal. However, what Priceline does not tell anyone is that they often work out deals with these hotels that are for their sub-standard rooms. At Embassy Suites, this meant a closet sized room with one twin bed, no table or desk, tucked away in a corner of the hotel. I didn’t even know Embassy Suites had such a room! Shame on you Embassy Suites and Priceline!!!

  • 33 Dar // Oct 27, 2009 at 5:06 pm

    Thank you so much for all the info about Priceline. You just saved me a lot of aggravation. I am not even going to try to use their service.
    Thanks again everyone.

  • 34 Brooke // Nov 14, 2009 at 11:34 pm

    I booked a hotel with several weeks ago and was told I would be staying with in a hotel comparable to a hampton/clarion inn. After they told me what hotel/motel I would be staying at, naturally I looked at the reviews. The reviews were AWFUL. They treated their priceline customers differently and gave them the most disgusting rooms they could find. I checked several travel review sites and kept finding the same information. I spent over 2 hrs on the phone with priceline trying to get a refund because of their “quality experience” guarantee posted on the website. Apparently, after you sign your contract/press book with them, that doesn’t count anymore. That’s just a teaser to get you to book with them. They kept saying they couldn’t do anything about it because I signed a contract and they weren’t allowed to transfer me to a supervisor, This quality experience guarantee is not mentioned anywhere in the contract that you agree to, supervisors aren’t allowed to take customer calls, etc. I politely told them that if they weren’t able to help me at this moment, then they could just sit there and wait until they were. So, I waited, and they waited and tried to get me off the phone. I made them stay and wasted as much of their time as possible. They transferred me 2 times and the last guy hung up on me. So, I called back and told them that a family member had died. They simply asked for the funeral home name/number and name of the relative. I simply pulled up a funeral home and gave them a name off of their obituaries page. She put me on hold to check with a supervisor and I had an email that my refund would be issued within 2 minutes of my phone call ending. Bottom line…DO NOT under any circumstances book with priceline. Any deal that is sounds too good to be true probably is unless you are just an unusually lucky B@st@rd. BUT, if you have already made the mistake of booking with them and find yourself in a situation that is less than appetizing, DON’T call and argue or use logic with them to try and get out of the contract. It does NOT work. Just call and use a death excuse and have your legit funeral home information ready. Save potential blood pressure spikes for something more worthy than a cheap and crooked company. Regardless of how old this post is when you come across it, please heed my advice and learn from my experience.

  • 35 Carl M // Jan 26, 2010 at 5:23 pm

    Priceline really does suck! I booked a trip to Florida but had to change the tickets. They were good for a year so I was good. I tried to re-book the trip and I had to pay $150 per ticket and any difference between the fares. Fine. The bottom line is it was going to cost an additional $950 to re-instate the tickets. Total Priceline BS! I had to tell the moron Priceline rep what flight to pick because she just chose random flights with the same airline. I was able to book a flight on Southwest for $850 for the two. Dumb Azz Priceline people. People who work there are idiots. I won’t make that mistake again. Total BS company!

  • 36 National Car Rental Invades Privacy // Feb 3, 2010 at 12:12 pm

    If you have any desire to protect your personal privacy, and to do business only with companies that respect you, you will not rent a car from National or their sister company, Alamo. Here’s why…

    Try dialing any of National Car Rental’s toll free reservation numbers (ex. 800-328-1234) from a VOIP line, especially a SKYPE line, and you will get endless ringing. Nobody will answer. Why? Because, as I was told by a National “customer service rep”, “National needs your home and cell phone numbers to service you better”. Huh? Say what?
    The truth is that National wants more detailed customer info so that they can sell it – you are aware that your personal info is worth money, right? – and also, of course, so that you have nowhere to hide from their marketing weasels.
    If you call National – Alamo from a SKYPE number, all National captures is the SKYPE termination number, and your privacy is protected…and National apparently doesn’t like that.

    So, rent Hertz and Avis.

  • 37 Gabbar // Feb 27, 2010 at 7:22 pm

    Priceline has recently touched the 10 Billion market cap and has been added to the S&P 500 – an index representing our largest companies. They are doing extremely well as a company just so you folks have some perspective. Their profit numbers get better as the country, in the grip of a recession, tries to find cheaper ways to take vacations.
    Note that I recently had some bad experiences with hotwire and was looking for blog posts for people who had bad experiences with either hotwire or priceline. So empathize with your problems. But dont fool yourselves – priceline is here to stay. Their model works. And more often than not, they have gotten me some great deals.

  • 38 Simmy // Apr 20, 2011 at 12:04 am

    I work at a hotel, and I hate price line! That rental car guy probably WOULD have given you a refund because in the same position, that’s what I’d do. hospitality people are often trained to just do whatever you can when the client kicks up a fuss… Anyway, price line reservations always suck because people don’t understand that they cannot be altered, cancelled, or upgraded without priceline’s password. So people will book the wrong thing or priceline will mess up and then guests are mad at the hotel or rental car company. after the fees, you only save a few bucks anyway. not worth it!

    @Brooke The hotels don’t choose the rooms every time. Price line books the worst rooms and we can’t change or upgrade. At my hotel, there are a set of cheaper rooms that are very noisy. Priceline will randomly reserve these and then people are angry when the room type can’t be changed. “This reservation cannot be altered without wholesale ID”. That’s the message we get when we try to do ANYTHING to make price line guests happy… please blame priceline, not hotels, or rental companies.

    this one is useful: if you want to get out of a priceline reservation, tell them you entered the wrong name and need to do it over. they will be suspicious but say your computer populated the wrong thing because you were using a work computer or something. they will cancel and tell you to do it over. just don’t. I’ve done this twice successfully because i wanted out of the “name your own price” contract

    [Editor’s reply: Thanks for the info!]

  • 39 J. LaMantia // Jun 9, 2011 at 4:07 am’s “Best Price Guarantee is a sham!” They manipulate the car reservation times so its impossible to compare and match to other sites…the deals might look identical but they will switch the time (by a few minutes) so they never have to honor their guarantee. Ask me how and I’ll share the scam details with proof. I think a class-action is in the making!!

  • 40 margaret // Mar 14, 2013 at 3:59 pm

    I just booked a car with Priceline. It asked for my flight information which I gave. When the receipt came, it was AM instead of PM. i’ve tried calling and the phone is not accepting my number and I’ve written 2 emails to get this changed. NOTHING! Hello?
    Matthew, I really hope you’re continue to monitor this thread because I need your help. What does Customer Service DO at Priceline?

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