Polite Letter Results In $700 Priceline.com Refund

Reader Ari just send us a wonderful letter detailing his triumph over crappy customer service. Not only is he $700 richer, but he’s a hero to his in-laws. Hooray!

Dear Ben, Meghann, Chris, Carey, Alex and Theresa,

I want to start off by saying that your site is my favorite page on all the interwebs. I scream like a Hannah Montana roadie when a new story posts, much to the dismay of my boss and cubicle mates, sadly, I am a grown man. I read your page about 10 times a day, at the minimum.

The Consumerist has helped me on more then one occasion; but i want to relate a truly heart warming story that will bring a smile to your face and a tear to your eye, (it will of course do neither of these).

Just recently i was refunded a substantial hotel charge through Priceline.com due to poor service. Normally my wife, who was born with a copy of the Sunday morning coupon circular under her arm and a pair of silver scissors in her mouth, is the Alpha female of our family in charge locking horns with any and all who slight us financially. She pours over credit card statements as if they are maps to pirate treasure and has been informed on multiple occasions by Sprint that, “No ma’am, you can not get more free minutes added to your plan, your plan is already better then what many call center managers have.” Not one to take “no” for an answer she has gotten Sprint to pay for my new Rumor cell phone, twice in a period of three months. And people say Sprint customer service sucks! (it does, BTW). Friends and co-workers refer to her as the “Pit-bull”. She takes this as a compliment.

Armed with the directions laid down by your site, I decided to take a different tactic with addressing my grievances to the hotel: send a gentlemanly letter to the hotel manager with the email equivalent of a glove slap across the face and a demand for satisfaction. Sadly he wouldn’t acquiesce to a duel but offered an even better solution, a refund for over $700. This may not seem like much, but it is a substantial amount for a newly married couple with limited funds. My wife was shocked, in all her years as an customer service terrorists she never ever managed to get back anywhere close to that much money.

My in-laws, both of whom are lawyers (ones even a corporate arbitrator!), where blown away. I’m now a celebrity in their house and until i break a vase or back over their cat, i hope it remains that way.

You are all a credit to your craft, continue flying the flag of consumer advocacy high atop the hill of sh*tty customer service and hard drive boxes full of bathroom tile.

Finally, I was taught to end every letter with a powerful quote from Shakespeare, “F*ck Best Buy”.

Keep up the excellent work!

Thank you,

Ari

(Photo:Getty)

Comments

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  1. Flyinace2000 says:

    So what situation led to him wanted a refund? Was $700 the cost of the entire room? Details please!

  2. Needs more Shatner.

  3. jmschn says:

    It almost sounds like the $700 was more than how much the room had cost?? I’m not sure…like above poster, more details please!

  4. BlondeGrlz says:

    Boo, such a tease with no follow through. I want to know what happened!

  5. Thorny says:

    I think the point is that a “gentleman-ly letter” can accomplish a lot if it hits the right person. Sure seems to work for me more than 80% of the time. If I was on the receiving end of an incendiary complaint, I’d surely be less inclined to help that person out.

    Good job!

  6. skwidspawn says:

    Well played, sir. I’m not sure that Shakespeare wrote those exact words, but for how often I hear it he might as well have!

  7. ClayS says:

    What was the issue with the hotel? Or did I miss that somewhere?

  8. Thomas Palmer says:

    @jmschn: My guess since they are a “newly married couple,” is that their honeymoon suite might have cost them a pretty penny. If they got crappy service on their honeymoon, that would be one good reason to write such a letter and get back such a refund.

    But more details would be appreciated :-) Thanks Consumerist and the “hotel manager” for such an uplifting story.

  9. mac-phisto says:

    nice. i’d like to read the letter, though.

  10. ivanthemute says:

    Details plz +1.

  11. Pro-Pain says:

    Fu*k Best Buy! ROFLMAO!!!! That was a simply awesome ending to that letter. KUDOS! And yeah, FU*K BEST BUY! Down with their “Angels and Devils” attitude.

  12. Xay says:

    I’m impressed – getting money out of Priceline is like getting blood from a stone.

  13. backbroken says:

    Now you’re negotiating! Da da dum.

  14. UpsetPanda says:

    Why would he get money back from Priceline.com? He mentions nothing about sending them a letter – he did send a letter to the hotel manager though.

    Wouldn’t he get it back from the hotel directly because he complained to them? I mean, I’m moving along the lines that sites like Priceline, Expedia and Travelocity are like online travel agents, acting as a third party and offering rates…you pick what you think is good, but these sites act as research tools, like travel agents work to find you the results you want. So if he complains to the hotel, how come Priceline gives him money? I understand that he booked through Priceline, but how did the letter he send to the manager make it to Priceline?

  15. With such a delightfully phrased blog post, I’m not surprised Ari was able to pry $700 from Priceline’s mitts! Kudos to you, Ari! Long may you avoid breaking your in-laws’ vases, and long live their cats.

  16. DeltaPurser says:

    And then……………………………………………………………………………..

  17. levenhopper says:

    a) What happened?
    b) Can we at least see his letter that he sent?

  18. ClayS says:

    @levenhopper:

    No, and no. We all must assume the refund was very fair, given the undisclosed circumstances.

  19. ElizabethD says:

    In spite of spelling errors and typos, that letter to Consumerist is a gem. ROFL and all that. Kudos to Ari.

  20. chadmd23 says:

    Once someone refers to the “interwebs” I know they are too 1337 to give us commoners the details.

  21. RumorsDaily says:

    Guh? What about the letter? Or the story? What happened. Weird post.

  22. vision4bg says:

    It’s “pores”, not “pours”

    What a crappy letter. Totally over the top, and lacks any sort of decent description of what actually happened, the guy was too busy trying to fill it with simile and metaphor. Failed English major?

    Okay, I’m done trashing the consumer. At least it wasn’t over the actual event.

  23. UpsetPanda says:

    I was a lot more entertained by this post, but it’s not clear on what happened, only that he achieved some kind of victory. And he goes off on a tangent about his wife being the pit bull, and that just made it harder to get back on track…so at the end of the day, why was this even posted? He should’ve clarified before this was posted. In essence, we’re replying and discussing absolutely nothing because we don’t know the context. He might’ve written a very nice letter, but he might’ve also peed on the sheets before he left.

  24. Wet_Baloney says:

    What I would like to know is why this uninformative letter, tangential anecdote and poor spelling aside, was considered by Consumerist as Blue Ribbon 1st Place?

    Huh??? 1st place waste of bandwidth, if you ask me…

  25. dweebster says:

    He wrote letter without including obscenities, and they sent him $700 as an apology for some mystery “poor service” that he got. He recently married a woman with a temper.

    Somehow having a description of the “poor service” he encountered, as well as a copy of the letter would really make this article more compelling and useful….

  26. The obstuse falcon says:

    Having worked in the hotel industry for the past six years in various levels of management (and even as a wage worker) and at numerous properties I can attest to the fact that it is not rare to rescind a guest’s entire room bill based on various factors (terrible customer service being one of the many possible reasons).

    However, Priceline, Expedia, Hotels.com, etc. ARE third-party companies and here is how they work:

    1. You book a room and they bill you
    2. They do the actual booking (albeit at a much lower rate)
    3. We bill the company

    So, how this gentleman was able to arrange for such a transaction to take place is mind-boggling. We always find other means of satisfying our guests if they book with online agencies because it’s impossible for us to refund their money. We never recieved it.

    p.s. 90% of the time booking with these online companies is a bad idea. It’s ALWAYS best to call the hotel directly and to request not to be transferred to a national call center. The onsite staff is always the most knowledgeable and most helpful.

    Hope this shed atleast a little light on the situation. I read this site occasionally and this is the first time I’ve been able to interject.

  27. rikkus256 says:

    F*ck Best Buy =P

  28. aka Cat says:

    What was the grievance with the hotel?

    And what happened when your wife, the “customer service terrorist” tried to resolve the problem? Which she surely must have, after your description of her.

    Why did you give us a detailed description of her l33t consumer skillz if you had no intention of telling us about her attempt to resolve the problem?

  29. pestie says:

    Roadie? I think he means “groupie.” While I’m sure Hannah Montana’s roadies can be a rowdy bunch at times, the term “roadie” doesn’t really make sense in that context.

    Yes, this is all I have to contribute today. I’m scheduled for a root canal later, and it’s making me all cantankerous ‘n’ shit.

  30. crapple says:

    Ari – if your letter to the manager was as light and comical as this one, you were sold short on that $70…definitely worth more! Thanks for the laugh!

  31. elislider says:

    well that was an enjoyable read, for the author’s great writing style, however it was less than 1/2 information about the actual refund/hotel, with no real details. cmon man! we want the details!

  32. Phishy says:

    Ari
    Great read! I could care less about what happened to you now that you delightfully skipped to the happily ever after (until you run over the cat) ending. Not saying that is the way to write a story. But like others have said, if this is how you wrote your gentlemanly letter, than you sir are a man of persuasive (if not illegal in scrabble) words.
    Congrats on winning over your in-laws!

  33. Screamer456 says:

    Dear Consumerist and disgruntled blogosphere at large,
    I want to apologies for leaving out the background of the refund in the original email post. My intent was simply a gracious, “Thank you” to the editors for providing a much needed service to consumers tired of getting bitch slapped Big Corporate. I assumed my email would simply be read by them, a collective, “Your welcome” uttered, and then relegated to the deleted folder. If i had any idea that my email would have been posted for the world to see, i would have included the background to begin with. And maybe put on a nice pair of pants.
    The following is the letter I wrote to the hotel that resulted in the $700 refund:
    From: Ari
    Date: Feb 18, 2008 6:57 PM
    Subject: Not so pleasant stay
    To: Redacted

    To whom it may concern,
    We checked into your hotel on saturday night Feb, 16 expecting to have a lovely time. We were upgraded to a suite at the front desk and upon arriving we found a room in serious need up updating. It seems that all the rooms in the hotel, be they suite or standard, are modern circa 1983. But this didn’t bother my wife (Sarah Lichtenstein) and i so much, we were on our honeymoon and we came to Florida to see the sites and sit on the beach all day. What did bother us was the dirty and ripped bedding. My wife was infuriated, this put a serious damper on our trip. She spoke to a very cordial and nice gentleman at the front desk on Sunday night Feb, 17 and he assured her that we would be receiving either a night free or 50% off from our stay, and that we would be expecting a phone call in the morning of Monday Feb, 18 from a woman named Michelle ( i assume she was a manager) and that in the mean time the hotel would switch our room from room 617 to room 612. This alleviated much of the stress from our trip and all seemed right in the world. Monday morning came and went and not only didn’t Michelle call, she refused to return numerous messages. The staff my wife did manage to speak to were incredibly rude though.
    At approximately 5:00 pm on Monday Feb, 18 my wife received a phone call from another manager (my wife unfortunately didn’t catch the gentleman’s name) he rudely informed my wife that we would only be receiving our 3 days of parking for free (total $45) and that our hotel check-in fee would be waived ( I’m not sure he called it a “check in fee” but thats what it can figuratively be called) for $30.
    As a consumer, this is insulting. to be put in a dirty room, be told by Front Desk staff we would be getting a reasonable discount, and then get the Hotel Industry equivalent of a free drink and combo meal at Denny’s is inexcusable.
    I feel that there is no reason that we can’t be compensated justly for our trouble. Please respond to this e-mail promptly. I expect a further compensation.
    Thank you for your time.
    Ari
    The reason we received a refund from Priceline and not the hotel was because we bought the room from Priceline. We had to send the email from the hotel stating that they would indeed be offering a refund to Priceline in order to get the ball rolling. Once Priceline confirms the refund is valid (they too contact the hotel) then its completely out of the hotels hands, and you deal strictly with Priceline.
    The 700.00 was a complete refund for our three night stay. We Pricelined a 3 star hotel in North Miami Beach for President Day weekend, which also happened to be the weekend of the Miami International Boat Show. These two factors conspired against us, inflating the price of the room. Which is totally understandable, one pays a premium for vacationing on a holiday. Supply and demand.
    The rooms were terrible. They looked like a bad scene from an episode of Miami Vice or a early 80′s porno. I half expected Ron Jeremy to come in and, “Fix our plumbing”. Again, this in and of its self didn’t bother us, we just convinced ourselves we were on a 1980′s themed vacation. Our issue was, it seemed an actual porno was shot in our room. It was pretty dirty. Compounded by being ignored by Management, just added insult to injury.
    Priceline’s refund policy is as one commenter said, “like getting blood from a stone.” You just need to keep on top of them. Constantly.
    I hope this clears things up a little and shows that although Executive Email Carpet Bombs and posting CEO’s home phone numbers have their place (and are awesome!) every once in a while a simple letter free of swear words and insults can still get the outcome one desires. Thank you for creating and managing a site that showed me this and how to go about executing it.
    Ari
    P.S. Please forgive the spelling errors in the original post, my typewriter doesn’t have spell check