Honest E-mail To Priceline Gets Executive Customer Service Attention

Mohamed made a mistake, forgetting to use his Priceline bonus cash on a transaction. He contacted Priceline through their online help interface and was stunned at the quick and helpful response he received. His request was forwarded straight to the executive customer service team, and taken care of immediately.

(If you came across this post looking for Priceline’s executive customer service number, it’s 1-866-966-7187.)

I had a much-better-than-expected experience with Priceline’s Customer Support and I thought it would be worth passing on, especially in light of the company’s bleak customer service as reported in previous Consumerist posts.

Basically, I forgot to use $50 in bonus cash I had waiting in an e-mail on a hotel reservation I made on Sunday night. I realized the snafu as I was falling asleep, and decided to call Priceline’s customer service department in the morning. I did just that, but the helpful rep on the other end of the phone let me know that he couldn’t do anything to help me over the phone, but that submitting a request through their online help would yield a response from their corporate HQ. Indeed it did. As I was drafting my request, I thought about fudging the truth to say that the bonus cash should have showed up but it hadn’t, but I remembered what I’ve read on your site (as well as what I learned in Sunday school!) that being truthful and honest is always the best course.

My web form submission was as follows:

Hi, my wife and I are planning to visit Washington, DC, for my birthday
this weekend and I made our hotel booking last night. Using your site’s
Name Your Own Price service, I secured a reservation at the Hyatt
Regency Bethesda (Itinerary #XXX-XXX-XXX-XX). I am a student and I was
in a hurry to book my reservation last night since I have class during
the weekdays, so I forgot to redeem the $50 bonus cash e-mail I received
on 4/30/09. I don’t know how to prove that I have the bonus cash, but
the date stamp on the e-mail is 04/30/2009 @ 09:06:19 a.m, I received it
at [omitted], and the numbers at the bottom of the e-mail are
[omitted]. Please, I was wondering if there is any way I can have the
$50 credited toward this stay or have the amount credited to my credit
card. I called your toll-free number and spoke with Fernando
(#[redacted]) and he said you might be able to cancel and re-book the
reservation with the bonus cash. I’ve been waiting to use this bonus
cash for months and I thought my birthday would be the perfect
opportunity. Please note that I do NOT want to cancel my reservation, I
only want to have the bonus cash credited to my booking/credit card.
I’m sorry I forgot and I hope you can help me out. Please let me know
if you have any questions. I can be reached at (XXX) XXX-XXXX or
[omitted]. Thank you.

Their response:

Thank you for contacting our corporate office in regards to your concern
and feedback with the Hyatt Regency Bethesda for Request Number
XXXXXXXXXXX.

We are writing to let you know that we have received your email in our
Executive Offices.

We do understand that you forgot to use your bonus cash for your
reservation and would like to have it added to your current reservation.
We do apologize; however, we are not able to add bonus cash once a
reservation has been purchased. If you bonus cash has not expired you
can use it for your next purchase. Since we are not able to apply your
bonus cash to your current reservation we are sending you a coupon for
$10.00 off of your next hotel stay that can be worth up to $50.00 for a
five nights stay.

If you have further questions please reply by e-mail or call
1-866-966-7187 Monday through Friday between the hours of 9:00am and
6:00pm EST.

Please note that the number provided above is a United States phone
number, and you may incur toll charges when calling from outside the
United States or Canada.

We are sorry we did not provide you the answers you were looking for and
we thank you for your time.

Sincerely,

Scott Weaver
Executive Offices

I thought this was quite flattering since after my web form submission, I didn’t do anything to escalate my request, yet the response came from Priceline’s Executive Offices. Am I bonkers, or was this really a much-better-than-should-have-been-expected response? Either way, this time, my props to Priceline!

It’s an impressive response, even if the executive office staff were unable to undo Mohamed’s mistake. Other Consumerist readers have learned in the past that Priceline sometimes responds well to polite, well-crafted letters.

(Photo: therichbrooks)

Comments

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  1. frodolives35 says:

    Just remember to use the cupons next time. It would be awesome if you could use both the cupon and the bonus cash at the same time.

  2. Tim says:

    I guess honesty works. I mean, you could have tried calling Priceline 215 times to get a refund for a ticket you never purchased. Unfortunately, that goes in the “doesn’t work” category.

    [consumerist.com]

  3. Aresef says:

    And for Priceline, if you’re still not happy, they can send William Shatner to sweet-talk you into settling down.

  4. bkdlays says:

    umm i don’t see what good came of the email… priceline said screw off and sent you a coupon to spend more money (which I bet isn’t good with your bonus cash)

    • SybilDisobedience says:

      @bkdlays: I think the customer was just pleased to get a personalized response explaining why his request couldn’t be granted, and from executive customer service too.

    • MikeB says:

      @bkdlays: Success does not always mean getting everything you want. It also means, getting good customer service, which the OP got in this instance. Every aspect of his contact with priceline displayed good CS.

      Phone rep was as helpful as they could be, didn’t just brush him off and redirected him to someone that could help. Executive level support responded promptly, and explained why that unfortunately what he wanted couldn’t be done and gave him something even though he admitted it was his fault, which they did not have to do.

  5. UGAdawg says:

    I’m shocked! Priceline I’ve found has usually been their way or the highway. I’m glad they were able to accommodate him.

  6. MostlyHarmless says:

    @katstermonster: What are these up you speak of? Like cups, but higher?

  7. jparadise says:

    I’m not sure I’d call this a “success” story- but it is a exemplary episode of consumer-to-corp communication!

  8. ElizabethD says:

    I swear I get the best deals on Priceline…. So it’s nice to hear that they have human beings ready to respond.

  9. mattarse says:

    I would call this a success
    1 – op admitted it was his fault therefore the company could have just blown him off
    2 – company replied back, and in the reply there was enough detail that you know the company actually did read it and not just fire back a “not our fault” boilerplate.
    3 – Company explained it couldn’t be done, an even though not their fault was understanding, and offered something else to help keep the customer happy.

    I don’t think you always have to get your way with complaints to companies to make it a success, sometimes just knowing they actually did listen is enough. Most of the time when I email a company about something all I ever hear is something along the lines of we received your email.

  10. Geekybiker says:

    I’m not so impressed. They don’t accommodate him. No matter what they say they *can* credit him for the coupon if they really wanted. Then they send him another coupon that they probably are sending to just about anyone who has a problem with their service.

    Why not cancel and rebook? Hotel listing don’t normally seem that volatile.

  11. Stelios Theoharidis says:

    I had a terrible experience with Priceline months ago booking a flight for a business trip. I had to be their early to rent a car and pick up a client. Long story short I picked a specific hotel date, car rental time, and flight schedule through them due to having to meet the client. At the last moment before my confirmation the priceline website changed my flight schedule and other details. I made the stupid mistake of confirming without checking one more time, which is my error obviously, I called them immediately two minutes afterwards when I made the realization.

    The first person I talked to repeated that there would be no way that I could possibly get a refund for at least a half hour. I couldn’t take the flight and my client obviously wasn’t going to pay for the mistake or accept that I would not be there to pick them up. I first said to the call center person that I was in an office full of people, and that everyone could hear this conversation as it was proceding, which was true. I followed that on with, if the issue wasn’t resolved their reputation wasn’t just at stake with me but everyone in my office. She repeated that I wouldn’t get a refund, but that I could talk to someone else.

    Well this was not true, it was not that I couldn’t get a refund, it was that she could not give me a refund. It seems like they have different levels of customer service. The next person indicated that I could only get a refund minus $50.00 if I repurchased the tickets that I wanted from them immediately afterwards. Which I agreed to hesitantly, but eating $50 is much better than $600. I went through an additional ordeal to get them to take the hold on my accounts off, so I could repurchase the tickets. Overall it took at least 8 hours of my time and frustration over a period of a few days.

    I feel like the best bet is to use their website to identify the cheap tickets and then go directly to the carrier to purchase the tickets from them.