Here is the company’s explanation:
Due to an isolated programming error, some priceline.com customers received multiple copies of a generic priceline.com survey email that was intended for other customers. This was not the result of a data hacking incident. The sending of this email was detected and stopped promptly, but a number of customers have been affected by the receipt of a large number of duplicate emails. For a brief period of time, email addresses were discoverable via the unsubscribe link in the email. Steps have been taken so that the email addresses of affected customers are no longer discoverable by other Priceline.com customers. No other personally identifiable information was exposed at any time.
Priceline.com sincerely apologizes for the error and will contact those customers impacted.
We’re hearing from a number of Consumerist readers that their inboxes are being flooded this afternoon with unwanted, duplicate e-mails being sent out by Priceline.com.
“Within the last 20 minutes I have been getting bombarded with email from Priceline asking how my experience was traveling with my pet,” one reader writes. “As we speak, I have already received over 200 emails from them and my phone is going off right now with even more emails.”
Of even more concern, says the reader, each e-mail he’s received is addressed to a specific person and his or her e-mail is shown in the message.
“When I went to click on the unsubscribe button,” he tells Consumerist, “I saw that person’s e=mail address… I called them to let them know of this problem and the rep I spoke with acknowledged the issue and referred to it as a ‘database error.’”
“If I am getting everyone’s email information, then who is getting mine?” he asks.
This reader’s account is confirmed by others, who claim to have received upwards of 800 e-mails from Priceline in the last hour.
The Priceline Twitter account is currently lighting up with complaints from e-mail recipients and apologies like these: