A few weeks ago, I made an embarrassing mistake: I goofed up a prepaid, non-refundable Priceline hotel reservation. I entered the wrong dates. But thanks to a helpful agent at the hotel, “unchangeable” really wasn’t.

I’m no rookie in the Priceline name-your-own-price game. I’ve been doing it for years for much of my personal travel, and it’s been a great way to get a big bang for the buck ($37 Hyatts, anyone?). So I knew that the rules specify that you can’t cancel or change a name-your-own-price room, so I kicked myself for screwing up our check-in date by a single day.

Then, it occurred to me that, in today’s soft hotel booking environment, I might be able to negotiate directly with the hotel. Hey, if Priceline’s mascot is William Shatner as “the Negotiator,” I could channel the Shat and see what comes up.

I called the hotel. I told them upfront that I knew I had screwed up, and if they wanted me to go pound sand, it was in their right, and I would be fine with that. But I asked politely if they might be able shift my stay by a day. Instead of Friday and Saturday nights, I wanted Thursday and Friday nights.

The answer I got surprised me: “Sure!” No argument, no scorn, no lecture on how I should know the rules. Just “Sure!”

They made the change in their system… but there was a catch. I had to call Priceline and get them to change the dates on their end. The agent at the hotel explained that this was a function of their accounting system, and that the dates of the reservation had to align with the booking agency’s dates. I knew I was in for a fight, after all.

I called Priceline’s customer service, but they wouldn’t budge. They were friendly enough, but hustled me off the phone when their answer was “no.” (Their smooth move to end the call: “If there’s nothing else we can help you with, I’d like to thank you for choosing Priceline, and I hope you have a nice day.”)

So, I called the hotel back. She sighed. “Of course Priceline can change the reservation. If you give me your Priceline request number, I’ll call them and fix this.” Wow. I gave her the number. Five minutes later, she called me back and told me it was done. She told me that the Priceline rep she had spoken with wanted her to tell me that this was a one-time exception. My record has probably been noted in some way. I received an e-mail from Priceline confirming the change, but without any chastising.

I’m grateful that this option existed, because it certainly saved us a few bucks. And I’m very impressed with the customer service that the hotel provided me in going to bat for me. (Though the hotel employee didn’t seem to be afraid of any ramifications of the move, I’m not naming names because I don’t want anyone to catch any inadvertent flak.)

I realize that it was a bending of the rules, and that this shouldn’t be abused. I share this story for those times you might actually need to make a change, but are told you can’t. It’s possible. It just takes the right agent.

pixel Priceline will let you change your unchangeable hotel booking...once
Categorized in: hotels, Priceline

8 Responses to “Priceline will let you change your “unchangeable” hotel booking…once”

  1. g.twilley Says:

    I couldn’t get past “I could channel the Shat…” (poopy humor – teehee)…

  2. David Says:

    I had a similar experience a few weeks ago with a hotel (unrefundable) booked via booking.com. I had missunderstood my girlfriend and we both booked at the same time the same hotel. I called booking.com who said the hotel had to decide. They called the hotel and confirmed me within 1mn everything was fine. Thanks to their reaction, I ll go to their site again when I want to reserve a hotel

  3. View from the Wing » Blog Archive » It Can Happen to the Best of Us Says:

    [...] Travel Better reported on his mistaken Priceline booking. He entered the wrong dates for a hotel reservation that he won, and managed to work with the hotel [...]

  4. arunjacob (Arun Jacob) Says:

    Twitter Comment


    Priceline will let you change your “unchangeable” hotel booking…once | Upgrade: Travel Better [link to post]

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  5. resor till peking Says:

    hi… i didn’t agree with some things, however i did appreciated the article in general… this post was actually recommended to me by a good friend at myspace and he was right. really good read! Take care, Dolak

  6. Jack D Says:

    When my wife chose the wrong dates for her stay, Priceline was able to change the dates, but it was not a easy process. I had to cancel the reservation at Priceline, which involved a “penalty” of the entire cost of the stay plus another small penalty (I think $30?), and then rebook the hotel, this time with the correct dates, and finally, I had to email the Priceline support staff with the information about the new booking, after which the waived the penalty, except for the $30.

  7. iBIDLow Says:

    Jack it happened to me as well. iBIDLow wrote an FAQ exactly on what to do when making a Priceline mistake that helped me:

    http://www.ibidlow.com/priceline-bidding-tips-and-faq/33-changing-priceline-reservation/61-what-can-i-do-on-making-a-mistake

  8. Daniel Snider Says:

    Will never use priceline again was told by motel had to go through priceline, but just put on hold all day on phone.

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