Travel Troubleshooter: After a Priceline car cancellation, don’t I deserve a refund?

Dear Travel Troubleshooter: I need your help
with a Priceline car cancellation. Earlier this year, I logged on
to AutoSlash.com to find a rental car. I have used AutoSlash
several times in the past. When AutoSlash accepts your reservation,
the site tries to find a better rate. Then it cancels your first
reservation and books the less expensive one.

I received my first reservation through Priceline. I assumed
that AutoSlash had an agreement with Priceline, where the process
would be the same — make a reservation, then cancel. So I thought
I had signed up with AutoSlash for a temporary contract through
Priceline.

But I hadn’t. When I called Priceline and asked to cancel the
reservation, a representative refused. A representative said my
reservation was “noncancellable and nonrefundable.”

I then exchanged several emails with AutoSlash. The company
agreed that it was not its usual procedure, but that Priceline was
too big a company for it to get any concession.

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Getting desperate, I filed a dispute with my credit card
company. They refunded the charge and put it into a dispute
resolution category, which meant that Priceline could respond
negatively and get the charge reinstated up to six weeks after the
rental was supposed to happen. I was then resigned to accepting the
contract. But when I called Priceline, I learned that it had
canceled my reservation.

Now the car-rental company has sent me a letter saying that I
owe it $314, even though it provided no service. Can you help?

— Davy Bass, Green Valley, Arizona

Answer: You should have received something for
your $314. But this Priceline car-cancellation case — and
resolution — is full of interesting twists and turns. Your
understanding of AutoSlash is correct. Basically, you reserve a
car, and the site tries to do better.

With Priceline’s AutoSlash rates, it works a little
differently. The site offers an
“express deals” rate
that may be more restrictive than
those offered by car rental companies. In other words, you might be
stuck with that price — and unable to cancel.

A look at your Priceline reservation shows that it was
nonrefundable, nontransferable and nonchangeable, even if you
didn’t use the car.

From your perspective, AutoSlash didn’t do what you expected
it to because of its Priceline rates. You initiated a credit card
dispute. In response, Priceline canceled your reservation but
fought the dispute.

You should have been able to call Priceline and let it know that
you were giving up and would take the car, but that’s not how it
works. Once a credit card dispute starts, it’s almost impossible
to stop it. So Priceline tried to keep your money and give you
nothing in return.

Worse, you say you didn’t see the terms of your purchase until
after you tried to cancel. I wasn’t there when you made the
reservation, but it sounds as if there was a lot of unnecessary
confusion about your rental.Related Articles

I list the Priceline executive contacts on my consumer-advocacy
site: https://www.elliott.org/company-contacts/priceline/.
You contacted AutoSlash for help, but by the time I arrived on the
scene, everyone was already too confused. (I include myself in this
group. After reviewing this case the first time, I wasn’t sure if
I could help. But you furnished my advocacy team with details that
made it possible for me to advocate for you.)

I contacted Priceline on your behalf, and it refunded your
$314.

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Source: FS – All – Interesting – Lifestyle
Travel Troubleshooter: After a Priceline car cancellation, don’t I deserve a refund?