I Pit Priceline

The Shatner commercials were cool, but that’s the extent of my praise for them.

Actually in fairness I’ll add this: I once nabbed two rooms for under $50 each, surcharges included, at the Marriott Marquis in Atlanta by using Priceline. The other rooms I’ve gotten through them have been more “eh”- decent price, but nothing to brag about. But I will never use them again.

I recently drove to Washington D.C. to attend a conference. I took with me a male friend (gay, but platonic- the relevance of that will be explained). I decided Roanoke, Virginia was a reasonable place to spend the night, so I used Priceline to book a room.

For those who aren’t familiar with Priceline, you “name your own price” and if they find a hotel willing to accept that price, they buy it. If they do find a property willing to accept your bid, then they automatically book it- you have no option in the matter.

I booked a room with 2 double beds and non-smoking (I’m a smoker, but my traveling companion isn’t, so I thought I’d be considerate). They told me they had a room at a 2.5 star hotel (think most Best Westerns or Holiday Inn Express quality) and, with purchase price and surcharges the total came to $65. I’ll identify the hotel (actually a motel) only as this one.

I made no secret of the fact that I was going to be late, but the room was pre-paid, no biggie. I arrived later than expected, about 2:30 a.m., and had to wait, LITERALLY, about 30 minutes for the night clerk to answer the door to the lobby. Had the room not been prepaid I would have ridden on.

When he finally arrives I give him my name and he hands me the key envelope. I’ve already been checked in. I go to the room and
1- it’s not only smoking, but MAJORLY smoked in- this is evidently where Roanokites come on their work break to smoke- the room absolutely reeks: I’m a smoker and couldn’t stand it
2- it’s one (1) Queen sized bed

So I went back to the office. Five minutes later he lets me in again and I ask if he has a room with 2 double beds. I still can’t believe what he said:

“Yeah… but I just started working here and don’t know how to switch you.”

“Well, I worked in hotels for years and years, perhaps I can help…”

“Nah. I don’t want to try cause if I mess up I get in trouble.”

Fuckin’ fine. It’s about this time I notice the rates on the place- this was a Friday night, and they have a weekend special that, with tax, is about $58, LESS than I got the room for through Priceline. So let’s count the ways I’m pissed, but it’s just beginning.

The sign said free wireless access. I tried to log on using my PDA and needed a password, so I called the desk and after the 817th ring, Sir Isaac picked up the line. I asked for the password. “Uh, I just started here… I don’t know it.”

Yeah, you wouldn’t want to trust a new employee with information that vital. The very security of Roanoke could be compromised.

“Well since I have you anyway, can you give me a wake-up call?”

“Yeah.” Click.


So I call back- “About that wake-up call… how about 9 a.m.?”


So I called it a night and bedded down in the same bed with my platonic travelling companion, each of us afforded a pillow of approximately the same age and thickness of the shroud of Turin. Not convinced that Sir Isaac was equipped to set a wake-up call (which, no surprise, it turned out I was right) I set the alarm clock for 9:15.

There was no wake-up call. I woke up about 10:15 a.m. because of the maid knocking on the door (I’d been up til about 4 so neither of us were set to rise at dawn) to hear the alarm clock playing at about 3 decibels, which it turned out was as loud as it blared. I asked the maid to return later and we took our respective showers and did our respective packing. While my roommate was getting ready I returned the keys and got the final receipt from the morning clerk, a bastard daughter of a coalmining woman and Kukla’s partner Ollie. Time: 11:00.

I return to the room and the maid is standing at the door practically salivating. I told her “we’ll be out in just a moment”. Well, in defense of the housekeeper my roommate uses more facial products than your average Pharaoh on NILE FLOOD DAY and wasn’t finished yet, though I told her she could come on in and strip the beds or whatever, we’d be out in a moment. The phone rang and the less than pleasant bas-Ollie said “It’s five after 11. Checkout’s eleven.” I told her “Yes, we’ll be out in just a moment.”

LITERALLY TWO MINUTES LATER SHE CALLED BACK. “I thought you said you were almost out. I need to send maintenance to that room and I need you to leave or I’m gonna charge you for another day.” I started to tell her "I’ll be out before you can spell ‘eat me raw you pockmarked bowlegged bewhiskered daughter of a $3 all the cum you can guzzle gutter whore and the 60s puppet icon who pimped her’ but changed it to “I’ll be out before… you can call again.” By this time it’s still not 10 minutes after check out time and the only thing I’m waiting on is my roommate to get his contacts in- bags are in the car everything.

Then I hear the maintenance guy right outside the door ask the maid “Are those two queers still in there?” to which she answers “Yep”.

Okay, I’m in Virginia and I’m unarmed and on a time schedule, but even so I rode out to do battle. My roommate, much younger and perhaps more diplomatic than I am, caught me by the shoulder and said “Fuck it, let’s just go. You can write a letter when you get home.” So we left, though I did drive by my the office slowly and when bas-Ollie looked out the window stuck my tongue in my otherwise platonic roommate’s ear.

So… when I next checked e-mail I had one from PRICELINE asking me how content I was with my stay. I checked the appropriate boxes and then unloaded all of the above (minus the bas-Ollie and profanity and bit about the tongue) into the comments portion of the e-mail. I told them, politely, I would never again use PRICELINE or EXTENDED STAY. I assumed that, especially due to the queer comment, they would respond with at very least an apology or preferably a discount on my next use, for I certainly would do so for a customer who’d had this experience.

That was two weeks ago and the fucks haven’t done so much as ring a bell and say “SOORRRRRY!”, which really pisses me off.

So the point is that PRICELINE can Fuck itself. And don’t do drugs.

Forgot to mention (though I did in the PRICELINE e-mail): the bed rail and counter in the room were both literally sticky from the nicotine build up. Just a disgusting place.

Nice pit, although I think the cause of your ire is misplaced. I would clean up your rant and send a copy to Extended Stays America corporate offices and copy the hotel manager where you stayed. IMNSHO, they’re the ones you should be pitting (and then, not the whole chain, only that particular hotel), not Priceline.

As for Priceline, if I’m going to use it, I always insanely lowball everything, and raise my bid in tiny increments. But I’ll only use it when I have the desire to play around like that.

Sorry for your bad time, but in all fairness Priceline is simply a broker trying to match buyers and sellers at a specific price point . Are they really responsible for keeping track of all the various deal rates a particular hotel might be running at any given point in time?

Beyond this how were all the cock ups and rudeness at the hotel Priceline’s fault?

I agree that Extended Stay is the more culpable, but my ire at Priceline is for not sending me an e-mail saying “sorry about this” and “Extended Stay Roanoke is dropped from the hotels we will pimp”.

Sampiro, while I’m sure it would be fulfilling if Priceline dropped ESR simply on your word, I believe you know better than that. Priceline is a middleman. ESR and the Extended Stays chain are whom you should be writing, and from whom you should be expecting restitution.

If you can’t find a corporate address or e-mail (which is the best option), at least file a complaint with the BBB and ask for a full refund. It’ll get someone’s attention.

Call the hotel back and ask to speak to the manager. Tell them everything that you just said - ESPECIALLY two things (and emphasize these):

(1) the unhelpful “I just started” clown


(2) the “queers” comment.

Then ask for your money back. I’d be floored if he doesn’t jump all over himself giving it to you to cover his ass.

If they ask why it took you so long to call back, tell them that it’s taken you two weeks to cool down where you can actually talk to them. Tell them that you’ve been consumed with emotional distress (buzz word).

Then follow it up with a letter or two to Priceline and the hotel company headquarters. That ought to net you an apology or two. And when I say letter I mean an actual letter (not an email or a comment on their website).

Finally, just so you exercise (sic) that demon, go on the Better Bureau Website and ding them. I know that most people don’t check up on hotels/companies before they use them, but some people do. And large corporate accounts will definately check up on them before they commit to a long-term relationship of some kind.

Good luck. And fuck 'em.

Yes agreed, your beef is w/ extended stay amercia, not priceline.

If you bid $500/night for a 1 star and they got it for you you can’t blame them that the rack rate is $39/night.

Sounds like a real nightmare. BUT-- hotel stays from hell aren’t limited to bookings made via Priceline. Your beef is with Extended Stay America. As far as the Priceline vs rack rate price goes, there’s some small print that says:“Savings apply to 3 and 4 star hotel purchases.”
(For those unfamiliar with Priceline, I strongly suggest going here. There’s also a Priceline for Dummies book.)

Agreed. Priceline doesn’t care about anything other than the fact that you could have gotten the room for less than the Priceline price (if it happens frequently enough, Priceline loses business when people check elsewhere first).

If you had more than one of these bad experiences with ESA, you might have a case for dropping them.

But since the main point of this thread is to point out how fucking fucked up ESA is, let me throw in my own story: be glad you got any sort of Internet connection at all. The last time I stayed at ESA, supposedly “high speed wireless” access turned into “shitty dialup connection”, and that only happened after roughly 35 minutes of bitching at the manager.

The hotel chain fucking blows goats.

You stayed at that thing.

…heh. Heh heh.


Er, sorry. Where was I? Oh, yes. With the approximately fifteen point six one nine bazillion hotels we’ve had open up in Roanoke in the past ten years or so, that thing was actually selected as the best choice for you, and you stayed at it. This is something that happened.

I am truly sorry.



On another note: why didn’t you tell me you were coming into town? After all the entertainment I’ve gotten from your Pit threads, I figure I owe you at least a beer or two.

The others are right. Your beef is with Extended Stay. You need to contact the manager and, if he doesn’t give you a full refund and tons of ass kissing, call the corporate office. Your experience was inexcusable.

I have to fault you for trusting the moron at the desk to give you a wake up call. I don’t even trust the staff at the finest of hotels to get that right. I always set the alarm on my cell phone.

Please let us know what happens with Extended Stay.

I once complained after a free night in a hotel. That’s right - free.

I won a theme suite at a silent auction.

And I complained.

They gave me another free stay to make up for it.