Priceline - Technical Problem, Breach Contract, Supervisory Call Manager Unwilling to Help and Pass the Buck
I have been a loyal customer of Priceline and have been using Priceline for past 8 years. My recent round-trip booked on Priceline from JFK to NKG (Priceline trip ID: 13626439340) has become a nightmare due to the system bug on Priceline’s website, communication inefficiency between Priceline and the airlines, irresponsibility of the two airlines, and Priceline’s call-center supervisor Ariel’s reluctance to help.
As a result, I was not able to board the flight scheduled for (with no fault on my end) and incurred additional expense purchasing a new flight ticket out of my own pocket. I urge relevant authority at Priceline to carefully review this incident and revert with a satisfactory solution as soon as possible. Here is the brief story. I booked a round trip on Priceline (trip id: 13626439340).
Like every flight booking procedure on Priceline, there is nowhere I can input my passport number – presumably it is fine with all airlines bookable on Priceline. The first trip from JFK to NKG was operated by China Eastern Airline on January 10th 2018. Everything went smoothly. However, on January 15th, when I arrived at the ticket counter 3 hours before the flight, I was not able to get the ticket.
The return flight was operated by Hainan Airline, which was different from that of my first trip. Hainan Airline representative told me that instead of having my passport number in the system, they had the flight confirmation number (MCZ13Y). Neither Hainan Airline nor China Eastern Airline can change my identification number because the ticket was sold via Priceline, which means I had the contract with Priceline. I called Priceline from China right away, the representatives showed intention to help, but none of them had a feasible resolution.
They tried to input my passport number via Priceline’s internal web system, but that did not help – the Hainan Airline customer representative in NKG still could not see the information. We spent the entire 3 hours trying to solve the problem. The Priceline representatives escalated the issues to higher levels while I was waiting in the airport for another 6 hours. The Priceline representatives could not figure out the problem, and none of them offered to find an alternative way.
At the end, the Priceline representative suggested me to book another flight and “we can talk about” the refund of the second trip – can we call it a temptation? I booked my one-way ticket from NKG to JFK (trip id: 1368255430) on Priceline. I was told by the representative that we were going to include this additional trip in the same case and were going to discuss the issue together and in the meantime, Priceline is going to investigate the issue. After I got back to the States, I was told by the Priceline Supervisory Call Manager that it is impossible for me to get my money for my one-way ticket from NKG to JFK because “you’ve used it.” Ok, let’s face this: I purchased and used it because Priceline did not have a place to input my passport number, not because I was late or changed my mind.
I asked if she could refer me to a higher level manager as I totally understand her possible lack of authority for decision making, but she said firmly that she is the highest level manager. Let’s delineate the case crystal clear here. 1. As a customer, I have fulfilled my own obligations and duties: to arrive to the airport online, to bring my valid identification documents, and to pay for the ticket.
So I have no responsibility for the trouble I later encountered. 2. When I bought the tickets on Priceline, a contract between Priceline and me was automatically generated. Also, I had no choice but trusting Priceline had smooth out all the issues between the website and the airlines.
If an airline requires passport information, Priceline should at least provide a space for the customer to fill in. 3. When a customer is facing financial and temporal losses due to the series bug of the system, none of the personnel, even the manager self-claimed of “highest level,” offers a customer-oriented resolution, but shows the tendency of luring more business. 4.
Now, I can tell that Priceline Tech Team that Priceline, China Eastern, and Hainan all have different databases and systems and some fields (even the passport field) is not one-to-one mapping. This is a series bug. If Priceline don’t solve this, it will happen again. 5.
Priceline materially breached its obligation by failing to coordinate effectively between multiple airlines that give rise to this incident. While I am not a lawyer myself, I understand that under basic theory of contracts I am entitled to remedies as a result of Priceline’s material breach, including and without limitation to, compensatory damages and special damages. 6. The Supervisory Call Manager told me to email Priceline from the website link.
I did email Priceline through the link and what I got back is to call Priceline again. Priceline customer reps create an infinite loop when they pretend to be helpful. The proved uselessness of calling the number led me to write an email. And the ultimate resolution suggested by the email is to call the same, useless number.
I can imagine that the call center and the email system are operated by the same group of people who are ready to tease and laugh at the customers. I feel this infinite loop has drained patience and hope of many other customers, but the upper level managers have barely been told of the complaints.
In my particular case, it is not about one customer and his inconvenience, but a series system bug that will generate a sequence of problem in the future. The customer representatives are not only carefree toward customers but also have intention to improve the business.
Product or Service Mentioned: Priceline Flight Booking.
Reason of review: Bad quality.
Monetary Loss: $1800.
Preferred solution: Full refund.