After can­cel­ing Price­line car, don’t I get a re­fund?

South Florida Sun-Sentinel Palm Beach (Sunday) - - TRAVEL & LIFE - By Christo­pher El­liott King Fea­tures

Ear­lier this year, I logged on to Au­toSlash.com to find a rental car. 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 of a com­pany for it to get any con­ces­sion.

I filed a dis­pute with my credit card com­pany. It re­funded the charge and put it into a dis­pute res­o­lu­tion cat­e­gory, which meant that Price­line could get the charge re­in­stated up to six weeks after the rental was sup­posed to hap­pen.

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, Ariz.

A: You should have re­ceived some­thing for your $314. But this 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: www .au­toslash.com/blog-and -tips/posts/price­line-ends -name-your-own-price -rental-cars-fo­cuses-on -ex­press-deals. 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, Auto Slash 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.

It sounds as if there was a lot of un­nec­es­sary con­fu­sion about your rental. I list the Price­line ex­ec­u­tive con­tacts on my con­sumer­ad­vo­cacy site: 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.

Christo­pher El­liott is the om­buds­man for Na­tional Geo­graphic Trav­eler mag­a­zine and the au­thor of “How to Be the World’s Smartest Trav­eler.” You can read more travel tips on his blog, el­liott.org, or email him at chris@el­liott.org.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.