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Thespian

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  1. I got a full refund. (I actually got it fairly quickly, but I wanted to make sure it showed up on my credit card statement.) After three tries with Priceline's customer "support", two by chat and one by phone, I followed to the letter the procedure required by PL's Terms and Conditions: I wrote a "Notice of Dispute" and sent it by certified mail to PL's Legal Department. PL then had 60 days to settle; if they didn't, I could go to arbitration, which would cost me a $200 filing fee and would cost PL a minimum of $750 if they settled before an arbiter was appointed, $2250 if they didn't. About three days after I sent the letter, someone from PL's executive offices phoned and offered me a choice: I could stay at the Hudson and PL would cover the resort fee, or I could get a full refund. I chose the full refund primarily because the first option would perpetuate the fiction that I had a valid contract with PL for the Hudson. As PL violated its own Terms and Conditions, I firmly believe the contract was invalid. My latest credit card statement shows a credit from Priceline in the exact amount of my original purchase. Ironically, the line item says "Priceline Hotels - No Refunds." I don't recommend trying this unless you're 100% sure you have a valid claim.
  2. I decided I wanted to be closer to the theaters, and PRICELINE EXPRESS was showing a 4-star in Central Park South at an attractive price, which actually went down every time I rechecked. I finally hit the button today at $136. It turned out to be the Hudson, and I'm very unhappy. I had eliminated it as a possibility because it has a resort fee and there was no mention of such a fee before my purchase - or after it, for that matter. If you use Name Your Own Price for a 4-star in certain NYC zones, including CPS, you are alerted to the possibility of a fee; if you look up the Hudson on Priceline's transparent service, the fee is fully disclosed. This led me to believe I wouldn't get the Hudson (or the Park Lane or Park Central, which also have fees). The worst part is that Priceline's own Terms and Conditions state that for Express Deals you will be shown both the amount due to Priceline and the total amount you'll end up paying, including both the Priceline charge and the hotel fee. The fee was not disclosed either before or after I paid. It's particularly galling because I could have gotten a better hotel at a lower total cost if I had booked directly with any of several properties not too far away. I contacted Customer Service, first through the chat function and then (at the suggestion of the chat rep) by phone, and ran into a brick wall. The phone rep insisted that I had agreed to the possibility of a fee when I authorized payment. He said he had a screenshot to prove it, which he e-mailed to me. All it said in the relevant area was "I agree to the Terms and Conditions," with a link to the T&C page. As I noted above, the T&C say that for Express Deals any fee will be shown, so the screenshot proves nothing. This experience has soured me on Priceline, which I've used for years with no complaints. Even when the hotel was worse than I expected or treated me badly because I had booked through Priceline, I accepted it as the occasional price of getting a good deal. But when I'm forced to pay a fee that I never agreed to, I get so mad I can't see straight. I think hotel fees ought to be illegal anyway (if something is mandatory it should be bundled into the room rate), and I never expected to be boxed into paying one. I'd dispute it with my credit card company, but I don't think it would help; after all, *Priceline* isn't directly charging me more than I agreed to pay *them*. I greatly appreciate the help I've received from BetterBidding over the years, and of course I used the PRICELINE link for this purchase. But honestly, I don't know if I'll ever buy another hotel this way. I don't like doing business with companies that blow their customers off. For the sake of completeness, the amenities shown before purchase were Pets Allowed, Business Center, and Restaurant.
  3. We're going to NYC next March. We have tickets to two Broadway shows (Fri 3/18 & Sat 3/19), but we haven't booked our room yet. Prices in Midtown are quite a bit higher than I'm used to seeing. A 5-star hotel in the Financial District, which I'm pretty sure is the Conrad, shows up on both Hotwire and PRICELINE EXPRESS for $150-$160 a night. This sounds like fun, but I'd like to know what the surrounding neighborhood is like. I grew up in Greenwich Village in the 1950s and '60s, and Lower Manhattan was a ghost town on weekends. Using Google Maps, I can see lots of businesses near the Conrad, including a Whole Foods Market, fast food outlets, and bars. There's also a public school, so there must be families living nearby. We usually stay near the Theater District, but we don't mind a moderate subway ride. Do you think we'd be happy staying at or near the Conrad on a weekend?
  4. Needed a hotel in Plymouth for one night on short notice. Could have booked this property transparently for $99 + about $10 tax. On PRICELINE EXPRESS it was a "gimme" due to 2.5 star level (uncommon in Plymouth) and 9+ user rating (very uncommon in Plymouth). With tax and PL fee the total was $96.84. Amenities: Free Breakfast, Free Internet, Free Parking, Swimming Pool, Fitness Center, Business Center Used the Better Bidding link to PRICELINE, of course. Addendum: Just looked again to confirm amenities and saw that the transparent price is up to $107 before tax and the PRICELINE EXPRESS price is up to $84. Glad I pushed the button when I did.
  5. I was trying for a 3.5 star in the Financial District-Embarcadero area. I started at $160 and worked my way up using free re-bids. I was startled to get an acceptance at $190, but I had forgotten about upgrades. Silly me. I'm not too upset at getting the Hilton, as it's one of the closest hotels to where I need to be and I was actually thinking of booking it direct if I couldn't find a better deal. Best direct rate for my dates is currently $229. Used the Priceline link from BetterBidding, of course.
  6. The hotel is the Best Western Plus Wynwood Hotel and Suites. Lowest direct rate was $81. Amenities shown were pool, restaurant, free parking, free internet, fitness center, business center. Used the PRICELINE link from BetterBidding.
  7. Needed a good cheap hotel halfway between Boston and Toronto. This hotel has generally good reviews. Lowest transparent price for date was $98. Amenities shown before purchase were pool, fitness, parking, Internet, breakfast, business center, 8+ rating (Guest Favorite). After-purchase screen added spa, non-smoking, handicap accessible. Used a [url=http://www.betterbidding.com/clicks/click.php?afsrc=1&id=40]PRICELINE[/url] link from BetterBidding, of course.
  8. My last win for this property was at $44. For this coming week, some Hotwire and direct rates were lower, so I started low and bid up to $43. I was rejected - and a good thing, as it turned out, because the day after my last rejection I got an e-mail from Priceline with $5/day bonus cash. I bid $39 plus the $5 and got the Clarion again. Direct rates for the Clarion have been fairly steady at $79 ($63 nonrefundable if you book far enough in advance). I used the BetterBidding links to Priceline and Hotwire for my searches and bids. With the bonus cash, I clicked on the link in the e-mail they sent me to add the cash to my account, then went in through BetterBidding to make the actual purchase. :D
  9. Priceline will match the published rate and give you an additional $25 credit and a coupon for $50 off a future vacation package. The guarantee doesn't cover "membership programs", which I think may include AAA and AARP... but I see from the hotel's website that the rate you found is available to anyone. It's prepaid and nonrefundable, but Priceline's guarantee doesn't exclude that. Good luck!
  10. For another trip I got this hotel for $50 on the first bid. I figured I'd probably left a few bucks on the table, so for this trip I started at $40. Priceline countered with $51. I ignored them, added Biddeford-Saco and bid $44. Bingo! Used the BetterBidding PRICELINE links, as always.
  11. Bid $50 based on recent wins and got it on the first try. Probably could have had it for a few bucks less, but I'm happy.
  12. I'd have to agree that October 5-9 will be a tough time for bargains. For one thing, the 10th is Columbus Day, and many people will time their NYC visit for the three-day weekend. The fall weather is an attraction, and there may be a special event I don't know about, too. I just won a priceline hotel (3* Sheraton Four Points Chelsea) for mid-December at $89. For my dates, the hotel's website shows a prepaid rate of $109 (which wasn't appearing when I bid) and an unrestricted rate of $199. For your dates, it shows a staggering $411 prepaid and $489 unrestricted. Based on the unrestricted rates, I'd extrapolate that it would take a bid of around $225 to get this same hotel. That's assuming they even make any rooms available to Priceline, which they might well decide not to do if they anticipated a full house. A quick search shows that 3* Times Square hotels with mixed reviews are quoting around $300 for your dates. The cheapest decent-sounding place I could find was the 3* Ramada Eastside at 30th and Lexington, which is quoting $240. It's not in Times Square, but it's in a nice neighborhood, and nothing is too far in Midtown. I have no experience with it, but it gets good reviews. If you're locked into these dates, you're going to have some tough choices.
  13. I bid $89 on a 2.5* in Chelsea and was upgraded to the 3* Four Points at 160 West 25th. Reviews on TripAdvisor are mixed, but most are very good or excellent. Total for 2 nights was $222 including $44 in taxes and fees. Lowest rate on the hotel's website for these dates is $199, so I got it for less than half price - a first for me in NYC. I got this on the first bid, so I don't know if I could have had it for less... but as Hotwire has a 3* in Chelsea/MSG (possibly the same property) for $99, I think my $89 was about right. I'm not thrilled with the upgrade, as I was hoping for a Holiday Inn Express or a Hampton Inn, both of which include breakfast. But I don't think I'd better complain too loudly... after all, I got a name-known NYC hotel for $89 in December. The location is great: a block from a Whole Foods and two blocks from the 7th Avenue subway. I used the PRICELINE and HOTWIRE links from BetterBidding for all my searches as well as my purchase.
  14. Stayed here for one night of Memorial Day weekend. It's just off I-84 exit 32, west of Hartford. It's very near Lake Compounce amusement park, but Connecticut is such a small state (in area) that a number of attractions are within an hour's drive. This hotel is about what you'd expect from a 2.5* property. The biggest advantage is that they don't nickel and dime you as a 3* or 4* might: breakfast and wi-fi are included. The mattress could have been firmer, and there was a faint odor in the room upon entry -- as if someone had tried to mask the smell of sweaty gym socks with disinfectant -- but after a few minutes it wasn't noticeable. The room was clean and quiet (except when the climate control cycled on); the highway traffic was too far away to be audible. The breakfast bar had several choices, including bacon, biscuits with sausage gravy, and cheese omelets (alas, the cheese was more like Cheez Whiz). Instead of waffle machines, they had a pancake machine: press a button and two small pancakes are poured automatically and travel along a belt until they drop onto your plate. I've paid good money for worse pancakes. The front desk staff were cheerful and courteous; the first clerk actually phoned the room a few minutes after we checked in, to make sure everything was satisfactory. The place will need refurbishing in a year or two, but it's not a dump by any means. It's not a romantic B&B, but if you're not planning to spend your whole getaway in your room, it's fine.
  15. Well, not only did we get an upgrade, it was to a room with a king bed, sleeper sofa and whirlpool tub. The mattress could have been firmer, and there was a very faint gym-socks-and-disinfectant odor in the room, but after a few minutes it wasn't really noticeable. For a weekend getaway when we didn't plan to spend a lot of time in the room, it was fine.
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