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After 7 years of living in Connecticut Brandon, Stink and I are finally moving to a new town and buying a house.  In less than 2 weeks we’ll be moved out so naturally we needed a place to stay for a night or two, both in our old town and in our new one.  The prices for hotels around our hometown were quite reasonable but a tad expensive in northern Virginia so I decided to take a gamble and use Priceline’s Name Your Own Price tool.

Big BIG mistake.

If you’re not familiar with Priceline’s Name Your Own Price tool, it’s a system that you can use to potentially get a great price on a hotel.  You can narrow down your reservation to a specific area or areas, sometimes a neighborhood in larger metros, and which star class of hotel you want.  List the price you’re willing to pay (minus taxes and fees), enter your credit card info and wait to see if a hotel in your area accepts the bid.

The downside to this system is that you don’t know which hotel you’ll be staying at and once a hotel accepts your bid it’s a non-refundable reservation.

The reservation I selected in northern Virginia was for a 3 Star Upscale hotel at $100.  Priceline said the average price for 3 Star hotels in that area was $143 so I felt my price was a little low but still fair.

My bid was accepted immediately and I eagerly checked out the hotel’s reviews on TripAdvisor.  The most recent photo posted by a traveler from just 4 months ago?  Bedbugs.


Many reviewers complained of toilet problems, poor customer service, bad smells and other issues you would expect from a 1 or 2 Star hotel.  I was appalled that Priceline would consider this to be a 3 Star Upscale hotel.

Did I mention that this hotel’s nightly rate for our dates selected was only $85 and magically wasn’t listed as an available hotel on Priceline in their regular search?  By this time I was really pissed.

I called up Priceline to try to cancel this reservation, arguing that this was no 3 Star Hotel and should have never been allowed to bid.  Priceline refused to honor my cancellation and told me I was stuck.

So now I have the option of staying here and taking my chances or eating the $120 I paid and find another hotel.  For me that choice is easy.  I would never risk putting my kid in a hotel with known (recent) bedbugs nor would I risk dragging those potential bugs to my sister and mother’s houses the following day.  Just the thought of it gives me the creeps.

I learned a pretty valuable lesson from all of this, one I hope to never ever make again!

Have you ever used Priceline’s Name Your Own Price tool?  What was your experience like?

1 Comment

  1. I used Priceline many years ago for airline tickets, when it was only Name your own price. At least with airfare, you can narrow down your choice of stops and such and for the most part you can’t go wrong if you are flying within the US. The only hang-up I could see is getting stuck with additional fees like for luggage. I don’t think I would use it ever for hotels because that is really a whole different ballgame. I don’t like not knowing what my choices are for hotels until after it’s booked. And you probably aren’t going to be saving a ton of money vs what you can find elsewhere online or by dealing directly with hotels. And if you ended up paying like $50 a night for a room, I would be very concerned with why!!

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