How to cancel a non-refundable Priceline hotel reservation

12 Apr

Have you ever used Priceline’s Express Deals feature? It tells you certain features of the hotel, like the neighborhood, star level and average price, but doesn’t tell you the actual hotel until after you book it. I’ve had good luck with it in the past, getting a 4-star hotel room for the price of a 2-star. But sometimes the deal seems too good to be true. And then suddenly you find yourself googling “How to cancel a non-refundable hotel on Priceline.”

Please learn from my mistake, friends.

priceline express deal scam

The Express Deal hotel seemed like a steal — originally $188 a night, now $60. It had free WiFi, free breakfast and a gym. Sure, it was 2 1/2 stars, but a lot of decent hotels are. I compared the perks and price with hotels on the list view and deducted the mystery hotel was the Fairfield Inn — it had to be! It was in a perfect location, got stellar reviews, and for $60 a night would be an absolute steal. So I bit the bullet and booked the deal … only to find out the mystery hotel was not a Fairfield Inn. It was a Craphole Inn (not actual hotel name). A Craphole Inn that I was now going to be spending 6 nights in by myself in a few months because Priceline Express Deals are non-refundable and non-cancellable, no ifs, ands or buts. I stayed up late reading reviews, trying to assure myself that drug and prostitute solicitation doesn’t happen to every guest at Craphole Inn and I probably wouldn’t even notice the stench in the hallway and stains on the sheets. But once I saw a review mentioning bed bugs, it was the last straw. I could not spend 6 nights (or even one night) at Craphole Inn. I had to find a way to cancel the uncancelable.

I called up Priceline and tried the “I was tricked!” route first. Because I really was tricked — Craphole Inn would never go for $188, even during a special event in the city. Its average price is $70 or $80 a night, which makes the $60 deal understandable. When the trickery route wasn’t working I switched to the “woe is me” routine, explaining that I did not feel safe staying at Craphole Inn by myself and I never would have booked the deal if I knew this was the hotel I would get. “Sorry, Express Deals are non-refundable. There is absolutely nothing I can do. Sucks for you,” the Priceline guy said (I’m paraphrasing). I asked to speak to a senior representative. Surely he could sort me out. So I explained my situation again to him, using both the trickery and safety excuses, and was met with the same response — “Sucks for you. It’s not Priceline’s fault one of our listed hotels happens to be in Sketchy McSketchsville. Your reservation cannot be cancelled.”

And that’s when I used the tip I learned in my google searchย  — the tip I should have used first.

“What if I call the hotel and they agree to cancel?” I felt like I was grasping at straws — why in the world would this strategy work? But apparently I had said the magic words.

“If you can get the hotel to agree to the cancellation and call us back with the person’s name you spoke to, MAYBE we can work something out.”


But what was I going to tell Craphole Inn? That I wanted to cancel my reservation because of the bad reviews and bad neighborhood? I dialed the hotel before I had a chance to chicken out.

“Hello, I would like to cancel my upcoming reservation, please.” I decided polite and straightforward was the best approach.

“No problem,” the woman replied. She was so nice I almost felt bad about calling her place of employment Craphole Inn. In 10 seconds she had my reservation cancelled. It was almost too easy — as if Craphole Inn was used to people trying to back out of Priceline Express Deal reservations. I took down her name and called Priceline back. The Priceline representative put me on hold while she called Craphole Inn to confirm my cancellation, and then just like that I got an email confirmation of my refund for my non-refunable booking. I had successfully cancelled the uncancellable.

So it’s possible, friends. I wouldn’t recommend it, because there’s always a chance the hotel won’t agree, but it turns out you CAN cancel a Priceline Express Deal.

Here’s my tip for booking Express Deals: Only book them in cities where you are familiar with all the hotels available and there are no Craphole Inns you wouldn’t want to be stuck with. Sometimes the Express Deal hotels are not listed in the List View (Craphole Inn wasn’t) so there may be more possible hotels in that area with that star rating and those amenities than you think. You’ll also notice that when a hotel is not a craphole, the Express Deal will list the guest rating. I should have noticed that was missing from Craphole Inn’s listing. That’s a clear sign to stay away, lest you spend an hour of your afternoon on the phone with Priceline begging to cancel a non-refundable booking.

priceline express deal

TL; DR: Call the hotel first. Ask to cancel. If they agree, take down person’s name you spoke to. Call Priceline. Give them hotel person’s name. Wait while Priceline calls hotel to confirm cancellation. Be relieved you don’t have to stay at craphole.


22 Responses to “How to cancel a non-refundable Priceline hotel reservation”

  1. Ujjwal Halder August 31, 2016 at 8:36 pm #

    I tried it before and the hotel told me to contact Priceline. I Tried it with multiple hotels too. so you might be very lucky.

  2. Crissie Rask October 25, 2016 at 11:57 am #

    This totally saved my day! (and the blog was funny, if a bit close for comfort!) And, for me, the Priceline customer service peeps were very helpful. (probably because I followed your instructions!)

    • reneedezvous October 25, 2016 at 12:19 pm #

      Great! Glad I was able to help someone else ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Amy November 1, 2016 at 10:02 am #

    darn, I called the hotel, but they said I have to contact priceline

  4. Holli Atkinson November 28, 2016 at 6:34 am #

    This worked wonderfully! Thank you SO MUCH! I am so happy I found this article.

    • reneedezvous November 28, 2016 at 2:08 pm #

      Great, so glad I could pass along the tip!

  5. Michael November 28, 2016 at 1:09 pm #

    Thank you it worked.. I was already considering disputing the transaction with my bank since the first Priceline agent was very cold but I am glad I had to avoid that hassle. The second agent was able to confirm by calling the hotel. Thanks ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • reneedezvous November 28, 2016 at 2:08 pm #

      Excellent! Glad I could help ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. Mission Viejo, CA hotel January 6, 2017 at 2:04 am #

    It worked..many thanks

  7. Michael January 6, 2017 at 5:34 pm #

    You rock Renee!!! This totally worked for me. Thank You!

    • reneedezvous January 6, 2017 at 5:35 pm #

      Excellent! Happy my post is helping people ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. Shari S February 18, 2017 at 10:25 am #

    Worked like a charm! Thanks so much!! Got us out of a loud dump!

  9. Zain Hammad March 9, 2017 at 5:30 pm #

    Thank you so much, this worked! Great fun writing style as well! Thanks!!!

  10. Jennifer March 9, 2017 at 10:13 pm #

    Thankfully I have been right 100% of the time on buying Express Deals (which has been 5 so far this year) and hope I never have an accidental Craphole Inn booking. Glad to know this just in case that ever happens!

  11. Pam Silver March 19, 2017 at 9:20 pm #

    I booked a trip to vegas next month on priceline im soppose to stay at the Stratosphere on the strip the problem is i didn’t know this hotel was so far from the middle of the strip. Can i book at another hotel on priceline and get my money back to stay closer downtown

    • reneedezvous March 20, 2017 at 4:37 am #

      Sorry, I’m not sure. Try calling the Stratosphere and tell them you’d like to cancel.

  12. Maria March 21, 2017 at 3:56 pm #

    I called Resort, they put me on hold and called Priceline. Then patched the 3 of us all together on one call. Priceline just needed confirmation from me and the hotel for permission to cancel. Hotel staff was so kind and helpful. I had email confirmation from Priceline pop up before I hung up with both parties!
    Thanks for your advise! Thought I was stuck with 2 rooms that my traveling partner wasn’t gonna accept. Now SHE is in charge of finding us rooms!!

    • reneedezvous March 21, 2017 at 4:54 pm #

      haha that’s great! Glad it worked out for you!


  1. A random post about nothing, grocery shopping and a cute panda video | Reneedezvous - March 2, 2017

    […] friends, family and internet strangers (especially those of you who found me through my Priceline refund post, I’m so happy it’s been helping […]

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