UPDATE: WCCO received a reply from Priceline after this story aired:
"We have reviewed the Ellingson's claim and have agreed to make a one-time exception to our policy due to the very unique circumstances around their recent rental car reservation. Our top priorities are customer satisfaction and offering the best value in travel. It¹s why customers come back to us again and again."
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A Minnesota family can’t believe how a well-known company has reacted after their baby made a costly mistake.
“He hit the enter button and booked our rental car,” Mandy Ellingson said. “He bought us a $609 minivan for our vacation.”
Baby Daniel booked that rental car on Priceline earlier this month. The Ellingsons had been shopping around for the best deal for their summer vacation. They contacted customer service within minutes once they realized what Daniel had done.
Priceline, however, refused to help and when WCCO called asking for a refund, the company’s response surprised even us.
It’s the sound of happiness when an 8-month old gets his little hands on something he loves.
But at the Ellingson’s, Daniel’s time around the laptop is basically over.
“It just happened so fast. It just happened so fast,” his mom, Mandy said.
Mandy and Chad had saved for a few years for a big family trip to Hawaii this summer.
A few weeks ago, they were checking Priceline for rental car rates, the popular website that allows users to name their price.
Mandy had already named her price, picked the minivan, and typed in their credit card information. They were just one step away from buying.
Meanwhile, Chad was on the phone with his parents who were searching van prices on other sites.
“All of the sudden, they went to one website and found a better price,” Chad said.
Mandy went to delete all the information, but Daniel had a different idea. After the baby reached forward and hit a few buttons, the transaction was complete.
“I said, ‘Chad I think we just booked a rental car.’ He goes, ‘no we didn’t book a rental car!'” Mandy said. “I said, ‘no, Danny just booked a rental car.”
Figuring it was an honest mistake, the parents decided to contact the company and sort it all out.
“We looked up the 800 number, got on the phone within a minute,” Mandy said.
Three phone calls later and Priceline refuses to give them a refund.
“A mistake is a mistake, it can be reversed somehow, but they’re not willing to budge,” Chad said.
They wouldn’t once we got involved, either.
A customer relations specialist told WCCO changes can’t be made — the fine print states rental cars are nonrefundable. When the Ellingsons entered their initials and purchased the reservation, they agreed to those terms.
Priceline lays it out all on just one page to make the purchase. Hitting the “buy my rental car” button is all it takes to complete the transaction.
“You just spent double what you could have spent all because of one button,” Mandy said.
So, the Ellingson’s will end up paying more than $600 dollars for their rental once they add insurance protection. They hope what happened to them will serve as a warning to others to use other websites.
“Think long and hard before you choose Priceline,” Mandy said.
Meanwhile, Daniel’s computer privileges are being revoked a little earlier than most.
“The computer is no longer a fun toy to tap on,” Mandy added.
The Ellingson’s are renting that minivan at a Budget Rent A Car. When WCCO contacted that company, a representative said it wasn’t able to cancel the van either, since the family had already paid Priceline.