A couple days ago, I wrote a positive review about my recent breakfast at Timberline Steak & Grille in Denver International Airport. But an unexpected credit card charge has left me fuming.
The restaurant is part of the Priority Pass lounge network, meaning my card granted me $28/person toward breakfast for me and up to two guests ($84/total). I was only traveling with my friend John.
We had a light breakfast and the bill was just $23 between the two of us. I handed over my Priority Pass card was and was told I was all set. I then asked to leave a tip on my card. Rather than waiting for a receipt to come, then writing in a tip, I handed the waitress my card and told her to charge $5 on it. She did, and I signed that receipt. I signed nothing else, nor was my card swiped when entering the restaurant.
Yesterday, I saw a charge of $27 from Priority Pass post on my bill. The $5 tip had posted several days earlier. I know Priority Pass charges $27/person for guests in excess of two, but had no idea what this charge was for.
I picked up the phone and called Priority Pass. A customers service agent stated that I had three guests at Timberline. I explained that I had only one. She answered that I signed for three guests and there was nothing she could do. I asked her to send me a copy of the receipt I supposedly signed. She refused, later admitting there was no receipt. I asked if she could examine how much I food I ordered: that $23 would hardly have covered four breakfasts in an airport restaurant. She said it was not possible t0 see how much was charged.
She was also quite rude, so I hung up and called back. A much nicer customer agent essentially confirmed the same thing.
Next up: a call to American Express.
Part of me thinks this is deliberate. Many people may not waste a half hour of their time fighting a $27 charge. But the lesson is this: next time you are in a Priority Pass lounge or restaurant, ask for a receipt that states the number of guests present. Perhaps the number of guests was fat-fingered. Perhaps two more were added when the tip was added, creating the total of four. I’m not sure, but this is not something I want to start my week dealing with.
> Read More: Timberline Steaks & Grille Denver Airport Review
image: Priority Pass
It’s pretty easy to dispute a bogus credit card charge and its a giant PITA for the merchant. I’d call Amex, dispute the charge and ring up the restaurant manager and let him know. He may be in on the scam or he may have a rogue employee or just an incompetent employee. I any case, let him/her im know its not OK.
I had the same experience in the San Jose del Cabo airport in Mexico last month. It seems Priority Pass lounges just charge whatever they feel they can get away with. The best policy is to show your PP# & don’t give them your credit card.
I suspect this is a mistake. Timberline probably accidentally sent in a double charge through to Priority Pass when you had them run the tip on the credit card (i.e. it made it look like you had four in your party, not two). Priority Pass now doesn’t want to take ownership of helping you resolve the issue, terrible customer service to be sure. I would definitely pursue this with AMEX.
FWIW, while I hate carrying cash, this is exactly the reason I bite the bullet and leave the tip in cash when eating at a PP restaurant. Too much chance of something going wrong like your situation that then takes far too much effort to resolve.
This is why I always leave small tips in cash when I’m using other means to pay for the bill.
This would not surprise me. Before I got the AMEX Plat/PP, I used a corporate DC card which is swiped much like a PP card — any additional guests are charged to the card on that same swipe (or so it appeared). I was alone at the time, and surprised to see the bill at the end of the month.
When you’re running around in a hurry, don’t forget to check your receipts to ensure that you aren’t overcharged. It may be an accident. It may be a person or company taking advantage of the fact that you may not be paying attention.
Same thing happened to me. Dined alone. Final bill less than $24. Charged $54 by priority pass for member plus one guest. It’s starting to look a lot less like a mistake and more like theft.
I ate here in February. Gonna check my credit card statement again…
Wow, I just got the Hilton Business credit card with 10 free passes. I’ll have to definitely keep all of those receipts and watch the waitress. I’ll also leave the tip in cash.
I would hate to be charged for 2 people when it’s only 1 person using the benefits. That would cost me $28!
We must be vigilant
I recently visited several PP lounges traveling through South American with my family of 4. I would always ask if we needed to scan 2 cards and they would always say no that one card would cover us. I was assuming that I would not be charged, but they charged for that 4th person on several occasions….
I was there today! Had breakfast, used my Priority Pass. Then my flight was delayed so I went back over 2 hours later. I asked the hostess if I could use my card again so she went and asked the manager who told her it could be used again 2 hours after my last visit. I ordered a light $10 snack. When they scanned my card they said the system wouldn’t let them charge PP again. I paid the $10 and called PP. After holding for 20 min, I gave up.
We must beware (or at least more alert)… and look more carefully at our receipts when (not after) dining at PP restaurants, or even when using lounges… especially with our guests. When I have dined recently at some PP restaurants, I generally leave a very nice tip in cash; but when finally looking at some receipts later, I realized that the establishments were already adding an 18% tip in the bill. Hence, even if giving only your PP (vs. Credit) card, I think all PP users MUST INSIST on seeing and also receiving a copy of the bill, and looking more carefully at it, versus being told “Don’t worry”! This might not only be your only backup later… but might also have the establishments be “a bit more careful”. True?
The typos in your posts now make me smile. Thank you for this!!
This may now be cleared up, at least at this location.
I dined there on November 6th, with one guest, and was given a separate receipt that stated “Total Lounge Users: 2” as well as an ordinary restaurant receipt that stated (in part)
Reprint #: 1
Note that “Guests” for the restaurant is different thatn “guests” for PP.
I will now wait to see what PP charges me, but feeling reasonably well equipped to challenge any overcharge with documentation.
Thanks to this thread because otherwise I would not have been so vigilant.
Thanks for your comment. Let me know how are you are charged.
Credit card statement shows only the tip amount, no overcharge. A recent PP meal at the Yankee Pier in SFO showed the same thing on the statement. FYI, the Yankee Pier also gave us a receipt that showed “Guests: 2” (restaurant guests, not PP guests). Net, net — no overcharges but plenty of supporting documentation if an overcharge appears. Even in our digital age the advice is the same: keep the receipt for your records.
On an unrelated note, that Highlands Inn is wonderful. I’ve been lucky enough to attend a couple of business meetings there. Would go back in a heartbeat.
Priority pass is a joke and a total waste of money