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Back in the BBB

The down-but-not-out Priceline.com operation got back a little of its own today as the Connecticut Better Business Bureau said the Norwalk-based company has been fully restored as a member in good standing.

"After a review of the ongoing enhancements Priceline.com is making to its Web site and customer service, we believe that (the company) has aligned its business in accordance with the tenets of the Better Business Bureau," said Jacqueline Bucar, chairman of the Connecticut BBB. "We are pleased to welcome them back into the organization as a member in good standing and return the Better Business Bureau seal to priceline.com."

Priceline.com, which earlier this month cut its work force 11 percent and refocused on its core business, was ousted from the BBB last fall after a variety of consumer complaints surfaced from residents of the company's home state.

"We listened closely to what the Better Business Bureau had to say, and much of their feedback mirrored what we were hearing from our customers," said Daniel H. Schulman, Priceline.com's president and CEO. "Our entire organization worked hard to distill that commentary into a series of ongoing enhancements for our customers."

"We are pleased with the Better Business Bureau's decision and look forward to renewing a close working relationship with them," he said.

Meanwhile, Priceline.com said it has named former New York State Attorney General and nationally known consumer advocate Robert Abrams as an advisor to provide ongoing feedback on the company's products and practices.

Abrams' suggestions were factored into Priceline.com's most recent enhancements, which the company said it shared last month with the Better Business Bureau.

"Priceline.com's reinstatement was the appropriate action and I commend both organizations," said Abrams. "As one of the nation's foremost consumer advocacy groups, the Better Business Bureau did its job to raise questions and Priceline.com addressed them in a responsible, timely manner. I've found priceline.com to be a company that is committed to customer satisfaction and is willing to invest the time and resources to make meaningful consumer-friendly changes."

Priceline's troubles began early in the fall when its advertising was called into question and consumer complaints surfaced. The company later bailed out of the grocery business as its stock began to go into free fall. The company's shares were trading at $1.31 at mid-morning, up 6 cents but down from an all-time high of more than $104.