SAN FRANCISCO, WASHINGTON -- I used to be a diehard Hotwire fan, booking every business trip through their service. Today changed everything, when they not only wouldn't honor my hotel booking, but made me endure an atrocious customer service experience. Did you know that Hotwire can call you at 1:49 PM on the day of your reservation and say the hotel you booked and PRE-PAID for is full and you're out of luck?
Earlier this week I booked two rooms in Vancouver BC at a 4-star hotel. The hotel I selected was in the Burnaby area, close to where I had a customer meeting the following day. At 1:49 PM, shortly before I was due to check into the hotel, I received a voicemail from Hotwire Customer Service, informing me that the hotel I had reserved and paid for in advance no longer had a room. He said that I needed to contact Hotwire if I wanted to book an alternate hotel or get a refund.
Did you know that Hotwire's Customer Service processes are cumbersome, time consuming and ineffective? When I reached an agent, she said that they could see if another hotel might be available. The first alternate hotel she found cost more money, and she said Hotwire would cover the cost difference. However, she said that she had to do something with Hotwire HotDollars, and could I please be put on hold.
Ten minutes later (I kid you not, because my cell phone indicates the duration of the call) she finally came back and asked for my credit card information. I asked her why she needed it, since I had already paid for two rooms. She insisted that she needed to charge my card again, so I gave her the information. Then, when she went to book the rooms, they weren't available.
So we started again, and she found two rooms at the Westin Bayshore at standard pricing, and again said that Hotwire would cover the difference. She said that she would have to put me on hold again to take care of the HotDollars needed. Five minutes later she came back, got my credit card information again, and GUESS WHAT? The rooms at the Westin were no longer available.
She then said that nothing else was available. I insisted that there must be something available further out, so she eventually found a 3.5 star hotel in Surrey. By now, I had been on the call 35 minutes, and I desperately needed to call my colleague so that he didn't show up at the original hotel looking for a room that didn't exist. I asked the agent to quickly conclude the call, and I told her that I was very upset about the customer service exhibited by Hotwire. She offered to deposit 50 HotDollars in my account, and I told her that I didn't even care about the HotDollars, as I needed to get off the phone and call my colleague.
Sadly, the Customer Service Supervisor wasn't much better. Later, I called Hotwire Customer Service back. I requested a Supervisor and explained my experience. I posed questions such as: Why was a booked reservation paid for in advance not valid only hours before check-in? Why didn't Hotwire secure other rooms in Vancouver before calling me, instead of putting me through 35 minutes of torture and 2 thwarted attempts to book another hotel. Maybe a process that requires 10 minutes to get HotDollars approved isn't good when hotel rooms are scarce and rooms disappear in that time frame.
Why did I need to keep giving the agent my credit card number? Why was I paying the same for a 3.5 star hotel as I originally paid for a 4-star hotel….that was 3 times farther away from my business meeting location? The net result was that the Supervisor offered me a whopping 25 HotDollars for my trouble. What an insult! That's less than a dollar a minute for the first call to Hotwire, much less the time and trouble I took to bring this to his attention.
My lasting impression is that Hotwire doesn't want to examine customer service issues, or improve processes. All they want to do is try to buy off dissatisfied customers with a dollar amount that is insulting. It's especially interesting in comparison to the 818.90 in HotDollars they would have spent when the agent thought when comparable hotels were available for booking.
I also tried emailing with Hotwire Customer Service, and the responses I got were boilerplate and impersonal. Each email said “over-bookings do occur in the hotel industry and are not unique to Hotwire customers.” They also said they looked forward to serving me in the future, which clearly shows that they don't think their service was that bad. I'm still shaking my head. All of this is especially crushing when I have been a loyal customer and vocal advocate of Hotwire with friends and on social media. I don't ever plan to use Hotwire again.
I used to have good deals with Hotwire. Reserved more than 30 times with them over the years and was generally satisfied. I have now changed my opinion as this seems to be a different company. In my last 5-6 bookings with Hotwire, I find that the amount you pay is very close to what you would have paid with another site or directly from the hotel. You even sometimes pay more as they will remove breakfast and charge you a little more than you would have paid with breakfast with a regular site.
You get screwed twice: pay more and do not know where you are going before you commit. You systematically get the worst room in the hotel (e.g. basement room with mold in a 4.5 star hotel, B&B in a pub when you booked a 4.5 star hotel) even if you pay more than $300 a night. If you want to complain for a specific issue, they will let you wait for very long so you are better off to forget about it. In my case, I finally found the magic (and easy) solution to these problems -- just bring your business elsewhere.
SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA -- Several month ago I reserved a car through Hotwire. As the holidays approached family plans changed. So I called Hotwire to cancel my reservation, I hoped at best to get a refund, at worst a credit to my account. No such luck, the customer service representative and her supervisor had the same rhetoric, "no refunds, no transfers or exchanges". They didn't care about my circumstances, they had my $140 and I was out of luck. They never even discussed a solution, simply kept parroting the same company line.
So instead of working with a customer to find a solution agreeable to both parties, they drove one away that is now going on every complaint forum and social media site to tell people about this farce of a company. In the end, the bad PR they will receive from me will cost them far more than the $140 it cost me. By the way, when I called Southwest Airlines to change my flight due to the same change in circumstances, they had no problem helping me. Maybe Hotwire should take some notes from Southwest, they know how to assist customers.
SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA -- Beware!! Customers please utilize other websites and you'll find much better bargains. They impose heavier taxes for hotels than the norm just to increase their profit. Also, they will book you for smoking rooms without you even choosing them in the first place and without that option even being given. They imposed a smoking room on me and I was traveling with an infant.
Called emir customer service to let them know this isn't right! They could care less over in the Philippines. I stated I've contacted the hotel after I made a booking to select double beds and they informed me Hotwire booked me for smoking queen. I said this was never even an option on the site for me to select. Just simply stated special hot rate room, nothing more and stated on their page bed type will be selected by hotel, not room type!!! These people are scammers and rob you blind imposing huge heavy taxes than the norm compared to other websites. Somebody needs to file claim with these people and take them to court.
SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA -- I was ripped off by paying more for a lower rate hotel and worst than that I haven't been able to talk to a customer service representative. Every time I start explaining my issue, they hang up the phone. I called them over 10 times in the past 24 hours hoping one would listen. After reaching out via email and Facebook explaining my frustration and asking to be contacted by someone with authority who is not based in India, I received an auto reply from each source advising me to call toll free number again. This was my first and last time using Hotwire!
ORLANDO, FLORIDA -- We booked hotel on trivago.com. That site directed us with a decently priced and cheap hotel for the remainder of night and morning. We arrived at the hotel roughly 4 am and after handing the guy my Florida DL and FOP, he stated that we were about to give our information nosh but not check in until 3 in the afternoon, which is almost 12 hours past the current time.
So now after prepaying for a reservation that we confirmed because it had matched out itinerary, we had to go find a new hotel, very inconvenienced, and pay more money than what the Hotwire.com booking is. Our plans changed later on, while searching for a number to contract trivago, and the number seems not exist. We go back to the hotel and decide it would be best to just stay there for the night. Upon arrival the clerk grabs the FOP & DL and instantly responds by saying they won't rent to people with Florida IDs.
So we called Hotwire now to issue us a refund for letting us book at a certain date and time that we requested. I let them know that I wanted more so, trust me you will get use to it for just a couple weeks more, complete refund on Ralphs FOP and a certificate of credit. Two times inconvenienced at the hotel, gas, more expensive.
This website is a big scam. They change the information in order to trick you into booking bad hotels. I was promised a 4 1/2 star hotel 100% recommended and got one terribly recommended. Called right away to cancel and the attendant kindly asked me to check for myself and if something was wrong they would help. I'm here, lost my entire day looking for the place since it was not even in the city I had booked and It's just as bad as the worst reviews. As for Hotwire? There's nothing they can do, they already have my money!
LAS VEGAS, NEBRASKA -- System glitch but they will still not refund your money. This all happened within 1 hour. Booked once "no availability." Booked the second time, no availability BUT was charged for both bookings. Booked elsewhere. Checked my account, 2 charges of $250+. Called to dispute charges. First call, agent said he will look into it. After a few minutes of being on hold, he hung up on me.
I called the second time, spoke with an agent who said they can only refund one booking. Spoke with a supervisor, she said the same thing. GLITCH in their system BUT I STILL HAVE TO PAY. They do not want to refund despite acknowledging the error message. I asked Lorraine (supervisor) from the Philippines a rhetorical questions what she would do if she was placed in the same situation and she accused me of calling her names. Oh lordy. Chargeback here I come. Stay away from Hotwire, use other booking sites that are more reliable than these crooks. Their fault but blaming it on the customer.
LITTLE ROCK, ARKANSAS -- I called Hotwire's customer service after reading reviews on this and other sites, to let them know that they just lost a new customer before I ever became one due to all the negative reviews about them, on the Internet. The lady who answered the phone said that she was just an hourly employee who didn't have any control over the quality of their listings, and that my complaint would be registered in their system. But that it is but one of thousands like it that have had no effect upon their business.
Based upon her comments, I have a feeling that Hotwire's general opinion of their customers is probably apathetic, if not hostile. Either use their service or don't. They really don't care. Enough suckers will fall for their scheme, so that they will be laughing at us, all the way to the bank. The only reason I'm rating them with two stars instead of only one is because at least their phone representative was polite.
SAN DEIGO, CALIFORNIA -- On June 16th 2015 I booked a hotel from Hotwire.com in San Diego, CA at the Roadway Hotel on Roosevelt St. When we arrive at the hotel they gave us a room that smells so bad that I found myself gagging and coughing. It smelled like stale cigarette smoke and butt.
When we went to the office to complain the clerk that we ask for a non-smoking room. He treated us like we were dogs. He talked down to us and he told us that we couldn't get another room because they were all booked up. They refused to give us a refund of our money so we could go elsewhere. They told us that there was nothing that they could do so we had to spend the night in the car, In a strange city, and a not so safe neighborhood. When I told them that my wife suffer from upper respiratory problems and could not stay in that room, they offered to book us a room at another hotel that cost three times the money.
We were in a strange area and didn't know our way around. Mind you, this was at night. They had no sympathy at all for us. When we called the company, they took almost two hours to get through to them. They did not solve our problem. So we just decided to give up and spend the night in the car. I wish that I had read the reviews about this company before I paid out my money. I could have saved myself and my family a lot of heartache and pain. I want everyone to beware of booking hotels with this company. You will be out of money and no place go.