The Summer is Upon Us. Renters Beware. To begin with, I want to make it perfectly clear that I am writing this editorial as a promise to a certain manager for a national travel company that boasts customer service. I am also writing as a service to anyone who is thinking about making the most of an opportunity to enjoy some family time together in what they are thinking is an affordable way to "get away" as the corporate agencies so portray.
With the coming Memorial Day holiday approaching, I as many of you reading this thought of different ways to entertain the family while making the most of what is available. Together, my wife and I came up with the idea of renting a nice car and taking a short outing to North Carolina's Outer Banks. My goal was simple, to watch my kids while my wife and I watched the sun rising over the Atlantic. So to work we went. Trip planned, motel reservations made and securing the car.
Easy enough: My wife is used to making needed motel reservations from my old days of racing on tour. Me: Not so much and the reservation of the car of course fell to me. So I immediately jumped online and soon was "chatting" with a salesman for a national travel website. Let's call them "Warm Cable".com.
The customer service I thought at the time was excellent. He helped me through the rental agreement and before I knew it, the rental agreement had been clicked and the money was deducted from my account. No problem; that is until we found out at work that contrary to what we were told earlier, the company would be down longer so in an effort to take advantage of the longer length of time, I attempted to extend my car rental reservations.
This is where things get a bit ugly. After several attempts to get through to "WarmCable", I finally got through to a customer service representative and found out that the traditional definition of customer service meant something entirely different from her. I am not sure which was more offensive. Her belittling attitude or her matter of fact stance that there was nothing she could do, I would need to contact the car rental agency themselves. This went back and forth between "WarmCable" and Hertz until finally; my wife was more worried about my blood pressure than the car or vacation.
After a 35 minute wait, I was finally connected to a manager at "WarmCable". Apparently having read the notes about my attempts to extend the rental agreement, he calmly explained that the rental contract did not allow them or the rental company to make any changes to the contract. Then of course came the inevitable "Didn't you read the terms of the agreement?" This, in case you do not know, is the little box that you have to check in order to complete the agreement when you do anything online.
Generally beside it is a comment to "Click Here to Read the Terms of the Agreement". OK: So I didn't. After all, I was online with a helpful chap who was guiding me through the agreement. At this point, a slight chuckle came from the other end as I was informed that the agreement clearly states that the agreement cannot be cancelled or changed at all and by clicking, you are agreeing to this. What kind of idiot would agree to something like this? ME! And anyone else who feels that they are doing something special for their family.
So take it from me. Read the terms and understand them before you get railroaded yourself. Make sure you know what you are clicking and have everything planned out and in stone before spending the money you have allotted for your vacation. As for me, against my wife's better judgment I wrote the fee for the initial agreement off as an investment. Like I told ** after being laughed at by him, I considered the money lost and am making it my purpose to make sure that as many people as possible are aware of what they are doing and who what kind of businesses they are dealing with before agreeing to do business with them.
If one person reads this and takes the time to look at the information and is educated and makes the right decision, then it was money well spent. So don't let me down. Think before you rent anything.
I just received a survey asking whether I picked up the rental car for Itinerary **. The answer is no, because there should not have been an itinerary at all.
Although there was an error on your website and I did not plan to use your service for my recent travel plans on August 9, you sent me an itinerary (**) via email. As soon as I accessed my email on August 8 in the evening and saw your email, I responded by calling your customer service and explaining the situation. Your customer service rep, ** #3759, stated there was no error message and my credit card was appropriately charged $389.77. He did not care about my explanation and very rigidly stated that is not the responsibility of Hotwire and that no credit would be issued.
I made other plans and did not pick up the Alamo rental car on August 9 in Detroit and, as a result, have registered a dispute with my credit card company. I was a loyal customer of Hotwire until this incident. Now, I will never use your service again and I have told this story to over 20 people, including the customer service representative at my credit card company (who already had heard the story several times!) Those 20 people will probably tell 20 others and so forth and so on.
You have lost a loyal customer and many potential customers all over a few hundred dollars. Not a good business model in this economy. I wish you would reconsider your error and credit the charge to my credit card. It is the honorable thing to do.
The reservation was caused by an error on your website. I did not authorize the reservation or the charge for it. As I stated before, I have used your service in the past without a problem, however, due to your lack of accountability for your error, I am disputing the charge with my credit card and will not use your service again.
With deepest regret, Hotwire.com and their affiliates have disappointed me to no avail. I am shocked and offended at how my vacation planning took place with the Hotwire team, and will NEVER seek your services again. To begin, my vacation was quoted at $910.64, Hotwire took my credit card number, charged it, and was authorized to $910.64 of my U.S. dollars. To my surprise I did not receive my vouchers or hotel info via email, as stated. I called my bank, collected all information pertaining to the $910.64 authorization, including the terminal ID and toll free number.
Upon calling the toll free number I sat on the phone or hold for an hour or more, just for the CSR to inform me the price had risen $51.00 and I would have to pay that amount, regardless of Hotwire already holding my account for $910.64, the initial price of the vacation package. I then had to wait another hour for my bank to straighten out the charge and release it. I was instructed to call back, not use the website, to book the vacation. I voiced concern to ** the CSR and he advised to ask to speak to a supervisor for a favorable outcome.
As it just so happens, I call back, lose connection with the first CSR, then call back and talk with a second CSR who listens to me, offers little help, so I ask for a supervisor. The supervisor via CSR offers a $50.00 coupon -BUT WAIT- the price has risen another $50.00! I could not believe my ears! Could this be real? Supervisor ** had no understanding, no ability to see the obvious error from Hotwire charging $910.64, then saying, "No, that's not quite enough. Make it another $50.00." If there were ever a scam this is it. It didn't happen once, but twice, IN ONE DAY.
By the end of my 6 hour debacle with Hotwire and their affiliates I had nearly $1000 dollars tied up and unusable for future transactions, and no vacation to show for, but a horribly orchestrated fear tactic that my vacation destination was rising $50.00 on the hour, so I better make my purchase now. On closing, I want to make Hotwire and affiliates aware of the current and future business they have funneled to the competition. I will no doubt pay $900-950 for this trip. I will gladly pay more to another company, just so long as it doesn't benefit Hotwire or affiliates. I will not use this site for future trips, which is 2-3 a year.
Lastly, I will make very certain every companion on the trips (June will be me and four friends, all of which no longer consider Hotwire or affiliates trustworthy). I intend on my network of other business owners, friends, and family knowing that above all, Hotwire dominates but one market, con artistry. Being a business owner, I know all too well the power of referral. I also know it takes ten good referrals to counter one really bad referral. Good luck with that.
I recently used your site to complete a car rental using a debit card. The verbiage on the site as I started to book the car under the heading "KNOW BEFORE YOU GO" was as follows: The rental agency will require a credit card or debit card in the primary driver's name. Sufficient credit must be available for a deposit. Funds used for debit/check card deposits cannot be accessed until the car is returned. Amount of available credit required depends on car type, rental period, and optional items. If using a debit card for your deposit, contact the rental agency for its policy.
After receiving the confirmation the verbiage changed to the following: ** must be present at pick-up with a valid driver's license and a credit card with sufficient credit for a deposit. Amount of available credit required depends on car type, rental period, and optional items. Debit cards may not be accepted. Funds used for debit/check card deposits cannot be accessed until the car is returned. If using a debit card for the deposit, contact the rental agency for its policy. Some drivers presenting a debit card will need to show a roundtrip itinerary.
Now being that I selected that I was using a debit card and thought after reading the initial disclosure I thought I was going to be fine. After printing and reading the confirmation I was concerned. Not only did the wording change, but it was no longer an option for debit cards to be used.
As most travelers, I wanted to call and clarify, so I went to the source of the policy, so I could get a definitive answer. Especially after getting such a mixed sign from Hotwire. Alamo was very clear that there was no way for me to rent with a debit card since I did not have proof of a round trip ticket. Well, after requesting if I could add my father to the rental and use his credit card I was told "no they cannot be changed" and I would have to contact Hotwire.
That is where the fun began. I contacted the customer service line. I was informed that I would have to go to the airport to be "denied" and Hotwire would have to verify that fact. At that point, I would then be able to work on the refund process.
I think they are forgetting something, I need a car and having to travel to the airport to find out that no I can't get a car even after talking directly to Alamo today to find out it's not going to happen was not suffice for me to receive a refund. Not sure what sense it makes to have a customer travel there to find out something that we all already know, but that's the policy of Hotwire.
I need a vehicle for a week rental using a debit card and proof of full rental liability insurance through my local car insurance policy, but after several calls to Hotwire I have gotten nowhere. I spoke with a Supervisor ** (no last name provided) in Pensacola, FL and was explained that was Hotwire policy. She also indicated that if I bring another driver with a credit card to the counter that I might get it worked out. Not sure how comfortable you would feel handling the might work part, but obviously reading over your verbiage and seeing it change Hotwire is used to providing a service that might work or might not.
How they were ranked by JD Powers as the "highest customer satisfaction independent travel websites" I am just amazed. Given my experience with them in the past I was very pleased, but this is totally out of context and there's nothing that can be done?
Bottom line, my fiance flies in Wed 10/21 early am from Brazil and I need a car for a week. I am seeking assistance with a refund since I cannot use the current reservation provided and do not want to have to travel to TPA to be able to get this done. I have been a loyal customer to Hotwire and in fact you can see that I have about $1300 in travel on Nov 3rd already booked with you. Can someone provide a solution to this issue?
AUGUSTA, GEORGIA -- I have never in my life been treated so badly. The gentlemen, and I use that term very loosely, at the front desk are truly rude. Tonight, my family traveled from Fayetteville, NC for 3 1/2 hours to spend Thanksgiving with our loved ones, only to have our trip ruined. I booked through Hotwire as we normally do. Maybe this is what makes Jameson Suites feel that we can be treated as second-rate citizens, but as an active military family, we utilize the site to accommodate our budget.
Online, I booked a reservation for 2 adults and 1 child as I normally do, as I was instructed to do to ensure double beds. I checked in and was given the hardest time about the booking last name being different from my military ID, but DID match the billing name on the reservation. I was finally able to check in by showing my child's insurance card. Make sense?? It didn't to me either. I was given a king-size with a pull out. A pull out that when unfolded, popped out a dirty Q-tip and a flimsy mattress - something that my child does not even sleep on at home.
When I called the front desk, the FIRST thing I was told was HOTWIRE, HOTWIRE, HOTWIRE!!! "We have no control over what Hotwire does and we have nothing that we can offer to accommodate you." I proceeded to explain that in this room, once you pull out the "bed", move the end chair to the sofa, and the table, there is zero room to move about freely in the room. Again, I was given HOTWIRE, HOTWIRE, HOTWIRE!!
I hung up the phone after being yelled at to the tune of "MA'AM!!!", not Mrs. **, at least four times. My husband went downstairs to try to address the situation and come to a resolution, and again was treated as scum because we booked via Hotwire. When he mentioned not being able to maneuver freely throughout the room, he was offered to option of having someone come to move the table and extra things out of the room. Make sense??? It didn't to us either!!
I can't begin to explain how frustrated we are. We had a similar situation previously this past summer at the Jameson Inn on Park W Dr. in Grovetown, GA and was advised that we should book with the Claussen Rd location as the other is independently owned and we would be treated much better. I beg to differ. It appears that all of the customer service "professionals" skipped the customer service part of training.
I've never felt such blatant discrimination and treated in a "you get what you pay for" manner in my entire life and will ensure that this is known throughout my hometown of Augusta, GA as well as via reviews on the site. I called Hotwire and of course they were NO help. The representative barely spoke English. Thanksgiving ruined!!
I booked a car rental through Hotwire.com that cost $307.20. My wife called me 2 days later and states that we were charged twice, once on February 27th and again on March 2nd of 2015. I call Hotwire, someone from the Philippines answers and tells me that "I'm one of those customers whose been charged twice" and that'll I'll be refunded within 24 hours. As of writing this review still no refund of my money.
A few minutes later I email Hotwire and tell them I want some form of compensation since I paid for this reservation with a debit card aka cash from my bank and not a credit card. (Unlike other vacation booking sites Hotwire ALWAYS requires immediate payment with no cancellation whatsoever with no option of cancellation which is shady) So that's an additional $307 that could be in my account but isn't available to me.
They email me back assuring me my account wasn't debited twice, while I'm literally looking at my bank of America account seeing it was, without any mention of compensating me for the inconvenience. They told me this is how they authorize a credit card charge. So basically if I'd of booked a $3000 trip, I'd have been charged $6000 to authorized. I emailed them that info that I clearly see it was and I was never email back. The Chicago Sun-Times back in 2008 wrote that this is something Hotwire does, Google Hotwire charges twice to read article, and obviously they still up to it. SCAM SCAM SCAM SCAM. (transcript below)
"Thank you for contacting Hotwire Customer Care regarding your reservation with Hertz at the Austin–Bergstrom International Airport, scheduled for pick up on itinerary ********98. I understand you were charged twice on your reservation. I would be willing to check and provide details regarding this matter.
I can assure you that you were only charged once for this reservation. What you are seeing is an authorization on the card or account. These authorizations occur when we validate your card at the time of booking. Most financial institutions remove authorizations routinely within a few days. For more information about your specific financial institution's policies and your credit card or account, please contact your bank or credit card company. If you have any questions, please reply to this message or call Customer Care at 1-866-HOTWIRE (468-9473). Thank you for choosing Hotwire."
CAMAS, WASHINGTON -- Urgently need to travel to San Francisco to sign documents in the consulate of my country. On January 06, 2013, I visited a few website and Hotwire.com show up in the search result, offering tickets with a tentative discount. By filling my information to find out my schedule, Hotwire required to put my credit card information to verify and confirm my identity. The next step was assumed that would give me the option to select the time of my flight (like any other flight service website).
I continued the steps, and with surprise that this “company” selected, reserved and collected the ticket payment, and they “choose” the time of departure and return. It was landing in San Francisco at 1:15 pm, and taking off to return to my city (Portland OR) at 3:35 pm. This is completely “ridiculous” they just gave me 2 hours and 20 minutes, is no way in the earth I would have time to leaving the airport to downtown and come back to the airport. National flight is supposed to be 1 hour prior flight, so this leave me 1 hour and 20. It is impossible that I would make it on time!
On the same day, few minutes after this happened, I contacted Hotwire.com Customer service to 1866 468 9473 and I spoke with **, she refused to give me her last name. I explained my situation, she agree with me that this flight schedule was ridiculous. After I explaining her, I asked to make some changes in the flight, either leaving early or return a few hors late, ** deny doing any change on my ticket, so I asked to ** to cancel this ticket and return my money, explaining her that the service that this company offers in not real, of course she deny one more time. I did not get help from her in any way, so asked to talk with her manager, she refuses and hang up on me.
After this situation, I did some online searches and I am speechless for the quantity of complain this site has. I always used Expedia.com, they offer an amazing customer support, I should never buy from this scammer company, now I am so afraid because they have my credit card information!! I was advised to fill out a complaint with BBB. This case will be reviewed by a complaint specialist at the Better Business Bureau.
PLEASE do not use Hotwire to book any sort travel. I booked a flight from Philly to Chicago on Hotwire, received a confirmation email, had money taken from my account, and was under the reasonable impression that everything was fine. I arrived at the airport well before take off to print my boarding pass (my flight had assigned seating, so there was no incentive to check in online beforehand, and I only travel with a carry so the check in process takes mere seconds).
At this time, I was informed by Delta that Hotwire had voided my ticket from their end (with absolutely no notice given to me, despite Hotwire having a phone number and email address on hand). I immediately called Hotwire and was informed that my account had been deactivated by risk management and only they could resolve my problem. So what do I logically request? To be put in touch with risk management of course. Turns out, they ONLY have a voicemail system (so you never actually get to speak with anyone).
After leaving multiple voicemails, I called customer service again and they informed me that risk management can "choose" who to get back to. If they conveniently decide to never return your call, you're left with absolutely no recourse. Hotwire's entire risk management system is flawed, lacks transparency, and is prone to be abused since there is no accountability to customers.
As a result of this ordeal, roundtrip airfare which originally was $334 cost me upwards of $700. This was purely the result of Hotwire's unilateral error and failure to notify when unable to render services which had been paid for (clear breach of contract which requires mitigation of damages incurred). I have spent hours on the phone with customer service over this issue, and like others have noted, they were rude, unhelpful, and literally offered to assist me by giving me the number for Kayak. In years of traveling, I have never experienced such a failure to assist customers who have done absolutely nothing wrong.
If you have been similarly affected by Hotwire I suggest you file a complaint with the Better Business Bureau. Also, let's see if we can get a critical mass going and file a petition with Hotwire, or use another channel (change.org etc) to hold this company accountable for its poor and abusive business practices.
I made car reservations back in May 2013 for pick up and drop off in Las Vegas and in July 2013 my nephew was in a serious motorcycle accident in California and I live in Georgia as well as my husband and mother. Well my mother needed to get to California and was already headed to Vegas with my husband and I. I had all airline tickets to depart from California so I could take my mother to help her daughter and grandson.
My nephew just graduated high school in June with a scholarship to play football at University of Hawaii this August. They wanted proof he was my nephew told me to have my sister leave ICU while he was in surgery and go home and find his birth certificate showing my sister's maiden name and send in my birth certificate with my maiden name. I told them days later I could not get her to leave and do this, so they insisted I got a letter from the hospital.
After I was finally able to get this letter, my sister also text me a copy of the birth certificate. I also had my contract that clearly stated with the extra insurance I purchased for unforeseen circumstances I could cancel and have money refunded. I just wanted a different drop off location and couldn't do it. I faxed everything and received an email stating they hope my nephew is doing better but are still unable to refund my money... I called them up and they said they still are unsure it's my nephew and they needed a release date which was stated in the letter as unknown.
I argued with them and they reluctantly agreed to refund my money after over 10 hours on the phone and countless hours of wasted time locating this stuff and stressing my family out. Needless to say this past Monday my nephew had his leg amputated from the thigh down. :( So very unhappy!
I have been using Hotwire to book hotels on my travels for the past year and not once have they let me down. First time I tried this was in New Orleans where I booked a mystery 3+1/2 star hotel room near the NOLA airport for roughly 62 dollars. After the hotel was revealed, I was pleasant surprised that it was a Hilton Double-Tree. Service was great and the free cookies were awesome. Since then I have always used Hotwire to book hotels in my travel.
The majority of the time, I elected to book 3 to 3+1/2 star hotels and have paid no more than 70 dollars/night (average around $60-$65 per night) for a hotel. The majority of the time, the results of the hotels are either a Holiday Inn, Holiday Inn Express, or Hilton Double Tree. Only exceptions were on a trip once to Gatlinburg, we rented a 2+1/2 star hotel and was revealed to be a Days Inn by the River which was a very nice place but the ceilings in the room were a bit dirty. The other exception was on a trip to Baton Rouge where we booked a mystery 2 star hotel for 45 dollars which turned out to be a Red Roof Inn in which I was not impressed with.
All in all, I am very pleased with most results and with the company. The suspense of finding out what hotel and where you are staying is also pretty fun. Only word of advice is to aim for mystery hotels of at least 3 stars to ensure getting a nice hotel. One other thing is that you usually do not know what kind of room you are getting or how many beds are in it. So if you are traveling with another guy and want to ensure that the room has 2 beds, just put that you have three people in your party so that they have to give you two bed. (I've heard from friends who have received a room with 1 bed due to assumptions that they were traveling as a couple).