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Never book with
Posted by on
Rating: 1/51
CALGARY -- So its my one year anniversary with my husband. We thought we would go away for the weekend to celebrate. So I booked a room with Hotwire for a 4 star hotel, the before price listed at $229, available for $158. So I booked the room, purchased travel insurance, as that seemed like a decent deal. After I purchased this, it was revealed that it was the Delta Royal Canadian Lodge. So I went online and looked at the rooms available at the Delta to try to see what kind of room I was getting. The standard room was listed at the Delta for the same days at $181, and the premier room was at $229. So naturally I thought that I would be in the premier room. So I call Hotwire to confirm the room they have booked me in. I am told it is the standard room. This is what they have told me in an email what their policy is.

" Hot Rates are booked based on the star rating, neighborhood and other details and so the crossed out rate we show before booking is an example based on published rates for similar hotels. The slashed out rate is not indicative of the specific hotel's published rates.

The savings are based on median published rate we've found on leading retail travel sites in the last 24-48 hours for the same neighborhood, star rating, and stay dates. Rates change regularly in the travel industry and we regularly check rates on other travel sites to ensure you are getting a great deal, backed by our Low Price Guarantee."

When I researched around a bit more, I compared prices on 4 star hotels in Banff on other websites, along with regular prices at 4 star hotels. The most expensive room I could find was listed at 180 a night for that time frame that I was booking.

So after I have called Hotwire, they have told me they cannot upgrade me to a better room that its up to The Delta to do that. I called The Delta, they are telling me that it is up to Hotwire to upgrade the room. So then I thought oh to heck with it, I purchased cancellation insurance. So I call the insurance company, they will not refund it for that given reason. It needs to be medical, provided by a examination, a terrorist attack, a death in the family, or the company going bankrupt.

So all of this means I could have gone to a different hotel paid the same price and gotten a way better room. I think this defeats the purpose of buying without knowing the hotel. I will now never ever book with Delta or Hotwire EVER again.
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dan gordon on 2012-03-16:
I'm afraid that most people before booking with a blind site such as Hotwire already have done a bit of homework by checking hotel sites to get an idea of what the rates are. Then you can make an informed decision if the Hotwire hot rate is really that good of a deal.
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"Could not be processed page" - CARD BILLED with NO BOOKING!
Posted by on
My girlfriend and I attempted to book a Flight and Hotel with Hotwire, the total coming to approximately US$850. We put in our card details and clicked the button to complete. After a delay, a page came up informing us that the transaction could not process. My girlfriend checked the bank account to verify that there was enough money for the card, and suddenly saw that Hotwire had charged us $440 or so dollars, yet provided us with no booking.

After calling Hotwire to complain, at around 10pm PST, the absolutely hopeless call center person refused to do anything, and explained the charge was a "hold", which doesn't make sense to me, since before Hotwire I had only heard of Pre-Auths and Charges, but never "holds" that show up like transactions on your statement. He told me that the billing department was closed and to call back tomorrow.

Well tomorrow comes and my girlfriend calls, only to be told there's nothing they can do and to call up the bank to release the hold. So we're back to passing the buck around. Why can't Hotwire just refund the money like any other company would? Why is it so difficult to resolve something like this, and why is it acceptable for a company to take nearly $450 without providing a product or service?!

After calling the Bank, they informed us that it was indeed a hold, and that it would be five business days for them to complete an investigation. As I write this I am STILL out $450 dollars.

It seems like if anything goes wrong with Hotwire, or you're mistakenly charged, they can't do a damned thing about it. That should set alarm bells ringing for anyone else thinking of booking with them.

I have been buying things online for the past 10 years and have never experienced anything as horrible, unprofessional and corrupt as this disgusting company and, quite frankly, I hope that they go bankrupt.
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Jeff on 2012-01-12:
I only will book with these 3rd party websites ONLY if the trip is WAY lower than booking direct. Other than that, its pointless to use these sites. I've actually gotten quotes with these companies that's HIGHER than booking direct. Sio you pay extra to have more of a hassle and inconvenience.
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Fraud Site
Posted by on
Misrepresents hotel amenities and services. Stretches hotel star rating.
I have used Hotwire many times in the past to make hotel reservations with NO problems. However, it seems they now have very POOR quality criteria control and allow hotels to put what ever they what on the site to SUCK you in. Example: I made two separate reservations arriving Christmas day. Both are not what I thought I was getting or paid. The 1st 4 star hotel offers NO restaurant open until 5:00 pm. Our early morning flight arrives at 9:00 and checking restaurants downtown San Diego most are closed. What 4star hotel especially in a downtown location is closed during the day or at least offers room service for guests? After reading reviews it is also extreme pet friendly allowing pets in all public areas even the restaurant. Where I live this is a health code violation. Also NO pool! These things should have been posted on hotel description so I would not book, again misleading. This is NOT a Hampton Inn or 4 star services or amenities I paid for. The second 4 1/2 star hotel says it is non-smoking but after reading poor reviews and checking website found it offers smoking rooms. I am allergic to smoke so always try to book non-smoking hotels. When I called Hotwire I was told they don’t have to be 100% non-smoking just offer non- smoking rooms. I’ m sorry but that is not a good answer. ALL hotels offer NS room! Clearly Hotwire allows hotels to put whatever they want on the site to suck consumers in. The problem is after you book and pay you don’t get the services or star rating you thought you were paying for. After calling to try to change hotels to true 4+ hotels (not refund) I was told by a supervisor there are no refunds or changes and the terms state no warranty is made on hotel services. Shame on you….you have an obligation to verify hotels provide the amenities and services of the hotel rating YOU sell. Now I find out I could have booked the new NS Hilton on the water for the same price we paid of $99 on my own and had control of my vacation not to mention Christmas. NEVER AGAIN WILL I BOOK WITH HOTWIRE AND ADVISE STAY CLEAR OF THIS SCAM SITE.

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azspots on 2011-12-22:
I disagree this is Hotwire's fault. It is incumbent upon YOU to check out the individual properties you're considering BEFORE you hand over your hard earned money. It's like a car dealer assuring you the used car you're considering is a "cream puff" only to find it is a mechanical disaster due to your not taking it to an independent mechanic. Same thing, really.
Old Timer on 2011-12-22:
Even though we only live an hour or so from San Diego we like to run down there for little one night mini vacations. It might sound crazy but we like the Hyatt next to the convention center on weekends and holidays. (make sure there is no convention going on and you will have the run of the place). It's walking distance to Little Italy and the Padres Stadium. Plenty of parking. There is a great little Sea Port Village right next to it. And the view from the upper floors is incredible. You're right on the bay. Restaurants are not an issue either, on the property or within easy walking distance.

We often get huge discounts on weekends when there is no convention as they are happy to sell a room. You can get upgrades to mini suites and higher floors just by asking.

San Diego is a great town to visit, forget the Hampton Inn and splurge a little if you can. On our last stay we got a $400.00 mini suite for $89.00!
Skye on 2011-12-22:
I love San Diego. It's one of our favorite places to visit, and of course we LOVE the San Deigo Zoo!
Anonymous on 2011-12-22:
Skye, I have free lifetime passes to the San Diego Zoo. I used to go to zoo school every summer
MRM on 2011-12-22:
Little Little, how did you obtain those passes? Did you win it?
At Your Service on 2011-12-22:
Being pet friendly and allowing pets in every area is a huge bonus in my opinion.
Anonymous on 2011-12-22:
Mrm, I was part of the Koala club
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Misrepresentation & unfriendly Customer Service
Posted by on
I am writing this review to express how deeply I am disappointed in Hotwire's services. This is not the first time I use Hotwire for hotel reservation.
I have recently made a reservation for a hotel room in Miami beach, ocean front area. Hotwire represented on of the hotel as within the ocean drive block (which means within walking distance to the beach). As soon as I booked the hotel, I went and checked the hotel name & website. I was shocked when I learned that the hotel was doing a major overhaul and restoration. Other customers that went through the same ordeal than I had posted pictures on TripAdvisor showing how windows were boarded and literally no views were available. This is in addition to the noise caused by the work outside & inside the building.
This is a huge misrepresentation of the hotel. Other websites such as Priceline or Expedia do explicitly inform of such issues.
I was rudely treated by both the customer support agent as well as the manager. They claimed that they have no proof that there is work at this property although this is clearly mentioned on the hotel's website.
Hotwire refused to cancel or upgrade my reservation. The Customer Support manager did not express any regrets or even sense that this was a serious issue.
I called my credit card company and they were more than happy to support my case an issue a full refund. Bottom line: Horrible customer service, little knowledge of their offerings, Hotwire will lose not only a customer but their reputation. On the $$ side, they'd lose much more on the charge-back than probably what they'd have made through my reservation.

I work in the Ecommerce industry and managed international website with millions of orders per year. I have never seen such a mistreatment of customers and misrepresentation of products.

Buyers beware!
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Terms of Use For all the Complaints
Posted by on
..All bookings are final and cannot be changed, refunded, exchanged, cancelled, or transferred to another party;

..Room type will be determined by the hotel based on the number of guests provided at time of booking. All reservations are booked for stays in non-smoking rooms (subject to availability).

..Hotwire rates do not include special fees charged by hotels upon check-out (e. g., energy charges, convention fees, resort fees, parking fees). Customers will be required to pay these fees directly to the hotels at check-out time.

..Reservations cannot be cancelled, refunded, exchanged or transferred to other individuals. (Once you complete a booking, your credit card will be immediately charged for the amount shown during the booking process.) Credit will not be given for unused reservations.
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Alain on 2011-05-19:
With all these terms and exclusions, I think I'll just book directly.
Ben There on 2011-05-19:
Its best to read the terms and conditions when booking any hotel. Many hotels offer rates directly to customers that also allow no changes/no refunds... They tend to be called "Advanced Purchase" rates, and your card is also charged at the time of booking.

I think the bigger question is if you want to spend the extra money for a flexible rate. If your plans change a lot, or someone you care for is not doing to hot then then yes you definitely want to... Of course the unexpected may also happen, so you need to ask yourself is the $100 saved now worth the $100 lost later if you are in a car wreck the day before the trip.

Maybe you will be able to beg your way out of a nonrefundable hotel room if it was booked directly with the chain, but that is a huge exception, probably depending on if the manager is in a good mood.
Alain on 2011-05-19:
On anything to do with travel, I find Ben's advice far better than mine!
JustSayinn on 2011-05-20:
I love Hotwire and millions of others also... you have to understand exactly what you are agreeing to...
olie on 2011-05-20:
BINGO, justsayinn. Understand what the terms are. If you're willing to take that risk, go for it.

If not, use the third-party site(like Hotwire,, Priceline, etc.) as a research tool.

I've had good luck by phoning a hotel directly, saying, "I see a $xy price on Can you match that and cut out the middleman?" or by walking in with a list of hotels and prices. "Hi. Do you have a room for one for tonight?", with list in hand. And hotel affinity card in the other.

I figure, what's the worst that can happen? I've never, ever been turned away after quoting the price.

I've heard, though, that your mileage may vary.
Former Hotwire Fan on 2011-06-03:
Just FYI regarding their "bed choices" as stated in terms of service. It should be noted that the Hotrate isn't fair or reasonable regarding this. I just booked a room yesterday and booked two rooms so five people would have enough beds. We received one queen bed in each room with a small pullout sofa in each. In my opinion, this isn't a reasonable amount of sleeping space over a span of two rooms. I do not consider a pullout sofa a bed, otherwise, I would have had MANY choices in nearby houses I could have rented, or I could have gotten one room with two beds and a pullout sofa on my own and saved money! However, I needed two rooms to have enough beds, so I was looking for a better rate and used Hot Rate. This, in my opinion is unreasonable and should be disclosed - that a bed is not necessarily a "bed", but possibly will be a couch! They also put me in a city other than the one I listed. On top of that, the hotel rate was only $24 higher than the HOT RATE! These terms may be stated, but I don't think anybody expects a supposed legitimate company to be using "terms" to hide under for deceptive business practices. I won't even get into how poorly the room was starred.
Ann on 2011-06-20:
When you attempt to book and the hotel is unavailable and you don't get a confirmation, they charge your credit card anyway.. terrible company.
Marg on 2013-05-14:
Will not be using this service again. The rate given was higher than the hotels price. Should have checked the hotel myself before I purchased through Hotwire. They would not match the price and were very difficult to deal with!!! Had to go through my credit card company to lodge a complaint. Never again.
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Cut you off for no reason
Posted by on
So this is pretty cut and dry and annoying. I have been a customer of Hotwire for over 4 years. I have booked almost all of my airfare and hotels through them...locally and when I actually travel.

That was until yesterday (4/26/11)

I tried to book a hotel room for a friend who was suck out in Oregon and I jumped onto Hotwire to book it and I got "Error Code #230.

I clicked on their customer service chat window and typed in "What does it mean when you get an - Error Code #230? After waiting 15 minutes for the computer/agent to type something out they told me that I would have to call 866-468-9473

So I call....and I go through the screening process and they told me I would have to call another I call....and I wait and go through the whole screening process and they tell me that they will have to email their Risk Management Department for them to call me back.

Now I'm over 45 minutes in and not even the start of an I'm annoyed! I tell them to call me and I get a call in the AM (on 4/27/11) and they tell me that Risk Management considers me a risk to continue to have as a customer and they deactivated my account...

I ask why and she tells me that they don't have to provide a my account was deactivated for no reason. I told the lady that they weren't the only game in town and I would just use other companies that we providing me better rates anyway (I recently booked a trip from Seattle to NYC over 4th of July weekend on for under $300 R/T where Hotwire couldn't get it below $380 - so they aren't even worth it)

What's even worse at this point is I can't log into my account to delete the credit card information that was associated with my account....I feel real safe now.
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Anonymous on 2011-04-27:
wow. weird. So even then you're a regular customer, they just cut you off for no reason....."risk management"? That's bizzarre. Would have been nice for them to at least give you a reason.
MRM on 2011-04-27:
How rude...
Alex on 2014-02-23:
Had the exact same thing happen to me and I used Hotwire constantly. I think Hotwire goes through their records and deactivates the accounts of customers that actually get around their loopholes and get the cheapest deal, which cuts into their bottom line.
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Posted by on
I haven't used Hotwire in a couple years and will NEVER use it again!!!! Today I used Hotwire to book a hotel in Pittsburgh, PA. I saw that they had a good deal on a three star hotel at $95 and because I know the city well I figured I had it narrowed down to three possible hotels. Boy was I wrong! I ended up with a reservaton at what used to be the Pittsburgh Hilton, but is now known as the Grand Pittsburgh Downtown. The Grand Pittsburgh Downtown doesn't even have a friggin website I come to find out! Moreover, I find that Hilton stripped the place of the Hilton name only a month ago because the failed numerous inspections! Also, according to the Tribune-Review and USA Today, the management company that owns the hotel has filed for bankruptcy because the owner of the property filed for foreclosure after Hilton removed their name. All of this is easy to find out online, but apparently Hotwire doesn't care to research the hotels that supply them. Furthermore, no other travel sites I could find were offering rooms at this hotel for my travel dates! I wonder why????? I called Hotwire customer service to voice my concerns and change my reservation but was greeted with company line after company line about their reservation policy. I was told that I could not change my reservation, and in fact I didn't have to use it but I would still be charged for it! Even after talking to a supervisor who said the understood my concerns, they still in the end, gave me the same company line and would not change my reservation. To me a sign of a bad and struggling business is the willingness to partner with bad and struggling companies to try to survive. Hotwire is exactly that, a bad business with shotty practices! How can you send people to a hotel with bad reviews, a bankrupt owner, and no website and call it three stars? What a rip off! Hotwire is a joke! I recommend paying the extra fifty or so dollars to know where your staying instead of ending up at some mom and pops place with no website and bad reviews!!!
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robbydee on 2010-10-02:
I'm sorry to hear about your experience. Using discount travel companies are risky at best. In this situation, I wonder how they establish their rating system? How do they verify that a hotel is worthy of the rating? These are questions I would have asked PRIOR to booking. Now that you have booked, you have no recourse but to live with their policy and the contract you have with them. I guess you can chalk this up as a learning experience. Good luck on all future trips.
tnchuck100 on 2010-10-02:
The more money Hotwire makes from a given hotel the higher the rating. Profit, my good man, profit. That is how the rating is determined.

I just don't understand why people think it wise to engage an unnecessary middleman to do bookings. Gives everybody downstream from you the opportunity to point fingers at each other or blame you if something goes wrong.
Skye on 2010-10-02:
I also do not understand why people use third party bookings, when it's so easy to make all of your own flight arrangements, hotel/motel reservations and reservations for a vehicle, if needed. EVERYONE of them always have a website, very user friendly, and you know exactly what you are getting. I love making my own reservations for whatever. And if there ever is a problem, though I've been lucky, no problems, but if there is, I can just deal directly with whomever the problem may be with, instead of trying to get someone from a third party entity to resolve a situation. All I ever see are complaints against Expedia, Priceline, Hotwire and Travelocity. Never read anything positve about them.
Scoop42 on 2010-10-05:
There are credible third party bookings that can save a travler a lot of money. I've used Expedia and I've never had an issue. Ethical practices.
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Hotwire Cancels Reservation, No Notification
Posted by on
On Saturday, July 17, 2010 I was scheduled to arrive in Fort Lauderdale, FL with a hotel reservation at the Crowne Plaza Airport/Cruise Port, booked through When I arrived at the hotel I gave them the printout of my confirmation from Hotwire with my reservation number. I was advised that the reservation was canceled by Hotwire and that I would need to contact them for more information. Keep in mind, this is a reservation that was completely paid for in advance. I called Hotwire and was told that my account was deactivated and that I would need to call the "Risk Management" department on Monday at 9am for more information, then number given was 415-343-8808, a number which leads directly to a voice mail not even indicating that it is thr "Risk Management" department. So here I am in the lobby of the hotel arguing with Hotwire customer service. My main problem at the time was that I received no emails or phone calls from Hotwire informing me of the change. Second problem is that I was told that Hotwire issued a refund and I have yet to see that. I asked the customer service agent when they decided to cancel and was told on July 14, 2010. I have since called my credit card company and placed a dispute. Here we are on Monday July, 19 and I have not received a return phone call from the "Risk Management" department. Furthermore, the customer service agent was very friendly until he read that "Risk Management" canceled the reservation, then I was treated like a second rate criminal. I want to stress that this is my credit card that I am using, and have never had any other issues with it. I also verified with the card issuer that there are no problems with my account. This trip ended up costing a whole lot more than I originally anticipated, and hold Hotwire completely responsible. If I were to have advance notice, I could have rescheduled a hotel and then dealt with Hotwire. Needless to say I will never recommend Hotwire to anyone, and urge you the reader to not use them either.
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Weedwhacked on 2010-07-19:
Why didn't you call the hotel in advance to verify that Hotwire actually booked your room for you? Hotwire's reservations confirmations only shows that you're in their (Hotwire's) system.
jkrakower on 2010-07-20:
This had nothing to do with the hotel itself, the hotel confirmed with me that the room was booked and they saw the reservation, and I had a confirmed reservation until the 14th when Hotwire cancelled without notifying me....
Marlon on 2012-05-24:
I just had a very similar experience, fortunately I my card was not charged. But I tried to book with Hotwire several times but it kept posting as an error. When I contacted the customer service number I was referred to the risk management department. The number I call goes straight to a voicemail, and I have yet to receive a return phone called. I have been treated very rudely by customer service, a manager told me "They just don't want to do business with me... And why don't I just try another site" I have never had a problem like this with any other company, but after reading a lot of complaints similar to mine on the internet I see I am not alone. If anyone knows something we can due to stop this from happening, and to make Hotwire do something I would love to help.
John on 2013-01-26:
Last night, I experienced the same issue with Hotwire. The put a $200 hold / charge on my credit card for a 1 night stay in downtown Cincinnati. When I arrived at the hotel (6 hours after the online booking) Hotwire cancelled the reservation for no clear reason. I was told by the hotel manager that only Hotwire could inform me on the reasons why.

So in the hotel lobby, I immediately called Hotwire customer service. The customer service rep, in my opinion, was polite but could not tell me anything or do anything only than transfer me to an unidentified voicemail box. I called back again hoping that someone could direct me to a "real" person. And that is when I asked what department owns this mailbox that I must leave a message in... Risk Management. To date, I've left them two messages and have not heard anything back via email nor phone.

The thing that really irritates me beyond not delivering a service they promised to me as a customer is that is there was NEVER an email or call telling me that they cancelled the reservation prior to me arriving at the hotel. This is shocking, distressing, and unfathomable from a customer experience perspective. Honestly, I have no issues with the customer service reps and supervisors whom I spoke with. The BIG issue that I have is with Hotwire, their processes, and problem resolution competency.

It was the first and last time that I'll ever use Hotwire. And block all of my company's employees from using it for business travel (which is what I was using it for). I'll post when someone actually calls me back from Risk Management.

Go to Expedia, Travelocity, Quikbook, or HotelTonight for something much better.
Irene on 2013-08-11:
Same thing just happened to my account, and to my husband's. Hotel cancelled and Hotwire acct disabled, with NO notification from Hotwire. Risk Mgmt never returns calls, and Customer Service says they can't do anything. I got to a Customer Service supervisor, and she told me if Risk Management haven't called back by now they probably never will, and I am lucky I got credit card refund.
Peter on 2013-09-14:
I was just trying to make a reservation to Boston, but was not able to process it, got the error message. Customer Service said they have deactivated my account b/c of risk team assessment. I was like what?! How did that happen? They direct you to a phone # VM that has no message of who you reached, etc. And it's a VM because they don't want to talk to people and if feel like dissing them, they don't have to explain or talk with them. I'm glad I didn't get stood up like some of you had
Jacqueline on 2013-09-14:
Same thing happened to me- the hotel actually reimbursed Hotwire who never contacted me or returned my funds. I have been trying for the past 5 months and still no return phone call and they have not refunded my account, is this even legal?does anyone know if a case cam be brought up against Hotwire's policies?
Angel on 2013-12-12:
Same exact thing just happened to me. This will be reported to BBB
minhaja on 2013-12-16:
Exact same thing happened to me, but with airfare. Risk management is completely unreachable, and Hotwire customer service is doing nothing. I submitted a complaint w/ the BBB..lets not let this company get away with such abusive practices.
Deinhart on 2014-03-24:
Same exact thing just happened to me in Barcelona (Europe). Risk management is also completely unreachable, and Hotwire customer service is doing nothing.
Close commentsAdd reply Dominates Con-Artistry
Posted by on
This is my letter of disapproval to Superiors and Affiliates,
With deepest regret, 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 Ronald 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 Mikaela 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.
With Deepest Regrets,
Yours Truly,
Lindsey (last name withheld)
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YunkaG on 2010-02-06:
Did you check with the companies you were dealing with before you started using Hotwire? You should always check directly with the airlines, hotels, etc to get their prices before you start dealing with any online agency. I used Expedia once to book airlines and it saved me a grand total of $50 but I ended up flying on 3 different airlines - no miles credit. Every time now when I check hotels, car rentals, airline, etc sites I get their prices then I check the online agencies and guess what, the online agencies are exactly the same prices and sometimes more than dealing with the companies directly.
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Posted by on
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:
Christopher S Cole 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 its 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 no where.

I spoke with a Supervisor Jennifer (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 web sites" 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?
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User Replies:
JR in Orlando on 2009-10-16:
Reading also requires comprehension. The pre-purchase language expressly states: "If using a debit card for your deposit, contact the rental agency for its policy." How much more clearly does Hotwire need to be to say "call them before you buy if you are using a debit card." All the other langauge after the purchase is just verbage that really does not change the fact if you had called prior to purchase, you would have found out what you ultimately learned.

The part about making you actually be denied is correct. Otherwise, people would call up for a refund saying that "Joey the counterguy told me if I came I would not get a rental." Until it actually happens otherwise, the rental may still go through.
Anonymous on 2009-10-16:
You assumed that because Hotwire has a policy on their website it applied to all car rental companies. They are not the same which is why Hotwire stated credit card or debit card. Very few car companies allow debit cards and when they do they'll hold hundreds of dollars on it until you return the car.

You should rent directly from the car companies. Now you know why. You subjected yourself to Alamo and Hotwire's policies.
redmx3racer on 2009-10-16:
Alamo,Enterprise, and National (all owned by the same company, BTW) will only take Debit cards with proof of roundtrip tickets.
Avis and Budget (Also the same company) will take them-with and additional deposit on top of the amount of the rental, without needing flight information.
Hertz-last I knew they would take them-if you passed a credit check.
The problem I have with Hotwire is they don't make it clear until almost the very end what company you will be booked with. However-if you look at the "Help Center" for the debit card info-it does make it a little more clear. Travelocity at leasts lets you pick the company-and the debit card policy is listed for the company you choose.
beberio1 on 2009-10-17:
Let me clarify a couple of items for those who feel that my reading comprehension skills need work. First, when you rent a car with Hotwire, until you pay for it and get the confirmation you do not know who the actual rental agency is. Let me make this very clear they only show you that after you've paid for it. Therefore, it eliminates the "contact the agency" option prior to renting all together. However, when you are making your selections you actually choose using debit card and this one would assume would eliminate any companies that would not take them. If you read my original post the language totally changes from what they show up front to what was emailed to me. In fact, when I called and talked to Jennifer (supervisor) she provided me with a response that clearly showed that this is not only a recurring issue, but that the actually rental car agencies sometimes bend their own rules to get around. Now why would she know that without having dealt with this often? Additionally, without having the option to call upfront, as they suggest because they don't provide the name until after you've paid, then how as a consumer can you eliminate the uncertainty? I hope that you understand that the wording is clearly opposite of what they present prior to purchase and they leave you with no option of contacting. Using wording such as "could be" or "might" does not represent a well written contract. If fact, with such vagueness, that could easily be eliminated, Hotwire obviously feels that this is something that works in there advantage and not the consumer. I am simply trying to make others aware of that fact and not get into a commenting match with those who have nothing better to do other than comment in a derogatory manner regarding someone's intellect that do not even know. Not sure how you would define ignorant, but that sure sounds like it in the prior sentence.

I would simply strongly recommend that you are completely aware of the wording when making a selection. Best of luck with your adventures in using Hotwire.
Carlos on 2012-04-08:
I just went through a very similar situation. In my case, I used a pre-paid card. Followed the prompts and my transaction went through. When I called Budget to see how much I would need in the card for a deposit, I was told they do not take these cards. I called customer service and a supervisor told me that he didn't understand how the transaction was approved with this card. He mentioned that I got around their policy by "following the instructions". What does that mean?? I sent an email and they responded right away saying that the "Terms of Use" state that pre-paid cards may not be used. After reviewing the terms, I responded that the words "pre-paid" or "reloadable" are nowhere in the document. It only mentions "false names" or "invalid cards" and the fact that a major credit card is needed. My card is a Visa and it's valid. The name and address on the card are mine. While I understand NOW that they do not accept these cards, the wording on the "Terms of Use" do not say what the customer rep on the email is saying. After a couple of emails, they accepted the fact that it should have never been approved. (They never admitted that the wording does not exclude pre-paid cards. I still have to go to Budget to get denied ON THE DAY OF TRAVEL so I can get my refund, even though I did not do anything wrong. I have a feeling that this is not the end of this TRIP!!! All I want is what I paid for or my money back.
andersonwalker729 on 2014-03-09:
Just booked an auto rental for a price that appeared rational, yet when got to the pickup and extra extra money was asked. I've not had any confusion no customer service can be inferior to this. They make people lose money and time. On Hotwire site they demonstrate incredible arranging to have you in their transaction pipe. I'd rather suggest going for At least I was not at all crooked down by that one!
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