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Hotwire...ouch!
By -

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?

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Hotwire Hotel Warning = Scam, Fraud, Lies
By -

CALIFORNIA -- Please do yourself a favor and avoid Hotwire for hotels, unless you want this to happen to you - I booked a "3-star" hotel near Santa Barbara on Hotwire. Hotwire listed "retail" value of this "3-star" to be $243. They listed their price as paid $116 + tax/fees (which they noted to be a "52% savings"!). Sound like a deal? WRONG.

What I got was a room at the Holiday Inn Express. Hotwire's own site lists Holiday Inn Express hotels to be 2.5 star, so passing this off after my purchase as a 3-star is misrepresentation #1. Was told by a Hotwire "manager" that this particular property was reviewed by their own Hotwire staff and by Hotwire customers and based on that, they had given this particular property a 3 star. (sidenote - Both Priceline.com and Tripadvisor rate this very same hotel as 2*).

So, my PROBLEM #1 is - *You can't state one thing on your site, and then make a special exception for one specific property AFTER the fact.* Even the hotel itself does not consider itself 3 star, because I called to ask. Bottom line = MISREPRESENTATION. Furthermore, the price on the HI Express website was actually less than Hotwire - worked out to be $1.88 cheaper than the Hotwire price, for total savings of... less than zero.

So, my Problem #2 is - You can't tell me that I am getting a 52% savings, just to sucker me to buy, when in reality I am getting 0% savings, because that is... MISREPRESENTATION. Further, the "retail" rate for a standard room at this HI Express has never been, under any circumstance or any stretch of the imagination, $243 (which was confirmed to me by the Hotel staff, and evident on their website). Upon questioning this with Hotwire, I was told that the $243 rate is supposed to be a representation of what other 3 star hotels in the area might go for. But it doesn't explain this anywhere on the Hotwire site before you buy!

So, my PROBLEM #3 is - The HOTWIRE site basically just lies - the "retail prices" listed do not represent the actual price of the hotel you are about to buy - in this case, not even remotely close. Hotwire completely misleads consumers with completely false information.

Their slogan of 4* hotels at 2* prices and their listed "savings" percentages lead you to believe that booking through them actually saves you some kind of money, when in reality, you will probably pay less directly through the hotel's website or somewhere else. Plus you get the worst rooms and get treated like a leper by the hotel, as the manager of the Holiday Inn Express treated me when I asked to at least pay him for an upgrade to my room.

"Manager" at Hotwire call center was of course no help whatsoever - a robot reading from a script - would not help even switch me to another hotel that meets the parameters that I thought I was signing up for = ie a REAL 3 star hotel, and or a real hotel with a retail value of $243 or anything close to it. Calls to corporate have not been returned. I will be filing this complaint with the BBB. Anyone ever, ever had any luck with a Hotwire refund or switching of properties, due to their misleading business practices?

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Renter Beware and Be Warned
StarStarEmpty StarEmpty StarEmpty StarBy -
Rating: 2/51

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 "€œget 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 "€œchatting" with a salesman for a national travel website. Let's call them "€œWarm 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 "€œWarmCable"€, 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 "€œWarmCable" 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 "€œDidn'€™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.

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Let Them Know at Hotwire
By -

SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA -- Email ** to let him know of your displeasure with Hotwire. He is the president of the company but some woman who is so rude answers his emails. She called me today to make me aware despite my efforts to resolve the dump they want to put me up in Charleston, SC that is supposed to be in the "historic downtown" only to be on the outskirts under a bridge 10-15 minutes away. I immediately called them to cancel and was willing to pay regular price to give my wife a luxurious hotel she deserves.

Hotwire made it look as though you could get these same hotels at a greatly reduced price only to put you on the outskirts of their so called green zone. They make you aware of over the phone that you are choosing a hotel anywhere in that area only after you have found out they have given you a hotel miles from where you thought it would be. Oh, but they put 20 or so bullet points in their "green-zone" to make you think that's the area where your hotel is located. We want one that charges by the night, not hour.

Seriously, I tried to explain and told them I wanted to pay more to get the hotel I wanted because I felt duped by their so called "hot deal". You would think emailing their CEO would bring a nice resolution and hey, I am wiling to pay $200 a night to get what I want, not the 68$ hot deal in "Cracktown" in Charleston. Send all you emails to Clem to let him know how bad is company is. I have never dealt with such horrible customer service who is unwilling and unsympathetic and are only trying to fill up the hotels they make a special deal with where they are making close to 40-50% commission.

They have absolutely hands down worst customer service/experience in the world. I feel as though they are holding me hostage so I went on the Federal Trade Commission's website and filed a grievance through them. We'll see what happens but you would think my request was simple enough and that they would be willing to accommodate and satisfy a client, especially when I notified them immediately about this hotel and that I know it and refuse to stay in such a place. Their corporate contacts were horrific as well so that is why we need to send Clem as many emails as possible.

Oh, I was referred to by the corporate contact today as the one that sent all the emails and that she filters them. You can also get his voice mail as well by calling corporate headquarters at 415-343-8400 and using the directory and simply putting in the numbers that represent his last name" Bason" and hit the pound sign and you go right into his inbox and leave a message. At least we all as consumers can contact them to let them know they have a miserable company and are miserable people

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Hotwire Refused to Pay Hotel After We Were Already Staying There
By -

I have used Hotwire many times in the past and had no problems. But the problem I am currently experiencing will make me NEVER use them again. My wife and I booked a hotel at a great rate. She used her Hotwire account and credit card to pay for it and when we got to the hotel it turned out to be very nice and normally cost twice what we paid for the rooms.

All was good until the day we checked out and received a bill for all 4 days at the regular hotel rate. When we went to the front desk to ask why they were charging us again after we had already paid via Hotwire, they told us that Hotwire had contacted them and told them that our account was used fraudulently and refused to pay the hotel. Nobody from Hotwire tried to call us, email us or make any contact at all with us to explain why they decided to cancel our account (or to even check if it was actually us using the account).

My wife called her credit card company and they said nothing had been reported to them and they had not reported a problem to Hotwire about the account and that it was working fine. We then called Hotwire and were told that we had to contact someone from a special department because nobody at the regular help line could help us at all. The problem with that was that this was a Sunday and their "fraud" office was only open during regular work hours during the week. We were left paying a hotel bill that was hundreds of dollars more than we thought we had agreed to pay.

On Monday my wife called the special number we were given but it just went to a generic voice mail box that does not even sound as if it has even been set up to take messages. She left a message and a phone number. And waited. No call, no e-mail.

So she tried back and got the same generic voice mail box. No matter what time of day you call you get the generic voice mail box. And nobody returns the call or e-mails back. So she tried calling the regular help line again and after about 20 minutes of explaining what the issue is she is again told to call that number. When she explains that nobody picks up and ask if they can transfer her to an actual person in that department they just transfer her to that same pointless generic voice mail box.

It has been several days now and nobody has returned any calls or sent us an e-mail or letter or anything to explain why they left us stranded at an expensive hotel without any support and refused to pay the bill as agreed to in the contract we had with Hotwire. The only good news is Hotwire did refund the original charge on the credit card they took when we made the reservation. But we still ended up stranded and had to spend hundreds more than we thought we would for our hotel. We would have NEVER booked at that hotel if we knew we had to pay the full rate.

Since this horrible experience I have searched the Internet for Hotline stories and found that our experience is not all that uncommon. Many other people have been stranded by Hotwire after they got to their destination and found that Hotwire refused to pay their hotel or car rental company (or Hotwire does not send the required reservation information to the hotel or rental car agency so they have no room or car waiting for you).

So, since Hotwire will not make good on what it promises to its customers and will randomly just leave customers stranded having to pay hundreds more than what was originally quoted to them, I am telling everyone I know to run away and avoid Hotwire like it is a plague.

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Booking Unknown Hotel Through Hotwire Is A Crapshoot. Hotel May Not Be As Hotwire Represents
By -

OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA -- Hotwire designated hotel class ratings are unreliable. Hotwire hotel specialist ignored information that "three star" hotel placed guest in one star accommodation. The Hotwire customer is one bad roll of the dice away from a bad value deal, particularly when the hotel booking is for multiple nights. Since Hotwire quotes only the price, general location and a designated star rating of an unnamed hotel, the customer is especially reliant on Hotwire 1) that the hotel class rating is accurate, and 2) that the paid-in-advance Hotwire guest will not be placed in a sub par accommodation by the hotel.

My wife and I did not expect to get the nicest room when we booked a three star hotel through Hotwire, but we did expect to get a room and treatment commensurate with the star rating that Hotwire said we'd get. This did not happen when the hotel we booked turned out to be the Executive Inn and Suites in Oakland from June 10-13. While our expectations were met at three other Hotwire booked hotel stays, this was the only hotel that relegated us to second class hotel "citizen" status on account of our Hotwire booking.

Although I emailed the hotel in advance of our stay requesting a room away from the traffic noise or one in the newer building if available (I had read the online reviews), the manager declined unless we paid extra; and so I know that better rooms were unoccupied. He then gave me a card for a special web promo offering a better deal (treatment?) my next stay if I booked directly instead of through Hotwire. We were not advised of the superior amenities and fitness room in the new section of the hotel either at check-in or by info provided in the room.

The accommodation and amenities we received did not measure up to the three star rating that Hotwire claims is based on "family style rooms" and "on-site dining". None of the hotel website photos depict the older hotel building room in which we were placed. Our dark and dingy room, too small for even a closet, overlooked (in order) Embarcadero Drive, I-880 and a busy rail line. The steady drumbeat of vehicle and train traffic noise made it nearly impossible to sleep past 6:30am.

Our so called family room was so bad that it would have most likely gone unoccupied in the absence of a Hotwire paid-in-advance guest. The continental breakfast selections were not comparable to the hot food and fresh fruit choices that are now common in many budget hotels like Comfort Inns. While the coffee and juice selections were good, the lone hot food dish was the self serve waffles, which were not as good as those at a Comfort Inn in San Diego where we stayed. The pastries tasted no better than 1-2 day old packaged pastries from Safeway. The silverware was plastic and the coffee cups styrofoam. There was no fresh cut-up fruit.

On our return home, the Hotwire hotel specialist refused to even look at my fax indicating that this so called three star hotel was overrated. He said "We just gave this hotel its annual rating of three stars on June 12th." When I pointed out that the 12th was the last night I stayed there, and I didn't even email my information until the 24th, he made no offer to reconsider. While apparently reading from a script, he just kept repeating "Hotwire is confident that the hotel star rating for this hotel accurately reflects the quality of accommodation and amenities provided."

Hotwire does not back up its own star rating description guide claim that it determines its star ratings by "customer feedback" and that it "adjusts its ratings accordingly." Moreover Hotwire's claim that it "researches and acts on customer rating concerns" is contrary to my experience. Perhaps this is because the Hotwire star ratings guide promises to compensate hotel guests who have stayed at a Hotwire booked hotel within 60 days of a downgrade.

I was not even looking for compensation when I contacted the Hotwire hotel specialist, just a reason to believe that if I ever booked a hotel through Hotwire again that I could rely upon the star rating promised to reasonably reflect the quality of accommodation received. This did not happen. So book through Hotwire at your own risk.

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Hotwire Overcharging - Beware - Stay Away
By -

Real life example of their low price claims: Hi, I have stayed at a hotel reserved via Hotwire, reservation #: xxxxxxxx. For this reservation I was charged 264.74. When I was checking out from the hotel, I was given a receipt for 192.62. There's about 70 difference. I kindly would like to request from you:

  1. Explanation in writing of this difference
  2. Reimbursement of the difference

I have faxed to you both receipts along with a letter using fax # ** on April 15th. I also spoke to a customer support person on April 15th and she told me that to avoid confusion Hotwire asks hotels not to reveal the actual rate to the customers and that she apologizes for this incident but told me that Hotwire wouldn't be able to reimburse me the difference. This made me to believe that 70 was in fact the amount which Hotwire charged me for the Internet booking service. That seemed pretty high charge. That seemed pretty high charge and is spite to your pledge
found on: http://www.hotwire.com/customer-care/index.jsp.

Savings off the lowest retail hotel rate we've found in the last 24-48 hours for the same neighborhood, star rating, and stay dates. I'm not asking for "Double the difference", only for the difference. Please let me know ASAP what would be your decision in regards to this matter. Thank you.

The hotel receipt shows the total and final cost of staying there. So your claim that taxes are not included into that
bill is baseless and false. It appears that the ~$70 difference between yours and the hotel's bill, all constitutes your booking cost. It seems to be a bit excessive comparing to the industry median.

Second, your advertised "Double the Difference" rule states, that if I would find a comparable hotel in the same area and the same dates, for lower price, you'd double the difference. In fact, I found the same hotel for the same dates for lower price. I appears to me that you have decided not to honor your own "Double the difference" pledge. If you would like to add anything to your previous statements, please do so. Otherwise, thank you for explaining your business practices to me.

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Stay Away
StarEmpty StarEmpty StarEmpty StarEmpty StarBy -
Rating: 1/51

Stay away from Hotwire, they are going to ruin your trip and steal your money. Their star rating system is at least one star too high. The savings you think you're getting are in actuality only about $5. No matter the circumstances they will not refund or change your reservation. Their customer service is in the Philippines and they will just read off a pre-written statement.

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Travel Booking Cheat and Fraud
StarEmpty StarEmpty StarEmpty StarEmpty StarBy -
Rating: 1/51

CALIFORNIA -- Consumer alert: never ever use Hotwire because of its business fraud and cheating practice. As soon as you get charged in this booking site, your money is gone. Yes, gone, as same as service you paid. Hope you are not stupid enough as me to use their service, once enough.

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Warning of Unauthorized Charges
StarEmpty StarEmpty StarEmpty StarEmpty StarBy -
Rating: 1/51

OTTAAWA -- I made a reservation for 3 hotel rooms and insurance from Hotwire. I was surprised to find an unauthorized charge on my credit card for $72.90 from Allianz Global Assistance. At no time was I told about this charge they just charged it. Neither Hotwire or Global Assistance will take responsibility for it both blaming the other. Hotwire will not even respond to this issue. I travel 20-30 times a year. I will never use Hotwire again.

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Hotwire Rating:
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1.2 out of 5, based on 95 ratings and
165 reviews & complaints.
Contact Information:
Hotwire
333 Market St., Ste. 100
San Francisco, CA 94105
415-343-8400 (ph)
415-343-8401 (fax)
www.hotwire.com
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