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.
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.
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:
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.
LUXEMBOURG, EUROPE -- I had booked a car with Hertz to be picked up at Luxembourg airport (Europe) the rental price for the Hot Wire booking was $300 the charge at the airport from Hertz was $500. When I returned and complained to HotWire I was told they only check the rental company's web site and do not actually contract for a charge, so I had a $200 surprise with no acceptance of responsibility from HotWire.
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.
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.
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.
NEW YORK -- Do not use! Hotwire gives you the opportunity to pay more by using a "low price guarantee" that compares apples to oranges. Hotwire never has to honor this so-called guarantee. Point being, Hotwire requires payment upfront, however Hotwire won't consider doing so with the supplier directly equivalent. They always compare their price against less restrictive terms. Pretty clever - buyer beware - in fact, I suggest buyer go elsewhere!
Hotwire needs to be put out of business. They do not give refunds WHATSOEVER! I had to cancel due to the airport charging additional fees for renting the car ($350 in addition to the rental). Nowhere on the website was this information about the excessive deposit with a major credit card. I will NEVER use Hotwire again for anything. They didn't even want to move the dates. They will not work with their customers under any circumstances! I advise to not use their service.