Hotwire, Inc Complaint - Worst experience ever! Other sites charge the same so go with someone else!
I returned my rental car a day early to the Alamo located in Orange County. My sister became ill on our trip and we rescheduled our flights so that we could get home earlier. I did not have time to call the rental agency to advise them of this, however, upon the return of the rental car I asked the receiving agent if we had returned the car in time in order to avoid paying for a fourth day. She said that we had, but because we had prepaid through Hotwire we would need to call them for the refund. Consequently, when I got home I called Hotwire for the partial refund. I spoke with a representative named Sandra who said that she would just need to get confirmation from Alamo that their representative advised me that Hotwire would refund one day of the rental. She placed me on hold and tried to contact Alamo to no avail. She offered me the Alamo manager's contact number and said that I could try contacting the manager at my convenience so that I did not have to continue to wait on hold while she tried to contact the manager. She said that I needed to get in touch with the manager and tell her that Hotwire needed confirmation to process the refund. After trying to contact the Alamo manager for several weeks and leaving numerous messages, I called Hotwire back to advise that I could not reach the manager to whom Sandra had directed me.
I first had misfortune to speak with Herbert. After recounting my situation to him, I immediately got the sense that he wanted to do everything in his power to deny me even the slightest amount of customer service. He did what he called "research" into my account and came to the conclusion that Sandra was mistaken. He informed me that Hotwire's rates are the lowest out there and that because I received such a discounted rate, Hotwire could not refund me for the day I did not use. However, Hotwire was not the only car rental booking service to offer this rate, and the only reason I chose to book through Hotwire rather than carrentals.com (whom I normally book through and will return to from now on) was due to the fact that I have had good previous experiences booking hotels through Hotwire. I told Herbert that I understood he was just trying to do his job and asked if I could speak with his superior since he was not going to be able to accommodate my dilemma.
After some time, I was connected with Collin (employee #1615). Collin might as well have been a computer. Actually, a computer would have given me better customer service than Collin. I am infuriated at the way I was treated by him. After repeatedly explaining my situation to him over and over he would simply state that since I had failed to get in contact with an Alamo manager, I was not entitled to receive a refund. I tried to explain to him that essentially I was doing Sandra a favor by agreeing to contact Alamo on Hotwire's behalf in order to process the refund. I could have told Sandra that I would remain on hold while she continued to contact Alamo, but I agreed to take the number and do it later on my own time on her behalf rather than waiting on hold for who knows how long and wasting both her and my time. Sandra never told me that it was my responsibility to get in contact with Alamo to receive confirmation that I was entitled to a refund. She gave me the option to either do it myself or wait on hold while she pursued the issue. Collin did not seem to understand this detail and maintained that I still needed to contact Hotwire myself in order to get a refund. I repeated that I have been trying to contact them for weeks but that I was fed up with it and thought that it should be Hotwire's responsibility since Hotwire is the one that said I needed this confirmation to begin with. I recapitulated the whole situation to Collin yet again, detailing the entire interaction I had with the Alamo agent who said that Hotwire would refund me for the unused day. Collin then asked if I had this agent's name. I said I did not, but that I do have a receipt which was given to me by the agent who said I would get a refund and that I could scan an image of it over to him and maybe he could decipher out the employee's name or number somewhere on the receipt. He said he could not do that, so I tried to ask him if any of the random numbers on the receipt might be the lady's employee number and he said that he would not be able to tell without looking at it and that since I did not know the agent's name he would not be able to call Alamo himself. I asked him why then had Sandra been able to, and he said that he did not know but that it was not possible for him to call Alamo without the agent's name. Exasperated, I asked him what he suggested I do, and he said to continue trying to call Alamo because it was Alamo's responsibility to refund the money. Again I told him that I had already been told by the Alamo agent to whom I returned the car that Hotwire had to process the refund. Collin repeated that Hotwire would only be able to process the refund if I got a hold of Alamo. I told him again that I had agreed to call Alamo myself as a favor to Sandra rather than waste both of our time, but he again said that Hotwire could not process the refund because I had not gotten a hold of Alamo, and he was not going to contact Alamo without the name of the receiving agent. Essentially Collin succeeded in talking in circles like this with me wasting my time. I got the sense that he was enjoying this "game" in which he was getting paid to argue with me on the phone.
I Collin asked if there was any way I could get in contact with his supervisor and he repeatedly said no and that he had no supervisors. The only way to inform Hotwire about his lack of customer service was via support@Hotwire.com. I have never been so turned off from a company from such detestable customer service, especially from a supervisor. He was extremely unprofessional and apathetic regarding my situation. He snickered under his breath when I got upset and kept repeating jargon that did not address my complaint. $17.76 is a measly amount of money and I am confounded that I have had to spend this much time and effort on such a small sum. But the fact of the matter is that I was informed both by the Alamo agent to whom I returned the car and the first Hotwire agent I spoke with that I would be refunded for the unused day. This situation was not about the money. It is simply a matter of principal that a company does right by its customers. I understand that apparently both the receiving Alamo agent and the Hotwire representative were mistaken regarding the information they conveyed. However, a company is obliged to fulfill the promises made by the employees who represent it.