Hotwire Partially Refunds Cost Of Non-Suite Hotel Room

Yesterday we mentioned that you might not want to take the “S” icon—it stands for “suite”—too seriously on a Hotwire hotel room listing, because Jeff did and ended up in a room that was definitely not a suite. When he called Hotwire, they told him that the icons only show what’s offered at the hotel, not what he’s actually getting.

Hotwire read the post, then contacted Jeff to clear things up. Apparently the CSR he spoke with initially was wrong.

A representative of Hotwire corporate called me at 4 pm ET this afternoon after he said several members of the company’s customer care staff, who monitor web sites, blogs and social networking, forwarded the Consumerist story to him. (I have no clue how they found my name or number.) He explained that the hotel can’t assign a room to a Hotwire guest [if the room] doesn’t have the amenities that the hotel advertised. The customer service rep who I had called, he said, gave me incorrect information.

Hotwire has removed the “S”uite icon from the hotel and refunded half the cost of the reservation in “HotDollars.” I would have been pleased with only the removal of the “S”uite icon, so the offer of the HotDollars was extremely generous. As I said in the original post, I’ve used Hotwire on plenty of occasions and it’s really a wonderful service. In the past decade or so, this has been the only hiccup. To the commenters who mentioned they would avoid Hotwire, I’d recommend they give the company a chance. As you can see, they stand behind their service.

Well, that makes more sense at least, since the “S” icon doesn’t mention anything about it being optional.

“Using Hotwire To Find A Hotel Room? Take Those Little Icons With A Grain Of Salt”


Edit Your Comment

  1. metsarethe... says:

    Hot dollars? I would have preferred Wonder Dollars!!

  2. cash_da_pibble says:

    That’s awesome.
    I personally would feel sketchy about paying money for a Hotel I know nothing about…
    But like Jeff says, said- If it works for you, stick with it!

  3. humphrmi says:

    Apparently the CSR he spoke with initially was wrong.

    Where “initially wrong” is defined as “was spouting unofficial corporate policy that applies until they get called on the carpet by a big influential consumer blog”.

  4. Galactica says:

    “Apparently the CSR he spoke with initially was wrong.”

    What?! No way…

  5. Galactica says:

    I think the real question is: Did he use his debit card for this? If so, tsk, tsk, tsk.

  6. dohtem says:

    What is the US Dollar to HotDollar exchange rate?

  7. twophrasebark says:

    I have to say that Hotwire only did this because of the post on Consumerist.

    I once wrote to several executives at Hotwire because they sold me a domestic flight with a 9 hour layover. The reps told me this was acceptable and within their terms and conditions. No amount of EECBs even got a reply

    I am amazed that Hotwire responded. I thought nothing could move them to care.

    • dohtem says:

      @twophrasebark: They are reading your post and laughing now.

      • Major-General says:

        @dohtem: Especially given that there terms and conditions basically state they can do that. Hell, I’ve seen ticket options from the airline websites themselves try and do that.

    • kdollarsign says:

      @twophrasebark: I hate to say this but that is kind of your own fault. you should be aware of the parameters. I never “name your own price “on flights because of this very not-so-remote possibility.

      • twophrasebark says:

        @kdollarsign: Well, you have to consider something in the law that is called an “unconscionable contract.”

        A 9 layover might be considered unconscionable, regardless of what their TOS says. Certainly there’s got to be some limit but what that is probably would be determined in court.

    • Jack SprattSparrowSkellington says:

      in my experience with HW, if the customer has booked a hotrate room and has looked over the itinerary and isn’t happy with a 9 hour layover, they can call back and they will issue a refund and rebook their ticket to something more suitable. or if the cust calls back within a certain timeframe of booking the original flight, they can void the flight alltogether.

  8. Paladin_11 says:

    The dirty little secret about Hotwire is that they share a corporate parent with, Travelocity and a few other online travel services. They aren’t geared towards providing customer service, just efficiently separating you from your money…

  9. wvFrugan says:

    “several members of the company’s customer care staff, who monitor web sites, blogs and social networking”

    If you’d be a fucking person to start with you wouldn’t need to do this so much. Enough people like me see through your crime scene clean-up when there is publicity, and know to avoid you. In fact, it makes you look worse IMO.

  10. Anonymous says:

    I used to use Hotwire and spent a chunk of change with them. They put me in a hellhole a few years ago and even when the manager of the property requested a refund, they refused. I now own the and .biz domains. I haven’t set them up yet, but may in the future.

  11. Raymond Chow says:

    Same as the ratio of Unicorns to Leprechauns.

  12. Anonymous says:

    I have used at least twelve times in the last three years for hotels and car rentals. I have had two issues with The first issue I reserved four nights at a 2.5 star hotel. Before I stayed at the hotel Hotwire contacted me to let me know they had downgraded the hotel to a 2 star hotel and offered me my choice of getting my money back by voiding the reservation or $ 100 in Hotdollars and keeping my reservation. The $ 100 was about a 60% refund for future use. I took the money and purchased two more nights at a different hotel the next week.
    My second issue was after we stayed at another 2.5 star hotel. I rated it as a 2 star on the survey they e-mailed me. I was one of many people that had a problem with the rating. I got this reply the next business day:
    It is our pleasure to provide you with a $25.00 credit to your Hotwire Account in the form of Hotwire HotDollars. One HotDollar is equivalent to one US dollar, and can be used for any future booking on the Hotwire site. You will be given the option of using this credit on the billing page for your next booking. Full details of your HotDollar assignment are shown below:

    I was happy with the amount I paid for the hotel; I was not expecting any refund. I just thought it should have been a 2 star hotel.
    I plan to continue using Hotwire for my hotel and car rental needs in the future.
    No I don’t work for

  13. jflash972 says:

    You can see a bit more about this, and some other comments, that Jeff (aka “East Coast Producer”) posted at: []

  14. CindyLouWho says:

    I just used Hotwire for my first and last time a few days ago. A coworker is quitting, so if I want a vacation in the near future, I have to take it in the next few weeks. I booked a hotel in DC on Wednesday, and when I checked the DC tourism site on Thursday morning, their price for the lowest tier of room at that was a couple of bucks cheaper. Not alot, but it’d be something. I printed out the page with the prices and sent an e-mail to Hotwire customer service asking what my room type was, since that was one of the criteria to take advantage of their guarantee. 4 e-mails and almost 48 hours later, my request has been denied because the price on the tourism site went up 20 bucks. No chance to prove my case, or fax them my proof, just denied. Hotwire has lost a customer because they refuse to honor their guarantee for less than 50 bucks.

    I’m glad everything worked out for the OP, but I’m not recommending Hotwire to anyone I know.

  15. kdollarsign says:

    I think all these complaints are ridiculous. “Dirty little secret” that it shares an owner with travelocity. WHO CARES. alot of those travel sites are partners. a true consumerist knows which share airlines.

    Price went up on your hotel? THEN THEY CAN’T MATCH THE PRICE. duh.

    for the record before people start bitching, none of those sites can guarantee the number of beds you’ll get either. read the print. it’s not even that fine.

  16. Anonymous says:

    I will NEVER use Hotwire again unless I book a customer favorite. I booked a 2.5 star property in the dead of winter. The dirty little secret was the fact that Hotwire booked you into one of two adjacent (same name?) properties depending what price-point the booking was at. My 2.5 star property was right up there with a Motel 6 – all exterior motor lodge-type room entrances – in sub-zero weather conditions. All the while there was an adequate suite-type property right next door – you’ll never guess the property I was booked in to?!!

  17. nobrain says:

    I recently booked with only to find that the hotel they selected for me (after I paid) was in a different area than I selected — 40 MILES AWAY!! I am an experienced Hotwire user; have been a customer for 4 years without an issue.

    I called hotwire to explain that I chose a different hotel selection than I was given and they said “the hotel you were assigned is within the acceptable distance”.

    The problem is, it was not in the area I SELECTED. I then said that I was very displeased and wanted to talk to a supervisor or I would have to close my hotwire account forever. I was put on hold for about 15 minutes and then — disconnected.

    Seconds later “You’ve Got Mail”… I see an email from that says my account has been deactivated. So, I call Hotwire back up again… Surely this is an error.

    I talk to a new rep at hotwire and they inform me that since my account is closed they cannot do anything for me. They cannot look up my (bad) reservation and cannot provide me with any customer service at all. WHAT!?

    So, they give me a bad reservation, refuse to rectify the problem, then they close my account so I cannot even access my (long) history with them — nor can they do anything on the current issue.

    I am done with If they cannot take the time to solve a problem for a long term customer, they do not deserve my business. Eech.

  18. hipsternot says:

    Made a car reservation w/Hotwire, but didn’t pick it up ‘cuz I found a better deal with Avis. Hotwire refused to refund. I explained that they were giving me nothing and expecting payment anyway. They still refused. I received a web-survey following the expected p/u date and it said: Did you p/u the car? I answered No. It then asked why, with a list of choices.

    If they know that people don’t p/u rentals (which are overbooked like everything else these days) and they insist on payment, isn’t this a scam???

    Anywho, I filed a dispute with cc (Cap One) and they credited my acct. (in < 2wks). At least Cap One cares about my business!

  19. nytransplant says:

    NEVER USE HOTWIRE! They are crooks.. I made a mistake and pressed the reserve button for a car rental. When I realized my mistake, I immediately (within seconds) cancelled the reservation and called Hotwire. I spoke to five people at Hotwire and got the same lame answer: “We do not give refunds”. I contacted the BBB, the FTC and my state attorney general’s office. But, I wanted to tell people to not do business with Hotwire. Let’s put these bastards out of business NOW!