Warning: Deceptive Hotwire Hot Rates

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Jul 6, 2017
4
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#1
Hello,

First-time poster, but I wanted to share an experience I had with a Hotwire reservation which I am still in the process of resolving.

On June 28th I sought to make a reservation in Miami, Florida for the area of South Beach - Collins Ave - Ocean Drive. I am familiar with Hotwire's Hot Rate's and how they work and have used them in the past with no issue.

While browsing the reservations I came across a 'Hot Rate' reservation for a hotel room listed at $1,840/night reduced 75% to $470/night. This was a 5-star hotel, and while I was not necessarily looking to book a hotel of this caliber the deal was too good to pass up (hey it's 75% off). My research of the 5-star hotels in the area (The W, The Setai, and The Ritz Carlton-South Beach) showed that the only rooms those hotels list at $1,500+/night are multiple bedroom suites.

So I booked the reservation and found out I received a standard (interior view) room at the Ritz Carlton which is the lowest tier room that they have. I called the Ritz to confirm this and ask what the standard rate for this room type is. I was told that this room type does not go for more than $550/night at any time of the year.

Needless to say, I was quite upset, I do realize that Hotwire has a disclaimer next to the listed (or crossed out) standard rate for hot fares which states the following:

*Savings 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.

However, within that disclaimer, there is no mention that Hotwire will use the standard rate for far superior rooms (suite class) to compare to the rate of an inferior room (basic) that you will, in fact, be receiving. In summary, I was sold a basic room that never goes for more than $550/night, with the perception that I was getting a room that typically goes for $1,840/night.

In my opinion, this is a very deceptive loophole that borders the lines of legality. Even if the other comparable 5-star hotels only had suite level rooms available, those rates shouldn't be cited as the standard rate for a room that would never be listed at that cost per night.


Resolution:

I have yet to receive a resolution, I have talked to Hotwire's customer service department multiple times and they continue to spout the standard line of "no refunds on hot rates".

I have tried Hotwire's corporate customer care line and left messages, but they have not called me back at the times I have requested. They have tried me back at inopportune times but there is no way to reach anyone directly.

Given that Hotwire has refused to reimburse me, and given the deceptive tactics to make a deal appear better than it is, I have moved forward in opening a case with the Attorney General in my state, submitting documentation showing all aspects of what I have described above, including screenshots showing the 'claimed' standard rate for the room I booked, as well as the estimated cost savings (which were greatly inflated). I also started a dispute resolution with my credit card company to reverse the charge on the grounds that the 'deal' I was sold was misleading and deceptive. I also sent a documented email to the Ritz Carlton with Hotwire customer support CC'ed informing them I would not be staying for the reservation as I was sold something that was not true.

My question to the community is can anyone suggest any further action on my part? I am drafting a letter to one of my representatives in Congress but I am not sure how much traction that will get. My biggest fear is that I could possibly lose the dispute that I filed with my credit card, however, given that I was deceived by the 'standard rate' listed, I refuse to pay for something that is not what it was sold as.

TL : DR I was told I was getting a room that goes for $1,800+/night for $470/night, a 75% discount, the room I received goes for no more than $550/night at any time of the year as confirmed by the hotel themselves.
 
Feb 9, 2016
2,449
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#2
Stop using the phone and start writing emails.
http://www.elliott.org/company-contacts/hotwire/

Start with customer service.
if you get denied, appeal at the tier 3 support. if you get denied, tweet hotwire. if that doesnt light a fire, tweet Henrick Kjellberg. if that doesn't work, email him directly.

You've brought some really good facts into the situation so keep it fact based with this being your real reason
I was told I was getting a room that goes for $1,800+/night for $470/night, a 75% discount, the room I received goes for no more than $550/night at any time of the year as confirmed by the hotel themselves.

Ask for a resolution in all correspondence. I would suggest asking for either a refund or 75% off the standard room rate for the category you booked, which would bring your room charge to around $100 per night.

DONT FORGET to praise hotwire. let them know they are your choice in online TA's and your go to company when booking vacations and that you have always been pleased with price, inventory and quality of accommodations. It will go far.

Good luck and keep us posted.
 
Jul 6, 2017
4
3
3
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#3
Stop using the phone and start writing emails.
http://www.elliott.org/company-contacts/hotwire/

Start with customer service.
if you get denied, appeal at the tier 3 support. if you get denied, tweet hotwire. if that doesnt light a fire, tweet Henrick Kjellberg. if that doesn't work, email him directly.

You've brought some really good facts into the situation so keep it fact based with this being your real reason
I was told I was getting a room that goes for $1,800+/night for $470/night, a 75% discount, the room I received goes for no more than $550/night at any time of the year as confirmed by the hotel themselves.

Ask for a resolution in all correspondence. I would suggest asking for either a refund or 75% off the standard room rate for the category you booked, which would bring your room charge to around $100 per night.

DONT FORGET to praise hotwire. let them know they are your choice in online TA's and your go to company when booking vacations and that you have always been pleased with price, inventory and quality of accommodations. It will go far.

Good luck and keep us posted.

Thank you for the advice. I will follow each of these steps.

I have emailed support@hotwire.com outlining everything I have described above, yet there has been no response to the email. The email was sent Friday, June 30th.
 
Last edited:

jsn55

Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
6,852
6,774
113
San Francisco
#5
@sas80 if I read correctly @cvall1984 has already started a credit card dispute and contacted the Attorney General.
I agree that we might be a little late here contacting Hotwire to attempt to fix this very clearcut issue of misrepresentation. Disputing the charge and contacting the AG will probably result in no negotiation with Hotwire. And that's just fine. They should slink away in shame. It's almost insulting to think that an inferior room at the RC will so dazzle you that you won't notice the discrepancy between what you purchased and what you received. What a bunch of bozos.
 
Likes: AMA
Jul 6, 2017
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#6
I agree that we might be a little late here contacting Hotwire to attempt to fix this very clearcut issue of misrepresentation. Disputing the charge and contacting the AG will probably result in no negotiation with Hotwire. And that's just fine. They should slink away in shame. It's almost insulting to think that an inferior room at the RC will so dazzle you that you won't notice the discrepancy between what you purchased and what you received. What a bunch of bozos.

Thanks for the support here. If it hadn't been for the misrepresented cost savings I never would have booked the room. But when you see or are led to believe you are getting a room that normally goes for $1,840/night at a 75% discount, you might jump at the opportunity as I did. What irks me however is that Hotwire knew what type of room they were selling me, to compare the rate of a much better room to one of a standard room is clearly a misrepresentation.

I documented the whole process taking screenshots (with date and time clearly visible) showing what Hotwire showed was the standard rate, as well as the screenshot after checking out showing that I saved in excess of $4K in total over 3 nights. I also have screenshots of the going rates at the Ritz Carlton (taken after I booked on Hotwire) for the same room I was given for the same dates and the cost was only $15 more per night than the rate I got through Hotwire. Additionally, the only rooms going for $1,800+/night at comparable 5 stars hotels/resorts in that same area during that same time frame were all for 2 bed/ 2 bath suites (only the W hotel on Miami beach had this rate which is right next door to the Ritz).

I'm going to fight this to the end as I feel the disclaimer Hotwire has on the 'standard rate' and 'discount' is entirely unclear and does not specify that they can use the rates for far superior rooms at similar starred hotels to inflate the savings you are getting as two entirely different rooms types are being compared.

EDIT: Let me also add, I made the reservation on the evening of 6/28, for a stay of 7/1 to 7/4. After making the booking I was calling Hotwire non-stop until the evening of the 30th. On the evening of the 30th I sent an email to both the Ritz Carlton and Hotwire informing them that I would not be using the reservation. So at this point the reservation has passed and I went ahead and booked another hotel the night of the 30th for my stay on 7/1 to 7/4.
 
Nov 14, 2016
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#7
This is something Hotwire is known to do.

The thing is that the hotel doesn't really ever need to sell their hotel at the listed price for Hotwire to use it. It only needs to be the rack rate. In some municipalities this is the rate that's on the little sticker on the back of the hotel door. I wouldn't be surprised in the least if they used these rates to try to sell how big of a "discount" you're getting.

For instance, I once stayed at the Marriott in Rosslyn, VA for $599/night. This was an amazingly high rate - the rate right now is $119. But one Thursday evening the client asked me to return the following Monday and the entire city was sold out for an event. Being a Marriott Platinum member I finally used my membership to give them 24 hours advanced notice which meant they HAD to get me a room (and bump someone else). They did this quite willingly but they outright said that the rack rate was $599 and that's what I was going to have to pay. Since my client was paying it, I booked the room. I wouldn't be surprised in the least if Hotwire has used that rack rate to show a massive discount on that room in the past. Misleading as hell? You betcha. But then again Hotwire has had a massive number of complaints about this very issue and they haven't backed off from doing it.

There's nothing we can do for cvall1984. They've already contacted their AG and, more importantly, started a chargeback on their credit card. The dates of the stay have already passed. The nuclear button has been pressed and either they win the chargeback or they don't. If they win, Hotwire may attempt to send this to collections (though probably not). While I find Hotwire's policies abhorrent this tale is a good lesson for everyone to do their own research regarding how good a "deal" something is and not rely on the information provided by the person/website that's trying to sell you the item.

I think we all agree that when it comes to hotels your best bet is often to book directly with the hotel.

---------------------

With ALL of that said, cvall1984, what did the sales page of Hotwire promise about the room? When it provided the room details did it promise a suite? Or did it promise a normal room? In short, was there any promise made within the listing of the "Hot Rate" not fulfilled by the room that was delivered beyond what they said the possible going rate was? What were the specific promises of the type and quality of the room when you accepted this rate?
 
Last edited:
Likes: VoR61
Jul 6, 2017
4
3
3
34
#8
This is something Hotwire is known to do.

The thing is that the hotel doesn't really ever need to sell their hotel at the listed price for Hotwire to use it. It only needs to be the rack rate. In some municipalities this is the rate that's on the little sticker on the back of the hotel door. I wouldn't be surprised in the least if they used these rates to try to sell how big of a "discount" you're getting.

For instance, I once stayed at the Marriott in Rosslyn, VA for $599/night. This was an amazingly high rate - the rate right now is $119. But one Thursday evening the client asked me to return the following Monday and the entire city was sold out for an event. Being a Marriott Platinum member I finally used my membership to give them 24 hours advanced notice which meant they HAD to get me a room (and bump someone else). They did this quite willingly but they outright said that the rack rate was $599 and that's what I was going to have to pay. Since my client was paying it, I booked the room. I wouldn't be surprised in the least if Hotwire has used that rack rate to show a massive discount on that room in the past. Misleading as hell? You betcha. But then again Hotwire has had a massive number of complaints about this very issue and they haven't backed off from doing it.

There's nothing we can do for cvall1984. They've already contacted their AG and, more importantly, started a chargeback on their credit card. The dates of the stay have already passed. The nuclear button has been pressed and either they win the chargeback or they don't. If they win, Hotwire may attempt to send this to collections (though probably not). While I find Hotwire's policies abhorrent this tale is a good lesson for everyone to do their own research regarding how good a "deal" something is and not rely on the information provided by the person/website that's trying to sell you the item.

I think we all agree that when it comes to hotels your best bet is often to book directly with the hotel.

---------------------

With ALL of that said, cvall1984, what did the sales page of Hotwire promise about the room? When it provided the room details did it promise a suite? Or did it promise a normal room? In short, was there any promise made within the listing of the "Hot Rate" not fulfilled by the room that was delivered beyond what they said the possible going rate was? What were the specific promises of the type and quality of the room when you accepted this rate?

Kahss,

There was no promise in regards to room type anywhere on the page.
 

jsn55

Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
6,852
6,774
113
San Francisco
#9
This is something Hotwire is known to do.

The thing is that the hotel doesn't really ever need to sell their hotel at the listed price for Hotwire to use it. It only needs to be the rack rate. In some municipalities this is the rate that's on the little sticker on the back of the hotel door. I wouldn't be surprised in the least if they used these rates to try to sell how big of a "discount" you're getting.

For instance, I once stayed at the Marriott in Rosslyn, VA for $599/night. This was an amazingly high rate - the rate right now is $119. But one Thursday evening the client asked me to return the following Monday and the entire city was sold out for an event. Being a Marriott Platinum member I finally used my membership to give them 24 hours advanced notice which meant they HAD to get me a room (and bump someone else). They did this quite willingly but they outright said that the rack rate was $599 and that's what I was going to have to pay. Since my client was paying it, I booked the room. I wouldn't be surprised in the least if Hotwire has used that rack rate to show a massive discount on that room in the past. Misleading as hell? You betcha. But then again Hotwire has had a massive number of complaints about this very issue and they haven't backed off from doing it.

There's nothing we can do for cvall1984. They've already contacted their AG and, more importantly, started a chargeback on their credit card. The dates of the stay have already passed. The nuclear button has been pressed and either they win the chargeback or they don't. If they win, Hotwire may attempt to send this to collections (though probably not). While I find Hotwire's policies abhorrent this tale is a good lesson for everyone to do their own research regarding how good a "deal" something is and not rely on the information provided by the person/website that's trying to sell you the item.

I think we all agree that when it comes to hotels your best bet is often to book directly with the hotel.

---------------------

With ALL of that said, cvall1984, what did the sales page of Hotwire promise about the room? When it provided the room details did it promise a suite? Or did it promise a normal room? In short, was there any promise made within the listing of the "Hot Rate" not fulfilled by the room that was delivered beyond what they said the possible going rate was? What were the specific promises of the type and quality of the room when you accepted this rate?
Very good rationale, kahhss. I think you are right about the prices of rooms, discounts, all that stuff. The RC may have told HotWire that the room was worth $1800 +. And maybe a last-minute walkup rate for that room was this high.

So what have we learned here? Be sure you know the going rate of a hotel room, a car or a flight before being seduced by a HW rate that may or may not make any sense. I can see travellers using HW for last-minute bookings, it's very seductive. But it's also not particularly forthcoming with the truth.
 
Dec 12, 2016
14
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#10
Hello,

First-time poster, but I wanted to share an experience I had with a Hotwire reservation which I am still in the process of resolving.

On June 28th I sought to make a reservation in Miami, Florida for the area of South Beach - Collins Ave - Ocean Drive. I am familiar with Hotwire's Hot Rate's and how they work and have used them in the past with no issue.

While browsing the reservations I came across a 'Hot Rate' reservation for a hotel room listed at $1,840/night reduced 75% to $470/night. This was a 5-star hotel, and while I was not necessarily looking to book a hotel of this caliber the deal was too good to pass up (hey it's 75% off). My research of the 5-star hotels in the area (The W, The Setai, and The Ritz Carlton-South Beach) showed that the only rooms those hotels list at $1,500+/night are multiple bedroom suites.

So I booked the reservation and found out I received a standard (interior view) room at the Ritz Carlton which is the lowest tier room that they have. I called the Ritz to confirm this and ask what the standard rate for this room type is. I was told that this room type does not go for more than $550/night at any time of the year.

Needless to say, I was quite upset, I do realize that Hotwire has a disclaimer next to the listed (or crossed out) standard rate for hot fares which states the following:

*Savings 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.

However, within that disclaimer, there is no mention that Hotwire will use the standard rate for far superior rooms (suite class) to compare to the rate of an inferior room (basic) that you will, in fact, be receiving. In summary, I was sold a basic room that never goes for more than $550/night, with the perception that I was getting a room that typically goes for $1,840/night.

In my opinion, this is a very deceptive loophole that borders the lines of legality. Even if the other comparable 5-star hotels only had suite level rooms available, those rates shouldn't be cited as the standard rate for a room that would never be listed at that cost per night.


Resolution:

I have yet to receive a resolution, I have talked to Hotwire's customer service department multiple times and they continue to spout the standard line of "no refunds on hot rates".

I have tried Hotwire's corporate customer care line and left messages, but they have not called me back at the times I have requested. They have tried me back at inopportune times but there is no way to reach anyone directly.

Given that Hotwire has refused to reimburse me, and given the deceptive tactics to make a deal appear better than it is, I have moved forward in opening a case with the Attorney General in my state, submitting documentation showing all aspects of what I have described above, including screenshots showing the 'claimed' standard rate for the room I booked, as well as the estimated cost savings (which were greatly inflated). I also started a dispute resolution with my credit card company to reverse the charge on the grounds that the 'deal' I was sold was misleading and deceptive. I also sent a documented email to the Ritz Carlton with Hotwire customer support CC'ed informing them I would not be staying for the reservation as I was sold something that was not true.

My question to the community is can anyone suggest any further action on my part? I am drafting a letter to one of my representatives in Congress but I am not sure how much traction that will get. My biggest fear is that I could possibly lose the dispute that I filed with my credit card, however, given that I was deceived by the 'standard rate' listed, I refuse to pay for something that is not what it was sold as.

TL : DR I was told I was getting a room that goes for $1,800+/night for $470/night, a 75% discount, the room I received goes for no more than $550/night at any time of the year as confirmed by the hotel themselves.
 
Dec 12, 2016
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#11
As with any other SALE, HOTWIRE is raising the room price and then, apply the 75% discount rate, which is still above the normal charge by the Hotel, if someone contacts the Hotel directly might get a better price. I "know a thing or two about Hotwire".........
 
Likes: jsn55

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
13,308
13,020
113
New York
www.promalvacations.com
#12
As with any other SALE, HOTWIRE is raising the room price and then, apply the 75% discount rate, which is still above the normal charge by the Hotel, if someone contacts the Hotel directly might get a better price. I "know a thing or two about Hotwire".........
Very deceptive but department stores do the same thing. This is why folks should not believe all this hype from these companies. Especially these Hot Rates and Opaque sales.
 
Dec 12, 2016
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#15
Very deceptive but department stores do the same thing. This is why folks should not believe all this hype from these companies. Especially these Hot Rates and Opaque sales.
Exactly. I never buy anything on sale, unless I do know the price of the item originally, like $38.99 pair of pants at Kohls in summer, and in Sept, it is $12.99, hello, who would not buy that?