I’m a Hotwire user. My buddies, Kris Dunn and Matt Stollak, got me to use it. The first time I was really nervous. I didn’t like I couldn’t see what hotel and location I was getting exactly. I loved the price I was going to pay, it was always like 40%+ off the hotel’s own reservation site. I started using it all the time. My kids travel for sports so I was constantly having to look up hotels and wanting someplace nice and clean, but not having to pay a ton.
I even recommended it to the parents of other kids we were traveling with. Soon entire teams were using Hotwire to book their travel. 100% of the time I was satisfied with what I got on Hotwire. Until I wasn’t.
This past baseball tournament I got booked on Hotwire. The deal said I was getting $119 room for $71 for a 3 star hotel. The examples they gave me were Holiday Inn Express, Hampton Inn, etc. What I got was a Best Western that was last updated in 1973. For $71, and the actual price on Best Western’s site was $72.37. I save $1.37. A little less than the $48 per night they lied to me about.
I did what any customer would do who loves working with a company. I called customer service. That was probably my first mistake. You see, Hotwire didn’t care if I was satisfied. How it works is you book and pay up front, then they tell you what hotel you get. They’ve already got your money, they don’t care if you are satisfied or not. Their customer service rep read me the script, “in small print at the bottom of our website it specifically says…”. It ‘specifically’ says we don’t care if you’re satisfied, suck it! (my words, not there words, but that’s basically how their customer service guy made me feel)
I then tired the email customer service route. Same deal. Small print. Too bad. Anything else we can help you with?
Nope. Nothing else. I’ll never book with you guys again. I actually said that to both the live person and the email person. They didn’t care. They didn’t care they were losing a customer because I felt like I was ‘taken’ and ‘duped’ by their small print. They easily could have have solved this be cancelling the reservation. They would have saved me as a customer. As someone who would have shared a positive story about Hotwire.
But the $213 sale was just too big to give up.
It’s funny how companies so easily throw away customers, for something so easily fixable. In the end my original fear came to light. Not knowing the place and location was a problem for me. I own that. Hotwire had exceeded my initial expectation with good rates at good locations. Then I got a lemon, and I was pissed. They seemingly didn’t care, that made me more pissed. So, I’ll break up with them.
The moral of this story wasn’t that I got a crappy hotel and I wanted the nice one. It is I felt lied to. I felt like the site made it clear I was getting a $119 room for $71, when in actuality I was getting a questionable 3 star room for $71 that really costs $72. To me, that’s shady.
Here is a youtube video I put together to warn others about hotwire.com. Their customer service is horrible! Although I used to book EVERY vacation hotel with them, I am done. I have deleted the app from my phone and will never patronize their business ever again. Oh, and also I have done my research and will not patronize any of their subsidiaries either. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gorkdKsFS7U
I have used Hotwire many times and have never had an issue. I have secured hotel rooms, rented cars and purchased plane tickets many, many times.
I have always been satisfied with what I got and therefore never had to call their customer service.
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Sorry to hear it, Tim. I swear I told you to use Hotwire in conjunction with BetterBidding.com, which crowdsources thousands of Hotwire users to help identify what the hotel is behind the veil. Instead of going in blindly, you can often narrow the likely list of hotels to one or two choices based on the star rating, and the list of amenities. You are much less likely to run into the disappointment scenario you described above.
Great story, Tim (and thanks for the tip on HotWire). It’s sad, but there are a lot of companies out there looking only at the short-term revenue goals and not caring about investing in building lasting relationships. They don’t get that when you fail to deliver on your brand promise, your brand becomes that of a liar. Or worse, they do understand that and don’t care because it’s just a numbers game to them.