ED Magedson – Founder
HOTWIRESan Francisco, California USA
HOTWIRE False Advertising, Deceptive, no guarantees, no "special" deals San Francisco California
On August 20, 2013 at 6PM, I booked a hotel via “secret hot rate.” As soon as I learned the Hotel Indigo NYC was where we were assigned, I checked their website (using same dates, people, etc) and it was totaled at 199.72. Quite a difference from total 204.05 that I paid on Hotwire, thinking I was going to save a considerable amount of money “buying blindly” and putting trust in Hotwire to choose the hotel for me. They do advertise “Up to 55% off,” in my case, I got -0.2% off ==this absolutely does not support the advertisement claiming, “Hotwire shields hotel names to keep rates low.” Anyone can get this hotel, at same price I paid, $4 cheaper than I did, and they will even have the courtesy of knowing ahead, what and where the hotel will be, on any site. Among the false advertising of prices, discrepancies in the distances listed of nearby airports, and unavailability of the amenities offered (ie: closed roof top restaurant), I am trying to understand why I should have blindly paid for a hotel that was incorrectly portrayed, having not saved any money in doing so. If I had only actually SAVED money by doing this, bearing with the other issues of the hotel would be less of an issue.
I got on the phone immediately at 6:04 PM after buying and have spoken to 8 people since then. I explained the situation concisely, patiently and kindly to those who I spoke with.
• 6:04PM Rep. 1) Very rude, wouldn’t answer questions, I asked to be transferred and she hung up on me instead. DURATION: 36 min.
• 6:40PM Rep. 2) Spent very little time talking to me, I told her, I need to speak with a supervisor, she transferred me right away.
• Rep 3) I was under the impression this was the supervisor. After our conversation, I don’t believe she was. After explaining to her the situation, she would not respond for 3-4 minutes, and I’d say “Hello?” And as if she had just returned back to the phone, she repeats something about “how rates change fast”; I told her, “the rates have not changed, in fact, your Hotwire rate is $5 over the total for other hotels. Thus, customers should steer clear of hotwire if they can know the name ahead, know of any property issues AND STILL pay the same price. She refused to talk much after this. I told her I just wanted to talk to a supervisor; she put me on hold about 20-30 minutes.
• 7:44PM Rep 5) So, its now 1hr & 45 min later, I wait to speak with a supervisor. She comes on and says she is not a supervisor but can help me the best she can, (very sweet attitude). I explained to her my situation; she said that they would be happy to refund my reservation due to what I explained to her and the fact that I was hung up on and 2 hours later, I am still getting tossed around. She said she had to send me to accounting or credit card department to fulfill the refund.
• Rep 6) This lady had no clue what the situation was, so, again, I had to spend 15 minutes explaining. I explicitly told her the difference (see below) between the hotels, and how Hotwire just adds an “Occupancy Fee” of $12 that added up to the published rate of $172 on the hotel website (158+12=170). This women tells me “the rate was $300 a night so I did get a good deal”, this is a complete & blatant lie because I was looking at it the same time she was. Her name was Amanda.
HOTEL INDIGO SITE
Average Nightly Rate $171.00 USD per room, per night
Sun 01 Sep 2013 $ 171.00 USD per night (1 room(s))
Total Tax ‡ $ 28.72 USD
Estimated Total Price ‡ $ 199.72 USD
Tax: 4.75% per night and 3.50 USD not included in rate effective 1 September, 2013 thru 2 September, 2013 5.875 PCT CITY TAX AND 8.875 PCT STATE
• Rep 7) Rep 6 transferred me to Rep 7 who claimed she was a supervisor. She offered no new information or resolutions. I asked her what people do in these situations? Said to hang up and call back to talk to someone else?
• Two hours of talking on the phone with 7 different people ended at 8:30 PM, 2 and a ½ hours later than when I started to try and amend the situation. I called the 8th person on 8/21 with no resolve either.
Secondly, The Hotwire map showed Hotel Indigo 13.6 miles away from JFK. Every other website (BING, MapQuest, Google, Hotel Indigo Site Map) says 18-20 miles. Hotwire puts down LaGuardia as 7 miles away, Google, Bing, MapQuest, and Hotel Indigo Site Map all listed the distance as 10-14 miles away. Both mileage totals shown on Hotwire are quite an underestimate. We are flying into LaGuardia and out of JFK and are now having to cancel our meeting to make it in time to the airport.
Third, Hotwire lists that they “cannot guarantee the amenities shown will be available”, meaning renovations/repairs can occur. In my case, the roof-top bar-restaurant is permanently closed, and has been since 2012 due to illegal operation. This shouldn’t be listed as an amenity if it does not exist, again another deceptive effort.
As a travel photographer and blogger, I enjoy sharing the positive experiences with travel companies, hotels, airlines, restaurants, etc. Knowing the majority of individuals base there travel selections on what they read on the internet and by word of mouth, it is important for people to share their experiences, so the businesses who are not living up to their promises – do not continue deceiving consumers. Thus, those agencies that stand by an honest policy of delivering what they advertise will thrive and establish repeat clientele and a trusting relationship with consumers. I’ve heard many stories of people receiving great deals and having a good experience with Hotwire, however, every business can make mistakes.
Despite the several discrepancies of what was advertised to me, the amount of hours I have spent trying to resolve the situation, their inability to guarantee anything or take responsibility for -- they refused to give me a refund. If Hotwire believes in delivering honest and ethical services, the rectification of my issue would have greatly reflected their professionalism and improve their reputability. However, I cannot see any advantage for anyone to use this agency for booking and think they are receiving discounted rates, the ambiguous "fees&taxes" compensate for the "low rate" you think your getting. Furthermore, the blind buying does not assure you anything since they will be dishonest about the few details they do show.
Lesson learned: Third parties are impossible to deal with if you have legitimate issues. Book directly through hotel/airline/company website for best service and flexibility.
(If necessary, I have screen shots of the time-date of prices, phone log of the time spent talking to 8 different representatives and links to the sites proving the increased mileage to the airport than what Hotwire shows. As well as proofs of the illegal operation of the now-non existent restaurant advertised.)
This report was posted on Ripoff Report on 08/21/2013 09:32 AM and is a permanent record located here: http://www.ripoffreport.com/r/HOTWIRE/San-Francisco-California/HOTWIRE-False-Advertising-Deceptive-no-guarantees-no-special-deals-San-Francisco-Cal-1077741. The posting time indicated is Arizona local time. Arizona does not observe daylight savings so the post time may be Mountain or Pacific depending on the time of year.
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