Hotwire quotes prices for "blind" reservations that are final sales and non-refundable. "Blind" means that you don't know the name of the hotel before you agree with the price that the representative quotes you.
After you are told the price, the agent takes your credit card information and then emails you a receipt for the amount charged.
We were interested in booking a hotel reservation and had a limit. What the agent quoted on the phone was only a few dollars more, so we agreed to take it. However, our card was charged much more. We contacted our credit card company who started an investigation. I also contacted Hotwire and asked for proof that their agent quoted the correct price.
After many frustrating calls, they keep telling me that the tape was reviewed and that the agent quoted the correct price. I have asked for a copy of the tape to prove that and they regurgitate over and over again how they have reviewed the tape and that it is their policy not to release the taped conversations. How convenient for Hotwire - and how highly suspcious - that Hotwire can withhold the evidence of a misquoted price, whether it's the result of human error, or worse -- their deliberate, deceptive and fraudulent business practices.
If they don't have to provide the physical proof of a tape, then they can always say their agents are in the right. Why wouldn't they be eager to provide proof - it's so simple. The matter would be resolved immediately - either their agent misquoted the price and they should give a full refund, or we made the mistake and would pay the bill immediately. It makes no sense at all other than it's a cover-up.
Also, one agent actually told me that you have to get a Subpoena to get the tape!!! Another one said that the tapes are the property of Hotwire. Well whose privacy are they trying to protect - we are the customers who want to hear only the conversation we made with their agent. Also, what right do they have to "own" a tape with my voice on it. Business only state at the beginning of a call that "this call may be recorded". I am never given the option not to allow them to record my conversation with them.
If a company is going to be so secretive, then they should first send an email of the quoted price before the customer has to give them a credit card. Of course I will never use Hotwire again, but I will never give my credit card to anyone on the phone again without an email confirmation beforehand.
I hope everyone who reads this will also beware - not only of Hotwire - but any online company who wants your credit card before you get a written price quote.