On 9/3/07 I attempted to reserve a hotel room in Boston using Hotwire.com. I provided my credit card details and received an error message, "We are unable to authorize this request. Your credit card has not been charged. Error #435." I attempted to reserve the room again using my husband's credit card information and received the same error.
On reviewing my bank transaction history online, I discovered that both credit cards in fact HAD been charged $402 apiece for the hotel reservation that did not go through. I called Hotwire to complain about this, and was told that there was a hold in place that their Risk Management department would have to remove; the representative did not explain why that was the case. She suggested that I contact my bank and have them remove the hold.
I contacted my bank and asked that they perform a chargeback, and my bank representative kindly made a conference call to Hotwire's billing department, where we spoke to another representative. This representative again said that they could not remove the authorization, that only Risk Management could, and that I would have to leave a voicemail and Risk Management would call me back at some point. I found this arrangement unacceptable, as their website's claims of not having charged my card are deceptive and I am $800 poorer until these authorizations are released. My bank representative also asked if they would authorise her to release their hold, and the Hotwire representative claimed that would not be possible.
We then spoke with a Customer Care supervisor who identified herself as Janet D. and refused to give her last name. She made the same claims as the call-center person did, and stated that only Risk Management could authorize the release of the hold; she would not state why Risk Management needed to be involved at all. She claimed that no one other than Risk Management could do this and refused to provide me with information about anyone in the organisational structure above Risk Management who could handle this situation.
Finally, I asked Janet D. for her supervisor's name and contact information. She refused to identify him as anything other than "Bob", and claimed that he had no direct line and was busy right now, but that she would "try" to have him call me back.
I am furious about the buck-passing and general refusal to take responsibility for a situation which should have required nothing more than a simple phone call from me or my bank. If they are not going to take money from me for a transaction, they should not authorize a hold on my account. Full stop.
I demand that Hotwire release any and all holds they have placed on my husband's and my bank accounts, and that they furthermore alter their business practices so that authorizations are not placed on users' credit cards until such time as a transaction is actually completed.
Furthermore, I demand that Hotwire alter its business practices such that any further incomplete transactions can have holds released without the intervention of a department which does not take direct phone calls and cannot be guaranteed to actually call people back.
Finally, I demand that Hotwire require its company representatives to provide their full first and last names when dealing with customers. If customers have to provide their full names, they deserve the same courtesy from the employees with whom they are dealing.
San Francisco, California