I purchased three nights at a hotel using Hotwire; the cost of the hotel was $98/night, plus fees. As I was completing the purchase, Hotwire offered something called, literally, Travel Cancelation Insurance for about $14. Since I knew that I might have to change the trip by one day (it's a business trip and one of the meetings is still up in the air), I decided to purchase this insurance. Obviously, any reasonable person would assume that this insurance would be through Hotwire and allow me to get a full or partial refund before the trip, if necessary, provided that I used it before the date of my stay. As it happens, I learned a couple days later that I only needed the hotel for two nights, not three. Enter the worst case of caveat emptor Ive ever seen.
After various phone calls and live chats, I eventually learned that Id been had. It turns out that Hotwire actually employs a third party insurance company. So instead of Hotwire issuing a partial refund and not actually losing money (theyd simply be making less money for less service but would presumably get that money back by renting the room to someone else), the third party insurance company would have to pay me back $98 while only receiving $14. Naturally, they wouldnt want to do that, so they make their cancelation policies as absurdly difficult as possible. By finally locating and reading the fine, fine, fine print, I learned that I could only get my $98 back if I had proof of a medical emergency, jury duty, a death in the family orseriouslyproof that I was quarantined by the CDC or taken hostage by terrorists.
Again, any reasonable person would assume that Trip Cancellation Insurance is already an extra step that youre paying for, specifically so you can get a full or partial refund on the purchase youre currently making (because God forbid a company give you a refund for something you did not use, provided you contact them in a timely manner), NOT some nebulous bait-and-switch designed to trick you into paying something for nothing. It seems to me that Hotwire is taking advantage of a very obvious misconception, and one I only learned about after reading page three of a PDF of the terms and conditions of my insurance that I received via email after the purchase.