Report: #1505616

Complaint Review: Hotwire.com - Sab Francisco California

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  • Reported By: TREVOR — Corona California United States
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  • Hotwire.com 333 Market St. Sab Francisco, California United States

Hotwire.com Expedia Took $300. No car. No refund. Sab Francisco California

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As an attorney, I will be seeking out others who have similarly suffered harm from Hotwire's unconscionable business practices in order to form a class.

Hotwire's "Hotrate" is an unfair business practice that allows for unfair surprise for the average, ordinary consumer.  No renter would anticipate the possibility that they would pay $297.76 in advance with not only the possibility, but the likelihood that not only would they would neither be provided the vehicle they have reserved, nor would they would receive a refund.  The general warning that some car rental agencies are not granting free unlimited mileage for local customers is not a sufficient disclaimer because:

1. It does not also note that some agencies forbid out of state travel completely,

2. It does not note that the agency will not issue refund because, they claim, only Hotwire is collecting these fees (I guess car rental agencies such as ACE have volunteered to provide services to Hotwire for free, as this is the reason that was provided to my family as to why ACE would not issue a refund ) and, most importantly,

3. Even if the above details were clearly spelled out, it would still be unconscionable term in a click-through agreement as it is beyond the contemplation of the average consumer that they would pay in advance, for an unknown car at an unknown agency without the opportunity to receive a refund if there was a problem with the rental that was caused by the rental agency arbitrarily changing its policies during this COVID-19 pandemic, leaving many travelers stranded without transportation and without the money needed for the rental (one member of our party was pregnant).

The "Hotrate" method of renting a car is effectively gambling.  Only after agreeing to the lowest price offered on the Hotwire.com website, which invariably is this "Hotrate" offer, and only after making the payment, is it revealed what car rental agency will be providing the vehicle.   This means that the consumer does not even know with whom they are actually making a contract, and without the identity clearly stated of all parties, there is no valid contract. 

This is the key point because, as here, it was only after making the payment that it was revealed that ACE Car Rental was the agency and that their policy was not to allow locals a rental of over 100 miles without paying $.40/mile extra.  We may have nevertheless agreed to pay this amount if necessary because it was already so late on a Saturday night that we did not believe we could find another rental.  However, when we were asked to where we were driving, we were outright refused the rental because we would be driving across state lines, from Orange County, California to Bryce Canyon in Utah. 

I have been renting cars in California, for business and pleasure, for over 35 years, and for almost two decades, these rentals have been made online.  I have never had such limitations imposed, so I therefore never even contemplated this possibility.  I understand that this is related to Covid-19 concerns, and I also understand that a business can set whatever terms it wants, but if new and totally unexpected terms are to be imposed, it is only fair that the consumer be provided a reasonable opportunity to withdraw their acceptance of egregious contract terms (paying something for nothing is pretty egregious).  I SUPPOSE I SHOULD JUST BE GRATEFUL THAT MY RENTAL WAS FOR SEVEN DAYS AND NOT THIRTY DAYS, AND I SHOULD ALSO BE GRATEFUL THAT ONCE THE PARTICULAR RENTAL AGENCY WAS REVEALED, THAT I DID NOT LEARN THAT THIS AGENCY HAD OTHER POLICIES AS WELL, SUCH AS AN EXTRA $1000 CHARGE IF I DO NOT QUALIFY.

ACE, or any other car rental agency, that knowingly participates in this "Hotrate" method of renting a vehicle, should be ashamed because they are aiding and assisting Hotwire with causing great harm to consumers.  The manager of the agency in Los Angeles, Luis, informed us that he has multiple such failed rentals EVERY DAY.  There is simply no valid reason for Hotwire to refuse to issue a refund.  Hotwire has incurred no lost time, effort or materials.  It would be one thing if this was a plumber who had traveled to my home or a carpet cleaner who had mixed chemicals to clean our floors, but here, Hotwire neither risked nor expended anything of value in this one-sided deal.  

The average, ordinary consumer is unwittingly playing on an unlevel playing field because the renter is forced to accept unconscionable terms that can lead to an unfair surprise.  It should also be understood that the harm caused by a failed rental goes beyond the money that is lost for that particular transaction, as a car renter that ends up at the agency with their family is now left without transportation, and this can lead to great complications - especially if there are no ride-sharing services or taxis available, or when one has a group that is too large for a taxi.  

I hope to hear from others who trusted Hotwire and lost their entire rental fee.  Perhaps the most dumbfounding aspect of all this is the ill-will this practice is creating.  Prior to this instance, I was one of Hotwire's best customers and one of their biggest advocates, recommending this service to fellow lawyers.  My sons, who were members of our party, are making it their mission to ensure that their colleagues at AbbVie, Allergan and Loan Depot NEVER use any service related to Hotwire, Expedia, or any related affiliates again.

Shame on Hotwire for the harm this caused my family on Christmas!

This report was posted on Ripoff Report on 03/01/2021 04:19 PM and is a permanent record located here: https://www.ripoffreport.com/report/hotwiredotcom/sab-francisco-california-took-1505616. 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. Ripoff Report has an exclusive license to this report. It may not be copied without the written permission of Ripoff Report. READ: Foreign websites steal our content

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