Hotwire Low Prices Aren’t So Low – Won’t Book Again

Hotwire has lost my business for good. I’m planning a business trip to New York, and I decided to use Hotwire for my hotel search and booking. I had never used Hotwire before, but with that catchy “H-O-T-W-I-R-E Hotwire dot commmmmm” jingle, I figured it was worth a shot. Plus, after having cross checked rates with Orbitz (my favorite travel site for booking flights) and a handful of the usual suspects (TripAdvisor,, Priceline, Hotwire had the lowest “price” for the area I wanted that I could find on the hotel search engines.

The hotel name wasn’t listed, and I started getting the feeling I get when someone is pitching me a MLM idea. Like so many people that get suckered in to things that are too good to be true, I bit. Then I received the name of the hotel. Hmmm…

I went to the hotel’s website and found rates lower than Hotwire. Not only were the rates lower, but naturally the taxes were lower and there was no $49.41 in “fees”. Now, Hotwire does offer a refund for lower rates, but when you look at their “refund” it doesn’t include taxes, nor does it include “fees”. Overall, Hotwire cheated me out of more than $200 between the inflated room rate, higher taxes, and “fees” that are non-refundable.

Hotwire could pay a guy to just make bookings with the hotel at the rate I would have paid if I had purchased directly from them, and they’d walk away with more than $200. Now, I completely understand that a company needs to make money. Perhaps the only way that Hotwire and all the other online booking companies can make money is by inflating the rack rates of hotels and hope that people won’t book directly with the hotel. However, what is really the value I’m getting for their “services”?

The supposed value of the online hotel search engines is that I don’t have to check each hotel one by one. Theoretically, that saves me time. However, between cross referencing all the online hotel search engines: prices, amenities, reviews, rooms, etc. I really started questioning whether the days of using a travel agent shouldn’t make a comeback. What did booking online really save me? Certainly not money and certainly not time.

Update 5/5/13
Received an email from Hotwire about my request for refund stating:

Thank you for submitting your Low Price Guarantee claim.  I was unable to find the lower rate using the information you provided.  I was only able to find the lower price at $239.00, not $237.15.  Please reply to this email and attach an image  (screenshot ) of the lower rate.  It must include the address bar showing what website the rate was located on and the average nightly rate before any taxes and fees.   The rate submitted must include the same currency and booking details  as booked on the Hotwire site including travel dates, hotel property, number of guests and number of rooms.
Please note we can accept the following file formats: .gif. jpg/.jpeg .png .bmp .tif .xhtml / .xht .html / .htm .shtml .mht .webarchive .doc .docx .rtf .pdf .  We must receive the screenshot within 48 hours of this email to consider the claim.
Normally, I’d be so happy that I took the screenshot the day of the theft of my money. But just checking the hotel rate on my cell phone right now, I still find the exact same rate as the day I made the reservation! Hotwire is a complete scam!

  1. Kaushik Das

    I completely agree. Just got cheated by Hotwire for a week long booking. They said it was a 3 star hotel, but it actually is a 2.5 star property.

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