Posts Tagged ‘travel’

Hotwire sends me a link asking me to write a review about the hotel they scammed me for more than $200 over what I could have paid if I booked directly. I enjoyed my hotel stay, so I figured I’d write a positive review about the place. One of the things I noticed when writing the review is that Hotwire states not to mention anything specific about the hotel: not the hotel name, nearby landmarks, area, etc. My guess is that this is based upon the fact that Hotwire’s business model is all about scamming you. If you had an idea about what was around the hotel, it would be fairly easy to figure out what the hotel is, check the hotel rates directly and find out that you can book directly with the hotel for cheaper.

Following up on my request for a refund from Hotwire in my last post, they did respond back stating that a credit would be issued for roughly $70. Certainly a far cry from the $237 I would have saved booking directly.

This is the review I wrote about the Milford Plaza Hotel in midtown that Hotwire I’m certain will not post since my original post has already been rejected by them for:

  • Specific points of interest mentioned reveal the hotel

One of the best bangs for the buck in the area. Easy access to the subway. Fairly easy access to getting a cab. Plenty of restaurants right around the corner. Right around the corner from TS. You have to go upstairs to get to the main elevators, and there was a lot of construction during my visit. However, the staff certainly did their best to keep up. When the construction is finished, this is going to be a *great* hotel! Of course, since Hotwire is a complete scam based upon hiding the hotel information from you so that you can’t figure out what the actual hotel is and discover that the hotel can be booked directly for cheaper, this review will never see the light of day on their website.

I added the last sentence after Hotwire sent me that ridiculous email about revealing the hotel. Wow, a hotel in NY that is surrounded by restaurants, has easy access to the subway, cabs, and Times Square. That really nails it down to at least 80 hotels. Throw in the construction, and we’re down to 30-40 hotels. I’ll just keep ranting about Hotwire as long as I can.

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, Hotels.com, Priceline, Booking.com) 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!

The cloud fails when you’re in the clouds. For anyone who travels a lot or takes overseas flights, you quickly learn the value of apps that will work locally on your smartphone or tablet. Sometimes I have brilliant ideas that come to me in the middle of a flight. On a long flight, I have a lot, which kills my laptop battery. This flight was short, but the ability to blog this without access to the internet is awesome… Makes me wanna blog more while I’m traveling. And pickup a Bluetooth keyboard for my android!

I have very little love for Apple and their products. One thing is certain: they will never have my business when it comes to technology I travel with. As I sit here in a hotel room that doesn’t have wifi, I can’t help but think of how writing this blog wouldn’t be possible if I were a Mac guy. Sure, I could use the single USB port on an Air, but then I wouldn’t be able to charge my cellphone and extended battery pack at the same time. And in cases like this trip where I forgot to bring the wall charger with USB port, that’s an important thing.

I’ve been in hotels all around the world. The majority of them don’t have wifi, so I’d be carrying around a brick if I were a Mac guy. Maybe for some, this isn’t a problem but I prefer access to my work, cloud, etc. everywhere I go. That’s just not realistic with Apple. I’m sure they have some extra wifi hotspot I could plug into an Ethernet connector if I want to if I wanted to pay them an additional $100.

Without Fail…

I came up with a theory awhile back that any relationship I have ends within 3 months of going on a vacation. This is based upon years of empirical evidence and several breakups. It’s not like the Super Bowl winner prediction of the stock market or Presidential election… This is 100% accurate. It always ends within 3 months.

Now, I have come to another conclusion based upon further empirical evidence: my relationships end within 3 months of acquiring a domestic animal. Now, I haven’t encountered this too much, but I do have three dogs (so that tells you something :-P)

The latest relationship ended nearly 3 months to the date from the time of our first (and only) vacation. It ended within a couple of months of getting her a kitten. The relationship before that ended within 3 months of our first (of only two) vacation, and it ended within 2 months of getting the world’s worst dog!

So, I think I have it figured out for how to not waste another 1.5 years of my life… After 3 months, I’ll have to go on vacation and get a pet! Any ladies interested in Peru and a Llama???

When you date the same person for more than 5 years they become part of your life unlike any other. Some of the parts of their life that intertwine with yours become second nature. You do things without thinking about it.

I had this experience the other day when I was booking an international flight. The airline was requesting an emergency contact for the unlikely event that something goes wrong with the flight. Now, I’ve done a lot of traveling over the last few years. I’ve used the same person as my primary contact for many different things over the years.

Earlier this week was the first time I put my mom’s name and contact information for my emergency contact in about four years. I actually started filling out my ex’s information without even thinking about it. It’s just second nature; I’ve filled it out so many times. There was a certain sense of finality that came with this experience though.

Think again! Gotovertime.com has compiled a list of common reasons we think we are exempt from overtime:

Chances are you’ve fallen into one of these traps. I know plenty of people who have. Most of which are computer programmers. For some reason people in IT seem to really be disgruntled by the amount of work they provide, the amount of value they provide to the company, and how little they are compensated and valued by their employer.

Guess what IT folks? You’re rights to overtime are changing and not for the better. Here’s a bit of news to help you feel even more upset about your unfair treatment at work. Of course, you’ll probably just sit there and complain rather than do something about your unfair treatment. Good luck with that.

oooooooor… Do yourself a favor and be the first guy at your company to must up enough guts to make a difference for all the people in IT who have been taken advantage of before you’re rights to overtime are whittled away to nothing.

Sometimes chalked up as “hippie consumerism”, green products have not received as much mainstream coverage as some of these great innovations deserve. Nor have they been accepted as widely as there is a true market for green products. There is a laundry list of reasons that green products have been muddling along for the last 15 years.

Often times green products are seen by some of the media as products that are developed by finger-pointing environmentalists who want to find fault in modern consumerism (watch Fox News). Some times, there are short-sighted green products that look green on the outside but fall short. For example, someone sent me a “hydrogen fuel cell charger” the other day. Thinking that I would receive something that I could just refill with distilled water, I was completely disappointed with what I found: a unit that I need to send back to the manufacturer to recharge! Let’s do the calculation on the UPS truck picking up the unit to send it back to the manufacturer. Not really green, sorry.

But things are reaching a tipping point for green products, making it one of the most impressive opportunities for business in years. Green products are not just “good” products or products that make the environment happy. What green products really are is the evolution of product development. After inventing hundreds of different types of batteries using limited (and mostly dangerous) resources, what is next? Developing a portable power source that is made of renewable and less toxic materials. After more than a hundred years of the internal combustion engine, what is next? Just think back to the replacement of the steam engine. Sure, there are steam engines around today, but they have mostly been replaced by better technology.

Our cars. Our homes. Our appliances. Our energy sources… These will all change into green products in the future. Remember the source of light for most homes in the United States at the beginning of last century? Wasn’t the light bulb folks! Remember cash registers from the 1800s? Weren’t swiping credit cards my friends! Remember how we traveled across the Pacific for most of the 1900s? Wasn’t in an airplane like today!

So, what is next for business? What is the next great industry that will take us through the evolution of the silicon age? Green products. This shift in industry won’t be led by the picket lines and inconvenient truths. It will be led by good old fashioned pioneers of innovations. People like Richard Branson and Bill Gates and George Westinghouse and Benjamin Franklin and Leonardo Da Vinci and Archimedes… and anyone who puts their ideas out there and makes it happen.

Be on the lookout for big news about green.

Any of us who use Windows (you know who you are by the sucker written on your forehead), have seen the “You have unused icons on your desktop” message pop up from time to time. But most of our screens are not displayed on a screen the size of a 10 story building like this guy:

You have unused icons on your desktop

I kinda wish I had stuck around to see them clean the desktop 😛