“When the confirmation came for one king bed I began to freak out”

By | February 10th, 2010

Lisa Deason thought she’d booked a hotel room in New York for four guests through Hotwire. But her confirmation told her otherwise: the room could only accommodate two people, at most.

And yeah, you guessed it — Hotwire wouldn’t refund her money or let her switch hotels.

Let’s go straight to the fine print on this one. From Hotwire’s rules and restrictions:

Room type will be determined by the hotel based on the number of guests provided at time of booking. All reservations are booked for stays in non-smoking rooms (subject to availability). Hotel room assignments are determined at check-in and upgrades are not available.

Got that? Hotwire just takes your money; the hotel gets to pick your room. (Remember, Hotwire doesn’t tell you the name of your hotel until you’ve paid.)

But if she indicated there were four guests, shouldn’t the hotel have offered her a room that would fit four guests? Of course.

Here’s Deason’s story:

I made a reservation for a hotel in New York with Hotwire for May. I always knew that I’d have myself and three others for a total of four.

Since I had used Hotwire before and was familiar with their booking for two I checked their limitations and exclusions first. I went ahead and booked for four, since I saw no indication of the two only rule and the drop down box allowed me to book for four.

When the confirmation came for one king bed I began to freak out.

I contacted Hotwire, and they assured me that I had booked for two. A later email (which I copied) came from a girl who said that she saw that I had requested lodging for four. Hotwire said that since the reservations are non-cancelable, which I knew, that I should call the hotel.

The hotel said that I could change the room for $100 a night. There are several emails back and forth with both Hotwire and the hotel, neither making any concession. I told Hotwire to give me another hotel.

Hotwire refused, so she initiated a credit card dispute and contacted me.

After reviewing her correspondence, I thought Hotwire should have another chance to review her case. So I contacted the company and asked it to take a second look at Deason’s reservation.

A few days later, I got the following note from her:

Well, Mr. Elliott, you are a genius and a force to be reckoned with! Apparently you made heads roll at Hotwire, and I bow to you.

I received a call today on my cell phone and Hotwire was willing to refund my original fee at the Park Central Hotel and give me the same star rating hotel in the area we agreed on, Midtown East, for a better price. It has the appropriate accommodations for we four and I would do business with them again since they tried to fix the situation (unless you think that’s a bad idea.) Anyway, I think the hotel could have tried harder too but someone came through.

I thank you from the bottom of my heart. Frankly, I didn’t know how it got resolved until I listened to the message on my home phone and Hotwire mentioned your name, sort of like Don Corleone.

I called Citibank and told them the issue was resolved so they could stop whatever they were doing on my behalf. They’ll wait until the Hotwire credit comes through before they drop it altogether.

Again, I thank you and I’ll try to be more careful when booking to make certain that I do everything correctly.

I love a happy ending.

(Hmm, Don Corleone? My kids will like that.)

I’m not sure if Deason could have done anything different. Hotwire leaves the final room assignment to the hotel, and if you don’t like it, your options seem to be very limited.

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