Hotwire saves the day for snowed-in customer

Most hotels offer less expensive, nonrefundable rates that can’t be changed, no matter what your circumstances. Book them through a site like Hotwire, and they’re extra nonrefundable, because of the site’s strict no-cancel, no-refund, no-change policies. Or are they?

Maybe not. Despite the recent things I’ve written about the site, buying through Hotwire can be helpful. Just ask Beth Ann Stasiowski, who had booked four nights at the Sheraton Reston Hotel in Reston, Va., recently.

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On Saturday, Feb. 6th, we received 30 inches of snow. I was snowed in and couldn’t get to the hotel. I called the hotel on 2/7 to see if they would extend credit for Sunday night (2/7) because of the blizzard.

I was told to call Hotwire.com. I spoke with Angela at Hotwire, who called the Sheraton in Reston, Va., and spoke with Barbara. They agreed to refund one night at $54.

So far, so good. But as you know, the snow didn’t stop …

I went on the business trip on Monday, Feb. 8th, and on Tuesday, Feb. 9th there was another large snowfall of 12 to 15 inches of snow. I was 12 miles away from the hotel, and was not able to return to the Sheraton.

Thinking there may be a possibility of not being able to return to the hotel if the weather got too bad, I took everything with me. Then the governor of Virginia had declared a state of emergency for Virginia and everyone was told to stay off the roads.

I then called the Sheraton in Reston and checked out over the phone because there was no way I would be able to get back. I spoke with Barbara at 8:30 a.m. on Wed. 2/10. She agreed to check me out over the phone.

Since I was able to get a refund for the first night because I was snowbound, I called Hotwire again to get a refund for the remaining two nights. I spoke with Jan at Hotwire. Jan said she called the Sheraton and spoke with Barbara, but Barbara would neither confirm or deny that I had checked out.

I then get an email stating that the remaining two days are non-refundable. I don’t understand how it can be refundable the first time I was snowbound, but not the second.

Well, technically none of her room nights were refundable, but the hotel was making an exception at the request of Hotwire, which was acting as her intermediary. But since the Sheraton offered her a refund on one room night, I think the least it could do is tell her why it was denying her the other two nights’ refund. So I asked Hotwire.

A short while later, I received the following update from Stasiowski:

I received an email from Hotwire today saying they are refunding $108 for the remaining two days of my trip. Thank you so much!

I’m grateful to both Hotwire and Sheraton for making an exception to their policies. Refunds on non-refundable rooms are rare, and still rarer when you’re dealing with Hotwire. But it never hurts to ask.

(Photo: MαcIomhαir/Flickr Creative Commons)

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