Help, my Hotwire hotel was a construction zone

Photo courtesy Michael Weaver
Photo courtesy Michael Weaver
To say Michael Weaver was unhappy about the hotel he booked through Hotwire recently might be an understatement. He paid for a 4.5-star hotel in South Beach, but instead checked into a construction site.

For those of you just joining us, Hotwire lets you book a type of hotel in a general geographic location, and only reveals the name of the property after you’ve paid for a nonrefundable reservation.

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After Weaver made his booking, he found out he’d be staying at The Perry South Beach.

“Once the name of the hotel was given, we were also informed that the hotel was under construction,” he says. “When we arrived, we were greeted by a hotel that was shrouded in scaffolding.”

The experience was beyond bad, he says. A musty odor emanated from his room, and construction dust covered his window. The hotel staff came to the room and sprayed air freshener, which aggravated his asthma.

“I requested a different room and the second one smelled worse than the first,” Weaver adds. “Finally, they found a room without odor problems, but still with the filthy windows and mold in the shower.”

Weaver took pictures of everything.

Then it got worse.

He explains,

After settling in, we went to the pool bar for a before dinner drink. Because of the construction, to get to the pool area, we had to walk down a guest room hallway, under a tarp covered walkway bridge and finally to the pool area.

The view of the hotel from the pool deck was awful. Partially demolished room balconies adorned with room numbers spray painted in safety orange greeted us in every direction.

Weaver spoke with a front desk manager and expressed his disappointment with Hotwire for claiming that The Perry was a 4.5 star hotel. The manager agreed, but insisted it would be a 4.5 star property — after the renovations were done.

“She also stated that, due to complaints from Hotwire customers, they get several calls per week from Hotwire asking about the condition of the hotel,” he says.

In other words, Hotwire was aware of the condition of The Perry. It continued to send guests there, knowing full well that some of them might be unhappy. At least that’s how Weaver interpreted the situation.

But Hotwire didn’t see it that way, he adds.

When I contacted Hotwire, they informed me that since there was no construction noise during the evening and night that they have fulfilled their part of the contract.

They offered a $25 future credit.

It was my feeling that a $25 credit was a poor offer on a room that cost $370.

Later, Hotwire offered a refund if we checked out immediately and got a different room through them at a different hotel. All the other places they offered were of a lower star rating and higher price.

Considering that we already had dinner and a couple glasses of wine, checking out and driving to a different hotel was not a realistic option.

I asked Hotwire to review his case. Here’s how it responded:

As you know, it’s very common for hotels to stay open to serve customers while renovation projects both large and small are taking place, and the hotel still has a responsibility to provide the appropriate level of comfort and service to all guests regardless of any construction.

For the most part, hotel managers are very good at delivering positive customer experiences while simultaneously updating other parts of their property, but unfortunately, it looks like that didn’t happen in the case of the Perry South Beach.

At Hotwire, we rely on our business partners to update us when changes happen to their properties, as would any other travel agency. We also monitor post-stay surveys to take customer feedback into account. Unfortunately, the Perry South Beach did not inform us that they had already begun significant renovations that would impact our customers during this timeframe; we found out by hearing from Michael.

Because of this experience, we offered to re-accommodate his booking, but he declined that option and decided to stay. This is understandable, but it limits our ability to seek compensation from the property on the customer’s behalf.

Beyond re-booking, our rep was also willing to issue a $25 HotDollar credit for our site, even though the hotel receives the vast majority of the booking price that was paid. In looking closely at the details of Michael’s case, we also feel like it’s appropriate to add an additional $75 in compensation as a show of good faith, for a total of $100 in HotDollar credits.

This hotel’s inventory was also suspended from our site to prevent similar situations from happening again, and we will revisit its status once the renovations are more complete.

OK, that sounds better. But Weaver still spent good money on a hotel that didn’t live up to its 4.5-star billing. When I asked what he thought of Hotwire’s response, here’s what he had to say:

The response from Hotwire tells me that either they are unscrupulous or that their right hand doesn’t know what the left hand is doing.

First, Hotwire says below that the Perry South beach did not inform them of significant renovations that would impact customers and that they found out about the issue from me. I find this hard to believe. When speaking with the front desk manager, she told me that they get about a half dozen calls from Hotwire a day asking about the construction due to complaints from guests that are surprised when they arrive and find the hotel in such sad shape. So someone at Hotwire knew of the problem.

Second, Hotwire says that they offered to re-accommodate my booking. They offered to refund my booking if I were to check out immediately and move to a different hotel at my expense. I fail to see how this was a realistic option considering it was late in the evening, after dinner, on a Saturday, and during the holidays. This was after we had dinner in the hotel with wine, and I don’t believe driving after drinking because Hotwire failed to deliver the room they promised is an appropriate solution.

Regardless, I am glad that they have suspended The Perry from their inventory so others don’t have the issue that I had. After I use the HotDollar credits they provided, I vow to never give them my business again.

There’s not much more I can do here. Weaver wants a full refund, but Hotwire won’t do that.

Looks like we’re stuck.

Did Hotwire offer Michael Weaver enough compensation?

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104 thoughts on “Help, my Hotwire hotel was a construction zone

  1. And this, boys and girls, is why I almost never book thru an opaque site. I might book a single night, but I would not book multiple nights, and would never, EVER book a vacation hotel.

    1. I’ve booked through an opaque site only when I want just a bed in a hotel within a reasonably-sized area. The last time was when I had a conference in Washington, D.C., where I would spend the day in meetings, and the hotel was used only for sleeping. Yes, it was multiple nights, but the cumulative amount of time spent there was less than 24 hours.

  2. When will people realize the star system is a complete and utter sham and booking based on these seemingly arbitrary star ratings on opaque sites is going to cause situations like this. This is a pig in the poke and if you go the cheapest path, this what’s going to happen.

    1. I agree the star system on these sites are a sham and made to trick people into thinking the place is a quality property. People don’t realize that the star system is *NOT* determined by quality but rather what services are present. And the important part is just being present. Even if the service is close or not available, a pool that is not filled for example, they still get the star for it.

      As others have mentioned on here, checking the property’s website can often yield similar, if not better sometimes, prices. You don’t have a middle-man to deal with if there are problems. Also, as has been talked about before, the rooms you get through places like HotWire are usually the worse rooms on the property.

      1. Actually, Hot Wire, and many of the other OTAs base their star ratings on user reviews, just like Amazon . com. So If the majority of people click 5 on the scale of 1 to 5, it becomes a 5 star property on Hot Wire.

        I have posted many times about the only valid rating systems which are Mobile/Forbes Star Rating, and AAA Diamond Rating. I am tired of these websites making up there own ratings as it confuses everyone. Also, the Mobile/Forbes and AAA ratings focus not just on the amenities, but the quality and delivery of them play a big role.

        1. I went back and checked the website and they do say it is on reviews now. I know 3 years ago, last time I had dealings with Hotwire, it was as I described above. They have changed it since then.

          1. They probably changed it because when they set the criteria, people had a valid reason to argue with them. Now they can wash their hands and say “900 other people think its 4 stars.”

  3. I personally don’t use Hotwire/Priceline, but they serve a market. Just today my admin and I were chatting about how she got the Hyatt Regency for $58 when the lowest rate she was able to find otherwise was $188.

    But the opaque booking isn’t the real issue. That’s just a red herring. The real issue is prepaid reservations. The OP could have just as easily booked the hotel through any number of non-opaque channels and still been unaware of the state of the hotel. The difference is that after the first night, it would have been much easier for him to change hotels, but for the fact that the entire stay was prepaid.

    In my experience, an ethical hotel manager alerts potential guests to the renovations and drops the rate substantially to attract guests. In general, I’ve seen rates drop by close to 50% during renovations. At that price, I don’t mind viewing tarps.

    My take from this be very, very careful about booking a prepaid, non-refundable reservation. I really dislike drama when traveling. Consequently, I always book directly with the travel provider, and I rarely book prepaid non-refundable rates, unless I’m sure my travel plans aren’t changing. E.g., I’ve book a hotel room from the lobby of the same hotel.

    1. Interesting…I went to the hotel’s website and it clearly says the hotel is “CLOSED FOR RENOVATIONS”

      1. That’s probably why Hot Wire de-listed them 🙂 Otherwise they would have gone on giving it out as a 4.5 fake star hotel.

        1. When did this case happen? Read this
          So Starwood bought this place as well as other SoBe properties.
          They were the ones doing the renovation. Why not take the rooms off the market? Our fingers should be pointing at Starwood.
          Sometimes a little more research brings up a different perspective about a case. It was not just hotwire selling rooms during the renovation. Look at the other OTA sites, lots of complaints there, too. IMO, the property owner is primarily responsible for the quality of the stay. They failed.

          1. Did Starwood actually buy the hotel, or is it just being rebranded within the Starwood family. My understanding is that of the major chains, Starwood owns the lowest percentage of its hotel, but rather franchises mostly.

    2. Yes, the prepaid,non-refundable reservation is the problem. But since the OP so clearly didn’t get the service for which they paid, is there a possible credit card chargeback as a solution? Or does Hotwire preclude that option?

  4. No, they didn’t offer enough compensation. But a full refund isn’t in the cards here either. It sounds like neither wants to compromise, but this is a case where a 30-50% refund is appropriate.

      1. I would think the hotel was $370 per night, so it all depends on how many nights he stayed. I wish we knew how many nights.

        ETA: From re-reading the story, it almost sounds like it was just a 1 night stay.

  5. I’m conflicted on this one…. On one side, you have living in a construction site in less than ideal conditions. On the other, you have the offer to move out of the hotel for a full refund that the OP declined (Let’s be honest. If it was that bad, the OP could take a taxi to another hotel and return for the car the next day. Hotwire tried to do the right thing and the OP declined. He needs to own that decision.).

    Ultimately, I couldn’t vote. Without knowing how much the OP paid and for how many nights, its hard to know if $100 is appropriate or not (he says the room cost $370 but is that the market rate or what he paid). Since the OP declined the offer to move without penalty, a 100% refund is not appropriate. He used the room and should pay something for that.

    1. I’d be interested in knowing a little more about the totality of the circumstances. What time was the offer made and how reasonable was it to find another hotel at that point.

    2. “On the other, you have the offer to move out of the hotel for a full refund that the OP declined”

      Given that the other hotels were of lower star value and higher price, I can see why the OP didn’t want to move, regardless of the drinking and driving situation. Now if Hotwire had offered any other property at the same price, the OP may have moved. But since Hotwire didn’t make that offer, we will never know.

    1. But he was offered a full refund and declined it. So, in this case, a credit instead of a refund is appropriate. Cash refunds are appropriate when a contracted good or service isn’t delivered. Credits are appropriate when contractual obligations are met but the customer isn’t happy. In this case, the OP did receive the room he contracted for and was given the option for a full refund but choose to accept the good / service as is. A credit is appropriate in this case.

      1. The “refund” was if he moved to another property Hotwire had. Since all the properties were lower star rating and higher price, I don’t blame the OP for not taking that offer. That really wasn’t a full refund because he would have to spend more in the end.

    2. You’re right, a $100 voucher isn’t a refund. Hotwire offered him a full refund, but he decided to stay at the hotel. He didn’t want a refund.

  6. “The cheap comes out expensive.” — My Dad
    I really stopped having sympathy for these people who use Hotworst and Pricescam. If you buy a brisket in a box without looking and wind up with squirrel meat, STFU.

    1. That’s one of my favorite quotes. Mrs. Emanon and I say it all the time though I am not sure where we first heard it.

      Mmmmm. Brisket.

  7. My thoughts about OTA’s in general are well known to readers of this forum. But why anyone would book a several-night stay through a site which does not disclose the name of the property until AFTER the booking is complete is a true mystery to me.

    Obviously, this OP was searching solely based on price, and as the saying goes, you get what you pay for.

    The fact that Hotwire offered him anything at all shocks me (though in a pleasant way), and it appears they took steps (though it seems grudgingly) to suspend this property from their site for a while.

    Still, when will people learn? When you use an OTA, you are opening yourself up to potential problems. If this OP had researched his holiday properly without relying solely on an OTA (like Hotwire), he could have easily avoided the entire problem.

    As it stands, he got a $100 credit from Hotwire, which in my mind is probably more than he deserves.

    1. This is not about opaque sites. The same thing could have happened if he booked through a regular site.
      I’d be curious to know what percentage of guests are unhappy after using an OTA? Of course, its only the unhappy ones which end of on forums like this one.

      1. I heard a story on NPR about research on customer satisfaction. They said that people are more satisfied if they perceive they got a good deal, it actually had very little to do with the service they received. The perception of a deal was the #1 factor for increased satisfaction. So I would think that more people who use OTAs and think they are getting a good deal, are generally happier, even though they may not be getting a deal at all.

      2. Hey Carver, Sorry, I disagree with you on this….my point was, and is, if people would do more and better research, like actually checking the hotels’ own websites and then calling or emailing to be sure nothing is amiss, this whole thing could have been avoided. I would think a several night stay ANYWHERE would warrant a little more research and effort than what the OP put into it.

        In addition, the case indicated that Hotwire KNEW of problems with this hotel from previous complaints, but still directed people there anyway. That alone (if true) should make them culpable to some extent.

        But the fact of the matter is, if someone is prepared to book a “hotel” on a site like Hotwire, without even knowing where they will end up until they have confirmed the booking (and presumably paid), then I have very little sympathy for them, ESPECIALLY a NON-REFUNDABLE booking. What were they thinking?

        I say take the $100 and run….its the best deal he could possibly expect, and frankly, I am surprised that Hotwire even did that much.

        1. its ok to disagree 🙂

          Any merchant, regardless of the product should be held to a standard of fairness and honesty. As Hotwire knew of the deficiency in its product, I agree 100% that it’s culpable and therefore liable.

          I also agree that research is a good practice. Now, I would never use Priceline and Hotwire and apparently neither would you. But that doesn’t relieve them of the responsibility to act in an ethical manner. They remain a legitimate and valid means of booking travel. And as long as Hotwire/Priceline delivers what was promised, I’m cool with them (for use by others)
          My problem comes when they don’t deliver what was promised. The hotel should never have been in the Hotwire inventory.

          1. Absolutely correct. The hotel should not have been in Hotwire’s inventory, or at the very least, potential guests should have been warned about the construction.

            As with most things in life, the more intermediaries you add to a transaction, the greater the chance of something going amiss.

  8. Hmmm. “I ordered a steak. I didn’t like the steak. I complained about the steak. I was offered a discount on my next steak, then a full refund if I would go to one of your other restaurants for my steak. I ate the steak and accepted a discount (which you later quadrupled) on my next steak. Now, I want even more.” Hmmm. (Can you have your steak and eat it, too?)

    1. He ordered a steak and got ground beef…I’d want over half of my money back for sure. Hotwire knew of the construction and didn’t disclose it, that is wrong. And he didn’t get what he paid for

      1. So he trusted a company that sells him something he doesn’t know what he will be getting at price he thinks he is getting at good deal. Not sure which is dumber. The site or the person making the reservation.

        1. That’s hardly fair. Millions of people use Hotwire and Priceline and are happy with their purchases. Each person evaluates what’s important to them and the level of risk that they are willing to accept. For me, I’m very particular about my travel arrangements, so I am relatively risk averse. Using Hotwire or Priceline would be foolish for me.

          By contrast, I have a lot of teacher friends who are avid travelers. They travel for the entire summer break. They could care less about being in a nice hotel. Give them a mat and a dirt floor and they’re content. They’ve regaled me with stories about staying in youth hostel in Eastern Europe.

          For them, an opaque site works extremely well because cost is the number one factor as they’re traveling for 60 days straight.

  9. The hotel didn’t meet the standards of a 4-1/2 star hotel. That’s misrepresentation or even fraud. “We’re going to be a 4-1/2 star hotel when we’re done” is not a defense. In these instances, I think a full refund is appropriate. Years and years ago, I got a refund when the 3-star hotel I stayed at in New York turned out to be the Hotel Pennsylvania. Google “Hotel Pennsylvania Dave Barry” and you’ll understand why I got my money back. That should happen here too.

  10. This hotel wasn’t at all as described, so the hotel carried out wilful misrepresentation of goods sold (in this case to Hotwire). Had the booking site known, I’m pretty sure they’d have either made the rate bargain basement, or suspended the listing.

    A full refund wasn’t on the cards as the customer stayed, but 50% would be reasonable.

    If the offer had been to re-book to another hotel via Hotwire AT THE SAME COST on the night, then I’m sure the customer would have grabbed a cab to the new property. Seems the only reason he didn’t was the large disparity in price on the evening.

    1. “Had the booking site known, I’m pretty sure they’d have either made the rate bargain basement, or suspended the listing.”

      According to the story, Hotwire knew about the construction going on as they had called and asked about it several times.

  11. I wonder how much business Hotwire will lose because of this post…I hope it’s tons! Very bad customer service all the way around!

    1. I’m guessing it won’t make much of a difference…. If the people who wanted to use the OTA’s actually read Chris’ different offerings, I don’t think they would have much of a problem. How many times a week do we (the followers of Chris, the Travel Magician, you know, Chris gets involved and – ‘Poof’ – Customer Service finally happens….) read about the shenanigans these sites pull and the annoyances they cause?

    2. Spirit Airlines and Ryanair are very successful in using bad publicity in their favor. Why not hotwire? There’s a lot of suckers and idiots out there who think they are very smart more than there are airline seats, hotel rooms, or cruise cabins. On with the show folks.

  12. I have never used hotwire but use priceline for 80% of my hotel bookings and have only had 1 issue and that was a hotel in Paris where the air conditioner did not keep the room cool but i saw them giving people portable fans so i got one and that was all i needed to make my stay enjoyable.

    1. Oh – I’ve had some issues with rooms booked on Priceline where I’m sure I was treated differently because of how I paid and how much I paid. Most of the time I feel I’m treated like any other customer. I’m not talking about things like meal vouchers that aren’t included, but basic things about a hotel room such as condition or location of the room. Once I got a room way in the corner with a funky layout. I’m familiar with this sub-brand, and nearly all rooms have a standard layout, but they build these odd rooms into a corner at the ends of the building.

      Once I got put up in a room right next to the elevator where the A/C was making this horrendous noise. I didn’t even turn the cold air on per se, but if we wanted air circulation that part of the unit was always on. However, maintenance did arrive quickly on request, and it was a plugged up valve that needed to be replaced. This was winter and cold air wasn’t needed, so we were fine when the maintenance guy just removed it. There’s a lot of suspicion that people booking on opaque sites are put up in “Priceline rooms” that are either known for maintenance, noise, or other issues. Once we stayed in a place with remote buildings where we were the furthest away from the main building and the A/C was literally leaking fluid on the carpet.

  13. As usual, this is all about money. South Beach is a very expensive place for a tourist. I live here.

    An opaque website was used. “All the other places they offered were of a lower star rating and higher price,” the unsatisfied customer asserts when he was given alternatives. No kidding! Get real.

    Miami Beach, on a very wide sandy beach, bar service at the water’s edge, large private pool, reserved chairs and umbrellas just for the guests, location on fashionable Collins Avenue. All this is true, construction or not. This usually costs from $400 to $1000 a night, day in and day out. That’s not rack rate, but the advance reservation rate.

    (Right now, midweek at the W Hotel next door (off season), the one-night rate is $409++.)

    And the Perry Hotel was available at a rock bottom rate. Same old. “If it seems too good to be true.” The buyer must assume responsibility and risks of bargain hunting.

    Complete refund? Absurd. They stayed and used the services, even though they were offered alternatives at a higher (read, “near market” or realistic) price. (I would hazard they were paying somewhere from $150 to $250 a night.)

    Hotwire did its best, and the customer was still not satisfied. A complete refund is a proverbial “theft of services.” Hotwire offered sufficient compensation to the bargain hunter at an opaque site. The hotel subsequently closed completely to finish its scheduled and well publicized complete renovation.

    1. “Hotwire did its best, and the customer was still not satisfied”


      Sometimes your best just doesn’t cut it. If Hotwire offered a comparable room at the same price I’d be with you. But hotwire required them to pay more money (and downgrade) which is never an acceptable compromise. Thus, the OP was right to refuse the offer.

      In travel, when you are unable to provide the services agreed upon, the general rule is that you accommodate at a higher, not lower, level at no additional cost to the guest. It’s no different than renting a standard room and arriving at a hotel to be told that all standard rooms are occupied. The hotel either walks you to a comparable hotel or gives you an upgrade. Few hotels would say, I’m sorry, but you can either stay in sub-standard room or pay for an upgrade.
      In this case, the accommodation by hotwire was unreasonable, The OP is owed the difference between what he reserved (and paid for) and what he got, plus a goodwill gesture.

      1. An opaque site is not based on the customary and usual rules of lodging. It is like digging through a bargain bin. Or shopping at Big Lots. Most times you get a real bargain. Sometimes the item is functional, but not what you expected.

        Mr. Weaver insists on a complete refund. He was offered a $100 chit and does not think that is adequate.

        Hotel construction situations really do not have usual and customary solutions. I have been in dozens of hotels with the General Manager’s “Sorry” letter on the room desk after I have checked in and given them my credit card. Sometimes it says the pool, spa and exercise room are being renovated. Other times it says there is construction on certain floors from 8 to 5. Once, I checked in, got my “guaranteed one-class room upgrade” to Executive Club, and then saw the letter in the room which says the Executive Club room is closed until further notice. No snacks, cocktails or whatever. This stuff happens.

        All these things never have caused me to ask for credit, much less a complete refund. I walked past this hotel many times while it was still open during renovation, as it is along the scenic beach boardwalk. Lots of guests were staying there and enjoying the facilities. To have Mr. Weaver tell it, these hundreds of guests were suffering! Too much drama in his letter. Nothing about the sand, the water, the fine location with the Delano, W and other famous hotels within a block or two on Collins.

        1. Your post doesn’t really address my post. In order:

          1. Even when digging through the bargain bin, you know generally what you are getting. If the bargain bin was marked BlueRay discs and you got a regular DVD you would be right to complain.

          2. I agreed that a full refund is not in order. He should get the difference between what he paid for and what he got. I purposely didn’t put a number on that as it would be a distraction from the main issues.

          3. Construction depends on the magnitude of the construction and for me whether its a vacation hotel. Regular business hotels have more leeway because they’re not defined nearly as much by amenities such as a pool. Vacation resorts are. Imagine expecting to spend a lazy week relaxing by the pool, reading a good book, to find out that the pool is closed.

          My experience is that if a vacation resort must undergo construction that closes advertised amenities, its generally in the off season and the construction is prominently disclosed.

          4. The OP is clearly given to hyperbole. But that is neither here not there. The one question is, did the OP get what he paid for.

          1. I enjoy your reasoning. However, not only is the OP given to hyperbole, but also to acts of omission. For example, the pool and bar were not closed. “The view of the hotel from the pool deck was awful.” He forgets to say the view to the ocean was gorgeous. Selective description. Yes, the hotel is decrepit looking during construction, but turn your head then and look to the beach and ocean. Come on Mr. Weaver, move your chair! Geez. I can go to any hotel and take a picture of a “dumpster view” and then complain that is not what I paid for. I once had a room in Santa Barbara where my view was of the huge aluminum kitchen fans mounted on the roof. Yes, I complained, but the room was nice, the ocean and beach were still there, and I paid my bill.

            There is no question the hotel exterior looked dreadful. The point is, since when it the view of the hotel a major component of what one is paying for? The pool was there, the beach and the sand, right out the front door, no intervening street. This is a prime beachfront property, and they received that view and amenity. The $100 chit was plenty of compensation.

  14. I stopped using Hotwire 6 or 7 years ago after consistently good service deteriorated and star ratings became way overblown. We travel cross country a lot and find booking directly when we arrive at a stopover is much easier and less expensive thanks to google and wifi.

  15. I voted no on this one. And I think this is mostly on hot-wire, and another reason I won’t use opaque sites. It annoys me that Hot Wire even said it was under construction immediately after the OP paid. Hot Wire seems to be well aware of the issues, and should not be billing an under construction hotel as 4.5 stars, nor even booking it as a regular hotel in my opinion. If the OP had been booking himself, he could have seen on the hotels website that it was under construction and called to get more info. But begin promised a type of hotel and then getting a hotel under construction seems too low for even opaque sites. Now the OPs complaints did seem somewhat petty in my mind, he eventually got a good room, there was a tarp they had to walk under, the hotel view wasn’t as good (I am sure the ocean wasn’t under construction). However, I still think what Hot Wire did was worse. Not full refund worse, but perhaps walking him with no price increase woudl have been fare.

    Now, onto the star rating. My biggest pet peeve. The only authority that gives actual/true star ratings is Mobile (Which was purchased a few years ago by Forbes, I still call it Mobile). Most improbability, this hotel is not even star rated. I am so sick of every website, everyone with a pulse, and every hotel self-proclaiming their star ratings. I don’t know who to blame either, the hotel for making stuff up, the websites hawking the inadequate hotels for making up their own rating, or the consumers for being ill informed. I am inclined to blame the web sites, after all, who hasn’t seen the commercial for Hot Wire saying they can get you a 4 star hotel at a 2 star price. Yet their 4 star hotels are 1 or 2 stars based on Mobile/Forbes criteria. These self proclaimed hotel ratings, and these OTA and Opaque ratings are about as valuable as used toilet paper. They remind me of a quite from that movie Tommy Boy, “Hey, if you want me to take a dump in a box and mark it guaranteed… I
    will. I got spare time. But for now, for your customer’s sake, for your
    daughter’s sake, ya might wanna think about buying a quality product
    from me.”

    My advise, only believe ratings if they are given in AAA Diamonds, or Mobile/Forbes Stars. Everything else is made up marketing puffery.

  16. There is no reason to advocate for people who use opaque sites. It is opaque for a good reason. Stop and think about it.

    1. After thinking about this quite a bit, and re-reading and thinking it might be only 1 night that they stayed anyway, I am now wishing I could change my vote.

      If they paid $370 a/i for a room where the pre tax rates start at $400 a night for lesser properties, and did get a good room eventually, and the only complaints were dust on the window and having to walk down a hallway and under a tarp, and having views of construction when looking back at the hotel from the beach, plus got a $100 future voucher, then I think they did pretty good for themselves. I still don’t like Hot Wire’s business model and think they should disclose that the hotel may be under construction before someone bids, but the OP did pretty good in this case.

      1. For me, the fact that’s a vacation hotel is important. For business travel, I’m gone most of the day. Construction is mostly invisible to me. For a vacation, I’m hanging around the hotel much more. I’m getting up late, maybe spend some time looking at the scenery, etc. Although, I’m not nearly as sensitive (read needy) as the OP, the construction zone becomes more of a problem.

  17. Anyone who has taken a science course in high school knows: Touching a hot wire can get you burned. That’s how I now look at

  18. This is why I do not use third party sites to do my booking. I use them to get pricing info, then go to the sites directly to book. After having checked their reviews in trip advisor. I am uninterested in the hotel and the booking agency playing “Hide the Bunny” with my refund if there is a problem.

  19. I had a similar experience with a Hotwire reservation a few years ago.

    It didn’t look too bad in the evening when we checked in, but then we were awoken after 8am by jack-hammers outside and by hammer drilling in a space adjacent to our room. It was too loud to converse, the walls shook, and towels literally fell off the racks to the floor on their own. Dust and debris collected on the carpet directly in front of the door to our room.

    My situation never got escalated to Hotwire because the hotel manager — when we eventually succeeded to reach him — gave us a gift card and a free night voucher for a future stay.

    IMO, Hotwire should exclude hotels that are undergoing this sort of major renovations from their opaque inventory.

  20. Going to my cousins wedding in 2 weeks and its in a pretty hotel baron area. Only 2 hotels exist in the HotWire borders, A brand name chain hotel, and a no-name dinky motor lodge. Out of curiosity I used Hotwire, and it tells me a hotel is available in the area for $205 a night. I will get the name after I pay. Well, the brand name hotel in the area is $205 on their own website. And the motor lodge is $109. I sure hope HotWire isn’t giving people the Motor Lodge for $205.

    1. This is where you just shake your head and say how stupid people are thinking that just because they go to site they think is going to give them a lower price because it is online, than going directly. Seriously folks, they are chumps thinking this! Macy’ is higher in price on many items than going to their store. In fact, Macy’ isn’t run by Macy’s. We have a website with a local business that we get a cut on items that are marked up for us to make something off the sale. Someone recently made a large purchase from the site, and lives in town where the store is located. What is sold is in the name of the store, so not hard to check around first. But if it is online, it must be cheaper. Chumps, chumps, chumps!

      1. Could not agree more, and BTW I love Macys, and have never once gone to their website.

        So out of curiosity I went back to Hot Wire, and they are now listing the mystery hotel for $193 a night and saying its 2 stars. When I use their non-opaque engine, they list the nicer hotel (that is $205 on their own site) for $204 and list is as 3 stars. I am beginning to wonder if the $193 will actually get you the motor lodge which they have as 2 stars.

        I am not willing to find out.

        1. Do you remember Filene’s? They are now all Macy’s.
          Used to be you went to the *basement* of Filene’s to find bargains.
          This is the same with Hotwire and Expedia brands (owned by same Expedia Comp.) Hotwire specializes in selling hotel distressed inventory; just like Filene’s basement sells overruns, or clothes that do not sell fast.
          Sure you’d find a name brand item at Filene’s basement but you cannot compare the same item with a different item of the same brand found in the regular floors.

          People buying opaque are even worse off than buying from a Filene’s basement. At least with Filene’s you can fit the shirt and possibly take it back. With opaque sites you don’t even know what you a really buying and you cannot return it.

          So those who use opaque site are playing a (dangerous) game. They think they can beat the house (i.e. hotwire) by trying to guess the hotel. And how do they guess? Based on inaccurate geography and dumb star ratings. What they do not realize is that the game is against them. The house wins all the time because the hotel property has heavily discounted their distressed inventory and regardless what you choose, the house will make a good markup. If you guessed wrong, you end up with a dive.

          1. I don’t remember the store by name, but I seem to remember a bargain basement, but I thought it was a store that started with a B and not Bloomingdale’s. I am embarrassed to admit I rarely have ever done my own clothing shopping. Thew few times I have, the women in my life have made fun of me and stopped me from doing it again.

            The reason I love Macy’s is every time I need new dress shirts or pants, I go to the Macy’s clearance racks, pick out about 5 things, my wife picks out 10 and puts 4 of my 5 things back, and then I try them on and she gives em a thumbs up or down. I don’t think I have spend more than $20 on a dress shirt in years. And $20 is on the high side.

            Whenever I look in the other stores, I rarely find a Men’s dress shirt under $50, and often over $100. I needed a new suit and tried several stores and they were all $800 and up. I got a suit at Macy’s for just around $200 with the alterations. I think it was $179 before.

          2. or perhaps you are indifferent between Hotel X, Hotel Y, and Hotel Z so wherever you get the cheapest rate you are satisfied.

  21. One more reason why NOT to book thru an opaque site — but when he refused to allow a cancel and for them to find somewhere else, he as much as agreed to the conditions – after all, if you stayed, there’s not much they can do for you.

  22. It seems like this may be another instances of customers not knowing when an offer is too good to be true. 4.5-star Southbeach hotels, particularly if it’s in-season, are not $370/night. This price should be your first clue that something’s amiss. That said, these opaque sites promise such astonishing savings that it’s really hard to blame the customer when they look at that price and think, “What a good deal. I’ll take it!” This is especially true of people who are not frequent travellers. Should the hotel and Hotwire disclose that there’s ongoing construction, or that the property isn’t actually worth the star rating yet? Absolutely. But should the price on offer have been a red flag? Yep.

  23. I have an issue with Hotwire’s comment:

    At Hotwire, we rely on our business partners to update us when changes happen to their properties, as would any other travel agency

    Hotwire isn’t a travel agency, let’s make that clear. They are a vending machine. I you put in $1 into the candy machine and press for M&M’s but get a Butterfinger, oh well, you did get candy. You could have gone to the store, paid less and picked up what you wanted.
    There is no way a company set up like Hotwire can keep up on what they sell. Then add in the fact that they are an opaque site, if you are going to them, you are booking on price only, NOTHING else. If you use an opaque site, you have only yourself to blame. Yes, a company should be upfront with what they sell, but the business model isn’t set up for this. At least if you know what you might be booking, you can do reviews, check up dates, but by going blindly into a booking, you get what you paid for.

    1. “At Hotwire, we rely on our business partners to update us when changes
      happen to their properties, as would any other travel agency”

      I agree with your thoughts on this. But I would go a bit further. Based on the OP’s statement,

      “When speaking with the front desk manager, she told me that they get about a half dozen calls from Hotwire a day asking about the construction due to complaints from guests that are surprised when they arrive and find the hotel in such sad shape. So someone at Hotwire knew of the problem.”

      The hotel *HAD* informed Hotwire of the updates, yet it continued to book the rooms like there was nothing wrong.

      1. It does not work that way folks. Listen up, ok?
        It is the hotel that uploads its distressed inventory and discounted price to the hotwire system.

        So they cannot wash off their guilt.
        If the front manager said that then he is either an idiot or a liar or it never happened.

        All he has to do is STOP uploading inventory and rates to hotwire.
        DO NOT PARTICIPATE. Finished.

        1. Why would the manager stop? He wants to fill those rooms and get something for them. And why would HotWire stop? They want their markup on those rooms and have to sell them or they lose money. And with this great model, the business can blame HotWire and HotWire can blame the business and the costumer cant do anything about it.

          1. That’s it. The hotel did not stop selling its distressed inventory in Hotwire. If they were so concerned about guests complaining then they should have zeroed out inventory for hotwire. Hotwire is just a vending machine. Someone loaded it with crappy stuff.

        2. Yes. The hotel uploads the inventory. But when Hotwire found out the inventory being uploaded by the hotel did not meet standard, Hotwire had an obligation to remove them from the system and block further uploads until such time as the description matched the property.

          Being that Hotwire was aware of the discrepancy between what was being upload and the actual property, both Hotwire and the hotel are responsible.

          1. But hotwire can justify it by thinking that is why the hotel is discounting by 55% or more – since your stay will be lousy 🙂
            Remember it is supposed to be DISTRESSED inventory.

            Now remember Expedia (hotwire sibling) may be selling the same crappy situation on FULL PRICE. Now that’s where I see a problem.

          2. Except Hotwire, in their own response said, “This hotel’s inventory was also suspended from our site to prevent similar situations from happening again, and we will revisit its status once the renovations are more complete.”

            How come they didn’t suspend it after the first complaint they got and got confirmed from the hotel the construction was going on? Why did it take being contacted by a consumer advocate for them to correct the problem? They weren’t justifying continuing to sell it because of the discount. They were perfectly happy selling faulty merchandise until they got caught.

          3. So is any supermarket selling meat with e.coli.
            Most distributors don’t give a damn until the sh*t hits the fan.
            Did you read the countless complaints in Tripadvisor and similar sites?
            I actually do not believe the hotwire statement was unilateral on their part. See Raven’s comment on hotel closure. I wonder what big bro Expedia did?

          4. You are actually going to try to compare his Hotwire experience to something as serious as an e.coli outbreak? Okay. So let’s compare. If a meat distributor, after being informed the meat was tainted, continued to sell it, you can bet they would be held liable for any illness passed on. Hotwire, on the other hand, won’t be held liable for selling faulty merchandise even if it can be proved they knew it didn’t meet standards.

            And what complaints are you referring to?

            As to Hotwire’s statement, my experience with Hotwire in the past was the same. They will keep selling substandard rooms until they are caught and exposed.

          5. Yes. Ed you apparently do not know much about the travel industry and how travel products are distributed. People who know are not shocked by what happened to the OP. Unless the hotel pulls its inventory off GDS or the alternative booking systems (e.g. genares); the distribution will continue as normal.
            So stop being shocked about the OP’s case and debating minutiae or riding your high horse. Hotels rent out rooms during renovations and it sucks. I have been in some of them. Also people who work in this industry know what to believe and what not to believe. We know how the system works even if we do not agree with it. I often read things here with a grain of salt because they do not jive with what I know and how I was taught the system works.

          6. What are you talking about? I’m not shocked about the OP’s case or riding any type of horse. Maybe I don’t know as much about the travel industry as you do, but I do know, from past dealings with Hotwire, they have the ability to remove property from their inventory. Hotwire even said so in the response they made in this story.

            My initial response was about your statement that the hotel uploads the inventory. I agreed with you on that. The hotel cannot wash off their guilt as you say. Yes, the problem can stop by the hotel stopping the upload. However, Hotwire also has a responsibility to their customers that when they learn that a property doesn’t meet the standard, to remove it themselves. They even said they did that after Chris got involved.

            I was saying both Hotwire and the hotel share blame in what happened to the OP. But your responses sound like you are trying to defend Hotwire, that they had no control over the problem, when in fact, they do have control.

            So if anyone needs to get off their high horse, it is you.

        3. It’s not necessarily distressed inventory, or else one wouldn’t be able to book an opaque-priced room months in advance.

          1. during 9/11 even a year in advanced was distressed 🙂
            so many hotels are still hurting, depending on the location.
            low season is considered distressed for this industry 🙂

            Also I hope you are not referring to the Standard Rate hotels (tab) of Hotwire since I am not talking about that. I am only talking about the OPAQUE (Secret Hot Rate) section of Hotwire.

    2. I think a better analogy would be you put in a dollar, and press the button for candy. Then something falls and I get to pick it up. Could be M&Ms, could be a Butterfinger, but this time I got a pack of gum. Darn. Many will argue that gum is still candy. I would never use a vending machine like that.

  24. Perhaps this person should book through a travel agent instead of these types of sites. Was the inconvenience worth what he paid? Obviously not. If you don’t want to pay the going rate for a hotel unfortunately this is what can happen. A good travel agent could have told you what hotels have construction going on. When you opt to take a chance with Hotwire or any other site that you have no choice on for the price, then you this is what can happen. Next time, book directly.

    1. Re: a good travel agent could have told you that construction was going on –
      Hmm, do not expect a miracle.
      Many hotels renovate and never tell their distributors what they are doing. Unless your travel agent is well connected with an astute DESTINATION mgmt company or another agent, you probably will not know either.
      The most detailed and professional I have ever met are generally the Japanese agencies. They make a dry run of the (private) tour you made or are selling then confirm that everything is ok. Simply amazing.

  25. I’m mixed on this one.

    I agree that Hotwire was aware that the hotel was under construction that would adversely affect its’ guests’ stays and they shouldn’t have been sending guests there. I have to wonder if that was just due to some algorithm in its website that it didn’t bother to adjust until after the OP or Chris complained about it, because it sounds like it kept sending guests there even after getting other complaints about the bad conditions.

    I did vote yes in the poll, but that’s because they did offer to move him and he chose
    to stay. Had he actually left the hotel, even on a Saturday night after
    dinner and drinking (he probably could have gotten a ride to another
    hotel somehow), I would have been more sympathetic to his demand for a
    full refund. He booked through an opaque site, so I think he did assume
    the risk that they would send him to a hotel he didn’t want to stay at. His reasons for staying do sound whiny to me.

  26. I know how I’m voting! Hotwire is gone from my Favourites. Delegated to the Recycle Bin.
    If enough others do this maybe drive them out of their nefarious business.

  27. My issue with
    Earlier posters is that yes, Hotwire sells distressed room inventory, but the OP didn’t go looking for bargain bin rooms, he went looking for a 4.5 star room. The manager specifically said we WILL be a 4.5 star property, but they aren’t now, not with the renovations, and the OP didn’t buy a future room, they bought a room in the here and now, and it wasn’t even close in quality to what they were selling.

    Honestly, I understand recently why people use opaque sites, because they don’t want to go sifting through 100 different properties that are in te same class of quality and amenities, and have to decide whether mints on their pillow is worth an extra $1.00. They don’t care about details, what they want is a certain class or quality of service and acomadations within a certain range, and at that point all that really matters is what’s the cheapest within that class/range. They don’t really care if its a Marriott, or a Best Western, or any one of several dozen minor me trivial details.

  28. As a gesture of goodwill the Hotel should offer the guest something, I would have complained to the Hotel and take it to task for maybe not being completely honest with Hotwire.

  29. So the hotel was so bad they chose to eat in ints restaurant? I smell ‘out for what I can get”.

    A 27% refund seems enough for me. The person used the hotel facilities and stayed there for the night. Why should they get a full refund?

    If it was really so bad that they deserved a full refund, they should have left when given the chance.

      1. Oh please. They could walk to another hotel or take a taxi. Having drunk alcohol is not an excuse fir a larger refund.

  30. The absurdity is go to book on Hotwire for a 370$ room. Please be consistent.
    Nevertheless, he should have 100% refund because, the renovation situation/condition is unknown. A customer who pay 370$ for a room never accept a hotel on renovation condition.

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