Barbara Hyland’s Alamo car rental reservation, made through Hotwire, had the wrong dates on it. The error was caught immediately, but Hotwire refuses to issue her a refund.
Question: I recently made a car rental reservation through Hotwire and got the dates wrong. The error was caught within minutes and we tried to cancel immediately.
We called and sent emails to both Hotwire and Alamo, the car rental company through which we had the reservation. For two days we spent hours on the phone with several agents. Who knows what exactly went wrong or what happened with the computer and online booking, but we caught the error and right away tried to correct and cancel the mistake.
No damages were incurred by Hotwire or Alamo. It’s like they’re stealing our money. Can you help? — Barbara Hyland, Marana, Ariz.
Answer: Barb, this shouldn’t have happened to you. But Hotwire can be tricky. Bookings made through the online travel agency are nonrefundable and can’t be changed. It’s in the fine print, which you agreed to when you used the site.
As you know, there are rules and there are rules. Hotwire, like other opaque sites, is known to be able to fix simple errors if they’re caught quickly. So editing the dates on your reservation shouldn’t have been a problem.
You are not alone, by the way. My mother made a similar mistake when booking a prepaid rate on a car through Expedia. Instead of having a reservation for two days, she only booked one — an easy mistake, since she was crossing time zones and arriving early morning on a red-eye flight. As I write this, she’s still being bounced between the online agency and Hertz, the car rental company. (I know what you’re thinking — why am I not helping her? I’ve offered. But she informs me she can handle it.)
Companies take the money and then play a game of ping-pong with their customers. You want to change the reservation? Call the online agency and spend two hours talking to someone in the Philippines. Then you phone them, only to be referred back to the suppliers. And that’s the real crime.
People! This isn’t customer service. It’s customer disservice.
You could have reached out to one of our Hotwire executive contacts. But after reviewing all of your paperwork and hearing about the hours and hours you had to spend on the phone, our advocates couldn’t bear to see you suffer any longer.
We contacted Hotwire on your behalf. In response, it offered you a $224 credit for the full amount you paid — not the perfect resolution, but it’s one you’re happy with.