No ‘super’ savings on my Las Vegas strip hotel

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By Christopher Elliott

Jerome Garcia’s Hotwire hotel room is in the wrong place and overpriced. But did the online travel agency do anything wrong – and does he deserve a refund?

Question

I hope you can help me with a Hotwire Hotel reservation. I booked a three-star “Las Vegas Strip — South Area Hotel” on Hotwire recently. The booking was at Hooters Casino Hotel for $47 per night, plus taxes and fees.

There are two problems with the result. First, it’s not on the Las Vegas Strip; it’s more than half a mile away. And second, it’s listed as a “Super Savings” rate, which Hotwire classifies as “more than 30 percent off retail price.” But most websites have the normal price at about $45 to $50 per night. Where’s the “super” savings?

I understand Hotwire reservations are final, and have used them successfully in the past. However, I feel this reservation is not fair. Hotwire won’t refund the reservation. Please help me. — Jerome Garcia, Albuquerque, NM

Answer

You’re right, Hotwire’s terms are restrictive. But there’s a tradeoff: In exchange for not knowing the exact name and location of the hotel, and giving up your right to a refund, you’re supposed to get a deep discount at a brand-name hotel.

Hotwire fell short of that. Its rates weren’t the lowest, even though it promises they will be. But its guarantee, which you can find on its site, only says if you find a lower rate for an identical booking, it will “pay you the difference between the rates.”

But a full refund? There’s no mention of that.

The hidden reality of ‘Las Vegas Strip’ on Hotwire

The other issue is the location of your hotel. Hotwire is pretty clear about what it considers in the “Las Vegas Strip” area, and your resort was there. But it wasn’t on the Strip, and unless you read the fine print carefully and click on the map, you could easily assume you’ll be staying on the Strip until the very end of the booking process, when the name of your property is finally revealed. (Here’s how to fix your own consumer problems.)

Most customers don’t bother to check their Hotwire rate against other published prices, and they shrug when their hotel isn’t exactly where it’s supposed to be — after all, they got a deal, right? (Related: Can Hotwire just surprise me with this resort fee?)

Travel Leaders Group is transforming travel through its progressive approach toward each unique travel experience. Travel Leaders Group assists millions of travelers through its leisure, business and network travel operations under a variety of diversified divisions and brands, including All Aboard Travel, Andrew Harper Travel, Colletts Travel, Corporate Travel Services, CruCon Cruise Outlet, Cruise Specialists, Nexion, Protravel International, SinglesCruise.com, Travel Leaders Corporate, Travel Leaders Network and Tzell Travel Group, and its merger with ALTOUR. With more than 7,000 agency locations and 52,000 travel advisors, Travel Leaders Group ranks as one of the industry’s largest retail travel agency companies.

But your grievance highlights one of the persistent problems with so-called “opaque” sites, which is that like their amorphous products, their promises are long on rhetoric and short on specifics. Often, you can find a good deal through one of these sites, but not always.

I contacted Hotwire and it refunded your purchase.

Do opaque travel websites promise more than they deliver?

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Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is the founder of Elliott Advocacy, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that empowers consumers to solve their problems and helps those who can't. He's the author of numerous books on consumer advocacy and writes three nationally syndicated columns. He also publishes the Elliott Report, a news site for consumers, and Elliott Confidential, a critically acclaimed newsletter about customer service. If you have a consumer problem you can't solve, contact him directly through his advocacy website. You can also follow him on X, Facebook, and LinkedIn, or sign up for his daily newsletter.

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