What to do when things go “awry” with your Hotwire booking

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Elsa Chung’s Hotwire booking goes “awry” after her promo code doesn’t work and the hotel isn’t what she expected. What should she do?

Question: I recently used Hotwire for the first time to book a hotel in Honolulu. I downloaded the Hotwire app, because it said I could use a promo code for $25 off. I saw a 3.5-star Waikiki hotel, and I thought it was a pretty good deal.

I got excited, booked it — and then things went awry.

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The first problem I had was with the promo code. In order for me to use it, I was supposed to press the “promo code” button to apply it to my reservation before completing it. I called Hotwire and explained to the customer-service representative that it was my first time using Hotwire and its app, so I wasn’t too familiar with what I needed to do.

The representative said that all sales were final, and therefore she couldn’t apply the promo code. I said I was not asking for a refund — I just wanted to apply the promo code. She said there was nothing she could do.

The second problem was with the hotel’s star rating. I thought I had purchased a three-night stay in a 3.5-star hotel. When the hotel was revealed, I saw that it was the Vive Hotel Waikiki. I started looking at the hotel on TripAdvisor, Travelocity and Orbitz, and I noticed that it was listed as a three-star hotel, except by Travelocity, which listed it as 3.5 stars.

I wrote to Hotwire, and it replied that it was “confident” in its rating. I’m not. I paid more for the hotel than I thought I would, and I got less. Can you help? — Elsa Chung, Vancouver, Canada

Answer: Hotwire’s booking works a little differently from how a conventional reservation made through an online agency works. In exchange for a discount, you give up your right to know the exact name of the property as well as your right to a refund. In other words, Hotwire isn’t for the indecisive, and I might add, you were extra brave to try your first reservation on the Hotwire app instead of through its site.

At the time you made your reservation, Hotwire was offering $25 off bookings via its mobile app. In order to redeem the promo code, it had to be entered before purchase, and it was limited to one per customer.

For technical reasons, the representative you contacted could have helped you apply the code to a new booking, but she couldn’t apply it retroactively. Hotwire simply doesn’t allow that, for what it calls “quality control” reasons. The representative should have explained that.

She also should have checked the Vive Hotel’s rating more closely. You ordered a 3.5-star hotel, but received a hotel that many online agencies rated as being only three stars. Although there are no standardized star ratings in the American hotel industry, and although Hotwire’s star ratings, like its service, tend to be opaque, its ratings serve an important purpose. They suggest that you can expect certain service levels and amenities. For more on its star ratings, see a full description online.

Had the representative done a more thorough check, she would have seen that there was indeed a half-star discrepancy.

“It was an oversight on our part,” another Hotwire representative confirmed. “We have a system in place to ensure consistency across all of our hotel displays, and we’ll get to the bottom of the error for this particular property.”

It’s difficult to prevent this kind of problem from recurring, since you don’t find out which hotel you booked until after you’ve pushed the “book” button. But if it ever happens to you again, you can contact someone at a higher level at Hotwire to appeal your case. I list the executive contacts on my website.

Hotwire issued a $45 voucher as an apology, which can be used for a future purchase. It also lowered the Vive’s rating to three stars in its system.

Did Hotwire do enough for Elsa Chung?

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74 thoughts on “What to do when things go “awry” with your Hotwire booking

  1. Did it do enough? Yes and no.

    The $45 voucher was over and above with regards to the $25 unapplied coupon as that was the LW’s fault, pure and simple.

    But, if the hotel was listed as a 3 1/2 star hotel but is only a 3 star then a full refund is in order. The transaction was materially misrepresented and thus the contract was breached. This is particularly true for an opaque booking since the only information that you have is the star level and location.

    1. Does Hotwire’s star ratings policy states that it’s star ratings policy reflects the same stars that are used for AAA, Expedia, Hotelscom, Forbes (formerly Mobil Travel Guide), Michelin, Priceline, Travelocity, Frommer’s, Fodor’s, Trip Advisors, Travelocity, Orbitz, etc. I couldn’t find it.

      Ratings are subjective and a half-star difference is negligible. It would be a different story if the hotel was rated with 3.5 stars and it had an average rating of 1.0 stars from everyone else. The hotel had a 3.5 stars rating based upon their ratings which is what they go by (unless you find something on their website stating that they use other ratings such as AAA, etc.) at the time of booking so they gave the OP what she wanted.

      By the way, I just did a Google search of “Vive Hotel Waikiki ratings” and here are the results:

      hotelcom: 4.4 stars
      Expedia: 4.2 starts
      TripAdvisor: 4.5 stars
      Orbitz: 4.1 starts
      Google: 3.9 stars
      Yelp: 4.0
      Oyster: 3
      hotelplannercom: 4.1
      bookingcom: 8.5 out of 10
      CalHotels Hotel Rating: 3

      In regards to location, do these opaque booking sites states that the hotel will be within x.xx miles of the address that you entered? If it doesn’t then it is subjective what is considered an airport hotel for example. I have stayed at hotels as well as looked at hotels that has the “Airport” in their names but was located several miles from the airport. To me, an airport hotel should be within one mile of the airport as well as sound-proof windows in the rooms.

      1. I’m going to respectfully disagree. On your points

        1. We aren’t told how the 3* rating was arrived at and speculating is useless here. What we do know is that Hotwire seems to have agreed with the LW and accepted her contention, so that point has been resolved.

        2. It’s not for you or me to determine whether a 1/2 star is important to the LW. She was bought and paid for one thing and received another. It’s up to her and her alone whether the 1/2 star difference is important to her.

        As I mentioned, this is particularly true for an opaque booking when all you have is rating and location.

        3. The airport analogy is not on point. The term airport is imprecise and does not have industry standard. What airport means to you and me may be very different. In the same way may businesses have “Beverly Hills” in their name despite being located 10 miles outside of the city limits

        By contrast each opaque site has very specific definitions/criteria as to how the location is determined. A user making an opaque booking knows exactly the metes and bounds of the possibilities. For example, priceline uses city names for smaller cities and provides a map showing the exact boundaries. I searched Pasadena on Priceline. The may excluded all surrounding cities, but suggested I add Arcadia, Monrovia, etc.

        Thus a user knows exactly what he or she is buying. Which is critical, especially in an opaque booking.

      2. I think you’re looking at previous guest’s opinion star ratings. The hotel’s 3.5 would be based on a not-so-standardly applied amenity rating.

      3. For “airport” hotel locations, most sites have maps. It’s easy enough to simply look at a map, determine the location of the hotel, and see how far it is from the airport. No need to ever be surprised at the distance if the traveler would just take that one extra step.

        1. I was attempting to book a hotel near the airport in the city I was flying into. The hotel recommended by the booking sites was on Airport Blvd and called itself the * * Airport Hotel. It was 25 miles from the airport requiring a trip through the main business district of the city to get there. I chose another.

    2. Errrr… there isn’t some sort of govt. agency that assigns hotel star ratings; they are purely a matter of opinion. It’s not “misrepresentation” for Hotwire to think a hotel is 1/2 * better than some other website.

      1. Except that Hotwire agreed that it was misclassified and reduced it accordingly. Hotwire has to be consistent within itself. If memory serves, Hotwire uses stars to delineate amenities present at the hotel. I would opine that the hotel lacks a given amenity required for a 3 1/2 star and lowered it accordingly.

        1. Full stars delineate amenities. Half stars are more nebulous. A four star should be a full service hotel with the works. Three star basically requires an on-site restaurant. It can go up or down depending on an opinion that can change.

          Also, Hotwire doesn’t mention specific amenities. It says 3-1/2 should be similar to a 3, but with a higher level of service.

        2. In the 2011 Consumer Report article, it states that Hotwire was the only one that uses 1/2 star which means that the hotel has some of the features of the next full star. A 3.5 star hotel property has some of the features of a 4 star hotel which makes a 1/2 star ranking subjective.

          This hotel was opened on June 12, 2013 so it should be pretty modern: Contemporary design, Continental Breakfast in the Vive Cafe for all guests. All guestrooms equipped with refrigerator, individually controlled A/C, flat screen HDTV, free HSIA Wi-Fi, safe (fits laptop), hairdryer, iron/iron board, and clock radio with MP3 connector.

    3. Yep – Carver is right. Hotwire needs to issue a full refund.

      After all, it forced its customer to live with her mistake, they need to be responsible for theirs . . . .

  2. They should have rebooked her at another hotel that actually had a 3.5 star rating. Then she would have bought what she paid for. A $45 voucher is also needed to compensate for having to escalate the situation to get it resolved.

    1. 3.5 stars using which rating system? The hotel was rated at 3.5 stars by Hotwire at the time of booking. Another hotel rated 3.5 by Hotwire would be the only option that could be offered. We can disagree with their ratings all we want, but it is their system. If you look at the ratings found and posted multiple times by someone here, the hotel is much higher rated than 3.5 stars by most. Just because a couple sites rate it lower doesn’t mean it actually is lower.

        1. Which is a whole ‘nother thing to be addressed.

          The star ratings of hotels change regularly based on many different things. It could have been changed by Hotwire to 3 stars anyway at this point in time as part of their normal review process.. However, I do agree that Hotwire should notify all of their customers with pending reservations when a hotel loses stars and allow them to rebook or at least offer a rebate of what was paid.

          1. Do rating really change that often. I doubt that. But in any event, the article suggests that it was always supposed to be three stars

          2. Since the rating Hotwire uses are based on customer comments in addition to other factors, then yes i would bet that these rating can change often.

  3. It did just fine. the difference between 3 and 3.5 stars is negligible and ratings are subjective. If Travelocity had it 3.5 stars, then Hotwire was justified in listing it as 3.5 stars. I don’t see the big deal here – I think this is just a laundry-list complaint and this is the best the OP could do after she screwed up entering the transaction – and that one is ENTIRELY on her.

    In short, Hotwire shouldn’t have done anything for her with the possible exception of re-examining the hotel for the ratings system. I wouldn’t call the OP’s complaint entirely unreasonable, but I think it’s pretty damn ticky-tack and a huge waste of everyone’s time.

  4. I think it did enough. Ms. Chung should have been more careful when booking. I don’t know about anyone else, but I have never booked a mystery hotel. My vacations are too precious to not know where I’m staying!

    1. The number one reason why travelers use opaque booking sites, non-refundableprepaycash in advancenon-cancelable hotel rates, etc. is to save money and the OP is no different.

      For me, the savings do NOT out weigh the concerns of getting a crappy hotel since ratings are NOT standardized, bad location, need to change the reservation (in regards to pre-paynon-refundable hotel rates); etc. Like you, our vacations are too precious to worry about these things.

      1. Totally agree. The couple times I’ve considered using opaque sites, they’ve included really weird geographical boundaries… like 90% shoreline area with one small teeny tiny inland area. I can just guess where the hotel we’d get would be! Not worth the risk, as you said – vacations are too precious.

  5. I would never book through Hotwire. 100% of the complaints I’ve seen are about inaccurate star ratings and poor locations. By poor locations I mean miles and miles away from the attraction or geographic area the customer thought they were booking in or near.

    1. That may be true but you rarely, if ever, hear about the people who use Hotwire and don’t complain. I’ve used Hotwire and Priceline a few times and have always been happy. However, I go in with realistic expectations and do a lot of research first using sites like betterbidding or bidding for travel which can help you determine what hotels you may get and how to bid to get the best hotel.

      If people don’t want to do the research opaque sites just aren’t for them. It’s too unpredictable. In this case, Hotwire was wrong in labeling the hotel as 3.5 stars if it was aware it should have been 3 stars. I disagree about the promo code, though. All promo codes need to be entered before checking out. It sounds like the LW was unused to booking travel online or by app, maybe shopping online altogether.

  6. Does Hotwire’s star ratings policy states that it’s star ratings policy reflects the same stars; the same rankingrating standards that are used for AAA, Trip Advisor, Travelocity, Orbitz, AAA, Expedia, Hotelscom, Forbes (formerly Mobil Travel Guide), Michelin, Priceline, Travelocity, Frommer’s, Fodor’s, Trip Advisors, Travelocity, Orbitz, etc.? I couldn’t find it. If it doesn’t state that then the OP can’t complain about that the hotel is rated 3.0 by other sites. If the other sites had it at one star then that is a different story. The 1/2 star difference is negligible and ratings are subjective.

    I read the description on Hotwire’s website between a 3 stars and 3.5 stars…the difference is that there are enhanced services at a 3.5 star hotel and you can expect additional fees such as resort fees for such services.

    Since there are no standardized rankings between the stars ranking organizations, I do not book hotels at opaque sites such as Hotwire. Almost all of the complaints that I have read are about location and quality (star rating),

    1. You can’t compare user-review ratings submitted by unverified samples of internet users, each using their own arbitrary scale and standards, with OTA ratings that at least publish semi-objective criteria which they purport to apply relatively uniformly.

      You can easily find Motel 6’s with 3.5 star user-review ratings.

      If you actually click on the links to Orbitz, Trip Advisor, Hotels.Com, Booking.Com, Agoda, or Google, all of them rate this particular hotel at 3.0 stars.

      Even Travelocity (which according to the OP was showing 3.5 stars) is showing 3.0 stars at this time:

      http://www.travelocity.Com/Oahu-Island-Hotels-Vive-Hotel-Waikiki.h891175.Hotel-Information

      [Edit: Looks like the comment I replied to was edited [Edit2: or I messed up and didn’t click the Reply link I thought I did]. I was primarily responding to this, which was at the top of ArizonaRoadWarrior’s original comment:

      I just did a Google search of “Vive Hotel Waikiki ratings” and here are the results:

      hotelcom: 4.4 stars
      Expedia: 4.2 starts
      TripAdvisor: 4.5 stars
      Orbitz: 4.1 starts
      Google: 3.9 stars
      Yelp: 4.0
      Oyster: 3
      hotelplannercom: 4.1
      bookingcom: 8.5 out of 10
      CalHotels Hotel Rating: 3

      ]

      1. How does Orbitz, Trip Advisors, Hotelscom, etc. conduct their ratings? According to a 2011 reportarticle from Consumer Reports, only AAA, Forbes (formerly Mobil Travel Guide) and Michelin uses anonymous inspectors and/or unannounced visits for their reviews.

        Also, in the same article, it states that Hotwire was the only one that uses 1/2 star which means that the hotel has some of the features of the next full star. A 3.5 star hotel property has some of the features of a 4 star hotel.

        1. Expedia and Priceline most definitely use 1/2-star ratings, and they both list this particular hotel at 3.0 at this time.

          Fair enough that most of the other OTA’s do not use 1/2-star ratings — and maybe this case illustrates why that might be a better choice.

          1. Please remember that report from Consumer Reports was published in January 2011 which means that the research was from 2010 therefore some of today’s opaque sites were not listed as well as companies such as Expedia and Priceline could have changed their rankingrating systems since Hotwire was the only one in the report that was reported with 1/2 star rankings.

          2. That’s still odd that for the report to state that, even if it was from 2010.

            I bid on and booked 3 1/2 star Priceline hotels in 2005.

            And web.archive.Org confirms my memory that Expedia had 1/2 star-ratings well before 2010 as well. The following is from their “Hotel Class (star ratings)” documentation on Jan 1 2008:

            Half-star ratings
            We have adopted the half-star as a unit of measurement in our five-star scale. The great variety of property types, the wide array of amenities, and the range of property-class characteristics around the world require a classification system of greater precision, which the half-star provides.

    1. How did Hotwire suckered the OP?

      First, she was the one that was unable to book a reservation on a mobile device.

      Second, unless there is a statement on Hotwire’s website that clearly states that their rating systems will match 100% of the other rating organizations’ ratings and/or uses the ratings of the other organization, the OP received a hotel with a 3.5 star rating based upon Hotwire’s rating policy. It would have been a different story if the other ratings from other sources have the hotel at 1 star.

      By the way, I just did a Google search of “Vive Hotel Waikiki ratings” and here are the results:

      hotelcom: 4.4 stars
      Expedia: 4.2 starts
      TripAdvisor: 4.5 stars
      Orbitz: 4.1 starts
      Google: 3.9 stars
      Yelp: 4.0
      Oyster: 3
      hotelplannercom: 4.1
      bookingcom: 8.5 out of 10
      CalHotels Hotel Rating: 3

      She stated that TripAdvisor and Orbitz had the hotel at 3 stars but these sties have the ratings over 4 stars. It is my understanding (and it could be wrong)that these three companies do NOT send people out to review the hotels and their hotel ratings is based upon traveler’s reviews. Knowing statistics, there had to be a tons of 5.0 star rating reviews in order to raise the ratings from 3 stars to 4 stars.

      I don’t use opaque booking sites nor do I like them but we need to be fair.

      1. The suckered her because they agreed that the hotel should have been a 3* and have lowered it in their system accordingly. Had it been correctly presented in the system she would not have received it.

        It’s particularly troubling because the opaque site presents prices based purely on rating. A 3* might be $100 and a 3 1/2 star might be $150. That’s a $50 differential.

        1. That is not, in fact, how Hotwire lists hotels. They list a location, star rating, and list of amenities. Two hotels with the same star rating can, and do, have different prices, depending on what Hotwire has managed to negotiate.

          1. You misunderstand. When they are presented after the search it’s presented by location and star. It only presents one hotel per star category in each location selected

      2. Those seem to be reviews and not ratings. There’s a difference. Priceline let’s users review on a 1 to 10 scale.

        A rating should be more concrete. There are people who stayed in basic motels that are clearly a one to two star category, but were treated well and found it clean and decided it was worth a good review with highest points or stars.

  7. The OP wrote “TripAdvisor, Travelocity and Orbitz, and I noticed that it was listed as a three-star hotel, except by Travelocity, which listed it as 3.5 stars.”

    I just did a Google search of “Vive Hotel Waikiki ratings” and here are the results:

    hotelcom: 4.4 stars
    Expedia: 4.2 starts
    TripAdvisor: 4.5 stars
    Orbitz: 4.1 starts
    Google: 3.9 stars
    Yelp: 4.0
    Oyster: 3
    hotelplannercom: 4.1
    bookingcom: 8.5 out of 10
    CalHotels Hotel Rating: 3

    It is my understanding (and it could be wrong) that Trip Advisor and Orbitz do NOT send people out to review the hotels and their hotel ratings is based upon traveler’s reviews. Knowing statistics, there had to be a tons of 5.0 star rating reviews in order to raise the ratings from 3 stars to 4 stars.

    I think that the OP wanted a greater discount than what she received or an hotel upgrade for the same price that she paid or she didn’t like the hotel that was given to her and she wanted another hotel.

    According to an article, wwwconsumerreportsorg/cro/magazine-archive/2011/january/shopping/hotel-ratings/hotel-star-ratings/index2htm, in the January 2011 Consumer Reports magazine (which could be outdated or inaccurate since it is now 2014):

    It states that Hotwire use the average rating of three top travel sites plus customer feedback. It doesn’t list the three top travel sties in the article.

    Also, it states that the ratings at Expedia, and Hotelcom are based upon user reviews.

    AAA, Forbes (formerly Mobil Travel Guide) and Michelin uses anonymous inspectors and/or unannounced visits for their reviews.

    1. I just did a Google search of “Vive Hotel Waikiki ratings” and here are the results:

      You can’t compare user-review ratings submitted by unverified samples of internet users, each using their own arbitrary scale and standards, with OTA ratings that at least publish semi-objective criteria which they purport to apply relatively uniformly.

      You can easily find Motel 6’s with 3.5 star user-review ratings.

      If you actually click on the links to Orbitz, Trip Advisor, Hotels.Com, Booking.Com, Agoda, or Google, all of them rate this particular hotel at 3.0 stars.

      Even Travelocity (which according to the OP was showing 3.5 stars) is showing 3.0 stars at this time:

      http://www.travelocity.Com/Oahu-Island-Hotels-Vive-Hotel-Waikiki.h891175.Hotel-Information

  8. At least the hotel was in Waikiki. And for the price it appears to be a decent enough place. Probably not a place I would stay if I was choosing a hotel myself, but for Hotwire I think it was a pretty good result.

    Ratings are purely objective. Just because a few other places only rate it at 3 stars doesn’t mean it wasn’t better than that (maybe they don’t give half-star ratings and it definitely isn’t 4 star under their system). IF it would have turned out to be only a 1 or 2 star place then I feel the LW would have had a valid complaint.

    And as far as not applying the discount code, oh well. Users should familiarize themselves with the process before clicking on the buy button. If you expect to see a discount applied and it isn’t there, don’t push the button.

  9. I don’t get it: She had two “problems”, neither of which needed solving.

    1) She forgot to apply a promo code. Every website I’ve ever used requires you to apply the promo code BEFORE checkout. She says she “wasn’t asking for a refund”, but what else was she expecting since she had already completed her purchase?

    2) Hotwire is 1/2 star off compared with some other websites. Given that there isn’t some sort of “International Hotel Rating Authority”, I don’t know why she thought she had grounds to complain here. If they rated a grungy No-Tell Motel about to be torn down as a four star, there might be something to discuss. But this was a puny 1/2 star difference.

    If you don’t want the hotel you end up in to be a surprise, you shouldn’t, shocker, be using an opaque site.

      1. Does Hotwire not offer the ability to cancel reservations? Another reason I never use these sites. In almost every case I go to the hotel sites or on large trips to foreign countries I use a trusted travel Agent.
        Also all this “star” rating is a matter of personal experience.
        We went to Sandals St. Lucia a supposedly 5 star resort. I would rate it as 3 as the “ocean view” room was filled with old worn out furniture, the food was mediocre at best & to top it off 8 of 12 of us got food poisoning & after nurse visit had to go to their own store & buy our own medicine. They would not give us the medicine, no compensation, & were unpleasant to boot.

        1. The basic premise is that they don’t tell you the name of the hotel, but just a star rating and the amenities. If you accept the price and prepay, there’s no cancellation. The idea is that there should be a decent discount in exchange for the uncertainty and the inability to cancel.

          They also have standard OTA listings, but some rates can’t be cancelled while others can.

          1. could have looked on their site at 3 star hotels —- 3.5 star hotels — 4 star hotels – then she would not have been “surprised”

  10. Dear Mr. Elliott,

    I suggest you stop advocating for consumers who complain about half star inconsistencies. I think it is total waste of time.

    1. Wikipedia lists approximately 50 services that comprise the 1-5 star rating system. The 1/2 star difference “could” mean that 5 or more of the services promised were missing. Although they may mean nothing to you or me, perhaps they are services the OP both wanted and expected. And all things being equal, it’s a near certainty that she paid more for that 1/2 star …

      1. Since Hotwire doesn’t appear to list what they consider for each star they grant a hotel anywhere on their site beyond saying they start with a rating and then adjust based on comments from their customers, I doubt that list from Wiki means anything here.

        Hotwire lists a few hotels for each star level. Some hotel chains appear in more than one star level. So how do you really know what you will get?

        1. You may be correct, but I would not expect Hotwire (or any OTA) to mix class of service with user ratings. A “3 star hotel” label should refer to its class of service designation. User reviews (ratings) reflect their experience with that property. In our travels, we have seen many hotels in better condition with better services and staff than their “upscale” competitors, which is why we ignore the class of service rating and focus on user reviews. Took a long time for my wife to focus on the number of “user” stars …

  11. I agree Hotwire should honor the discount by Refund Money, not voucher. I experienced many times a discount code just don’t work for many reasons, technical or bait & switch or the conditions/fine print that you can’t never decode like the cumulative non-parking signs which are designed for you to be confused by purpose.
    About the half-star, it’s harder to say, because even in the same Hotel, usually there are some part/area of the Hotel merit a halt of star less than other part (old building, view on the dumping side of the city instead of the ocean, the dirty lagoons side),
    Anyways, I never use an opaque site.

  12. I am reluctant to use any booking sites for hotels and only do so when the price difference is greater than 25%. When I do, I find I am assigned the worst rooms available. Generally I can book directly with the hotel and get the same price and better room assignment.

  13. Yawn… Another day another complaint about the star values on an opaque site.

    You spin the wheel … you takes your chances…

      1. What exactly are they doing that is so disgusting? Half Star Rating inflation?
        That’s nothing compared to all the grade inflation done is schools which is engrained and acceptable in American society since we are breeding geniuses.
        Geesh it is an OPAQUE site. Do you expect 100% honesty?
        Since hotwire keeps on growing I suspect that many other travelers are okay with the half star inflation because they take it with a grain of salt. The price is cheap, they are happy.

        But your letter writer, who can’t even figure out to smash a discount button, is quite special and has to quibble about what a half star means.
        No wonder travel has gone downhill.

  14. I’ve gotten as far as the “book it” button on Hotwire several times and that little voice in my ear says “do you really want to trust complete unknowns to save a few bucks on what should be a nice vacation?” The answer was always NO. the link to star rating is so vague that Hotwire didn’t have to do anything. On the promo code, that’s user error and chalk it up to a technical lesson. It sounds like the hotwire “promo” operation on their site is the same as any other retail website promo. It has to be applied before the sale.

  15. It is important to distinguish between “class of service” and “user ratings”. On Kayak, this hotel is a 3-star for class of service. On Hotwire, it rates a 4.5 of 5 for user rating. I’m assuming the OP is referring to class of service, and thus the issue is related to the TYPE of hotel rather than what travelers think …

  16. I voted no. Hotwire admitted to giving her a 3 start hotel when she paid for a 3.5 star hotel. At that point they should let her out of the booking as it wasn’t what she purchased. A $45 voucher for future use doesn’t make up for this. Again, another reason why I never use these opaque sites or any travel vending machine sites. Not using the voucher and then wanting it applied retroactively is solely the OPs fault, I don’t expect Hotwire to help her with that one.

    there are no standardized star ratings in the American hotel industry

    I respectfully disagree. The formerly Mobile now Forbes Star Rating is applied to hotels in America as well as all over the world. It is the only true Star rating I follow and trust. Also, the AAA Diamond rating is just as valid, and I also trust them. I have posted their criteria on here many times. They have very specific standards for their ratings. Unless its Mobile or AAA rating the hotel, the rating is meaningless. These travel vending machines give 4 start ratings to many hotels that are not even Mobile or AAA rated. I once saw Expedia touting a 4 Star Days Inn.

    1. Noticed that there was no complaint about the hotel itself.
      I suspect the price paid was worth every penny.
      That is the only thing that matters and not this stupid rating system.
      Also if the LW can’t figure out how to click a button then how much intelligence does she have to determine the difference between 3 and 3.5 stars?

      1. Not sure if she stayed yet. But it probably is fine. But I still think its not what she paid for, if Hotwire flat out said it was the wrong rating.

  17. Wikipedia has an comprehensive list of the differences between “stars”. The following is the “adds” (additional products/services) for a 4 star vs. 3 star, some of which would be applicable to a 3.5 star rating, and may partially explain why the OP was disappointed:

    – Reception opened 18 hours, accessible by phone 24 hours from inside and outside
    – Lobby with seats and beverage service
    – Breakfast buffet or breakfast menu card via room service
    – Minibar or 24 hours beverages via room service
    – Upholstered chair/couch with side table
    – Bath robe and slippers on demand
    – Cosmetic products (e.g. shower cap, nail file, cotton swabs), vanity mirror, tray of a large scale in the bathroom
    – Internet access and internet terminal

  18. If where you stay is important then don’t use an opaque site. The OP is lucky it was just half a star. Opaque sites are for people who really don’t care where they stay the property isn’t important. If you care, don’t use it.

    1. Technically there are no 100% opaque sites. They have opaque **bookings** in addition to transparent bookings. I’ve never used Hotwire, but have used Priceline. I think I’ve probably used it for more transparent bookings than for opaque bookings.

      Occasionally I got a better price or added amenities from booking with Priceline directly. However, I would always check with the direct booking to see if I could get as good or a better price.

  19. OMG, to make a fuss over half a star? To expect a discount OTA like Hotwire to fix your mistake on the promo code? Whiner.

  20. Just wondering how much online shopping Ms. Chung does. I’ve never made a purchase where any promotional codes/certificates/coupon didn’t have to be applied BEFORE hitting the “place my order” button.

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