I have recommended Hotwire on this forum for years, although not as frequently as LMT Club. Still, I have found it to be a great source for getting tremendously discounted hotel rooms over the years. I have never had a problem with it. Until now. And unlike baseball, this dreadful experience has left me with such a sour aftertaste that the "3 strikes" rule will not apply.
You may remember my post earlier in the week about hotels at Dulles for my one-night stay last evening. I wound up making plans to go out to Wolf Trap with my friend last night so I elected to just stay right there in Tysons Corner to get out to Dulles by cab easily in the morning. I booked through Hotwire the morning of my stay, only to be informed by the hotel I was assigned at check-in that they had no trace of the Hotwire reservation and could not accommodate me for that evening. It usually takes at least 24-48 hours to get the Hotwire reservation from their end, they said, and that there was nothing they could do.
Needless to say, I was fed up by this point. I was pushing it late to make it out to Wolf Trap, and so I just sucked it up and called the Ritz across the street, made a reservation and checked in shortly thereafter. I got my room, changed, and headed out to Wolf Trap, just making it in time for the performance.
Today I called Hotwire and explained what happened. They called the hotel and conducted an "investigation" - including calling the hotel, which looked at security cameras to try and locate me entering the hotel and the agent with whom I spoke. After 45 minutes they were unable to argue the fact that I entered (And exited) the hotel but said they had to speak with the agent to proceed. They never even implied that a refund for the stay would be a possibility. I told them that I appreciated their efforts, but 45 minutes consumed enough of my evening...what would come out of it? And they kept dodging the question as to whether any refund would be issued.
Instead, they offered me $25 "Hot Dollars" for my next Hotwire stay. A far cry from the $80+ loss I will incur from not being able to check-in at the hotel and the nearly $250 I spent at the Ritz. Yes, I know the Ritz was my splurge...not theirs. I'm not asking to be compensated for that. But somewhere a lapse in communication between Hotwire and the property occurred and put me out $80+ with no compensation, considering the Hotwire credit is useless to me, as I plan not to book through them again.
As my mother always said, you get what you pay for. I hope that my experience causes others to BE CAREFUL when booking through Hotwire for same-night reservations (or reservations within 48 hours of check-in, for that matter). Hotwire's customer service is pretty much non-existent, so don't expect much help from them regardless of the situation. They will side by the hotel unconditionally.
I hope you don't see this as my endless rant...I'm not asking for your sympathy. Rather, I hope this serves as a warning for others. As I see it, if it saves anyone from the situation Hotwire and the hotel put me in (and thank goodness my stay was only one night's loss!), it was worth my posting.