I want to take a moment, gentle readers, to talk about travel in this time of unemployment and recession. And about those people who are only out to make a buck off of you, no matter what.
Recently, a friend of mine made a purchase from Hotwire for a hotel room. She knew she wouldn't know the name of the hotel. No problem. She didn't care about that. She picked her area. She picked her rate. She hit OK. And when she got her hotel confirmation, it wasn't even near the area she had picked. She knew no refunds, but she called them up, thinking there had been a mistake, thinking that they would be helpful - because she had put in a certain area and been told the hotel was in that area and, when it clearly wasn't, wouldn't they want to help her?
The answer, probably not to anyone's surprise, was a resounding "no". They didn't care about the fact that the hotel was in a bad part of town. They didn't care that they had grossly misrepresented the area. They just cared that they had her money and they weren't going to give it back - or let her put it towards anything else.
Before the comments come about how they clearly state that they give no refunds, I know. And she knew. Her problem was not that she couldn't get her money back - it's that now she's stuck staying miles away from the area she thought she was staying in, in a less than desirable part of town. She's now forced into spending money that she wasn't planning on spending on cabs because there's not the public transportation in the area where the hotel actually is (but there is in the area she thought she was getting).
It's probably too late to do anything to help my friend out - unless her credit card company comes through for her - she's stuck staying in a place where she feels not only cheated, but unsafe. And for what? So Hotwire can make a couple hundred bucks? I hope, when you are looking to save a bit on your travel expenses that you will recall this posting and make sure to use any service other than Hotwire (and their sister company Hotels.com). They seem to have forgotten not only the policies of good customer service and truth in advertising, but in basic human decency.
In these days, when even those who are employed need to count their pennies, I just want to remind all of you out there to beware of deals that look too good to be true, to pay close attention to the fine print and, as always, "caveat emptor".