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March 17, 2014

When Hotwire’s $25 Off Promotion Gives You Nothing Off

Filed under: Internet,Travel — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 5:50 am

 Pierre K. recently wrote to Mouse Print* complaining about an offer he had seen on Hotwire.com’s website.

It promised “$25 off your next booking with our app.” The fine print only said:

“Minimum $100 hotel booking. Limit one coupon per user. Valid 12/30/13 to 03/31/14.”

Since he was about to book an expensive particular hotel stay in Denmark — over $300 when checking the price on Hotwire’s regular website — our consumer installed their app to save $25. To his chagrin, when he searched for that same hotel on the app, nothing came up.

He started a chat session with a Hotwire agent who explained that the $25 off offer only applied to what are called “Hot Rate” hotels — those places that won’t tell you the name of their hotel until after you reserve the room and pay in advance. Pierre wanted a specific hotel whose name he knew, and had seen on the regular Hotwire website. He would never have wasted time installing an app if the $25 he was promised did not apply to that hotel. Here is a portion of the chat transcript:


{Pierre} The only restriction I see is “Minimum $100 hotel booking. Limit one coupon per user. Valid 12/30/13 to 03/31/14.”

{Hotwire Drew} I understand, however, you won’t be able to find any Standard Rate hotels on the mobile app, that is why you do not see any results on the app when you searched for a hotel.

{Pierre} wait… so to get the discount I have to use the app, but the app doesn’t find any hotels that can use the discount? how can I use the promo code on the computer then without going through android?

{Hotwire Drew} To get get the discount you have to use the app only and will not be transferred to your computer, also, the app should show you results if there is some available for your search.

{Pierre} this is false advertising. Nowhere does it say in writing on the website or the app that it’s only for Hot Rate hotels. It simply says on hotels over $100.

Pierre persisted for a while longer with the Hotwire agent, but got nowhere. Mouse Print* contacted the PR firm that represents Hotwire asking them why the company didn’t more clearly state the limited nature of the $25 offer. We also asked if they were going to change the website to more clearly disclose the terms of the offer.

No response was received, and the website remains unchanged. Pierre has moved his travel purchases to Travelocity.

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  1. I think we know why Hotwire didn’t state more clearly the terms of the discount. By installing the app the customer has probably provided some personal information for advertising and Hotwire was likely depending on the apathetic people who would book an unknown hotel just to save money.

    It would be a sad day if I ever purchased something without knowing what I was getting. Especially something as sensitive as a hotel room.

    Comment by Wayne R — March 17, 2014 @ 8:46 am
  2. Wayne R, 99% of the time when I travel, I’m lucky to be in my hotel room for 7 hours, and that is just to sleep. I care more about its proximity to what I am doing as to the name of the hotel. So yes, I am one of those “apathetic people” who are just trying to save money.

    Comment by Max — March 17, 2014 @ 10:21 am
  3. The harder to get the discount the better… The company has to get as many people to download the app while making it next to impossible to find a hotel that matches the 100 buck price point.

    Comment by Richard Ginn — March 17, 2014 @ 12:22 pm
  4. Max, It wouldn’t matter to me if I were in my room for just 7 hours and it was right next door to where I needed to go. What is most important is the quality of the hotel and where it is located.

    Included in things I would not want are a hotel in a “seedy” part of town and one that changes their linen about once a week. If however you don’t care about those things then stay at any flea-bitten place. Leave the better rooms for people who do care.

    Comment by Jack — March 17, 2014 @ 2:55 pm
  5. Amen, Jack. I once purchased one of their “secret” hotels. It was a Days Inn franchise that was a totla dump. I had to stay somewhere to catch a flight and this was nowhere. Then, to totally make me the fool, the “secret” was $10 cheaper on the Days Inn site. I now look before I buy.

    Comment by rick — March 17, 2014 @ 3:58 pm
  6. Max, if you can’t sleep because you feel uncomfortable in the room and hotel you paid for then that would be a problem. You say you don’t care now, but I think you will change your mind if you have even just one bad experience.

    Comment by Wayne R — March 17, 2014 @ 9:39 pm

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