Monday, February 3, 2014

Hotwire Sucks

While looking for hotels to book for a Valentine's Day outing with the girlfriend, I happened upon a deal at that offered $25 off for booking through their mobile app. I should have just stayed away. To begin with, the Hotwire mobile app has been released in such a poor state, that a $25 incentive is not nearly enough to offset the frustration that comes with using the app. Here are the main problems:

Current Problems With The mobile app (Android):

  • You can't log in to your account with it, so if you do manage to book a hotel, it probably won't get associated with your account. 
  • You can only book hotels, not flights or rental cars
  • Maps are unavailable, so you can't see the general area where you're booking your hotel. You have no idea what sort of attractions and restaurants are near your booking area.
  • No ability to sort by neighborhood
  • Prices listed via the app are actually $5-$15 higher than prices listed on the website. Customer Service Is A Joke

The above problems with the app weren't a huge concern because I knew which neighborhood I wanted to book in and I didn't have an overwhelming need to have the booking associated with my Hotwire account. It's not like I was earning rewards or anything. And, at the time, I didn't notice that the prices on the Hotwire app were slightly more expensive than the prices listed on the website, thus negating the $25 discount I was offered for using the app. So, I went ahead and booked the hotel. And then the app crashed. Before it crashed, though, it did manage to charge my credit card.

I called Hotwire customer service to see if the booking had gone through. They asked for my itinerary number. I didn't have once since the app crashed before I could get one. They asked for my account details, which would be irrelevant since the app doesn't allow you to log in to your account. Once we narrowed down the finer details of the booking, the rep was able to see that, while the charge went through, the booking didn't, so it was only a matter of calling my credit card company to release the funds.

At the end of the call, the customer service rep encouraged me to try booking again. I was leery of using the app, but the rep offered some suggestions like re-booting my phone or clearing my cookies (which she followed up with "And I can't tell you how to do that, so don't ask"). I suggested that I would be willing to re-book through the website, but that I would want the  $25 I had been promised. After all, I had fulfilled my end of the bargain by testing out the app. The rep indicated that she couldn't do that. I asked to be kicked up to a supervisor. The rep told me not to bother because the supervisor would say the same thing. I insisted.

After a five minute wait, I was connected with a supervisor. My first order of business was to complain about the attitude of the customer service rep that I had been speaking to previously. I realize how difficult it can be to maintain a sunny disposition when you've got to deal with frustrated customers all day, but, this particular rep's tone made me feel as if she didn't give a crap about my business from the get-go. The supervisor told me that the front line reps were not employees. They were employees of a call center that Hotwire uses. No wonder why they don't care.  

With that, I'm done with A discount on a hotel isn't worth the sort of frustration that accompanies dealing with Hotwire.

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