You might know a little bit about Hotwire.com. It’s a website where you can pick the area where you want to stay and then you will see a list of hotels that are discounted in that area. You will not learn the name of the hotel until you book, and the money is not refundable.
I had used Hotwire a couple of times with varying amounts of success. Once or twice I got decent rooms for a good price. They don’t include the extras in the price, so one time we ended up with an extra $25 per night fee for our dog. That put the price higher than a hotel down the road that didn’t have a fee for pets. The manager liked us, though, and she waived the pet fee. Booking through Hotwire that time was a bit annoying, but that was not enough for me to swear off of the service forever. Unfortunately.
My real problem with Hotwire had to do with my daughter. She was 25 at the time, and she needed a room for one night. We found a good deal on Hotwire and I booked it for her. That was when the problem began.
First, the hotel was outside of the desired area. It was not where we were looking, and it was not the one that the website showed us on the map. We started to read the real reviews, not the number system on the Hotwire website. People complained about noises, drug deals in the hallways, no locks on the doors, and police cars in the parking lot. We did a quick search, and there had been 611 crimes reported in the area in a two week period. 611! There was no way that my daughter was going to stay there.
I sent several emails to Hotwire, asking to change hotels. I didn’t ask for my money back, I just wanted to book another room elsewhere. I was willing to pay the difference. I included screenshots of the crime reports. They ignored my first couple of emails, then I finally got a reply. I was told that I needed to call and talk to someone. I hate talking on the phone, but I was willing to so that the issue would be resolved.
I got someone on the phone who repeatedly explained the Hotwire policy on cancellations (they aren’t allowed). I said I didn’t want to cancel, I wanted to change hotels and pay the difference. I explained why. He repeatedly told me that this was not possible. He was rude and condescending. I worked for a phone service years ago, so I was nothing but polite. I eventually asked to speak to a manager. He sighed, put down the phone, and then a minute later the same man came back but gave me a different name. He repeated the policy to me again, and pretty much called me stupid. I told him that I am a travel writer and that I would tell anyone who will listen or who will read what I write to never book through Hotwire. I said I would tell the world that Hotwire does not care about the safety of its customers. He told me to go right ahead.
So that’s what I’m doing now. I want to warn you that Hotwire as a company does not care if they put their customers in danger. They have no problem putting a 25 year old woman who is traveling alone in a seedy hotel. Imagine if it was your daughter, or your grandmother. They wouldn’t have cared about them either.
There are some areas that aren’t far from the Orlando theme parks that quite honestly are not that safe. There is a drug problem in this area (like everywhere else), and hardly a newscast goes by when a shooting is not mentioned. There are some bad hotels here. There are also plenty of discount hotels in the area that are safe and can offer you a cheap place to stay. My advice is to find them on your own, because you never know where Hotwire might stick you.