Update (11/20): Hotwire has responded to this post.
Prior to booking, Samantha called our customer service center to get more information. During that call, our agent was very clear that Hotwire doesn’t book reservations for customers under the age of 25. This is our policy and is in part related to the additional fees most rental car agencies charge for drivers under 25.
In order to help Samantha explore options to help get this deeply discounted rate for her travel, we also discussed the option of using another person as the driver, if there was one in her party that would meet the age requirements. Our agent was very clear that this person would need to be travelling with Samantha and would be the driver. Samantha agreed that was acceptable (using her father), and finalized the booking.
During the purchase, Samantha asked our agent if secondary drivers could be added at the time of rental. The answer to this question, is ‘yes’. Customers can add secondary drivers at the time of pickup. Unfortunately, Samantha arrived at the rental agency without her father, and wanted to add herself as a covered driver.
Never did our agent state that Samantha could add herself specifically as a driver while avoiding any fees, nor did our agent suggest that there were ways to help her circumvent the system with that goal.
We’ve listened to the actual call ourselves, and even offered to let Samantha hear it as well so that she would know that we were not providing misinformation. If we had made such an error, we would of course be willing to work with her on fair compensation. We always strive to provide the best customer service experience possible.
In this case, we offered to split the cost of Samantha’s rental with her. This was done as a courtesy in recognition of the fact that she did not use the rental. However, it’s also very important to note that at no time did we provide her with incorrect information, and in our follow-up conversation, our agent simply wished that we would have known her unspoken intent up front so that we could have helped her avoid this situation.
Samantha’s rental was available to her as promised, but she chose not to use it. Unfortunately, she also declined to accept our most recent offer as well. We were very sorry to hear that.
Hopefully this story can help educate your readers a little more on how the car rental industry works, which will help avoid similar situations in the future. Thanks again for the opportunity to share these details.