The Travel Troubleshooter: Right hotel rate, wrong city

Question: I was recently looking for a hotel for three nights in Rosemont, Ill. Hotwire soon started sending me emails about “lower hotel rates” in Rosemont. So I found one I liked and booked it.

When I received the hotel conformation it was in Elk Grove, Ill., not Rosemont. I immediately emailed Hotwire.

“After reviewing your reservation, I confirmed that the hotel that is booked is not within the area map provided during your search,” a representative named Brandy G. replied. “For your convenience, I have sent this reservation up for review to our research department. They will contact you back within 7 to 10 business days in regards to changing this reservation.”

Great, right? That’s what I thought. I asked if they could just change my reservation to a hotel in Rosemont for the dates I reserved or credit my account for a future booking. This was all done several weeks before the booked dates.

However, when they contacted me back they said that all sales are final and refused my request. I was unable to use the hotel so I am now out $142. I contacted Discover Card, the credit card I used for the reservation, and they replied that Hotwire says all sales are final. Thanks for any ideas you can give me. — Loretta Krahn, Mountain Lake, Minn.

Answer: Hotwire should have sold you a hotel in Rosemont — not Elk Grove. It can take 20 minutes to drive between the cities (they’re on opposite sides of Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport).

If you’d booked your hotel room by visiting Hotwire, you’d probably be out of luck. The site, which allows you to select a neighborhood but doesn’t reveal the hotel until you’ve paid for it, is reasonably clear when it comes to the areas where you might be assigned a hotel room.
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