Answer: You’re right, Hotwire’s terms are restrictive. But there’s a tradeoff: In exchange for not knowing the exact name and location of the hotel, and giving up your right to a refund, you’re supposed to get a deep discount at a brand-name hotel.
Hotwire fell short of that. Its rates weren’t the lowest, even though it promises they will be. But its guarantee, which you can find on its site, only says if you find a lower rate for an identical booking, it will “pay you the difference between the rates.”
But a full refund? There’s no mention of that.
The other issue is the location of your hotel. Hotwire is pretty clear about what it considers in the “Las Vegas Strip” area, and your resort was there. But it wasn’t on the Strip, and unless you read the fine print carefully and click on the map, you could easily assume you’ll be staying on the Strip until the very end of the booking process, when the name of your property is finally revealed.
Most customers don’t bother to check their Hotwire rate against other published prices, and they shrug when their hotel isn’t exactly where it’s supposed to be — after all, they got a deal, right?
But your grievance highlights one of the persistent problems with so-called “opaque” sites, which is that like their amorphous products, their promises are long on rhetoric and short on specifics. Often, you can find a good deal through one of these sites, but not always.
I contacted Hotwire and it refunded your purchase.