Answer: Hotwire should follow its own star rating system. It’s bad enough that there’s no nationally recognized rating system for hotel room. But if a company classifies a room as a four-star property, the least you can do is expect it to be consistent about the review.
It helps to understand something about the way Hotwire handles hotel bookings. As a so-called “opaque” site, you can pick the city and certain characteristics of the property, like the level of amenities you want. But the name of the hotel isn’t revealed until you’ve paid for the room, and all purchases are nonrefundable. In other words, you can’t pick the hotel.
Still, it was reasonable of you to expect Hotwire to be consistent with its star ratings between products (in your case, between packages and stand-alone hotel purchases).
Calling Hotwire was a complete act of futility. I’m given the impression that Hotwire’s customer service agents are instructed to never issue refunds or changes unless authorized by a supervisor. And the supervisor to whom you spoke apparently didn’t listen to anything you had to say.
I recommended that you put your grievance in writing, but you were met with even more form responses from Hotwire. How frustrating. The only way out would have been a lengthy credit card dispute, the outcome of which is far from guaranteed.
I contacted Hotwire on your behalf. It refunded your purchase.