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Jeffrey P. Bigham

Hotwire Isn't a Scam, but Almost

Jeffrey P. Bigham

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For a while now, I've realized that you almost always get a cheaper price for hotels if you first research some of the lower-priced options on sites like Expedia, Travelocity and Orbitz first and then look for even lower prices on the web page of the hotel itself. What I didn't realize is that this is sometimes even true for sites like Priceline and Hotwire. On these sites, you say about where you want to stay and how much you're willing to pay and then they give you a hotel for that price. Hotwire is interesting because it tells you the price, the features of the hotel, but not which hotel - until you buy.

I bought a room at the Ramada Inn around the Newark Airport from Hotwire for $108 - one of the cheapest available with free Internet and an airport shuttle. Of course, I didn't know it was at Ramada until after the purchase. After I did, I should have checked the price on Ramada's site to see if I really got the lowest price, but I didn't, foolishly trusting Hotwire. When I arrived, something happened and I accidently got charged for the room I stayed in - I was charged $87!!! When I noticed this on my credit card statement, I called Hotwire about their guarantee, but found that I couldn't collect because by then it had been more than 48 hours. Oh well.

I guess Hotwire isn't all that great. That said, I still got a much cheaper price from them than I did from the other online hotel retailers. Maybe it's time for a hotel version of the airfare vertical search engine Kayak.com to revolutionize the hotel business.

Jeffrey P. Bigham
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