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Disappointed with Hotwire for our Austin Rental Car

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We just got back from a wonderful trip to Austin which, unfortunately, had a slightly disappointing end note. We reserved a rental car through Hotwire.com because it had the best price quote. The price included estimated daily costs and taxes (it was not one of those quotes that left off taxes completely). Our bill was actually $50 higher than the quote; approximately 33% of the rental car cost. This was due to taxes and fees charged by the state of Texas (over and above the estimated taxes in the quote).

I feel like it was a bait and switch. While I could have cancelled the reservation when I arrived at Thrifty and saw the higher price (it was not a prepaid booking), I didn't have time to do so and therefore accepted the reservation.

I spoke with Thrifty about this. They advised that this is a regularly occurring problem and they have advised Hotwire about it. Thrifty could not offer compensation. I do not hold Thrifty responsible; they did not provide me the quote and these were taxes that they have to charge, not part of their fees.

If I had known that the Hotwire quote was so erroneous I would have shopped around via other sites and made a booking that was accurate rather than relying on a completely false price--one that was actually advertised directly to me via email because I had been searching sites for car rentals.

I spoke with Hotwire. They would not offer cash compensation. I understand since they did not receive the booking money from me. They also wouldn't offer credit toward a future booking on Hotwire. That's rather shameful.

Their argument is that it is always only an estimate--by that logic they could advertise prices at $1 in order to get bookings since it is only an estimate. I found customer service unsympathetic and unwilling to accept any responsibility. Hotwire used to be one of my go-to searches for travel and they will no longer be.

I have had amazingly good experiences booking through Expedia for various other trips this spring and summer, about four trips altogether. Expedia will get my business from now on.

I'm not a big complainer. I can usually achieve some satisfaction when I speak with a company about a grievance (not something that even happens often) because really just an apology, an acknowledgement and a token effort to make it right can be satifying. I was stymied by the stonewalling I got from the Hotwire CS department.

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