I recently booked a prepaid, non-refundable rental car through Hotwire. Then, a few days later, I mistakenly booked another car for the same dates.
I tried to cancel one of the reservations and request a refund. Hotwire refuses. Obviously, I can’t drive two cars at the same time. Their system should not allow someone to double their reservation. I have used Hotwire for many years. Before that, I was a satisfied customer. Can you help me get my $178 back? —Robert Sharp, Swampscott, Mass.
A: You have made two prepaid, non-refundable car rental reservations through Hotwire. And they are, as you say, prepaid and non-refundable. As a regular Hotwire user, you should have known that.
But how non-refundable is non-refundable? Well, I’ve spoken to insiders on opaque sites like Hotwire, and here’s what they tell me: If you make an honest mistake when booking on the site and call immediately, they can work with you to cancel the overlapping reservation. But the longer you wait, the harder it becomes to fix something like this. And yes, by non-refundable, they really mean non-refundable. Well, mostly.
Still, I think Hotwire should have a system to at least warn you that you’re about to double book. And it looks like Hotwire didn’t send you a confirmation for your first reservation. If he had sent you one, it would be a borderline case that I could not have defended. But it looks like some things went wrong on Hotwire’s side as well.