I'm writing this because I'm not sure if I'm the only one who has been ripped off in this way. I just wanted to rent a car to go to Santa Barbara from the San Francisco area because my wife had gotten sick and I had had to leave one of our cars in that area so I could drive her back up to the San Francisco area to our other home which we spend 95% of our time in. So I thought I could rent an inexpensive car for my daughter and I to drive down to Santa Barbara and to pick up my four wheel drive truck to drive to my son's wife's graduation in southern California from college. I wanted to leave a car for my wife to drive in an emergency because she is still getting well. So, I innocently saw hotwire.com giving really good rates so I booked a car to drive there in from here to Santa Barbara. However, when I printed out my confirmation I noticed that Santa Barbara was left out of the confirmation. So I called Hotwire.com and they told me that I had to abide by the confirmation and that I couldn't change anything even though I had put on the online form that I wanted to drop the car off at Santa Barbara but it didn't show up on the printout. So, that means that I lost the money in this transaction with no fault of my own except maybe deciding to use hotwire.com to book a rental car.
Later: I was pretty angry when I couldn't get any satisfaction from either hotwire.com or the designated car rental company above. However, then my wife (who is a better verbal communicator than I am) called and talked to a local car rental company and they said that the type of deal that I clicked on is only for picking up and returning to the same airport like travelers flying often do. However, there was no easy way for me to know this. After this experience I would advise people not to book online generally car rentals unless they have a battery of questions that they can get someone to answer. Otherwise, you will just get ripped off like I did. So I would advise making up a list of 20 to 30 explicit questions that you need the answers to BEFORE you rent a car from anyone online or by phone or in person.
So Caveat Emptor, which is Latin for "May the buyer beware!"
Later Still: I am a retired entrepreneur and an owner of multiple businesses. I was successful with my customers because to me, "The customer is always right". So, if I satisfied my customer's needs I not only stayed in business but also became successful in all ways. I even joined Briarpatch during the 1980s which is an "Honest Business Group". So my point of view might be different than many people today. My point of view about losing this money because of misrepresentation is sort of the way you might feel if someone mugged you and stole money from your wallet. That's the way I personally see it. The only difference is hotwire.com has hired lawyers to design a format to legally steal from people. The difference between me and someone else (likely thousands by now) who have also been ripped off in this way is that I actually have intelligence enough to know this isn't right and shouldn't be allowed and not only that I am retired and have the time to pursue this in blog form. My object is to change the internet format so people can no longer at least have their money stolen in the way mine was. There has to be a way to reformat this online purchasing spot so that people who aren't on vacation and only want to rent a car because their other car is in the wrong place or their other car or cars are broken down or whatever aren't ripped off like I was. So, my objective isn't to punish hotwire but to protect other people from having their money legally stolen like mine was. I'm more concerned at present about those who are young and not techno savvy who lost their whole vacation or weekend because this money that they lost could not be replaced. Money is not my problem but it is for those who aren't techno savvy enough who now no longer have a vacation or useful money for any transportation and who might be forced to hitchike and get mugged or worse.
end result: The end rental dealer gave me a car just like I gave to my daughter which is a very good one that I could fit all my 6 foot 5 inch frame in and take my other daughter south to my 4 wheel drive and onto the graduation ceremonies for her sister in law in Southern California. I also found out that it was cheaper for the rental company to pay for gas than I could could buy it at a gas station. So, between the upgrade and the cheap gas and the car basically identical to my other daughter's in Oregon I'm now a relatively happy camper.
Drove a silver Camry to SB, like the one I bought my older daughter. I liked it a lot. Only 1/2 tank of gas from Monterey all the way to Santa Barbara Airport. Amazing! The only problem was that someone must have really driven it hard before me because if you pushed the brake pedal down much it started to shimmy a little bit. So, a less confident driver who hadn't already driven over a million miles and who had not been working on cars as a hobby since he was about 8 or 10 might have had an accident in an emergency stop. But from the beginning I knew I would be okay in about 90% of any emergency stops I might have to make so I decided to go for it because time was of the essence that day. So, I picked up my truck in Santa Barbara and my younger daughter and I went to southern California where the air is warm all day. Where I live on the Northern California coast it's been mostly 50s and 60s Fahrenheit highs the last few weeks and been high fog and clouds. So warm sunny weather is a relief for now.
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