Las Vegas wedding almost called off by Bookit.com

Four days before Ryan Bernard was to take his girlfriend on a surprise wedding trip to Las Vegas, Bookit.com canceled. Although his initial deposit made in October was accepted, subsequent payments on his payment plan didn’t go through.

The cancellation left Bernard reeling. In addition to booking his airline tickets and hotel on Bookit.com, he also prepaid a wedding chapel, a helicopter tour of the Grand Canyon, and a long list of other activities.

Bernard’s case highlights the importance of understanding the terms of a payment plan and being diligent about making timely payments. The customer’s failure to do either can create big, perhaps even unsolvable problems.

The couple was supposed to travel on June 7, so when Bernard got an email from the company on June 2 that it had canceled his reservations, he was at a loss for what to do.

Of course we are always ready to help someone in need. But before we can fix a problem, we have to understand it fully. So we began to search for answers.

Bernard paid $600 in October, $500 of which was for his airfare. The remaining $100 was the advance payment for his Las Vegas hotel. And he owed a balance of $565, which he was supposed to pay in May, using Bookit.com’s Pay Delay program.

Pay Delay allows travelers to book vacation packages and pay in predetermined installments at times set by the customer.

Bernard selected due dates in May, but his two payment attempts were declined by Bookit.com’s credit card system. When that happened, he was assessed two $25 fees.

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Not knowing what else to do, he logged into his account and changed the due date for the remaining balance to June 2 and updated the credit card on file. But when that payment also didn’t go through, Bernard had until midnight that day to call and update the payment method.

When he didn’t call, Bookit.com pulled the trigger. Game over.

Not being familiar with the Bookit.com’s Pay Delay program, I spoke to a company representative. She explained the flexible terms of the plan and also clarified that when Bernard’s package was canceled, his airline tickets, which had been paid in full at the time of booking, were still valid.

In fact, Bernard used them.

Before we ever got involved, Bookit.com had already made an exception to its policy, applying the $100 paid in October to his new hotel reservation. And when his trip was canceled and fees were charged, Bookit.com waived the fees.

I asked Bookit.com why Bernard’s attempts to pay failed. The company told me that the billing information on the cards were incorrect, triggering the rejections.

Businesses that decline payments for incorrect credit card billing information are doing their part to minimize fraud, and are operating in line with industry best practices. It is the customer’s responsibility to ensure that all payment information entered is correct.

Bernard complained that the company didn’t refund any of his money, but by my calculation, he isn’t actually owed anything. Every penny Bernard paid was applied to his trip.

Bookit.com confirmed that Bernard went to Las Vegas as planned, using the airline tickets he purchased in October. He also used the down payment toward the rebooking of his Las Vegas hotel. The company waived the third fee he was charged, and was never able to collect the first two because there was no valid credit card on file to which payment could be applied.

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We know Bernard traveled to Vegas, so the only question is whether Bernard and his girlfriend actually tied the knot.

And while we are calling this one a Case Dismissed, we hope these two live happily ever after.

Jessica Monsell

A writer and natural advocate, Jessica joined our consumer advocacy effort following a decade of work on behalf of air crash victims at one of the nation's largest plaintiffs' law firms. She has lived in Europe and Asia, but now calls Charleston, S.C. home.

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