I couldn’t print my Disney tickets. Can you get my $3,200 back?


While planning a trip to Disney World, Kathie O’Neill sees a great offer on Travelocity for Park Hopper tickets. She buys them, but immediately changes her mind and wants a refund. Can she get one?

Question: I’m hoping you might be able to help me resolve a dispute with Travelocity. I purchased 4-Day Disney Park Hopper tickets for seven people through Travelocity. The cost was $3,280.

Later that day, I asked Travelocity if the tickets could be canceled. I was told that they were non-refundable. The next day, I couldn’t get the link to work to download the tickets. I emailed customer service and I got an automated response that they would respond within 48 hours.

I called Travelocity and I was told that they had been having trouble sending a working link and that I would be refunded the full price.

When the refund never came, I enlisted the help of my bank to resolve it. They couldn’t help. Can you get my $3,300 back? Kathie O’Neill, Moseley, Va.

Answer: As I read through your complaint, several problems stood out to me, and I was not at all confident that this was a case that would end with your money being returned.

The most serious problem? You had already lost a chargeback with your credit card company.

We rarely see cases end positively for a consumer when a chargeback has already failed.

Why?

A chargeback case is the bank’s investigation into the validity of your complaint. It takes into consideration your statement, the company’s and any supporting documents.

At the conclusion of the investigation, your credit card company gives its official decision. If the company involved “wins” the chargeback, it follows that it would have no motivation to reopen your complaint for a consumer advocate.

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When I looked further into your paper trail, it was easy to see why you lost your chargeback case. You had no written proof to support your claim that you were unable to print out these tickets or that Travelocity had offered you a refund.

And strangely, your husband did not mention an inability to download the tickets on his chargeback complaint.

In its final word on your case, your bank confirmed that you would be recharged for these (now worthless) tickets.

You told me that you and your family had traveled to Disney World but had purchased new tickets directly through Disney.

Your case had me a bit puzzled, and I felt that some part of the story was missing. I decided to go to Travelocity to see if they could help fill in some of the blanks.

Our contact at Travelocity explained that you did purchase these tickets, and then on the same day, asked if you could cancel. You were told that it was not possible — these tickets are clearly identified as non-refundable and non-exchangeable. And they are only valid on the specific dates that you entered during the transaction.


As an aside, there doesn’t appear to be any real benefit to use Travelocity (or any other third party site) to purchase Disney tickets. In most cases, the tickets aren’t cheaper (or are only minimally cheaper) than the tickets that can be purchased directly through Disney; they also include a $10 per ticket service fee and are only valid on the specific dates that you select.

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But I digress.

On your timeline of events, the day after your purchase, you say that Travelocity offered you a refund because you were unable to print your tickets. On Travelocity’s timeline, there is no such interaction, and the next time that the company heard from you was during the chargeback investigation — which was initiated four weeks after the tickets had already expired.

It looked like your story was quickly heading toward the case dismissed file.

I asked our Travelocity contact if he was sure that there was never any complaint from you about the non-working link for these tickets. He told me that he would go back to his team and take one more look.

And then a surprising thing happened. An executive Travelocity team member contacted the Disney company and asked if an exception could be made and your tickets refunded — since you did go to Disney and bought other tickets through Disney for the same week.

The answer was yes — Disney was willing to make an exception this time.

And just as you were about to celebrate, a new wrench was thrown into your problem.

Because your husband had initiated a chargeback and then appealed, the money was not in Travelocity’s possession. Your bank had not yet returned it to the company. Once the money is returned to Travelocity, your refund will be processed.

You are ecstatic about this resolution, and I am happy to have been able to help. But it is important to point out that neither Travelocity nor Disney was under any obligation to refund these tickets. You got very lucky.

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As consumers, it is critical to read all the fine (and large) print associated with your online purchases and make sure you agree to all of it before you complete the transaction.

And if there is a problem after payment, you must make sure that you document all the steps that are taken to attempt to resolve the problem — written correspondence with the company is a necessity. This is especially true when you are dealing with high-value items.

As your (lost) chargeback case proved, when you have no written documentation on your side, your money could easily be lost forever. And losing $3,300 while planning a trip to “The Happiest Place on Earth” is no fun at all.


Michelle Couch-Friedman

Michelle is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, consumer advocate, writer and photographer who spends as much time as possible exploring the world with her family. She is Advocacy & Editorial Director at Elliott.org.

  • finance_tony

    I’m disappointed that you helped these scammers :(

  • Lindabator

    agree

  • Jim Zakany

    I doubt they’re scammers, but they probably saw they could save a few bucks elsewhere and tried (unsuccessfully) to return non-refundable tickets.

    Kudos to Disney, though, for offering an undeserved refund out of the goodness of their hearts.

    They did my family a solid that they didn’t need to many years ago. My wife got bit by a bug that caused a painful, localized reaction and they took her to see a doctor at their expense!

  • ArizonaRoadWarrior

    I didn’t think that we got the whole story and when the facts don’t match, my red flags go up that Ssomething is rotten in the state of Denmark!

  • Evan

    Was it just me, or did anyone else feel the OP’s question was fishy before even reading the response? Let’s see – wants refund on non-refundable, non-exchangeable tickets…then the link doesn’t work…Hmmm. I am no friend of Travelocity, but there is nothing they did wrong here (I don’t believe the link issue).
    Also, as Michelle stated, she went to her “contact” at Travelocity on this issue. I know other advocates have gone to various “contacts” as well to resolve issues. These contacts are a great thing because it helps to get resolutions.
    However, going to a contact with a case like this could be damaging. I say this because I believe the reason a contact is willing to work with the advocate because the advocate is bringing a case that is truly worth advocating. If the advocate starts bringing shady cases, the contact will most likely be less willing to work with the advocate in the future. Again, just my thinking on this.

  • LeeAnneClark

    There was definitely something shady going on here. I do not believe we got the whole story. We can surmise what really happened, but it would just be speculation.

    Personally I think we’re looking at a case of buyer’s remorse, followed by lies to get their money back.

  • Mel65

    I don’t know why but this story brought to mind a customer when I worked at the CS desk of a major dept store. A woman brought in a wool plaid blazer for a refund. She had purchased it in November and this was now June. It looked fine and she had no receipt. I asked why she was returning it, and she replied, “It’s too hot to wear it now!” People are weird, man.

  • AMA

    Me three. This is completely fishy.

  • Bob Davis

    “As an aside, there doesn’t appear to be any real benefit to use Travelocity
    (or any other third party site) to purchase Disney tickets. In most
    cases, the tickets aren’t cheaper (or are only minimally cheaper) than
    the tickets that can be purchased directly through Disney”

    We have a winner.

  • joycexyz

    With all the holes in this story, I’m surprised they’re getting any consideration at all, much less a full refund.

  • joycexyz

    Nordstrom’s is the only store I know that might have taken back the blazer–for any reason, including that crazy lady’s. Although I do recall a story about someone returning clothing to LLBean because she had lost weight and they no longer fit. Shame on them for taking advantage of liberal return policies!

  • Blamona

    If they bought additional tickets that week, why didn’t they use the nonrefundable ones first? This stinks. PS. This is a rhetorical question, they found cheaper less day passes there I’m sure

  • The Original Joe S

    Yeah, but they didn’t do nothing about the kid what got 8 by the alligator…………….

  • The Original Joe S

    3rd party sites are trouble…………….

  • cscasi

    Perhaps because he couldn’t print them out (so he claimed). Or, perhaps, as was mentioned, the first tickets purchased were good on only certain dates and he decided he wanted more flexibility. Not enough information given to figure all that out.

  • Mel65

    This was Kohl’s. My manager made me take it. We had a “no hassle” policy.

  • Attention All Passengers

    Travelocity ?……right there is the first and biggest mistake she made. All bets are off once you use third-party vendors.

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