A pet scam cost this victim $4,000. Could you fall for it?

Maria Witbrod wanted to add a new puppy to her family during the pandemic. But instead, a well-organized criminal operation led her into a costly and increasingly common pet scam.

Now $4,000 later and with no dog to show for it, she’s asking if the Elliott Advocacy team can help her.

But how? That’s the $4,000 question for today. Read more “A pet scam cost this victim $4,000. Could you fall for it?”

If a worried host asks you to pretend not to be a guest, it’s time to go

If your vacation rental host asks you to pretend not to be a guest during your stay, would you?

That’s the odd situation that confronted Josephine Avina last July when her family planned a short trip during the pandemic. But pretending not to be guests wasn’t the only thing the host wanted the Avinas to do. She also expected them to be OK with living in the remnants of a bachelorette party held the night before.

As you’ve probably already guessed, the Avinas with their two small children in tow weren’t OK with any of it. They promptly asked for a refund and took off for a hotel. And although the owner agreed to return their rental payment, it’s eight months later and the Avinas are still waiting.

Now, after a failed credit card dispute over the missing refund, the Elliott Advocacy team is the family’s last hope. (Reprint) Read more “If a worried host asks you to pretend not to be a guest, it’s time to go”

How did I lose the credit card dispute over this online shopping scam?

Before you do any more online shopping, you’ll want to read about the scam that just ensnared Susan Leipholtz. She paid an online “merchant” $129 through PayPal and received absolutely nothing in return. But getting blindsided by the internet thief wasn’t nearly as shocking as what happened next. That’s when Capital One sided with the scammer in her credit card dispute.

Now a shell-shocked Leipholtz is asking us to retrieve the money stolen from her in this online shopping scam.

But can we do it? Read more “How did I lose the credit card dispute over this online shopping scam?”

I wasted $2,000 on a vacation rental that does not exist!

Paul Trosclair says he just spent nearly two grand on a vacation rental that does not exist. To make matters worse, Vrbo sided with the person he believes is a thief disguised as a host.

Now Trosclair hopes the Elliott Advocacy team can prove this vacation rental is nonexistent and get his money back.

But can we do it? (Reprint) Read more “I wasted $2,000 on a vacation rental that does not exist!”

All the reasons why you can’t get a refund for your destination wedding

All Melanie Brown wanted was a refund for a destination wedding in Belize last summer. All she got was excuse after excuse after excuse.

It’s something else to keep in mind one year after the COVID-19 pandemic sank large segments of the travel industry. Salvaging your refund may mean navigating an excuse factory that hotels and other companies have hastily built to keep your money.

Brown’s experience is also instructive because it’s a map that shows you how to bypass these bogus reasons for pocketing your deposits — whether it’s a refund for a destination wedding or just a hard-earned vacation. Read more “All the reasons why you can’t get a refund for your destination wedding”

Can you get a refund instead of cruise credits for your canceled voyage?

A boatload of disgruntled cruise passengers has contacted the Elliott Advocacy team during the pandemic. Their question? How to get a refund instead of future credits after a cruise line canceled their voyage — more than once.

Unfortunately, the answer to that question is not what most want to hear. But the tide has recently started to turn, and there is some good news on the horizon. (Updated April 24) Read more “Can you get a refund instead of cruise credits for your canceled voyage?”

A drunk driver smashed into my car rental! Why did I get a $22,158 bill?

Just days into Joe Vandetta’s recent Florida family vacation, a drunk driver crashed head-on into his rental car. Luckily, the hit-and-run accident didn’t cause serious injuries, and the Vandettas — bruised but otherwise unharmed — completed their trip as planned.

But the shock of getting smashed by an intoxicated motorist was nothing compared to the jolt Vandetta received a month later. That’s when Budget Rental Car sent a $22,158 bill — the cost of the vehicle damaged by the drunk driver. Read more “A drunk driver smashed into my car rental! Why did I get a $22,158 bill?”

Can you fly without a mask if you have a doctor’s note?

Can you fly without a mask at this stage of the pandemic if you have a doctor’s note? Since late last summer, the blunt answer from most airlines is no. Katheryn Stueckle’s son can’t physically tolerate a face covering, but she has no problem with American Airlines’ updated mask requirements. However, she would like a refund for the flight she purchased before the airline changed the policy.

American Airlines says she purchased the flight after it eliminated medical exemptions to the mask requirement. As a result, it denied the refund.

Can we help? (Last updated April 22) Read more “Can you fly without a mask if you have a doctor’s note?”