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!”

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?”

If a stranger suddenly sends you money by surprise, should you keep it?

If a stranger sends you money by accident, do you have any obligation to give it back? If so, how do you do it without exposing yourself to a scam? And if you transfer money to the wrong person, is there any possible way to fix your mistake?

These are not uncommon dilemmas faced by users of cash apps like Zelle and Venmo in 2021. Along with the increasing popularity and convenience of instant money transfer services came a dramatic rise in pricey user errors. Unfortunately, our attempts to investigate and resolve many of these cases have exposed some disturbing flaws in the programs.

Minh Tran is just one of the many desperate Zelle users who’ve recently asked our team for help. In his case, a stranger’s mistake set off a frustrating and confusing chain of events that almost cost him $360.

Here’s his story. Read more “If a stranger suddenly sends you money by surprise, should you keep it?”

What happens if you refuse to wear a mask on the flight? This…

You can probably guess what would happen if you refuse to wear a face mask on your next flight. But Arden Dmitrenko seems to have been surprised by United Airlines’ reaction to his mask rebellion during his recent trip.  (Reprint) Read more “What happens if you refuse to wear a mask on the flight? This…”

How to get a surprise hotel smoking fee reversed? Like this

Getting a surprise hotel smoking fee reversed isn’t easy — even if you’re a non-smoker like Kelsey Russell. Or a determined consumer advocate. But it can be done. Here’s how. (Reprint) Read more “How to get a surprise hotel smoking fee reversed? Like this”