A refund in process, but should we get involved?

Robert Lynch reserved a vacation rental that never materialized, and now he wants his money back. He deserves a full and immediate refund, and if he doesn’t get it, our fearless advocacy team will jump in to help him, of course.

But refunds take a while. The ability to make time move faster, or slower, is slightly above my paygrade. But eventually, he should get his money.

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On most Tuesdays, I bring you a feature called Case Dismissed!. These cases usually involve un-mediatable problems. But, sometimes they’re about timing. Such is the issue with Lynch.

“I booked an apartment in London last May through HomeAway,” he explains. “I paid half of the rental fee — $1,039 with my Visa through HomeAway — and received a reservation number. I sent the second half a few weeks later.”

After making his final payment, Lynch heard back from the apartment owner. Turns out the unit wasn’t available. No reason given.

“I called HomeAway and was told to contact Visa for a refund and that they would send me a complaint form,” he says. “I filed the complaint and HomeAway responded by telling me that they would tell the property manager to contact me and refund my money.”

That doesn’t sit well with him.

“I feel that since I found the apartment, conducted all of the correspondence and paid through HomeAway, they should have taken a more proactive approach to handling this matter, refunded my money and assisted me with finding new accommodations,” he says.

I agree.

But Lynch took matters into his own hands. He filed a dispute with his credit card.

“Visa has issued a temporary credit for the rental fee pending an investigation,” he says. “However, HomeAway lists a $10,000 guarantee on the website. I talked to several different people at Home Away, all of whom told me something different about the guarantee, leaving the impression that it does not exist.”

Well, it does exist, and Lynch is right. He should have received a prompt refund and help with his new accommodations. But he’s asking me to get involved in a case at a fairly late date. Once you file a credit card dispute, it’s almost beyond my ability to mediate.

Lynch will have to wait for the results of his dispute. I’m almost certain that the owner will not fight this, since he was denied his apartment. But at the risk of repeating this, let me add that filing a formal dispute of a charge with your bank will limit what a business (and, ahem, an advocate) can do.

We have to wait with Lynch and hope for the best. And if this doesn’t turn out — well, we’ll always be here for him.

Should we help Lynch to expedite his refund from HomeAway?

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8 thoughts on “A refund in process, but should we get involved?

  1. The proper place to go through for a refund is whomever’s name appears on the credit card charge. If it’s HomeAway, they should be issuing a refund themselves, if it’s the property manager, HomeAway acted as a classified ad, nothing more.

    In any case, if you are pursuing a refund, one should ALWAYS file a credit card dispute if the deadlines for doing so are coming up.

    A dispute does not limit what the business can do; if they issue you a refund directly, they can tell the bank this and the dispute will be cancelled.

    1. I disagree. I work at an insurance company and if you dispute the charge with your credit card for the premium you paid on the policy, you dont get the benefits from us (sometimes customers dispute the charge and also want the benefits) OR a refund on your policy (if thats what you were indeed after) until the hold is resolved in our favor or the dispute is dropped by the consumer. It SEVERELY limits the customer service reps ability to help you if a dispute has been started. All we can do is tell you to withdraw the dispute with your bank and then we can talk about your complaint….

      1. Agreed that if you’re continuing to do business and/or rely on a company’s product, that disputing the charge is unwise, at least not until all other avenues are exhausted. However, in a clear-cut case like this with a fraudulent charge from a merchant you are not able or willing to deal with, the credit card dispute is a powerful consumer tool that gets results. Sure, it may mean a consumer advocate can’t mediate, but even better to have the law on your side with the credit card company enforcing.

  2. If you can’t advocate for him at this point because he filed a credit card dispute, then there isn’t anything you can do. Would you have advised him to dispute the charge had you gotten involved earlier in the process, but still not been able to get him his refund at this point?

    1. I don’t understand why he can’t receive help from Elliott after disputing the charge with his credit card. I see the two acts being parallel and both for the same goal.

      1. Well, Chris thinks that once you (generic) dispute a charge, he can’t do anything on your behalf. His experience may be that once a situation reaches that point, the companies just refuse to work with him. He’s posted on several occasions that even in situations where the facts are clearly in the letter writer’s favor and he advocates, he can’t guarantee results. Chris, can you clarify why you don’t think there’s anything you can do once a credit card charge is disputed?

  3. Keep in touch with Mr. Lynch and continue to update us. Help Mr. Lynch with managing expectations during this difficult process.

  4. “Contact Visa for a form to claim a refund”??? Don’t these agencies do ANYTHING to help their customer? I guess they think there’s a sucker born every minute and they can continue to give zero customer service.

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