This MoneyBack Mexico case is a red-flag-a-palooza! So why did we take it?

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By Christopher Elliott

Victoria Grzesiakowski’s case had more red flags than a Soviet military parade.

For starters, her problem happened on a cruise and it involved jewelry. One of the players was a shady Mexican company that would register a 9.0 on the scam Richter scale, if there was such a thing. And it was being handled by a surrogate, her daughter, because Grzesiakowski is 91 and doesn’t have an email address.

Even so, our advocate Dwayne Coward bravely dove into the case and tried hard to find justice. Instead, he dredged up a lesson that should be familiar to regular readers by now: When you see red flags, run!

On a Holland America cruise last year, Grzesiakowski bought a necklace and earrings from the Holland America “approved” Effy store in Cozumel, Mexico.

A visit to MoneyBack Mexico

“My salesman walked to the MoneyBack Mexico store to fill out the forms so that the sales tax on my purchase would be refunded to my credit card,” she explained through her daughter.

The refund never came, of course.

After repeated attempts to contact MoneyBack Mexico by email, Grzesiakowski received the following, somewhat hopeful, response:

I am really sorry this is taking so long.

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The fact that we depend from the Mexican government is causing us this big issue of delays. I know I promised the refund within two weeks, unfortunately, the funds did not come through.

However, your transaction is at the top of the payments list and you will receive your refund just as soon as we get the funds from the government. I do not have an exact date but I will try to get this resolved as soon as possible.

What’s the problem, MoneyBack Mexico?

But weeks later, no refund had appeared on her card. So, with the help of her daughter, she wrote again. And again.

Here’s the last message the company sent:

First of all, I would like to offer an apology on behalf of all of us. During the last year, the company passed through several changes due to the change in government. In order to increase the security of our valuable customers information and due to the fact that the administrative laws has changed for us by our Government. Unfortunately, during that process we gained a delay on the payment of the shopping incentive refunds.

I want to thank you so much for being so patient, helpful and kind, providing us this time to get your reimbursement.

Now I am happy to inform you that your refund request is on top of the list and ready for the next payment which should go out next two weeks. Please check your credit card statement in order to see it reflected on your account. It takes between one and five working days, for the local banks to credit the amount onto your credit card in your local currency.

I am very glad to have been able to help you and I really appreciate your patience with us.

Thank you again and I wish you a lovely and wonderful day.

But neither Grzesiakowski nor her daughter had a lovely or wonderful day when the money didn’t show up.

Does MoneyBack Mexico really get your money back?

A quick look at the online reviews for MoneyBack Mexico would have quickly convinced her that the money was gone. Of course, she could have complained to Effy or Holland America, but in the end, they would have deferred to MoneyBack Mexico. (Here’s how to fix your own consumer problems.)

So why did our advocacy team take this case? After all, we typically reject complaints brought to us through third parties, and it’s been a while since we helped someone successfully retrieve their taxes on a purchase made overseas. And jewelry bought from a cruise ship? That’s a can’t-win case if I’ve ever seen one.

I think we really felt bad for a 91-year-old passenger on a fixed income who was counting on a small refund for her jewelry. We really wanted to be there for her. (Related: Dick’s Sporting Goods bans the sale of assault-style rifles.)

The bad news

But we couldn’t. All efforts to contact MoneyBack Mexico — and there were many — failed.

Grzesiakowski’s is a cautionary tale for you and for my advocates. Don’t buy jewelry on a cruise, and if you run into problems, remember that even the best advocacy team in America probably won’t be able to help you. And for us, it’s a reminder that sometimes, there are so many red flags that even we can’t change the outcome — no matter how hard we try.

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Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is the founder of Elliott Advocacy, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that empowers consumers to solve their problems and helps those who can't. He's the author of numerous books on consumer advocacy and writes three nationally syndicated columns. He also publishes the Elliott Report, a news site for consumers, and Elliott Confidential, a critically acclaimed newsletter about customer service. If you have a consumer problem you can't solve, contact him directly through his advocacy website. You can also follow him on X, Facebook, and LinkedIn, or sign up for his daily newsletter.

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