I nearly froze in my Florida VRBO rental! Can I get a refund?

When an unexpected cold-snap threatened Nora Allen’s plans for a semitropical getaway, she tried to make the best of it. That is until she discovered the nonfunctional heating system in her VRBO rental. She tolerated the plummeting indoor temperature for several days before she finally abandoned the condo. So why won’t VRBO refund her money? Read more “I nearly froze in my Florida VRBO rental! Can I get a refund?”

Here’s how to easily void your auto warranty

If you want to know how to easily void your auto warranty, just follow the lead of Thad Campbell and his rusty VW Eos.

Volkswagen won’t cover the damage because of a technicality. Try as hard as my advocates did, you’ll be surprised where we ended up. Or maybe not. Read more “Here’s how to easily void your auto warranty”

Lured by a $200 Southwest Chase Visa credit. So where is it?

The Southwest Chase Visa credit offer Valerie Schreck saw looked too good to be true, as affinity credit card offers often do.

Apply for the card now, the pop-up on Southwest.com promised her, and she could save $200 on her flight.

She applied for the card, only to discover the offer was too good to be true. The $200 credit never showed up. Read more “Lured by a $200 Southwest Chase Visa credit. So where is it?”

Was she really forced to buy a $20,000 diamond on her cruise?

During her recent Royal Caribbean cruise, Kathy Hoffarth purchased a $16,000 diamond at Diamonds International. At the next port, she exchanged it for a larger, more expensive one. Now that she’ s home she doesn’t want that bigger diamond, either. She claims she was forced to buy the diamond and just wants to return it. But is that possible? Read more “Was she really forced to buy a $20,000 diamond on her cruise?”

This Airbnb complaint has a big, unexpected problem

Jonathan Cordone wants a $6,711 refund from Airbnb. But his request has a big, unexpected problem — so big that our advocates can’t help. Read more “This Airbnb complaint has a big, unexpected problem”

The Microsoft solution? Ignore the customer

Like other tech companies, Microsoft loves providing “solutions” to its customers. The one it offered Andy Smith was a solution in name only. Read more “The Microsoft solution? Ignore the customer”

He just wanted to fly with his two cats and dog. What happened?

What happened to Aaron Misakian’s flight from Seattle to Philadelphia? More to the point, what happened to the two cats and a dog scheduled to fly with Misakian that day? Read more “He just wanted to fly with his two cats and dog. What happened?”

After a multinational travel nightmare, who has my money?

I think Samuel Anderson-McCoy is trying to set some kind of record with his multinational travel nightmare. The paper trail runs 83 pages, which has got to be some kind of record.

And in the end, my advocacy team had to give him one more piece of paper — his walking papers. Read more “After a multinational travel nightmare, who has my money?”

Flu stops my trip to Cancún. Why won’t Expedia give me a refund?

Sometimes, nonrefundable really means nonrefundable. Even if you’re Sibel Isik, a customer stricken by the flu just before her vacation to Cancún, Mexico.

And even if you’re me.

Isik’s case is a necessary reminder that companies often place unreasonable restrictions on their products — restrictions you need to know about before you plunk down your credit card.

Stricken by the flu before her vacation

Isik wanted to take her mother on a last-minute trip to Mexico. She found a deal through Expedia and booked it, but shortly after that, both she and her mother started to feel ill.

She canceled her tickets within 24 hours, and Expedia refunded them.

“The day after the cancellation, my mother and I ended up in the ER with influenza,” she says. “We were in the hospital for a week.”

After her release, she pleaded with Expedia for a refund of her nonrefundable hotel. She sent her online agency her hospital discharge papers. She also noted that she’d taken a loan out to pay for the vacation, and now faced additional medical expenses. Could Expedia make an exception?

“Expedia should see this as a one-time incident and should return the hotel portion,” she says.

Isik noted that she’d been an Expedia customer for the last 15 years and that her loyalty should count for something, too.

Expedia said “no.”

How not to appeal your case

Isik was understandably upset. Although the hotel offered her a credit, she wanted her money returned.

“The hotel should be thankful,” she says. “My flu was detected early, and I was not able to go.”

She noted that she could have infected airline passengers and hotel guests, had she kept her travel plans.

“However, the reckless behavior of the hotel is very upsetting,” she added. “If they don’t come to a pleasant agreement, I will take this public.”

She adds,

Now being the flu season, I am sure healthy Americans would like to make sure they are safe on their vacation in Mexico. I have relatives working at the New York Times and the LA Times and they would love a great story like this.

I hope we can resolve this before it gets out of hand and affects also the reputation of Expedia for working with careless hotels or resorts.

Alright, time out!

This is not the way to persuade Expedia, or any other company, to bend a rule. I explain the correct way to fix a problem in this post.

Angry, threatening emails are highly ineffective. Please don’t try this at home.

Case dismissed

I still wanted to help Isik. I agree that she did the airline and hotel a favor. She had a valid medical reason for missing her vacation.

Some of you are screaming: travel insurance! I can hear you. But I’m not sure if that would have helped. She was symptomatic almost immediately after booking her trip, so a clever travel insurance company could have denied the claim on the basis that the flu was a pre-existing medical condition.

My advocacy team contacted Expedia. Sadly, it repeated its “no” — which it’s entitled to do.

Sometimes, nonrefundable means nonrefundable. Even when your customers try to do the right thing but end up getting it all wrong. Even then.